My Prophet was a Tree-Hugger, and so am I

By Mohammed Ashour As a society, we often misappropriate certain virtues and present them as vices. Shyness denotes low self-esteem. Introversion is seen as a sign of weak leadership, and 'followership' is simply never taught in business schools. This is so, even though shyness is a vital precursor to humility, corporations owe their very existence to the commitment of dedicated followers, and some of the world's leading CEOs are shockingly introverted.

The same is true for those who are deridingly labelled 'tree-huggers' for their environmental consciousness. (Tellingly, the misappropriation of environmental-friendliness as a negative trait is not unique to North American culture. In Egypt, a person who is seen as socially brash or culturally unsophisticated is insultingly branded as "bee'a", literally meaning, "environment".) While it is true that words like "green" and "sustainable" have become feel-good staples of our everyday lingo, there is no denying that being called a "tree-hugger" is still very much insulting to many people.

To be sure, our faith has a commitment to environmental-consciousness that long pre-dates the trendiness of all things "green". From explicit Divine commands that we do not waste, to urgent appeals from the Prophet Muhammad to "plant a tree even if it is your last deed", Islam is arguably the most explicitly "green" of all the monotheistic faiths. Yet, paradoxically and shamefully, many Muslims have become amongst the most wasteful inhabitants of this planet.

Losing the Way

Last year, over 1300 people in Qatar had to be hospitalized due to "excessive eating" on the first two-days of Eid-ul Adha. According to a report by The National, over 500 tons of food are thrown every day during Ramadan in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). And as far as the most precious natural resource on our planet goes, residents of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are amongst the biggest wasters of water in the world.

Lest any reader dismiss these as extreme, anecdotal cases, consider the report by the CDIAC with data from the United Nations about carbon dioxide emissions around the world. Most of us are not surprised to learn that China and the United States produce the first and second highest total amount of carbon dioxide emissions in the world, respectively. In fact, their emission levels are so large that they simply eclipse those of other countries. Not surprisingly, this makes China and the U.S. very easy targets of public outrage and very convenient villains in most "how-not-to-treat-the-environment" campaigns.

However, if we were to control for the population differences between countries, we even out the playing field for a more meaningful (and fair) analysis. Thus, when we compare the per capita carbon dioxide emissions per country, a totally different picture emerges. And it is not flattering for Muslims.

Pound for pound, Qatar produced the highest levels of carbon dioxide emissions of any other country in the world in 2009. Kuwait ranked fourth, UAE sixth, Bahrain eighth, Saudi Arabia thirteenth, and Oman fifteenth. In other words, almost half of the top fifteen carbon dioxide emitting countries in the world (per capita) were Muslim majority countries.

Fortunately, Muslims around the world are beginning to wake up from the cognitive dissonance between the teachings they know and the practices they embrace. From efforts to combat food wastage in the U.A.E. to government regulation in Saudi Arabia to reduce pollution, there are measurable improvements to the dismal track record of Muslim majority countries on the 'green' scale. Still, it is feared that many of these efforts are at best too little, if not too late. Also, it is particularly disappointing that Muslim majority countries are simply riding the sustainability wagon instead of driving it forward. This leaves one to wonder whether these countries are going green out of altruism or if, like almost every other country, they are simply caving to social pressure and opportunism.

The Tree-Hugging Prophet

As Muslims, we believe that all living things are imbued with a spirit, even if its exact nature and form remains obscure and mysterious. Furthermore, we believe these living things are engaged in their own form of sacred worship, and for this reason, we are taught to treat our environment with a measure of tenderness, respect, and love. Perhaps no one more aptly demonstrates this than Prophet Muhammad himself.

As the leader of the Friday congregation, Prophet Muhammad was accustomed to delivering the sermon near a tree stump. As his followers continued to grow in number, members of his congregation offered to build him a pulpit. The idea was that a pulpit would help project the Prophet's voice and make him more visible to a growing audience. Seeing this in the best interest of his community, the Prophet agreed and the pulpit was constructed.

When the Prophet ascended the pulpit to deliver his sermon the following Friday, he and his companions heard the tree stump sob uncontrollably. The stump, having become accustomed to its near proximity to the Prophet on Fridays, could no longer bear the reality of having to perpetually miss him now that he has permanently moved away.

Unwilling to ignore its cries, the Prophet quickly descended from the pulpit, rushed to the tree stump, and embraced it like a little child. Cuddled in his arms, it wailed and wailed and gasped and wailed and cracked and wailed some more. The Prophet continued to soothe the tree stump until it calmed down, all the while hugging it and not letting go.

 I am a Tree Hugger

In a world where good words are given bad meaning, many of us are likely to contribute to these ongoing misappropriations without realizing it. Thus, reserved individuals will object to being labelled "shy", quiet musers will deny being "introverts" and followers will insist that they are leaders. By doing so, these individuals will at once deny their [virtuous] essence and reinforce the notion that being shy or introverted or a follower are somehow bad things.

For this reason, I urge every Muslim to play a part in re-appropriating these good words by giving them back their good meanings. So the next time someone calls you a "tree-hugger" with a snort of derision, do not get defensive or offensive. Instead, remember that it is a customary sunnah because your Prophet did it, embrace the label with every ounce of pride you can muster, and declare:

"My Prophet was a Tree-Hugger, and so am I."

Mohammed Ashour is a writer, public speaker and community activist who resides in Montreal, Canada. He completed a B.Sc. in Life Sciences at the University of Toronto, followed by a M.Sc. in Neuroscience at McGill University. He is presently pursuing a joint MD/MBA program at McGill University and can be followed on his blog: Rest Assured - Thoughts of a Canadian Muslim

Photo credit from PTzero 

Men's Health and Movember


For those of you not aware, this is Movember, the annual campaign where men across the country grow moustaches to raise awareness and funds to fight prostate cancer. While the Muslims for Movember movement is still in its infancy, the campaign has raised the profile of prostate cancer and has brought to light some of the causes and new treatment options into the public domain.

To coincide with the Movember awareness campaign, Environmental Defense released a report this week analyzing the toxicity of ingredients in men’s bodycare products. For this study they asked five men from four provinces what products they used most then tested 17 of them for their contents. Their findings were startling with four of the products containing probable human carcinogens, five containing chemicals known to harm male reproductive health and 10 which had artificial musk, some of which are known to disrupt hormones in animals. Many of the chemicals found in these products were linked to cancer, birth defects, sperm damage, obesity, asthma and other chronic health problems.

What is worrisome are the effects of these chemicals once they are released into the environment and waterways, where they can linger and bioaccumulate, adversely affecting natural ecosystems. One only has to look at the effects of DDT to see the connection.

