Suffolk Muslims' environment talk

From BBC News | By Jon Wright | March 15th 2010 BBC Suffolk The head of a Muslim charity has said more needs to be done to promote enviro...

From BBC News | By Jon Wright | March 15th 2010

BBC Suffolk

Manwar Ali from the Muslim charity Jimas
The head of a Muslim charity has said more needs to be done to promote environmentalism in the Islamic world.

"These are new issues which haven't yet been addressed as strongly as they need to be by Muslim scholars," said Manwar Ali, the chief executive of Jimas.
The group is holding a public meeting to debate how the community in Suffolk should respond to climate change.
One Community in Conversation (OCC) is on Tuesday, 16 March at the University Campus Suffolk building in Ipswich.
"If you go back to classical material you will always find teachings about how we are meant to be kind and to look after the environment as a trust from god," said Manwar Ali, speaking on BBC Suffolk's Sunday breakfast programme.
"The Islamic perspective is always not to deface what is natural, to maintain sustainability, to conserve and to share, the same kind of ethos we share with other revealed religions as well.
"But the process is very much incomplete as far as modern scholars are concerned regarding modern technology."

Being green in an oil producing world

Despite the Middle East being the centre of world oil production, Manwar feels Islam's environmental message is the same for everyone.
"They will all agree on the basic fundamental tenets which oblige Muslims, theoretically, to protect god's creation from destruction, wastage or abuse.
"So, Saudi Arabia may take a policy on board which helps them to make more money through the oil industry and they might want justification for that through religious teachings to perhaps appease or control their populations.
"But those are like games and deceptions and in the end no Muslim would differ from what is stated in the Koran or a prophetic narration which clearly tell us to be just and responsible."

Bringing people together

The Suffolk Oriego internet cafe in Ipswich
The OCC events are run several times a year, with an invited panel of speakers helping to guide the public debate. They also start with free food and a chance to mingle.
Lee Choudhury is the charity's outreach officer and feels the events do attract more than just the usual faces.
"We've always invited as many people as possible from a wide range of backgrounds, so it's not just the same types of people who come and we definitely find a tangible benefit," said Lee.
"Free food and having a bit of fun together is essential.
"We focus on issues which are of importance locally. So the next OCC could be something about immigration, because it's something close to people's hearts, or the general election.
"In fact we are organising a hustings."
Manwar Ali agrees that the group will continue to focus on mainly local subjects.
"There are pressing issues like the buses, the schools and how they are performing or immigration, because that is really a hot topic and not enough of us, frankly, openly discuss it, for fear of many things.
"So Jimas prioritises relationships - building good relations and understanding."

The OCC starts at 6.30pm on Tuesday, 16 March at the main University Campus Suffolk building on Ipswich waterfront.

Jimas says its aims are: to promote an organic, home-grown, indigenous following of Islam which is relevant to British Muslim concerns in particular and issues of the UK in general.


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