Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Fasting for the Earth: A Muslim View

By Ibrahim Abdil-Mu'id Ramey
MAS Freedom Civil and Human Rights Director

WASHINGTON, D.C. (MASNET) September 5, 2007 - On September 4, I had the opportunity to join over 1,000 people from across the nation, partnering with thousands of others from over 14 different countries for a 'Climate Emergency Fast' – a day of fasting to bring awareness to the deepening climate of crisis confronting humanity.

Some of the participants agreed to fast for a single day, others, like my friend, and event coordinator, Ted Glick, will fast for as long as several weeks, subsisting only on water to bring attention to the issue of global warming.

You may ask, "Why should Muslims fast for an environmental issue just nine days before their own fast in the sacred month of Ramadan?"

I believe that this additional act of fasting is necessary because, as Muslims, we are called to pray for the well-being of all mankind, and if we pray for humanity, fasting is indeed, our most powerful and sincere form of prayer.

Believe me when I say that the earth itself is in crisis. Real crisis. And this crisis threatens the delicate balance of nature that sustains all life on the planet.

Truly, if nature is harmed beyond repair, everything that we as Muslims care about - human rights, economic justice, ending the war in Iraq, justice for Palestine, better schools and housing, religious freedom – to name a few - will be obliterated by the single most dangerous threat to the survival of the human species in the last thousand years.

For any of us who haven't been in deep hibernation or vacationing on the moon, the scientific evidence of massive climate change is not real news. Multiple category five hurricanes, record heat waves throughout the country, massive droughts, gigantic forest fires, and a proliferation of floods, are all evidence that the increase of man-made greenhouse gasses have pushed the global ecosphere practically to the breaking point.

As food production and water supplies are threatened by climate change, it is likely that fierce competition for food and water will result in more armed conflicts, especially in areas of the world already devastated by extreme poverty and violence

Many of us in the United States complain about weather that is noticeably hotter and drier than in previous years. But the real impact of this global warming phenomenon is more profoundly felt in the southern hemisphere of the earth, where island nations are being submerged by rising sea levels - and huge populations, especially in Africa and Asia, are in danger of starvation due to crop failures caused by steep declines in rainfall.

There is also a rise in the temperature and acidity of the earth's oceans that could bring about the extinction of countless fish and marine species that feed human populations.

While the scientific evidence of global warming is overwhelming (even President Bush has finally admitted that something is wrong), the will to take massive and necessary action to stop it is still lacking.

The United States, which constitutes some 5% of the world's population, has contributed about 25% of the greenhouse carbon load in the earth's atmosphere. Africa, with a total population of a billion people, contributes just 3% of the total carbon load.

Yet only a small group of courageous women and men are at the forefront of the struggle to enact policies that might reverse the rising level of environmental pollution that is the primary cause of global warming.

We, as a species, don't have much time to act, and the Muslim community must be a vital, and active, part of
the solution.

This past April, on Earth Day, I posted an essay on the benefits of energy-saving light bulbs, and the fact that such devices could significantly cut not only our own electricity bills, but our collective dependency on power generated from non-renewable (and polluting) enerty sources.

Now, for the sake of our earth, I am appealing to Muslim institutions to take collective action toward shifting to enerty conservation for a green future.

Already, some 300 colleges and universities in America have taken bold and dramatic action to develop "green" technologies for energy conservation and reduced dependency on polluting, fossil fuels. Muslim mosques, schools, and civic institutions should join them.

I pray that, as we fast during the sacred month of Ramadan, that we remember the thousands of people, representing many spiritual and ethical traditions, who have also fasted, for the sake of the earth.

And I pray that we will become more aware of our collective responsibility as Khalifah for the creation entrusted to us by Allah the Almighty.

I urge all of you to visit the websites listed below for information on how Muslims might become more engaged in the struggle to, quite literally, save the earth, and all of us who dwell here.

Please visit the following sites:

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