So what do these results mean? On their own these chemicals occur in such trace amounts there would be little cause for concern. However, daily exposure in combination with chemicals from other products have cumulative effects on the body that are not fully understood. Taking into consideration the interactions between chemicals, the environment and individual genetics can produce varying results. It is impossible to know the consequences of all possible combinations, creating what is referred to as the ‘cocktail effect’.

There are several steps you can take to protect yourself and loved ones from unnecessary exposure to harmful chemicals in personal care products:

1)    Choose safer alternatives: Environmental Defense has compiled a list chemicals commonly found in consumer body-care products known as the “Toxic Ten” that should be avoided (see below).

2)    Use in moderation: If you must continue to use products with these chemicals, consider using it less until you can find a safer alternative.

3)    Speak out: Contact the manufacturer to let them know you would like full disclosure of the ingredients contained within their products, including impurities and fragrance. Also, let the federal government know this issue is important to you and that tougher health-protective legislation needs to be enacted to ensure consumer products are safe.


Parabens: estrogen-mimicking chemicals found in breast cancer tissue

Phthalates: chemicals that disrupt male hormones, affect fertility, and are also linked to testicular cancer

Triclosan: an anti-bacterial chemical that breaks down into chloroform and dioxins, which are Carcinogens

Petrolatum or Mineral Oil: often contaminated with human carcinogens polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Fragrance or Parfum: unlisted ingredients, many of which are hormone-disrupters and sensitizers. A sensitizer is a chemical that causes normal tissue to develop an allergic reaction after repeated Exposure

Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: skin irritants

Cyclomethicone, Cyclotetrasiloxane, Cyclopentasiloxane, or Cyclohexasiloxane: hormone-disrupting chemicals present in hair products

Formaldehyde-Releasing Agents: formaldehyde is linked to leukemia and other cancers

Coal Tar-Derived Colours: para phenylenediamine (PPD) is a sensitizer, and suspected carcinogen

Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT): hormone-disrupting chemicals used as preservatives

Let’s put ‘Eco’ back into Economics


By Hind Al-Abadleh

On Wednesday October 17, 2012, environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki and economist Jeff Rubin brought their eco tour to Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo.  I had the pleasure of being among the hundreds who attended the evening, which was entitled “End of Growth: How to Achieve a Truly Sustainable Future”.  The event was hosted was CTV Provincewide’s Daiene Vernile.

Rubin is one of the first economists to accurately predict soaring oil prices back in 2000.  He started by reflecting on the histories of previous world recessions post World War II and told the audience that all laws of economics point to the fact that when oil and coal prices reach 3 digits a barrel or a tonne, we’re basically feeling the contours of the growth limits of world economies.  This translates to world economies slowing down not because the tap is closed on these natural resources, but because world economies can’t afford to continue to grow with prices in the three digits.  This is good news for the environment, he said, because when world economies slow down, they combust less, and emissions go down.  Rubin elaborates on his analysis in his latest book, The End of Growth.

Following Robin, Dr. Suzuki spoke and expressed his excitement for sharing the stage with a “real economist”.  As always in his unique and inspiring style, David reminded the audience that with the number of humans as a species, their over-consuming behavior, the nature of the global economy they invented, and the use of technology, humans on this planet have become a ‘force of nature’.  He said that our priorities are screwed: instead of working to protect the very elements that make us alive (air, water, and soil), we use them as dumpsters for the toxins generated from our efforts to grow and protect the ‘economy’.  He stressed that a paradigm shift is needed where humans recognize that they are dependent on nature and can’t afford to think of themselves as superiors any more.  He ended by saying, “Let’s put ‘Eco’ back into Economics”, and shared his observation that many young people are investing time and energy into urban farming and examining the sources of the food they eat.  In his latest book, Everything Under the Sun: Toward a Brighter Future on a Small Blue Planet, David articulates his hopes for the future and offers solutions to environmental challenges.

After addressing few questions from the attendees, Laurier’s president Max Blow reflected on what was said in the evening, and thanked the speakers for their thoughts and insights that align with Laurier’s vision to ‘inspire lives of leadership and purpose’.

At the end of the event, Daiene Vernile told the audience that both gentlemen agreed to come for an interview at Province Wide on Sunday October 21, 2012.

Dr. Hind Al-Abadleh is an associate professor of Chemistry at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, ON.  She could be reached via email:

Photo credit from The Canadian Press


Waste Reduction Week 2012


This week Canadians across the country are marking Waste Reduction Week and are challenging their schools, businesses and governments to rethink how they consume and what they discard. The goal of the campaign is to engage and empower Canadians to reduce, reuse and recycle waste and calls on consumers to adopt more environmentally conscious choices. With many landfills in this province approaching capacity, reducing or eliminating waste is one solution to many of environmental challenges such as the loss of natural resources and water pollution.

"Each Canadian throws out about 1670 lbs. or the weight of over 8 adult men every year, and communities are struggling to find ways to dispose of that waste—much more than other countries of Canada's size and wealth," says Jo-Anne St. Godard, Spokesperson for Waste Reduction Week in Canada and Executive Director, Recycling Council of Ontario. "Waste Reduction Week is a campaign that asks Canadians to rethink what we buy, examine how we live and consider what we dispose of to landfill."

Reducing waste is inherent within the Islamic tradition. There are numerous references in the Quran that warn against all types of waste from food, to money to time.

O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess. (Surat Al-'A`rāf, 7:31)


Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful.( Surat Al-'Isrā', 17:27)

The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) also cautioned against wasting time, something that may not be as material but important nonetheless.

“There are two blessings which many people do not make the most of and thus lose out: good health and free time.” (Bukhaari)

So what can you do to establish waste-reduction habits? The Waste Reduction Week Campaign provides resource kits for schools, businesses and governments. Some of the suggestions provided by the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council include:

  • Buy only what you need. Before you buy any item, ask yourself if you really need it, or could you make do with what you already have?
  • The "throw-away" convenience of some products is not worth the environmental price that is paid. Avoid paper towels, plates and cups, throw-away lighters and razors, and disposable diapers. Purchase the multi-use alternatives instead.
  • Buy durable, long-lasting goods. Initially the cost may be higher, but in the long run you can save.
  • Buy for the contents, not the container. Some packaging is necessary — you can't carry flour home in your hand — but these days many products have unnecessary or excessive packaging.
  • Many things around the house can be saved and reused — string, plastic containers, glass containers, gift wrap, shopping bags. If there are things you can't use, consider giving them to others who can.
  • Instead of throwing it out, fix it up! Repair broken toys, furniture and appliances to extend their useful life.
  • Share with neighbours and friends those large expensive things that you use only once in a while, such as lawn mowers, other gardening equipment, and tools.
  • 20% of the food we buy ends up in the garbage. Keep track of what you've got on hand so that you use groceries while they're still fresh.

