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Sierra magazine
Act | On Your Convictions

Islamic Environmentalism


Sarah Jawaid, Washington, D.C.; member of D.C. Green Muslims

"Throughout the Koran, there's this sense that nature is a manifestation of God's creation. When you're in nature, it's almost as if you are walking in verses of the Koran or that God is speaking to you.

"Scholars have been writing for a while about the connection between Islam and protecting the planet, but community organizing around it is relatively new. D.C. Green Muslims started in 2007 because the founding members recognized this direct connection between Islam and environmentalism and were shocked that there wasn't already something like this out there.

"Our aim is to be green in the Muslim community and Muslim in the green community. Muslims need to become eco-conscious--not because it's a fad but because our tradition teaches us that we need to protect the earth that God has bestowed upon us. We need to be more than consumers. These are not conversations that we have in our mosques.

"We've worked with Washington Parks & People a number of times in cleaning up Marvin Gaye Park in D.C., and we worked with City Year to help beautify a middle school in Northeast D.C. During the Huffington Post's No Impact Week last October, each day of the week we focused on a different topic--consumption, waste, transportation, food, and utilities--and sent out Islamic scripture to amplify the point. It was a practical approach but based on scripture. We had a huge response, and it made us feel like we were a part of something bigger.

"The media often paints Islam in a negative light, portraying Muslims as perpetrators of violence. But D.C. Green Muslims wasn't created to be a PR campaign or to change the face of Islam. We simply want to refocus the conversation to what we can be instead of what we are not." —interview by Jessi Phillips

SPEEDY PILGRIMS Saudi Arabia is building a billion-dollar high-speed railway to Mecca, Islam's holiest site, visited by 3 million Muslims each year during the hajj.

ON THE WEB For more information about D.C. Green Muslims, go to dcgreenmuslims.blogspot.com. Learn about Washington Parks & People at washingtonparks.net and City Year at cityyear.org.

Photo by Scott Suchman

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