Muslim Leaders Call for Climate Action

Ertugrul Gazi Mosque

Yesterday, a group of prominent Muslim leaders issued a declaration on the urgent need to address climate change. The declaration is a detailed document, drawing both on policy and science as well as the Koran and Muslim religious texts. At points, it is poetic and lovely. For example, the declaration states:

God created the Earth in perfect equilibrium (mīzān);
By His immense mercy we have been given fertile land, fresh air, clean water and all the good things on Earth that makes our lives here viable and delightful;
The Earth functions in natural seasonal rhythms and cycles: a climate in which living beings - including humans - thrive;
The present climate change catastrophe is a result of the human disruption of this balance -

As a policy document, the declaration is also quite specific. For example, the declaration calls on "well-off nations and oil-producing state" to "lead the way in phasing out their greenhouse gas emissions as early as possible and no later than the middle of the century" and on "corporations, finance, and the business sector" to "commit themselves to 100% renewable energy and/or a zero emissions strategy as early as possible and shift investments into renewable energy."

What also struck me about the declaration were the parallels between its call to action and Pope Francis' encyclical. As I wrote when the Pope issued his teaching on the moral call to protect the environment and address the climate change:

[The Pope] also focuses on the inherent value of individual living beings. Citing biblical passages and Christian traditions that stress the inclusion of other animals in the moral threads that knit a community together (did you know, for example, that Exodus requires domesticated animals to be given a rest on the Sabbath?), the Pope comes to a remarkable conclusion:

"Each creature has its own purpose. None is superfluous. ...The ultimate purpose of other creatures is not to be found in us. Rather, all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God."

Here, drawing on Muslim religious sources, the declaration arrives at a very similar place:

God - Whom we know as Allah - has created the universe in all its diversity, richness and vitality: the stars, the sun and moon, the earth and all its communities of living beings. All these reflect and manifest the boundless glory and mercy of their Creator. All created beings by nature serve and glorify their Maker

Together, Christianity and Islam are the two largest religions in the world--collectively accounting for over 3.6 billion of the Earth's inhabitants. The fact that major leaders of both religions publicly recognize the independent purpose and value of other living creatures, and the moral obligation to combat climate change that such recognition inevitably leads us to, is one of the most hopeful things I've seen in a long time.


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