Collectively we all have a responsibility to ensure that we minimize waste and ensure that the blessings of Allah are not taken for granted. By evaluating our purchasing and consumption habits, it becomes easy for us to identify and change our behaviour, and safeguard our resources for future generations.

Waste Reduction Week in Canada is organized by a coalition of non-governmental, non-profit groups and government organizations from each of the 13 provinces and territories across Canada.

Photo credit from AmsterSam

The Green Hajj Guide



Hajj is the sacred pilgrimage in Islam that is carried out at least once in the lifetime of every Muslim who is able to perform it. Millions of Muslims from across the world travel to the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia to fulfill the religious rites and requirements which is meant to align one’s physical, spiritual and moral well-being. This journey presents a great opportunity to move away from our materialistic culture and to put into practice Islamic teachings that include care for the environment and its creations.

The Green Hajj Guide was developed by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and commissioned by EcoMuslim and Global One 2015. The initiative was part of the Muslim Seven Year Action Plan on Climate Change launched in 2009 and is a joint venture between ARC and the United Nations Development Programme. The guide was developed to provide simple instructions on how to implement a greener approach to the Hajj and enables the pilgrim to prepare and carry out a Green Hajj and Umrah by:

1)      Asking you to purchase environmentally–friendly products and services

2)      Encouraging you to reduce waste and consumption

3)      Advising you to live environmentally-friendly post-pilgrimage

The guide is divided into several sections. The first reviews values and principles of Islam as they relate to conservation of the environment. The second provides guidance on preparing for a Green Hajj and offers advice on the mental state, your purchasing and travel choices and the importance of fair trade products. The third looks at reducing your carbon footprint during Hajj, such as using alternate transit options like the new Mecca Metro; to reduce congestion and pollution. It also reminds those returning that the habits instilled when you go to Hajj should continue when you return to you daily routines, including environmental stewardship. The closing section provides recommendations for governments and institutions organizing the Hajj to make it more environmentally friendly; however, these ideas can be expanded to include our local communities.

Overall, the guide provides a quick reference for those contemplating the pilgrimage and summarizes some easy steps that pilgrims can implement during the Hajj as well as action items they can incorporate into their daily routine once they return.

Photo credit from 5ivepillars

The Story of Stuff


This month, Noor Cultural Centre will be hosting a weekly reading and discussion series based on the highly-acclaimed book "The Story of Stuff" by Annie Leonard. The book follows the release of the thought provoking movie that traces the life cycle of consumer products and examines the resulting environmental impacts from a comical perspective. Considering a study released last week found Canadians waste 40% or $27 billion worth of food annually; this discussion series is extremely relevant.

This four-part series will cover the contents of the entire book, with each session consisting of a recap, analysis and discussion of the material

Dates: Sundays October 21, 28; November 4, 11 Time: 11:00 am - 1:00 pm Location: Upstairs Classroom, Noor Cultural Centre Admission (per session): $5/Program

Session 1: October 21 Reading: Introduction & Chapter 1 (Extraction)

Session 2: October 28 Reading: Chapter 2 (Production) & Chapter 3 (Distribution)

Session 3: November 4 Reading: Chapter 4 (Consumption) & Chapter 5 (Disposal)

Session 4: November 11 Reading: Epilogue & Appendices

This program will be facilitated by Khadijah Kanji, Program Coordinator at Noor Cultural Centre.

Toronto Mu­­­­slims join National Environmental Cleanup



Greater Toronto Area Muslims came out on Sunday to take part in a national environmental program, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, joining with other citizens who are seeking to reduce the harmful effects of litter on fragile aquatic ecosystems and their surrounding shoreline environments.


“Shoreline cleanups are important because they are a tangible means to mitigate pollution, reduce threats to wildlife and ecological health, and reconnect people with nature to help keep our shared waters sustainable,” said Aasiya Hussain of Ecohesian Inc. and Site Coordinator of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup at the Finch Meander site.

At the Finch Meander in Rouge Park, located in the north-east of the city, a number of Muslim groups collaborated in the environmental cleanup, including CivicMuslims,, Canadian Muslim Fellowship of Scouting, Islamic Institute of Toronto and Pickering Islamic Centre.


During the cleanup, participants removed harmful items from the shorelines of the Rouge River’s Finch Meander, near the north end of The Metro Toronto Zoo off of Old Finch Ave E, and recorded the type and amount of litter they collected on data cards.


“From our rivers, to our lakes, to our oceans – water connects us all – and as Canadians, we have a strong connection with water,” added Aasiya Hussain. “Our nation has the longest shoreline in the world, 20% of the world’s freshwater, and 7% of the world’s renewable freshwater supply – we’re also blessed with breathtakingly beautiful and essential natural capital.”

In 2002, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup emerged as a national program, providing all Canadians the opportunity to make a difference in their local communities.

Meanwhile, a group of students from the University of Toronto came out to another site at Cherry Beach to take part in the Shoreline Cleanup as part of a monthly program at the university that seeks to actualize virtues through a community service project.


“Our Shoreline Cleanup was organized by the Multi-Faith Centre and Volunteering with Virtue, with help from a number of other organizations, including Common Ground Project, Hillel, Muslim Students’ Association, and Faiths Act, UofT,” said Ishraq Alim, one of the organizers.

Volunteering with Virtue is a once-a-month project that brings together students and youth of different faith backgrounds to discuss common virtues and to work together on a community service project,” added Alim. “This month’s theme was Environmental Preservation.”

Following the cleanup, the students reflected on the day’s project.


“We discussed what we came out of the event,” said Ishraq Alim. “Some students were quite impressed at the efforts of Toronto Parks Services at keeping the beaches clean, while others were quite surprised by the level of small and unusual items that were left on the beach, such as cigarette butts, drinking straws, personal hygiene material and a coconut.”

Shoreline Cleanups started appearing in every province and territory, and by 2011, the Shoreline Cleanup celebrated its 18th anniversary with more than 56,000 volunteers.


Over the following years, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup has continued to expand its reach and influence, aided by the support of sponsors, donors, and partners, such as WWF Canada, who became a full partner of the Shoreline Cleanup in 2010.

Today, it is recognized as one of the largest direct action conservation programs, as well as the most significant contributor to the International Coastal Cleanup in Canada.


In the west end of the Greater Toronto Area, Muslims also took part in the shoreline cleanup.


“Faith of Life Network and Sayeda Khadija Centre volunteers were at Meadowvale Conservation Park last Sunday to participate in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup,” Imam Dr. Hamid Slimi told IQRA. “More than 60 volunteers showed up and cleaned up the shoreline.”

