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Harnessing Islamic Values for Climate Action: The Role of Ummah for Earth

by Nouhad Awwad, the Ummah for Earth Campaigner and Global Outreach Coordinator at Greenpeace-MENA.

Islamic Values for Climate Action

In the past few years, we have witnessed worldwide progressive work on faith/interfaith and climate action. The intersection of Islam and environmentalism involved relationships between Islamic theology, ethics, values, and ecological sustainability in different forms. The Quran, the holy book of Islam, emphasizes humanity's stewardship of the earth and the importance of preserving the natural balance. Islam has a call to recognize the sacred trust that has been given to humans to care for Mother Earth. In Islam, the concept of "mizan" is central to understanding the human relationship with the environment.

Islamic Values for Climate Action
by Sam Riz

The Quran highlights the delicate harmony that exists between nature and humans and that all aspects of creation are interconnected and interdependent. Lately, Islamic environmentalism is wider than scriptural interpretations but to actions as we witness environmental crises. The Prophet Muhammad's teachings on the importance of conservation, sustainable resource management, and compassion towards all living beings have inspired Muslims to adopt environmentally conscious lifestyles like Greener Ramadan practices, more sustainable Hajj and Umrah journeys, and greener Islamic Finance. This year, during Ramadan some people started having Iftars free from plastics in Egypt and other parts of the world. Pilgrims are asked to use reusable totes instead of plastic bags. Islamic finance tools are used to increase investment in renewable energy. 

The Ummah For Earth campaign

Greenpeace MENA co-founded a campaign named Ummah For Earth, or U4E.  This alliance aims to catalyze a new and resilient Muslim climate movement, in allyship with Muslim groups, key influencers, religious leaders, and cultural ambassadors around the world. We have been working to amplify and support Muslims so their perspectives and experiences can help build and shape the demands of the global climate movement. We have also a stronger focus this year on training young Muslim, environmentally conscious, individuals on community-led solutions. 

The alliance started as five organizations and currently, we are 29 organizations and 9 individual allies working hand in hand and shoulder by shoulder to protect the earth. Ummah for Earth has created innovative initiatives that combine faith-based values with eco-friendly practices. From Green Initiative for Sustainable Mosques and Public Buildings to eco-Islamic practices and more sustainable Islamic Finance projects. Through Ummah for Earth alliance, Muslims around the world are starting to redefine what it means to be an environmentally conscious believer., For the past 4 years, Ummah for Earth has been exploring the intersection between  Islam and environmentalism, uncovering a rich embroidery of values, principles, and practices that have the potential to inspire a new era of sustainability and stewardship that can bring solutions to man-made crises. 

Islamic Values for Climate Action
Nouhad speaking about U4E - Advocacy for Policy Change

This campaign worked extensively on raising awareness within Muslim communities; this has been done through social media campaigns and through generating educational materials. More specifically, U4E has worked on a Green Hajj and Umrah guide and application, in four different languages (Arabic, Maley, Bahasa, and English) to prevent the environmental impact of the 2-3 million Muslims who go to Hajj each year. This huge influx of people can affect the environment and put a strain on local ecosystems in terms of generated waste, overconsumption, and carbon footprint. Yet, a chance presents itself to pilgrims every year to play a crucial role in minimizing the environmental impact this trip has and align it with Muslim values of stewardship, balance, and wisdom. Pilgrims can practice sustainable behaviors, such as reducing waste, conserving water and energy, and respecting the natural environment to preserve this blessing for future generations!

Examples of the campaign’s projects

Additionally, Ummah for Earth has encouraged individuals and families to act according to the connection present between spiritual practices and environmental stewardship and to incorporate eco-friendly habits into their worship during the month of Ramadan. The Green Ramadan campaign aims to promote sustainable living during the month of Ramadan and beyond.This could include initiatives that can be taken at home, at schools, and at mosques such as reducing energy consumption, utilizing reusable cutleries during Iftars, and preserving important resources like water.Ummah For Earth supported community-led projects. For two consecutive years, we had a climate youth March in Jordan From Amman to Al-Aqaba where different activities took place for three days of March to raise awareness of climate action. Last year we did a reforestation for Dibeen Reserve in Jordan. In 2021, we solarized Glasgow central mosque with around 120 solar panels. We make sure as our alliance to bring the values we believe in to serve the communities we live inside. 

Ummah For Earth at COP

Ummah For Earth worked on a policy level and  participated in climate international negotiations, such as COPs. We spoke at 10 side events during COP26 and participated in the climate justice march in Glasgow. During COP27, we  had a banner that sailed from Alexandria to Hurghada and then Sharm Al-Sheikh showing  the importance of art in climate action. Moreover, the Ummah for Earth allies were heavily present in the first-ever Faith Pavilion at COP28, co-hosting a total of 7 side events this year. Thus, creating a space to strengthen faith actors’ inclusion in global climate conversations and action and highlight the work of the alliance. Ummah for Earth delivered demands to faith leaders and announced plans for next year’s Islamic Finance campaign.

The concept of Islamic Finance

Finally, the global climate crisis requires urgent, bold, and equitable responses, and Ummah for Earth seeks to leverage the potential of Islamic finance as a transformative force in the battle against climate change. Islamic finance, a rapidly growing industry with a market value exceeding $3 trillion, aligns itself with ethical principles, including avoidance of 'sin sectors,' interest (riba), and uncertainty (gharar). 

This alignment presents an opportunity to channel investments into sustainable and environmentally responsible avenues. Ummah for Earth aims to create a network of allies and influencers within the Islamic finance sector who advocate for divestment from fossil fuels and investments in renewable energy. We aim to mobilise faith leaders, influencers and scholars to emphasise the strategic importance of climate action within Islamic finance and empower Muslim voices to demand robust climate initiatives. The Ummah For Earth Green Islamic Finance project will lead to a shift in dominant narratives within the Islamic finance sector, with key stakeholders taking concrete steps towards divestment from fossil fuels and embracing green solutions.


About the author

Islamic Values for Climate Action

Nouhad Awwad is the Ummah for Earth Campaigner and Global Outreach Coordinator at Greenpeace-MENA, celebrated for her profound contributions to climate activism and youth empowerment. She holds a BSc in Environmental Health and a Master’s degree in Environmental Sciences with a concentration in Environmental Policy Planning from the American University of Beirut. Nouhad has also completed the One Health Program at Duke University and a course on U.S. Foreign Policy in the Global Era at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. In 2015, she founded the Arab Youth Climate Movement chapter in Lebanon, actively participating in COP21 through COP28, and serving as a keynote speaker at the Climate Chance Conference in Agadir and regional coordinator for the Climate Action network in the Arab world between 2019-2020. she was YOUNGO (UNFCCC youth constituency) focal point in 2017.  In recognition of her impactful work, Nouhad was chosen in 2021 as one of nine women in Lebanon by UN Women for her background in boosting youth participation in environmental issues. She was also honored as one of the top 30 global leaders working toward climate solutions in 2023.

Nouhad's work spans national, regional, and international efforts to integrate climate resilience into social and economic systems, addressing systemic vulnerabilities and advocating for sustainable development. She collaborates with academic institutions to leverage data and research for impactful climate projects. As a seasoned public speaker, Nouhad frequently represents her causes in international forums, underscoring the critical connection between environmental sustainability and social justice. Dedicated to building a future grounded in equity and environmental health, she continues to inspire communities globally to take collective action against climate change


Featured images by Sam Riz (Unsplash) and others provided by Nouhad Awwad.



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