Over the last few months we’ve had the Lambeth Declaration committing the church of England to action on climate change, and then Pope Francis’ encyclical on the subject. This week sees a similar commitment from the Muslim world, in the form of the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change.
It’s been issued by an international symposium on climate change, the first of its kind, and hopefully it will prove significant. The Quran teaches a unity of creation, and man-made climate change breaches very specific commands to respect the balance of nature. The stewardship role of humanity is also a recurring theme.
Our species, though selected to be a caretaker or steward (khalifah) on the earth, has been the cause of such corruption and devastation on it that we are in danger of ending life as we know it on our planet. This current rate of climate change cannot be sustained, and the earth’s fine equilibrium (mīzān) may soon be lost. As we humans are woven into the fabric of the natural world, its gifts are for us to savour. But the same fossil fuels that helped us achieve most of the prosperity we see today are the main cause of climate change.
Despite these theological principles, the idea of ‘green Muslims’ is still relatively unusual, and it’s certainly not a common perspective in climate change campaigning. Perhaps that is beginning to shift.
If mosques and Muslim households do begin to address climate change seriously, it could prove a powerful dynamic. The same remains true of the Christian church. Declarations are all well and good, but in many denominations the message hasn’t fed through to the pews just yet. When it does, we will have a force to be reckoned with – communities of people prepared to make lifestyle changes and support each other in them.
For now, it’s great to see Christians and Muslims speaking the same language on climate change. Reading the declaration, it’s striking how much it has in common with the Christian ones, and that unity of purpose is encouraging.