“The efforts of today’s volunteers and supporters were inspiring, bringing together government officials, ENGOs, civil society, the corporate sector, educational institutions, and faith-based communities” said Aasiya Hussain. “Our collective efforts became a tangible means to keep our shared waters and environment sustainable, while leaving a positive national legacy for generations to come.” nominated for Brass Crescent Award


The Brass Crescent Awards were created in 2004 with the purpose of promoting the best writing of the Muslim web and exposing them to a greater number of readers. Since then it has grown to become one of the most anticipated awards within the Muslim blogosphere and continues to encourage creative new talent within our communities. We are proud to announce that has been nominated for the Brass Crescent Award for “Best New Blog.” It is humbling to be considered alongside such great writers in this category and we ask that you take a moment to visit the sites nominated and to cast a ballot in each category. Polls close end of day Sunday, October 21, 2012! 9 pm (Mon) PST, 12 am (Tue) EST, 5 am (Tue) GMT

We look forward to your continued support over the year to come, and hope you consider voting for us as Best New Blog.



About was created with the goal of reigniting the discourse surrounding the Islamic approach to environmentalism and to draw upon the essence of these teachings, emphasizing the movement from a North-American perspective. This past year, it has taken off as interest grows in the environmental movement, and its articles have been featured on various websites including SuhaibWebb, IslamOnline and recently Productive Muslim. There have also been contributions from academics, religious scholars and activists within the Muslim community, each adding their own unique perspective to the conversation.

This spring held its first roundtable event entitled Think Green: Creating Sustainable Communities which brought together community activists to discuss what it means to green the Muslim community, as well as how to identify and implement environmental initiatives within a diverse society. This was the first such initiative in Canada and set the foundation for future discussions on how environmentalism could play a more active role within the Muslim-Canadian context. also ran a successful Green Khutbah Campaign to coincide with Earth Day which garnered the support of over 75 Imams/Organizations across North America, Europe and Africa. The campaign posed a challenge to Muslims to become stewards of the Earth by making changes to their daily routines and encouraged mosques, schools, universities and Islamic Institutions in North America to devote their Friday Khutbah to raise awareness on the environmental challenges facing humanity.

This fall there are plans to expand the environmental movement into mosques with the launch of the "Ban the Bottle" campaign targeting disposable water bottles in Islamic institutions.  This will include providing promotional material, resources and educational tools for organizations considering alternatives to bottled water. There will also be the launch of a new series profiling Canadian mosques and will highlight some of the creative and unique environmental projects that Muslims are already engaged in. We will also continue to partner with other environmental events within the Muslim community and foster partnerships with external organizations that have similar mandates.

If you are interested in getting involved, submitting an article or would like more information on how you can help your community, please contact us at

Water - A Sacred Resource


Gray skies could not keep attendees away from the recent Greening Sacred Spaces event entitled Water – A Sacred Trust. The event held this past Thursday at the Islamic Foundation of Toronto drew over 50 attendees from a variety of congregations and faith groups. The goal of the seminar was to rekindle our connection towards the sanctity of water, provide proactive tips that faith groups can use to increase awareness within their congregations and to optimize the overall water efficiency within our homes and institutions.

Speakers at the event included Adrian O'Driscoll, Supervisor of Stewardship & Outreach Education at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Stan Gibson, Executive Director of Ecologos and Muaz Nasir, Program Officer from Toronto Water.

The seminar opened with a screening of the documentary One Water. This movie explores the value different cultures place on this resource, celebrates our relationship and analyzes some of the impending water issues. The film contrasts areas of the world where water is in abundance to regions where it is dangerously low and presents the issue of water quality. This was followed by an interactive discussion facilitated by Stan Gibson who encouraged the attendees to consider their personal relationship with water and the meaning of water to humanity.

Adrian then followed with a presentation covering the components of a watershed and why it is important to protect it. His demonstration on how much water is actually available to us compared to the volume of water on the planet resonated with the audience who were quick to point out that we are losing freshwater from the melting icecaps to the saltwater of the oceans. He also addressed stormwater runoff, sources of pollution that enter the natural system, and some of the community outreach programs available to residents and community groups.

The final presentation was from Toronto Water and provided proactive tips that congregations and homeowners could implement to improve water efficiency. He also provided resources that could be used as educational aids within their institutions and described some water conservation examples that faith groups could incorporate into their religious practices.

The seminar was well received with many more tuning in to watch a live stream of the event.

If you missed the seminar, you can watch a taping of the webinar and download the water efficiency slides at:

Water – A Sacred Trust Webinar Part 1

Watch live video from Islamic Foundation of Toronto on

Water – A Sacred Trust Webinar Part 2

Watch live video from Islamic Foundation of Toronto on

Water Efficiency Presentation Slides


A special thanks to CivicMuslims and Ecohesian Inc for their promotion of this event.


Rouge National Urban Park: How You Can Help


By Aasiya Hussain - Environmental ethics are inherent in Islam, and we’re blessed with the opportunity to fulfill this sacred trust with a natural gem right in our backyard; Rouge Park.   Rouge Park encompasses 10,000 acres (over 40 km2) of protected park land in the Rouge River, Petticoat Creek and Duffins Creek watersheds of the Greater Toronto Area.  It is 5,000 acres  south of the Oak Ridges Moraine and is the only region linking the Ontario Greenbelt to Lake Ontario in the City of Toronto.  With this landscape, Rouge Park provides an essential natural corridor and is now home to one of Canada’s last remaining Carolinian habitatsrare and vulnerable species, a provincially significant geologic feature, 10,000+ years of human history, and is a source of our drinking water.

Located in Canada's most densely populated region, Rouge Park offers an oasis that reconnects urban communities with nature and outdoor recreation.  Among these communities is a significant Muslim population residing in the Rouge, along with members of Canada's beautifully diverse multi-faith and multicultural social fabric.

As Rouge Park becomes Canada’s first national urban park, it needs our collective help now more than ever.  Please help leave a positive Canadian legacy that protects the Rouge's ecological health, natural capitalnatural and cultural heritage, and the rights of people in this region, including Canada’s Aboriginal peoples. Opportunities include:

Sept. 1,  2pm & Sept. 29, 9:30am  Rouge Park's Guided Walks. Explore the splendour of Rouge Park while replenishing your mind, body, and spirit.

Sept. 15: Tour de Greenbelt in Rouge Park.

Sept. 22: Friends of the Rouge Watershed's community tree planting in Bob Hunter Memorial Park, Rouge Park.

Sept. 23, 2:30pm: The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup at Finch Meander in Rouge Park. Help keep our waters and natural environment healthy and sustainable.  Spots are limited, please reserve yours by pre-registering today.

From now until Oct. 8, 2012: Help create The Rouge National Urban Park by reviewing the Park's concept and submitting your feedback on-line to Parks Canada before their Oct. 8, 2012 deadline.  Amplify your voice by sending a letter to your leaders for support.

