In name of Allah, Islamic scholars urge action on climate change

Prominent Muslim scholars have issued a statement asking world leaders to phase out their use of fossil fuels and called on Muslims to treat action on global warming as a religious duty.

David J. Phillip/AP/File
Exhaust rises from smokestacks in front of piles of coal in Thompsons, Texas, March 16, 2011. Muslim scholars urged the world's Muslims to do their part to tackle climate change in an Islamic Climate Declaration drafted during talks in Istanbul last week. The declaration included a call for wealthy nations to curb fossil fuel use.

Islamic leaders from around the globe on Tuesday unveiled a declaration calling on the wealthy nations to curb emission during the International Islamic Climate Change Symposium in Istanbul, Turkey.  

The declaration called on the well-off governments – and oil-producing states – to lead the way in "phasing out their greenhouse gas emissions as early as possible and no later than the middle of the century.”

Drafted by Islamic scholars, the declaration strongly criticized rich and powerful countries, which it criticizes for delaying the implementation of a comprehensive climate change agreement.

“Their reluctance to share in the burden they have imposed on the rest of the human community by their own profligacy is noted with great concern,” the declaration says.

While the statement was geared towards top world leaders, it also urged the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world to embrace climate change action as part of their religious duty.

“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,” the statement read. “Excessive pollution from fossil fuels threatens to destroy the gifts bestowed on us by God, whom we know as Allah – gifts such as a functioning climate, healthy air to breathe, regular seasons, and living oceans.”

This follows a significant appeal by Pope Francis for better care of the planet by Catholics earlier this year.

In June, the Pope focused exclusively on the environment in his first encyclical, released to global attention, as The Christian Science Monitor previously reported. In the encyclical titled "Laudato Si" ("Praise Be"), the pope called for a bold cultural revolution to correct what he calls the "structurally perverse" economic system of the rich exploiting the poor and destroying the planet.

"If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us,” the pontiff wrote.  “People may well have a growing ecological sensitivity but it has not succeeded in changing their harmful habits of consumption which, rather than decreasing, appear to be growing all the more.”

This report includes material from Reuters and the Associated Press.

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