(Image credit marantzer)
Gurus in India are doing it. So are evangelical Christians in America. Jewish rabbis have been doing it for some time now, all over the world. Thanks to an initiative of an Israeli Arab activist Mohammad Rabah Aghbarieh and the Israeli government, imams (Muslim spiritual leaders) in Israel are going green. New educational materials in Arabic are expected to arrive soon at a mosque near you.
Earlier this month in a groundbreaking event, fifty Muslim clerics gathered in Umm el-Fahm, Israel for a conference to raise awareness of environmental issues among imams, NY-based blogger Karen Chernick reports: "The first of its kind, the conference was an important stepping stone in improving the quality of the environment in Israeli-Arab towns," she writes.
The meeting, which included a surprise talk and Q&A; with Israel's Minister of Environmental Protection Gideon Ezra, gave a forum for the imams to discuss some of their pressing issues in their communities. In turn, the imams were given a package of materials in Arabic to distribute in their mosques, and stickers and CDs quoting sources from the Koran and hadith which support environmental issues.
Rabah Aghbarieh worked on the CD for a year, and it is believed to be the first in the world for educating Muslim congregations. Environmental Protection Ministry District in Haifa Robert Reuven said he plans to send the CD all over Israel and to the Arab speaking world so the green message, which is seriously lacking in Muslim communities, will be spread everywhere.
Rabah Aghbarieh said the conference was a success: its "purpose was for the imams to acquire skills, and we achieved that. They came, they received the materials and they were given a platform to raise their concerns with the environmental protection minister," he said in a JPost interview, by our green reporter friend Ehud.
Environmental issues discussed at the conference included noise pollution, construction waste, sewage treatment, and water pollution. Some imams also expressed concern over the proximity of their villages to chicken coops in neighboring Jewish communities. They also heard about noise complaints regarding mosque speakers which blast a call to prayer several times per day.
Karen's also uncovered a rare audio clip (first in Arabic, then English) of a khutbah (Islamic sermon) by Imam Zia ul-Haque, who is based in northern Texas. The Imam discusses the connection between Islam and the environment.
We hope more events like this one will lead to a bigger and better interfaith dialogue between Israelis in particular and in the Middle East, America and Europe in general. If nothing else, maybe concern for the environment will bring people together. In shalla!
More green Islam features on TH:
Evangelical and Muslim Youth Find Common Ground on Earth Day
Arab World Responds to Climate Change
Will Oil and Water Ever Mix?