Additional Resources:

UPDATE (October 10, 2012):

The following public meetings are now taking place to inform and seek input from residents regarding changes in the Rouge:

1)      October 11, 2012 from 6:30-8:30pm: Beare Road Park Master Plan Public Meeting at Blessed Mother Teresa Catholic High School.

2)      October 15, 2012 from 7:00-9:00pm: Rouge National Urban Park Community Meeting at the Scarborough Civic Centre.

Aasiya Hussain is an environmental steward, community catalyst, and award-winning socio-environmental entrepreneur. Her journey includes reconnecting people with nature as a certified hike leader and leading innovative conservation, stewardship, sustainability, and community development initiatives across Canada and abroad.  She is dedicated to collaboration for the common good and building bridges towards greater understanding.

Paint the Town Green


Human Concern International Youth Action Program has teamed up with Amel Youth to host a unique initiative to raise awareness of environmental issues in the Middle East.

Paint the Town Green is a boat cruise that will host dinner and entertainment while sailing up the Ottawa River. This fundraiser will support a tree plantation project in Lebanon and will work towards improving the environment and living conditions in the Middle East.

This initiative has been youth-driven as both organizations felt that more could be done to improve the natural environment in Lebanon. Tree-planting was chosen as the preferred project because it tackled both air pollution and the urban heat effect whose impacts are compounded from a lack of tree cover within the cities.

Lebanon suffers from having an extremely low forest canopy and ground level pollutants such as particulates, ozone and nitrogen oxides are a reoccurring problem in the predominantly mountainous country.  Part of the issue stems from the dependency on cars as the primary form of transit, with the transportation sector consuming approximately 45% of the total petroleum products imported into the country. Daily-motorized trips within the Beirut area alone are expected to reach  5 million by 2015 while the total suspended particulate concentration in the air exceeds safe levels by as much as four times.[1]

There has been impetus for change though.

A 2010 Pew Global Attitudes survey found that Lebanon ranked third at 71% in the world in terms of the percentage of citizens who believe climate change is a very serious problem, up from 41% in 2007. Seventy percent also indicated that they were willing to protect the environment even if it slows growth and costs jobs.[2] This project builds upon a growing sentiment within the country that protecting the environment is crucial to securing the country’s future.

Depending on the feedback received from this initiative, the Youth Action Program will be looking at forming future partnerships with other non-governmental organizations to promote environmental projects and awareness throughout the Middle East.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit Paint the Town Green.

Human Concern International

Amel Youth


Upcoming Event: Water - A Sacred Resource


Water plays an instrumental role in the foundation of many of the world’s religions. Whether it is used as part of ritual cleansing and purification or embraced as a symbol of growth and fertility, the concept of water management and conservation is integral to the religious practices of many faiths.

In Canada we are blessed with an abundance of fresh water and enjoy relatively easy and reliable access to it. This convenience however has allowed us to become disassociated with the true value of water as a life preserving force and a catalyst for growth both physically and spiritually. is proud to support this initiative which will be taking place at the Islamic Foundation of Toronto on September 20 2012. The goal of this seminar is to rekindle our connection towards the sanctity of water, provide proactive tips that faith groups can use to increase awareness within their congregations and optimize the overall water efficiency of both our homes and institutions.

Admission is free and the event will be broadcast live online. Please RSVP at:

Observing a Green Ramadan with Imam Zaid Shakir


Last week GreenFaith hosted its annual Green Ramadan webinar with special guests Imam Zaid Shakir; prominent Muslim scholar and co-founder of Zaytuna College and Br. Saffet Catovic; board member of the Islamic Society of Essex County and Greenfaith fellow.

This annual seminar aims to raise awareness within the Muslim community about our environmental responsibility towards the planet and provides proactive tools and resources Muslims can adopt during the month of Ramadan.

Imam Zaid Shakir opened the webinar with a call for Muslims to stand with other faith communities in protecting the environment. No matter what faith group we belong to, the earth is part of our common heritage and should be treated as a gift for future generations. It is critical that our community join the environmental movement as an awareness of nature fosters an appreciation of the signs of Allah and enhances our spiritual well-being and development.

The Green Ramadan project was created to encourage and establish environmentally-friendly habits and practices during the holy month of Ramadan.  During this month we celebrate spirituality, brotherhood and strengthen our connection with Allah, however; there is a disconnect between our belief and some of the practices at our local mosques and community organizations. The prevalent use of disposable products like Styrofoam containers and plastic water bottles results in a staggering amount of waste thrown away after each iftar. These problems often have simple solutions such as utilizing reusable dishware and cutlery, composting leftover food-scraps and holding littlerless iftars.

Imam Zaid closes his portion of the seminar by reaffirming the need to reconnect with the earth and strive towards maintaining the balance that Allah has created. He urges Muslims to participate and contribute towards the larger environmental movement, or risk failing our responsibility of preserving the planet for future generations.

Br. Saffet Catovic is part of the Green Muslims of New Jersey network and is one of the founders of the Green Ramadan campaign.  The organization was founded as a response to many of our mosques who have yet to assume their full role when it comes to fulfilling our communal responsibility and promoting individual accountability towards the earth.

The Green Ramadan Initiative incorporates two components to address this deficiency: 1)      What can I do this Ramadan to be Green? (individual) 2)      How to Green my Masjid/Organization this Ramadan? (collective)

To accomplish this they collaborated with Khalid Dardir, an environmentalist within the New Jersey community, to form the Green Ramadan Pledge which tackles waste and excess through four categories.


"I _______________________ pledge this Ramadan to MAKE A DIFFERENCE to be environmentally conscious, socially responsible and compassionate to those around me in following the example of Prophet Muhammad (SAAWS) – the mercy to the worlds. In order to fulfill this, I pledge to do the following action items (SELECT PLEDGE ITEMS):

WATER1. Adopt a Sunnah Wudu: It is reported that the Prophet Muhammad would perform the entire wudu from a bowl two-hands full together (approximately 0.5 liter) and he warned against excess in performing ablution (israf). 2. Quick Showers: Reduce shower time by 20%. On average, a ten minute shower results in twenty-five gallons of water down the drain.

WASTE3. Eliminate Plastic Water Bottles: Plastic should be minimized because of harm related to global warming and health. 4. Eliminate Styrofoam. Styrofoam is unrecyclable and non-biodegradable, which means that it will persist as garbage even a thousand year after its use. 5. Adopt a Reusable water bottle/mug whether you are at the mosque, work, or home. Avoid bringing plastic disposable bottles to the mosque during iftars and for tarawih. 6. Reduce Disposable Party items: Remove or reduce all of disposable items from your parties and save money while doing so.

FOOD7. Reduce food waste and over consumption by eating moderately, keeping in mind the hadith (fill ⅓ of stomach with food, ⅓ water, and ⅓ empty). Take only what you can comfortably finish. 8. Sunnah Iftars: Eat More Fruits & Vegetables, Less Meat: The Prophet’s diet consisted mostly of grains, dates, water, milk, honey, vegetables and fruits. Meat was not daily part of his diet.

