by Miriam Katawazi
Through the Green Khutbah campaign, mosques all across Canada are calling on people to speak about the current environmental challenges affecting humanity.
Each April, the campaign asks imams to deliver a Khutbah or sermon on an environmental topic during the Friday prayers. The campaign aims to increase awareness for environmental challenges like climate change and water conservation.
The campaign began in 2012 by Muaz Nasir, a Toronto resident and the creator of Khaleafa.com
, a Canadian environmental website. This year, the theme focused on water as a "sacred gift."
According to the United Nations, about 750 million people lack access to safe water. One child dies every minute from a water-related disease and 1.2 billion people, a fifth of the global population, live in areas where water is scarce.
Water is just one of the resources made available to living beings, one resource that people are entrusted with, said Sikander Hashmi, imam at the Kanata Muslim Association.
Hashmi has participated in the Green Khutbah campaign for four consecutive years.
"Our faith strongly encourages people to be very responsible with the use of water," said Hashmi, "An example that is often given is that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, used to be very responsible with his use of water. He would use very small amounts of water, a very stark contrast to the amount of water that we use today."
The campaign is a very important initiative, said Hashmi. There is great appetite for sermons and messages that address current issues from a faith-based perspective.
In the Islamic belief, human beings are trustees and custodians of the earth. Therefore it is very important to talk about the relationship between people and the environment, Hashmi said. People need to pay more attention to important issues like the use of natural resources.
"I think the more that we talk about environmental issues the more they will become front and centre," said Hashmi. His hope, he said, is for the campaign to spread outside of Canada.
So far, the campaign has spread across North America. In Ottawa, numerous mosques and smaller prayer centres participated in the campaign this year.
"It is a very important part of our faith to live a life of balance and that includes using things in moderation and using the resources that have been made available to us in a responsible way."
Miriam Katawazi was the summer journalist at the Peace and Environment Resource Centre.