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Islamic scholars call on faithful to help fight climate change

Declaration cites Islamic teachings, urges Muslims to phase out greenhouse gas emissions and commit to renewable energy

Muslim scholars from 20 countries issued an “Islamic Declaration on Climate Change” on Tuesday, calling on the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims to do their part to eliminate dangerous greenhouse gas emissions and commit to renewable energy sources.

The declaration, which draws on Islamic teachings, was drafted by academics and finalized at the International Islamic Climate Change Symposium held in Istanbul Aug. 17-18. The symposium’s goal was to reach “broad unity and ownership from the Islamic community around the Declaration,” according to the event’s website.

“Faith communities increasingly recognize that the climate crisis is also a moral crisis,” a statement on the website said. “The adverse impacts of climate change that we have witnessed so far, present a clear case for people of faith to examine the underlying moral causes of this phenomenon. It prompts faith communities to take action to halt the desecration of nature that leads to destruction of creation, human and otherwise.”

The declaration calls on Muslim countries — especially those that are “well-off” and “oil-producing” — to lead the charge in phasing out greenhouse gas emissions “no later than the middle of the century.” Many researchers say these gasses can trap the sun’s rays and raise global temperatures. This has been widely blamed for dangerous shifts in climate and weather patterns, including intense storms, droughts and heat waves.

The declaration also calls on wealthy Muslim countries to provide financial and technical support to less-affluent states so they too can work to eliminate pollution, reduce consumption of finite resources, work to stabilize the Earth’s temperature, abandon “unethical profit from the environment” and help create a global green economy.

The declaration, which invites “people of all nations and their leaders” to join forces to fight climate change, has already garnered support from the grand muftis — interpreters of Islamic law — of Lebanon and Uganda, as well as other prominent Islamic scholars.

It also follows the release in June of Pope Francis’ first encyclical on the environment, which was similarly rooted in religious teachings and called on Christians to fight climate change.

Muslim leaders plan to present their document at an upcoming conference in Paris, where international negotiators are set to hash out a global plan to combat climate change.

The Sierra Club on Tuesday issued a statement lauding the symposium for its declaration. “This landmark declaration adds more voices of faith to the chorus of leaders from all backgrounds — including the Pope, the Dalai Lama, and many others — who have emphasized the need to act on a crisis that knows no borders and excludes no one on Earth,” said Executive Director Michael Brune.

The authors of the Islamic declaration ended the document with a quote by the Prophet Muhammad: “The world is sweet and verdant, and verily Allah has made you stewards in it, and He sees how you acquit yourselves.”

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