ENERGY9.  Make an effort to carpool.  10. Plant or expand a garden this year (less grass, more trees and plants) at home or the mosque and remember that planting a tree is a charity.

For more information on this initiative, please visit:

GreenFaithGreen Muslims of New JerseyGreen Ramadan Webinar RecordingZaid Shakir – Green Ramadan 2012

Photo credit from

Five Ways to Green your Ramadan


Ramadan presents the perfect opportunity to recharge our spiritual batteries for the year. It is a time to seek forgiveness for our misgivings and to reflect upon the signs of creation from Allah, which includes those present around us in the natural environment. As Muslims we have a duty as stewards (khalifa) over this planet and it is our responsibility to ensure that the resources and environment are used in a sustainable manner. This Ramadan, consider your making your fasting experience a little more environmentally-friendly by adopting the following measures.

1) Purchase Local Produce/Organic Products

Have you ever considered where your food comes from? The average North American meal travels 2,400 km to get from the field to your plate and contains ingredients from 5 countries in addition to our own.[1] The amount of greenhouse gases emitted from transporting produce is staggering and contributes significantly to global warming. After cars, the food system uses more fossil fuel than any other sector in the economy.[2] Even the dates traditionally used to break the fast, have most likely travelled halfway across the world. This Ramadan consider shopping for local, seasonal produce at your nearby farmers market. Not only will you get peace of mind from knowing where your food comes from, you also support local economies and reduce the emissions released into the environment. Also, try experimenting with organic produce either at the Suhur or Iftar meals. Organic products taste better and generally contain no pesticides, herbicides, preservatives or other additives.[3] Be sure to check that the product is certified and review the criteria used to avoid greenwashing.

2) Moving Beyond Halal

Many of us understand Halal meat to mean animals that have been slaughtered in accordance to Islamic law. However, most of us are not aware that this is the minimum standard when it comes eating permissible foods. This Ramadan, consider going beyond Halal and purchasing meat that takes into account the entire lifespan of the animal. There are Islamic guidelines on how livestock should be cared for and raised which is often contrary to the treatment animals receive on large-scale, factory operations[4]. There are many independent farms that allow their animals to roam and graze freely, prohibit the use of steroids, growth hormones and antibiotics while still adhering to religious requirements of being Halal. Better yet, consider going vegetarian for several days this Ramadan. There are many environmental and ecological benefits of opting for a meat-free meal. If every American became a vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save 100 billion gallons of water and 70 million gallons of gas.[5] Many Iftars go overboard on serving several meat options at one meal, while it is important to remember the Sunnah of the Prophet was to eat meat in moderation.

3) Ditch the Disposables

Last Ramadan there was a movement to eliminate the use of Styrofoam containers and plastic cutlery to serve the Iftar meal. Disposable products are often the preferred method of serving food at large events since it involves minimal clean-up; however, the long term impacts on the environment are devastating. In the United States, Styrofoam products make up only 0.25% of landfill waste by weight but take up 25-30% of space by volume. Considering that Americans discard more than 25 billion Styrofoam cups annually, the potential for waste diversion is enormous.[6]

If you have to use disposable, consider alternatives such as plant-based containers and plastics that are compostable or better yet, organize a litterless Iftar where patrons bring their own containers and utensils. There is also the option of renting dinnerware and cutlery from a local restaurant or catering company which cuts down on clean-up time.

4) Reduce Energy Consumption:

Energy consumption in the United States has tripled between 1950-2007 as homes have become larger and lifestyles have become accustomed to more appliances and electronics.[7] Considering that a large portion of the electricity generated is still derived from oil, coal and natural gas, there are huge environmental effects associated with the extraction, generation and distribution of energy.

There many ways to reduce your energy consumption throughout Ramadan. Turning the air conditioner on only when you are at home or sleeping will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and your energy bills. Closing open blinds, turning off lights and using fans to circulate air will also keep your home cool. Replacing your lights blubs from incandescent to compact fluorescent and turning off lights when they are not in use can save as much as 11% off your energy costs at home.[8]  Similarly at the mosque, keeping outside doors closed when the air conditioning is on and dimming the lights also reduces energy consumption as well.

5)UseAlternative Transit Options:

If you do have access to car and plan to drive to the nightly Taraweeh prayers, try carpooling when possible. There are many benefits including easing congestion, reducing pollution and parking perks which translate into shorter commutes and healthier air[9]. There are many youth and seniors within our community without access to a vehicle or reliable transit at night that would be more than grateful for a ride. Mosque parking lots tend to overflow with congregants during Ramadan, so the fewer number of vehicles actually increases traffic flow for everyone.

You also may want to promote carpooling by offering incentives such as designated spots closer to the entrance for those carrying multiple passengers. Also, if you are within a reasonable distance from the mosque, consider taking advantage of the warm weather to ride your bike or walk to prayers as well.

Adopting environmentally friendly habits is relatively simple once you establish them into your routine. This Ramadan, reflect upon areas in your life where you could be a little more green and take action. Not only will you save money, but you will fulfill our responsibility as stewards (khalifa) towards the earth.

Photo credit from ictqatar

[1]Nature Resources Defense Council

[2]The New York Times

[3]Canada Organic Trade Association

[4]Beyond Halal – Faith in Food

[5]Live Earth

[6]Recycling Revolution


[8]US Department of Energy

[9]Transport Canada

Steps to Green Your MSA Iftar this Ramadan


As the blessed month of Ramadan draws near, Muslim Student Associations (MSA) on university and college campuses across North America are preparing for the nightly iftar; the evening meal when Muslims break their fast. Some use this as an opportunity to build interfaith relations with other student organizations by breaking the fast together with a communal meal. Others organize Fast-a-thon events to raise awareness about global hunger and to fundraise for local food banks. No matter what campaign your MSA may be involved with this Ramadan, the campus iftar is the perfect occasion to establish green habits that can carry on throughout the year.

Last Ramadan Princeton University established their own Green Iftars which were hosted through the Muslim Life Program. Faraz Khan from Think as Green  sat down with Sohaib Sultan, Muslim Chaplain at Princeton University and Arshe Ahmed to discuss the success of the Green Ramadan Initiative and to share some of the lessons learned.

The Green Ramadan Initiative was guided by three simple principles aimed at reducing waste and fostering community participation. The goal was to adopt meaningful habits that the students could easily take ownership of in their daily lives. These included:

1. Avoid taking more than you can eat. 2. Exercise patience and think of others when taking your servings. 3. Take ownership by turning off lights and AC when not in use.

