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Green Guide to the Hajj launched at Assisi, Italy

November 2, 2011:

Dr Husna Ahmad with The Green Guide for Hajj and Islam and Water

The first guide to an environmentally sustainable Hajj has been launched to encourage Muslim pilgrims - now arriving in Mecca (Makkah) in Saudi Arabia for this year’s pilgrimage - to reduce their impact on the Earth.

The Green Guide for Hajj was launched by Global One 2015 and EcoMuslim at the Sacred Land Launch and Celebration of the Green Pilgrimage Network, in Assisi, Italy, organised by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), which finishes today.

As well as practical tips for pilgrims, the Guide invites Muslims to use their Hajj experience as an opportunity to reflect on their own lives and move away from material culture and the waste it leaves behind.

Also launched at Assisi is Islam and Water - The Hajjar (r.a.) Story which accompanies the Guide and is aimed at women and families. The story of Hajjar, second wife of the Prophet Ibrahim, in particular her search for water, is commemorated every year in the Hajj.

The Hajj - one of the five pillars of Islam - is the biggest annual pilgrimage in the world. By November 1, nearly 1.8 million pilgrims had arrived for this year's Hajj, according to the Hajj authorities.

Dr Husna Ahmad said it was very important for people of faith to address the problem of environmental destruction and degradation: “In times of climate change, threats to the environment are the biggest threats to us all, and if the religions can come together, we think they can do anything.”

As well as practical tips for pilgrims, the Guide invites Muslims to use their Hajj experience as an opportunity to reflect on their own lives and move away from material culture and the waste it leaves behind.
In 2010 some 2.5 million pilgrims attended the Hajj and for each it will have been a profoundly important individual experience.

Environmental impact

However, such massive human activity inevitably has an impact on the environment, said Dr Husna, with over 100 million plastic bottles left behind at Hajj sites after the annual pilgrimage, as well as other rubbish.

The Green Guide for Hajj offers pilgrims the chance to be mindful of the potential environmental impact of their journey and to make choices to limit any damage. This includes:
  • considering the carbon footprint of transport choices they make and avoiding or off-setting the impact of air travel;
  • choosing travel companies with environmentally conscious policies regarding travel and accommodation for pilgrims;
  • Avoiding the use of plastic bags and bottles, especially for traditional items such as misbahah (Dhikr beads) and sajjadah (prayer mats);
  • Clearing up your own and other people’s litter and rubbish.

    The Guide contains relevant theology clarifying the responsibilities of all Muslims as Khalifas – vice-regents – to take care of the natural world and urges pilgrims to become advocates for green living amongst their families and communities on their return.

    While individual actions and awareness are vitally important The Green Guide for Hajj recognises that governments and institutions are needed if all pilgrimages are to become green.

    The book concludes with recommendations to governments of the Muslim world including preventing non-degradable rubbish, avoiding water wastage, use of sustainable energy and encouraging the use of green transport.

    Other translations

    The Guide is currently written in English. In future, the plan is to translate the Guide into Arabic, with support from the Imam of Ka’abah, to be available within Saudi Arabia, Dohar and other Arabic speaking countries.

    A version in Hausa, aimed at Nigeria’s large Muslim population, is already underway, with suitable messages from Nigerian Muslim clergy, and will be made available to people running workshops throughout Nigeria.

    Ms Ahmed said there was also interest in a Bahasa translation for some of the 220 million Indonesian Muslims, all of whom will hope to go on Hajj during their lifetime.

    The Green Guide for Hajj is jointly produced by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, Eco Muslim and Global 2015 – three UK-based organisations committed to developing the role of religion in bringing about social change.

    For more information or to obtain hard copies of the Guide, email: info@globalone2015.orginfo@ecomuslim. It is also available to download from ARC – here.

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