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Issue 57 June 2009

“Is climate change the greatest challenge we face today?” This was the question that my son had to reflect on. He had to answer it by analysing the term “greatest challenge” and then give both sides of the argument before coming to a conclusion. He had six minutes, as it was a six-mark question. Six minutes to answer one of the most pressing issues of our day! He concluded that it was indeed the greatest challenge, for whilst terrorism, the ‘war on terror’, various conflict zones and global poverty are all great challenges, they would be irrelevant if the planet was no longer habitable by humans because of what we had done to the planet.

This strikes me as fairly strong logic. Our planet is telling us that there is a problem; the changes in global temperature, the loss of species, regular environmental disasters, the hole in the ozone layer. The list could go on and on. We cannot ignore what the planet is telling us. If we as individuals were suffering physical symptoms we would go to the doctor and get ourselves sorted. Our planet is telling us that it is ailing, yet we ignore it.

Humans are programmed to deal with imminent danger. We will react if there is a brick about to fall on our head or a fire in a room. We are also programmed to react to facial features, so the image of a child crying will elicit a response from us. However, we seem not to believe that a global climate crisis is imminent and the Earth has no instant ‘facial’ features to inspire us to action. Yet, the earth is crying and the data is telling us that if we do not act, the profound consequences could bring about a global environmental catastrophe.

Our excessive consumerism has reached a point where we have to stop and ask serious questions about how we live our lives. There is no doubt that this is hard. I consider myself as someone who is environmentally conscious, who is aware of the issues and tries to act, yet putting together this edition of emel has made me realise how much more there is for me, personally, to do. We can all do our bit, and when we feel satisfied with that, we can do some more. However, the issues are more profound than simply a spot of recycling or making compost. We have to participate in the Eco Jihad.

The word jihad, too often translated as ‘holy war’ strikes fear into the hearts of many. However, it is a beautiful word with a noble meaning. It comes from the Arabic juhud, meaning to strive and struggle. Jihad means to strive in the way of good. I cannot think of anything more pressing and essential than striving for the environmental future of our planet.

Human beings are described by God in the Qur’an as stewards, and the earth is considered an amanah, a trust. From an Islamic perspective, human beings are permitted to enjoy the fruits of the earth, and in return we are charged with the planet’s well-being. This exchange is part of the contract between God and humanity. Yet, we are surely breaking the terms of this contract by our excesses, our waste and our greed, and the time has come for a profound re-connection with our spiritual truth and the planet that sustains us. We need to reach our deepest values in order to challenge the ethos of selfishness and materialism that pervades; move away from the greed and rivalry for money and power; shun the overweening arrogance that we see in so many around us. Instead, we must move towards a life of compassion; of awe and wonder at the grandeur of creation, and approach it with gratitude and humility. This is surely our struggle; this is surely at the heart of the Eco Jihad.

Sarah Joseph

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Halima Hidanovic Mahmutovic

27 Jun 09, 12:29

I mean , thank you for that :)

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Halima Hidanovic Mahmutovic

27 Jun 09, 12:28

this is so nice and interesting text
than you for that

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