To reduce the amount disposable waste generated, an agreement was made with the residential colleges to provide plates, glasses and cutlery from the resident dining halls. Reusable stainless steel pitchers were also ordered to eliminate plastic bottle waste. Overall, the total amount of garbage produced were 10 bags over the course of the month, compared to 60 the previous Ramadan.

What made these iftars a success was the community involvement in the preparation and takedown, which made it easy to adopt green values. Many students were willing to help, not only to make the campaign a success but because they felt they were part of a larger global movement. It also created an inclusive environment for members of the outside community who joined in the meal. Several policies were adopted to ensure the iftar ran smoothly and the tasks were evenly distributed. These included:

1. Students were asked to arrive early to set-up tables and chairs. 2. Individuals were responsible for cleaning-up their eating area after they were done. 3. All the plates and utensils were rinsed in the sink. 4. Leftover food was stored in the communal fridge.

Many of the participants felt that the values learned at the iftars translated to actions that were also carried over at home and incorporated into their daily routines; such as using less water and disposable items. The Green Ramadan Initiative demonstrates that with a little bit of preparation and teamwork, it is possible to host successful green iftars on your campus.

Muslim American Environmentalism




Muslim American Environmentalism - An Emerging Environmental Movement in America and Its Implications for Environmentalism and Muslims in America (Jamie Albrecht (2011) – Lambert Academic Publishing)

The Muslim-environmental movement has been gaining momentum in the United States over the last several years.  Mosques, organizations and institutions have gradually adopted environmental principles into their sermons, curriculums and operations in a unique intersection of religious beliefs and environmental activism. Until now there has not been a written account of this evolution or an evaluation of our community’s progress in this area.

Jamie Albrecht in her recent book entitled “Muslim American Environmentalism,” aims to examine how Muslims in their everyday lives in the United States experience and participate in the environmental movement. It is believed that there is a distinct Islamic understanding of the natural environment which translates into different levels of activism within the community.

This research area is important for several reasons including contributing towards the American response to global climate change and its inclusion of the Muslim community. It also addresses relevant topics that are just emerging such as Muslim activism within the United States, the role of the environment in Islam and the fusion of religion and environmentalism.

Three issues were examined as part of this research: 1) To address the contemporary Muslim understanding of environmental stewardship in the United States, 2) To determine the Muslim American role in the environmental movement through their practices and activities 3) The impact of this activism on the American Muslim political and social life as well as social inclusion within American society.

The book was divided into several sections; the first explored the role of ecology and environment in Islam through a review of the Quran and Sunnah. The second traced the historical account of environmentalism from the ecological roots of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) through its evolution to the current Muslim American community. As part of the research process, interviews were conducted to gauge the sense of eco-awareness within the community and environmental advocacy in the United States. This was followed by an analysis of these interviews to draw out conclusions to the initial research questions.

The book describes different levels of activism within the Muslim-environmental community and three methods of mobilizing Muslims around environmental issues are discussed. The first is through the influence of leaders or imams within the community; the second is through ‘green’ institutions such as mosques and community centres and third is through political and civic organizations affiliated within Muslim environmental activities. All three methods engage congregations in different ways and are generally self-directed.

The goal of the research was to analyze how Muslims in the United States participate in the environmental movement, focusing on their understanding and practices of environmentalism, and how this translates into their political and social status in the United States. The findings include that environmentalism and Muslim activism in the United States share a lot of commonalities at the grassroots level, but at the national political level it still remains in its infancy. Muslim organizations have started to work with each other and other interfaith-based environmental initiatives; however, integration with external communities on a regional level has not been as strong.

Overall, this book provided a comprehensive account of the progress Muslims have made in incorporating environmentalism as part of their faith. There were several case studies examined within the research that provided a glimpse into how different communities are approaching the current environmental crisis and how they are establishing their own environmental ethics based on the three divine sources within Islam; the Quran, Hadith and Sunnah.

One takeaway message that left an impression with me was from Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, the contributor to the “Muslim Declaration on Nature.’ He describes three central concepts that form the basis of environmental ethics within Islam.

1)      Tawhid – The unity of Allah is reflected between the unity of mankind and its relationship with nature. There is a balance and harmony that exists in nature that must be maintained

2)      Khalifah – The responsibility of the humans as trustees of Allah over the planet. We are entrusted as stewards of the earth and its resources to use in a sustainable manner

3)      Akhirah – We will all be held accountable for our actions on and to the planet in the hereafter.

The simplicity of the message reminded me that we tend overcomplicate issues and many of the solutions start with having the right intentions. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Muslim contribution to the environmental movement or learning about ways you can make your community more sustainable.




Muslim American Environmentalism

The Honeybee: A Blessing From Allah

By Khaled Dardir - June 18-22 2012 marks International Pollinator Week. Pollination plays a pivotal role in the life cycle of plants and the goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about the importance of these species. Pollinators range from bees and moths to birds and bats. The diverse range ensures that both flowers and crops are able reproduce and contribute to the overall health of the ecosystem. Khaled Dardir explores the role of one pollinator, the honeybee, and the health benefits associated with honey.

Among the many creatures Allah has created in this world, there is one in which Allah’s blessing is so clear that all of mankind sees it. This creature is no bigger than my thumb and affects our well being, our society and our economy. This miraculous creature is the honeybee. There is a reason why a whole chapter in the Quran has been devoted to it as Allah has enabled the honeybee to produce a substance within which there is a cure for all mankind. Allah says in the Quran:

And your Lord inspired to the bee, "Take for yourself among the mountains, houses, and among the trees and [in] that which they construct (Surat An-Naĥl: 16:68).

Then eat from all the fruits and follow the ways of your Lord laid down [for you]." There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colors, in which there is healing for people. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought (Surat An-Naĥl: 16:69).

From these verses, we can see the reference to the healing benefits of the honeybee.  Unlike other creatures that are limited in range to specific locations, the honeybee can be found worldwide, and its medicinal benefits are universal.

In a Hadith, Abdullah bin Mas’ood has reported Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) as saying:

“Make use of two remedies, Honey and Quran.”

Honey has been useful both as food and medicine. It has been produced by bees from nectar and contains a unique combination of sugars, acids, minerals, enzymes, vitamins, and flavour to make it one of the most nutritionally diverse and easily digestible foods known to man. For these properties it has become known as a Super-food for its superior health benefits.

Approximately a third of all the food we eat is due to pollination from the honeybee. Unfortunately, due to habitat loss, pollution, pesticides and disease their numbers have been dwindling. Over the last decade, there has been a startling rise in colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon by which the worker bees in a colony disappear. Research is still ongoing but several possible causes have been identified including pathogens, mites, radiation and fungus. As honeybees are essential for maintaining our food supply, it has become a major concern from an economic perspective as well. Without a healthy bee population, produce prices would skyrocket, costing both the agricultural and food industry billions of dollars.

