Dar Al-Hijrah Hosts Green Iftar

Community News
A growing concern in this country is the state of the environment. Statistics from Environmental Defense show American cars pollute the air with 314 metric tons of CO2 every year. That’s the equivalent of burning all the coal that would fit in a 50,000 mile freight train. Consumers hold so many environmental concerns that even big name companies like Toyota and Ford are making new eco-friendly products. But where do Muslim Americans stand on this topic? Dar Al-Hijrah and The Interfaith Youth for Climate Justice came together at the masjid courtyard on August 8, 2012  to tackle environmental issues with a “Green Iftar.”

Every Wednesday night in Ramadan, Dar Al-Hijrah hosted an interfaith iftar with several local religious communities including Christians and Jews. Environmental justice was the theme for the August 8th iftar and the efforts of the Green Muslims -- an Islamic environmental organization --  Dar Al-Hijrah, and the Interfaith Youth for Climate Justice were displayed.

Islam encourages protecting the environment and all living things in it, something that many Muslims overlook. Before animal rights were even an issue, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) condemned those who abused their animals. The Qur’an and hadith in many places holds nature in with high status. “Whenever a Muslim plants trees or cultivates land and birds or a man or a beast eats out of them, it is a charity on his behalf,” says one famous hadith.

The “Green Muslims” is an Islamic Environmental group that seeks to emphasize the role of environmental stewardship that God placed upon humanity. In 2007 a few Muslims hosted a zero-trash “Green Iftar” and gained much support as they continued having events like this. Eventually this initiative became the “Green Muslims.” Through their work they hope to fight for environmental justice along with providing a way for Muslims to gain  awareness, inspiration, and skills for environmental leadership. Sarah Jawaid, the president and founder of Green Muslims, served as the Muslim religious mentor of the Interfaith Youth for Climate Justice.

The Interfaith Youth for Climate Justice is a yearlong program where the youth of local religious groups (Muslims, Christians, Jews, etc.) can come together and work for the mutual goal of helping the environment. Along with learning about the environmental teachings of other religions, youth in this program gain the knowledge and experience they’ll need to become leaders for climate justice in the future. The Interfaith Youth for Climate Justice encourages people of all faiths to live on Earth with reverence for it as sacred and helps youth explore their connection with nature. The group says their mission is, “to contribute to a more just and sustainable society by empowering a new generation of leaders for climate justice.”

Since this was a youth-run event, the younger Muslims in the community, like Safiya Taoufik and Assia Khadri, were the driving force behind it. It was their efforts through Dar Al-Hijrah and the Interfaith Youth for Climate Justice that made the event possible. The program coordinator, Iqbal Khaiy, said that the program gave youth, “A platform to share their involvement in the project and [experience] how valuable their leadership is.”

The event was led by Imam Johari as he went through an orientation of the mosque and answered  questions. The iftar showcased the work of the Interfaith Youth for Climate Justice, the Green Muslims, and Dar-Al-Hijrah for the environment. This was the first recycling program at Dar Al-Hijrah and it introduced the concepts of “Reuse, Recycle, and Reduce” to the mosque. Through the “Carbon Fasting” program Dar Al-Hijrah hopes to curb their consumption of resources and be better stewards of the Earth as Muslims. Iqbal Khaiy says that the event “went well” and hopes to continue the project by developing “a series of workshops on environmental stewardship and spiritual practice at various mosques.”