Blog: Poetry, Climate Change and Muslim Conspiracies

(VIDEO) Why do UK Muslims care about Climate Change? - Muslim Climate Action

To be fair, my poem at the beginning was only 22 seconds long, but none the less, I'm sure it will change many peoples' lives. *puts 'idealist' hat on*

I'll come back to talking about what Poetry can do in contributing to the Climate Change discussion.

Following last month's Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change, yesterday the Muslim Climate Action (MCA) launched at the Houses of Parliament, and can you believe it, I was invited(!). This event really made me feel like someone important (I legit felt like this). The image I had floating in my head was that famous Jonathan Goldsmith meme, with the caption envisioned I don't always get invited to important events... but when I do, it's to change the world.  If you attended this launch event and you're reading this, you know exactly what i'm talking about. 

The Muslim Climate Action (MCA) is a group of UK Muslim organisations concerned about climate change. Currently consisting of five member organisation (three of which are NGO's):  MADE in EuropeIFEESMuslim Charities ForumGlobal One and Islamic Relief, they aim to: 

" on British Muslim communities and the UK government alike to take urgent action to protect our planet and save billions of lives." 

The thing that stood out to me the most was MCA's tag line "Stewards of the Earth".  Not only is this a wonderful and pertinent reminder, but it's also something that strongly manifests the role Muslims should be playing in the action for Climate Change. To cut a long story short, looking after our planet is part of our faith. This tag line is inspired by the verse in the Qur'ān (chapter [2] The Cow, verse 30):

"I am going to place in the earth a khalifa (steward)."

The stewards are us. 

What excites me as a young British Muslim is the urgent action taken by some of the finest, active Muslims in the country. Growing up (I can only speak for myself), I only ever heard Muslims debating very trivial subjects, like whether wearing Nike was 'halal' (permissible) or 'haram' (prohibited), because the brand's name has some pre-historic allegiance to a Greek mythological God, which (those who argued) "could be blasphemous" to endorse (and other debates like the Coca-Cola label on the bottle conspiracy: "brozer, when you flip the label upside down and shine it under the light..."). I know, face-palm moment right? Maybe I kept up to date with those trivial debates because it bugged me when someone said I couldn't wear my Nike Air Force One's or how I was a sinner if I drank Vanilla Coke?

It's important for Muslims to be involved in major movements and campaigns such as climate change, and even more important, using faith as a tool to bring about this change. As Lord Bourne (Parliamentary Department of Energy and Climate Change) said at yesterday's launch: "Faith based declarations are critical in supporting action on #ClimateChange inc recent Islamic declaration', highlights how much influence Muslims can have with leading figures in the country, who support MCA's objective, spearheading campaigns through intellectual discussions, gaining institutional support or just through awesome social media hashtags like #Muslims4Climate and #GreenJihad.

Now, back to talking Poetry. For almost a year, I've always felt it was premature for me to formally get involved in writing poems explicitly for particular causes. Believe it or not, but I had some insecurities about the quality of my writing. The most common scenario: A charity would contact me to write a poem on a topic, and I never was 1) confident enough on the topic and 2) didn't think it was authentically me. This year, I overcame this. My friend from Islamic Relief contacted me to appear in this video and write a short poem on climate change. It was an immediate yes, because all it took was me to see inspiring faith leaders from all over the world to come together for global declaration and I was like "damn, that's fricking awesome", because I had never seen Muslims worldwide take such a topic so seriously. As a youngster, all I heard were silly debates, and now, here comes our local heroes, proving it doesn't take one small charity in the UK to take initiative, but uniting Muslim figures to take action collectively. That was inspiring. The confidence issue was overcome because I realised it's not hard to write about things you consider yourself to know little about, especially if you engage in it every day. How can I not understand Climate Change when I use water every day, switch the light on in my bedroom, sit in the passenger seat in my sisters car (I've given it away, I still don't drive) and eat meat regularly? Climate Change is effected by our lack of care to be more attentive when using all of these resources. To bring about change on such a simple level, is to put a limit on how you use these resources, or better, find alternatives. Start with recycling, not every day disposable bottles, and eating meat, some days, buy a bottle that'll last forever and fill it up, and eat more green.

I could go on forever but I'm going to leave it there. My poem may have been short, but those few lines gave me to the confidence to write about more issues effecting our world, not shying away from something I don't know, rather slapping it in the face so I learn to overcome my insecurities. I unlocked Battersea Art Centre's secret, that no art exist without taking risks, and using this art form to raise awareness, and hopefully, at least encourage people to talk about it. We can bring about change if we just make the effort. Now, scrap all the trivial debates and crack on with talking about real issues: Climate Change.

Ps, for practical solutions tackling climate change, check out MADE in Europe's GreenUp toolkit.