The list of benefits which the honeybee gives to its consumers and our society through honey and pollination include:

  • One teaspoon will help to clear most colds and coughs
  • Drinking honey diluted in hot water in winter and cold water in summer relieves stress and is an ideal energy supplement
  • A spoonful of honey early in the morning restores health and increases potency
  • Honey improves memory and eyesight
  • Honey strengthens the joints in the body
  • Honey has four times more energy than milk
  • Honey reduces stress and tiredness
  • Honey is not harmful for diabetics
  • Honey bees are vital as pollinators. They are responsible for 1/3 of your food.
  • It is the only insect that produces food eaten by man.
  •  Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water; and it's the only food that contains "pinocembrin", an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.

The critical role of the honeybee and the benefits of honey have only become apparent over the last several decades. Modern science is becoming more aware of the knowledge that has existed within the Quran and Sunnah over 1400 years ago, which is a testament to the signs of Allah. May Allah guide on the straight path, and guide to better understand his creations and his blessings.

Khaled Dardir has recently completed a Master of Science specializing in the chemistry and is currently enrolled as a student in Mishkah pursuing a bachelors in Islamic Studies. He is the founder and Chief Coordinator of the non-profit organization The Building Blocks of New Jersey whose mission is:To aid self development, promote activism, and bolster community building”

Community Planting Initiative Supports Local Food Bank


The ISNA Youth Food Bank Committee and the experts from EcoSource partnered up for the first ISNA Mosque Community Planting Day this past Saturday. The joint venture took place at the Iceland Teaching Garden in Mississauga and involved weeding the community garden, mulching and tilling the site and planting vegetables for the upcoming season. Participants also learned about planting techniques, integrated pest management and the importance of locally grown, organic produce.

Despite the rain in the morning, spirits were high among the youth who volunteered their time and energy for the project. The event was also attended by CivicMuslims, a grassroots initiative promoting civic engagement, who also contributed towards the promotion of the event. Members from the general community were also invited to attend and dropped by throughout the day to show their support.

This initiative is part of EcoSource’s Growing for our Good program whose goal is “to build volunteers’ skills in organic and sustainable urban food production through hands on education.” The crop that is grown will then be donated to the Eden Community Food Bank through the Mississauga Sustainable Agriculture Project (MSURA). This project parallels the mandate of the ISNA Youth Food Bank, which has grown to serve over 150 families in the west end of the Greater Toronto Area.

For more information about the ISNA Canada Food Bank and EcoSource, please visit:


CAIR Canada joins Black Out Speak Out Campaign


The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Can) has joined hundreds of organizations across the country in a single unified voice for Canada’s nature, for human rights and for democracy. Bill C-38 has come under fire from environmentalists, social interest groups, policy development organizations and think tanks for its overarching reforms to the Fisheries Act, the Species at Risk Act, the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The Bill also repeals the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act and dissolves the National Round Table on Environment and Economy Act, the only advisory body whose goal was to develop “sustainable pathways that help preserve our environment while building a strong economy.”

The Black Out Speak Out Campaign is part of a concerted effort by environmental organizations, charities, unions and others to darken their websites on June 4, 2012 in defence of nature and democracy. This symbolic act of solidarity is meant to raise awareness about the bill and actions concerned Canadians can take to inform their Members of Parliament and their party leaders.

For more information about the campaign, please visit:

 CAIR-CAN is a national, non-profit, grassroots organization striving to be a leading voice that enriches Canadian society through Muslim civic engagement and the promotion of human rights.

Greening the Ummah with ISNA


The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Canada held its annual convention this past weekend in Mississauga, Ontario. This year’s theme was “A New Era Unfolds – Rising to the Challenge,” and the goal was to provide an opportunity to address the many issues and challenges relevant to our Islamic identity.

This year the event incorporated a green theme called “Green for ISNA, Green for the Environment,” which included environmentally friendly practices as well as topics covered in the lecture sessions. This was guided by three principles integrated into the planning process including: to reduce the amount of garbage produced, to choose ethically and to support local initiatives and talent.

Hospitality features included recyclable paper cups and plates and a pledge to utilize reusable products where possible. The organizers also supported local artisanship and businesses, and ethical fair trade gifts were selected as tokens of appreciation for the speakers. To reduce the amount of disposable waste, water-filling stations were made easily accessible throughout the main lecture hall to encourage the use of reusable water bottles.

This year one of the attending speakers was Dr. Fazlun Khalid, the founder-director of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Science (IFEES) based in Birmingham England. Dr. Khalid has worked with the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and has traveled extensively to raise awareness through environmental education about the Islamic duty and perspective towards conservation.

His keynote address was entitled “The Environment and the Challenge of the Emerging Order” and was jointly presented with Elder Cat Criger; a teacher and mentor from the Six Nations People of the Longhouse. The goal of the session was to discuss the importance of preserving, fostering and respecting the environment through linking current issues with the traditional prophetic teachings and providing practical measures to live a more eco-conscious lifestyle.

Dr. Khalid opened by providing context of the environmental issues plaguing the planet from the growing tar sands projects in the Canadian west to shrinking rainforests in the developing world. Muslims represent a considerable driving force on the world stage and can play a significant role in finding solutions. However, this consciousness starts and an early age and he calls for environmental education to be incorporated into the Islamic curriculum so that the younger generation can instinctively view elements of nature as signs from Allah.

From an Islamic perspective, the Muslims response to the environmental crisis should incorporate four elements.

1)      Tawhid – Unity principle

2)      Fitra – Principle of natural state

3)      Mizan – The balance principle

4)      Khalifa – The responsibility principle

Recognizing that Allah created everything on the planet and that we are all interconnected is imperative in Islam. There is originality in creation; however there is also a pattern in design which is a sign of unity between humans and other animals. There is also the intellect that Allah has bestowed upon us, that enables us to recognize the balance of nature.  Over-exploitation and waste upsets this balance and disregards the bounty provided to us. We all have a responsibility to maintain the planet as stewards and will be held accountable for our actions towards it.

Elder Cat Cringer reiterated several of the common elements between Islam and some of the beliefs of the First Nations People. There is a deep respect for Mother Earth, as all provisions are offered from the natural environment. Many of the First Nations cultures form matriarchal societies that hold a deep reverence to the earth similar one holds towards their mother as a nurturer and provider. Prayers or offerings are made before going on a hunt or cutting down a tree to thank their spirit for this sacrifice and careful attention is taken not to exhaust the resource or waste any portion of the gift. Cringer closed by sharing their belief of honouring the sun as a reminder to walk “on a good path.” Just as the sun nourishes the planet, we should take care to spread this warmth as we go about our day. The spirit of Mother Earth is always present and sees your actions, so the sun is a constant reminder to do what is good and avoid what is wrong.