By Anosha Khan - Writer, Youth Journalism Initiative
Nazish Qureshi, a community member who frequented the mosque, was inspired to start the environmental committee after other attendees started voicing their concerns and suggesting that more needs to be done at the centre to make it eco-friendly. She says the committee is a response to the needs of the community.
Since March, the committee has hosted events where they distributed reusable water bottles, organized community cleanups, and provided education about environmental stewardship based in Islamic principles. For the water bottle event in September, they gave out 300 reusable water bottles to reduce one-time plastic use. The community clean-up was held during the Thanksgiving long weekend in October.
“As we were doing the cleanup, we were also raising awareness about why we’re doing this, and the kind of trash we were finding in and around the area,” she says.
“Our main mission is to raise environmental awareness in our communities, and do various initiatives that promote conservation of the environment.” Qureshi added that the committee aims to empower people with knowledge and training so they can make a difference in their own lives, and by extension, their neighbourhoods.
In Islam, there is emphasis on honouring God’s creation, says Qureshi, by living a simple, minimalist lifestyle with a low ecological footprint.
“Environmental stewardship and conservation is a very big part of our faith,” she says. “It’s not a new concept. Our religion explicitly demands this of us as Muslims, and all of this is embodied in the life of the Prophet (Muhammad) peace be upon him.”
Qureshi said that young Muslims are incredibly keen on living a sustainable lifestyle, and are looking for resources around environmental conservation.
“We’ve been consistently doing a lot of awareness through our social media, creating different posts that people can look at and save and refer back to.”
It makes sense to start the environmental committee at Akram Jomaa, says Qureshi, since it is the largest Islamic Centre in Western Canada and has a capacity of over 2,000 people. Therefore, it will have a greater impact on the message that’s being spread.
Qureshi mentioned that the committee would also like to make changes to how the building is used and what fixtures can be changed to help with environment and energy conservation.
Community members who attend the mosque are happy about the efforts.
“Everyone was very, very positive about the work that we were doing,” Qureshi says. “We’re constantly interacting and engaging with our community hoping that we’re able to address more and more of their needs.”
Akram Jomaa plans to host future events to continue their environmental work, including in-person events and online webinars, which can be found on their Facebook page.
[This article is reprinted with permission of Nature Canada where this article was originally published. Nature Canada is one of the oldest national nature conservation charities in Canada. For 80 years, Nature Canada has helped protect over 110 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species. Today, Nature Canada represents a network of over 130,000 members and supporters and more than 1,000 nature organizations].