Resources
Press releases
News archive
Selected books
Downloads
 
ARC Home > News and Resources > News archive:

Formation of new Africa Muslim Environment Network

February 21, 2005:

The Qur'an says that humanity's role is to be Khalifa - the vice regent on earth for God. Our role is to protect all life and to use it thoughtfully and carefully so that on the Day of Judgement we can report back to God that we have been true and faithful Khalifas.

ARC organised a unique gathering in Mombassa, Kenya this month, drawing together Muslim organisations from around East Africa, together with the World Bank and the Muslim Civic Education Trust (MCET).

It has given rise to potentially very important new partnerships, which are expected to lead to Islamic micro-financing projects; revival of traditional fishing practices which are sustainable, and a new Africa Muslim Environment Network (AMEN).

The gathering, which was chaired and led by the Chairman of the MCET, Professor Mohamed Hyder, also brought together secular groups many of whom had never before sat down to explore how Islam understands the environment and sustainable development.

Religious groups, because of their own nature, have always been on the ground and responded to people's needs. Mosques and Churches provide networks that reach almost every village and they have often proved to be one of the most enduring of social structures.

It is this partnership between religion and secular power bodies and NGOs that is the aim of ARC's work. And in Mombassa, a quiet revolution took place. Islamic groups who would not normally be in the same room together, were finding many areas of common agreement and looking at ways to work. And the Muslim organisations began to see that their traditions and teachings could help preserve the environment and contribute to the welfare of the communities.

“In Africa, as in many other continents, the role of religious groups in environmentally-orientated development, poverty alleviation and reduction issues has been greatly underestimated. That is if it has ever been taken into consideration.” ARC project coordinator, Paola Triolo.
Representatives of the World Bank, which was co-sponsoring the meeting, discussed Shariah law and Islamic financial practices side-by-side with leading figure from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and City Counsellors.

From all of this came a series of practical suggestions. First amongst them is the creation of an Africa Muslim Environment Network dedicated to helping all Muslim Groups and traditions in Africa make partnerships between themselves and with secular groups to undertake environmental, educational and development projects.

AMEN will launch model projects on Islamic micro-finance based around tradition of the zakat (which is the welfare tax paid annually by all adult Muslims as one of the Five Pillars of Islam). It will also coordinate the revival of traditional and sustainable fishing practices along the East African coast, as well as: an environmental audit kit for Mosques throughout the continent; teaching modules of Islam and environment for Madrassa colleges and a programme of coastal forest protection along Islamic guidelines.

The Qur'an says that humanity's role is to be Khalifa - the vice regent on earth for God. This does not mean we therefore have the right to do as we wish with God's creation. Our role is to protect all life and to use it thoughtfully and carefully so that on the Day of Judgement we can report back to God that we have been true and faithful Khalifas.

This was the first meeting of its kind in Africa – and it was part of how the Muslim communities are beginning to see if together they can help Africa recover the proper relationship between humanity and creation as stated in the Qur’an. It is a relationship which only makes sense to Muslims because it is under God' guidance.

This gathering was a parallel initiative to a meeting of African Church Leaders in London in November 2004, which was featured on the Queen's Christmas Broadcast and which has in its own turn led to some exciting development projects, initiatives and partnerships.



< previous 
ARC site map
ARC, 6 Gay Street, Bath BA1 2PH, UK
tel +44 (0)1225 758 004
 
Related pages

By Daniel Dickinson, BBC News, Feb 17, 2005 :
Eco-Islam hits Zanzibar fishermen:
The BBC reports on an ARC-assisted project to help stop dynamite-fishing in Zanzibar
What do Muslims believe?
A brief outline of the teachings of Islam
Faiths for Green Africa
We are working with more than 25 Christian, Muslim and Hindu faith partners in Africa.