The Sun Rises on a Solar-Powered Mosque in Turkey

solar powered mosque turkey photo

The village mosque in Büyükeceli is now powered by solar panels. Photo: Alper Tunga Çatal for Greenpeace.

When residents of the Turkish village of Büyükeceli decided to install a set of solar panels to demonstrate how renewable energy could be a viable alternative to the proposed nuclear power plant they are fighting, they first thought to use the green electricity to power a local school. But when the government refused to give permission, they found another ally: the village mosque."Our youngsters left the village for [the neighboring cities of] Silifke, Antalya, and Mersin in the belief that the nuclear power plant will be built," Kemal Budak, the 70-year-old headman of the village, which is part of the town of Akkuyu, told the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet. "The state didn't want to invest in farming or tourism here. We are in this struggle because we cannot be certain of our future. At least our children will not someday tell us, 'You left us a dumpsite.'"

Villagers with the group "The Sun is Rising in Akkuyu" installed the panels with the support of volunteers from Greenpeace, which also donated the solar system, in 10 days. According to Hürriyet, the system's 2.25 kilowatt capacity is "enough to meet the power needs of the entire mosque.... The mosque in Büyükeceli will transfer electricity to the grid, but cannot earn money from this yet because there is no legal regulation for it in Turkey." The village celebrated the successful installation by drinking orange juice squeezed using electricity generated by the panels.

Earlier this year, the Turkish Parliament approved the construction of a nuclear power plant in Akkuyu, a town in southern Turkey. If built, it would be the country's first.

A Muslim Duty to Protect the Planet
Solar panels on a mosque is likely a first for Turkey as well, but Muslims around the world are increasingly becoming involved in environmental issues. Earlier this month, the European Parliament held a panel about Islam and the environment, urging European Muslims to become part of the green debate and "turn the strong theology on [protecting the] environment in the Quran into action." Muslim author Ibrahim Abdul-Matin is promoting a similar message in Brooklyn, writing for GOOD that "the Earth is a mosque ... [that] is sacred, and must be kept clean to be used for worship."

With water particularly scarce in many Muslim countries, Islamic environment ministers agreed at a recent conference that "finding a solution was one of the 'most important duties of our time'" -- something that Arwa Aburawa of Green Prophet says could be achieved by reconnecting to Islamic water-management principles that hold that "every human has a right to clean water to quench their thirst and also that water is precious resource which must not be wasted even during abundance."

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