Environmental Initiative For Hajj 2010

Yussif Osman sits quietly by his desk, a framed piece of cloth behind him next to a picture of his father who died just a few years ago. Th...

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Yussif Osman sits quietly by his desk, a framed piece of cloth behind him next to a picture of his father who died just a few years ago. The cloth is a piece of the shroud that covers Islam’s holiest shrine, the Ka’aba in Makkah.

“This was a testament to my late father and what he stood for,” says Osman as he rifles through his desk to dig up some environmental journals he has been reading over the past few months.

Osman believes it is time for a change. The change he is talking about does not concern religion specifically, but relates to how Muslims journey to Makkah for the annual pilgrimage, or Haj, and the environmental impact they have on their surroundings.

For far too long, Osman explains, “we have believed that no matter what happens the world will always be there as if it is permanent like God, but the reality is that we are destroying it and if we don’t take action soon, it will be gone. Or at least we will be.”

What better place to begin educating and imprinting a sense of environmentalism than a place where 3 million Muslims visit each year to carry out one of the five pillars, or obligations, of Islam?

Other Muslims are thinking similarly to Osman. At the International Islamic Green Movement meeting in Jakarta this April participants called on their governments to implement new strategies to make the holy pilgrimage more environmentally sustainable.

The plan proposed at the conference includes banning plastic bottles at pilgrimage sites and holding workshops to discuss the connection between environmentalism and Islamic teachings.

Mohamed Sembiring, a member of the Indonesian environmental organisation Kehati, said that the initiative is expected to include “many new approaches to the Haj. Among these are eco-friendly mosques, meaning they will be charged and run with sustainable materials”.

Osman, who has made his name as an advertising guru in the Gulf and in his current role as a media consultant, has put his efforts toward environmental initiatives in the region for the last year. One of those initiatives is convincing the Saudi government to take environmental action now rather than later.

“It might be expensive to go after these projects, but it will be even more expensive if we do nothing today and wait five years or 10 to start working on these projects,” the independent British-educated consultant said.

For their part, Saudi Arabia’s government appears ready to take on the proposed initiatives, which include the use of biodegradable plastic containers, making mosques eco-friendly and promoting awareness of the environment and climate change at the pilgrimage.

A Saudi government spokesman told The Media Line that the government believes there is much work to be done to bring awareness of environmental issues to the Haj.

“The activists and Muslim leaders who are calling for combining faith with environmental protection are important and we are taking their ideas and statements seriously, and the Saudi government is looking at implementing a number of new policies that will help this be achieved,” the government spokesman said.

Some of these policies include using biodegradable materials for Haj travellers and teaching seminars that embrace environmentalism within the Islamic faith.
We look forward to it!

From Gulf Times | 16th June 2010 | By Joseph Mayton /The Media Line


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  1. We have a new children’s Islamic cartoon DVD just arrived “Zaky’s Adventures- The Earth has a fever”. It takes children on an adventerous journey with Zaky and his friends to discover about global warming and how to help our enivornment whilst trying to save their freind’s school. An excellent resource to educating the young ones in a child friendly way about islam and our enivornment!

  2. @Zaky's Adventures: I look forward to profiling this iA. Shukran for your input.


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