The International Islamic Climate Change Symposium: Khidr Shrugs

Climate Change is big trouble. As an Indian Muslim solar engineer from the USA put it to me recently, it will make what is happening in Syria look small in comparison. It is primarily a consequence of the system of fossil fuelled industrial development ushered in by European colonialism. The transformations required for human and non-human societies to address climate change with justice and dignity are pretty mind boggling.

Al Khaliq ( Creator), Al Bari ( Evolver), Al Musawwir (Fashioner)

The Muslim context is weird as ever. Let's think of it as a Qur'anicly ecological cosmology, and a set of growing embodied practices, traditions and texts in living connection to places, environments and peoples bearing a variety of colonial wounds, capabilities and power relations. Like much of the world, for the historical Ummah, the post1492 period has largely been one of political, intellectual and industrial annihilation at the hands and systems of European colonial aggression.

Add to this the reality that the Muslim position (Obese oil sheiks, national elites, NGO developmentees and diasporas aside) is largely still at the negatively impacted, trapped but perhaps unknowing victim level and you might say that, we have 'a lot of work to do'.

It is very important not to serve as the developmentor's developmentee.
Growing numbers of Islamic Society graduates don't seem to get it though.
( Source: The Developmentia Project)
Which is why I am not pouring green algae all over the International Islamic Climate Change Symposium that will take place next week in Istanbul, just a bit. After all, many critical minds within the UK Muslim community are legitimately pissed over a certain organiser's commitment to public relations, anti-politics and neoliberalism over service, depth and cooperation.

Great British Fake Off?

Given that Nabi Khidr (our Green Man) taught us the difference between the apparent and the real through Nabi Musa, I sometimes wonder why 'ecoIslam' is such a PRfest. Then depending on mood, whether eco and green prefixatives are just forms of Preventitude

A Summit in Istanbul, the Symbolic Centre of the Muslim Ummah

The International Islamic Climate Change Symposium is being organised predominantly by western NGOs, Muslim and otherwise, including Birmingham-based Islamic Relief Worldwide and IFEES, US-based Greenfaith and Beirut-centred Climate Action Network ( nice bunch of briefings and positions). I wish the gathering receives and delivers justice and wisdom, and will be tuning in.

The proceedings will be live cast here  (below) on Monday and Tuesday, tweeted on #Muslims4Climate and promises to launch a finalised Islamic Declaration on Climate Change. While not the first globally orientated Muslim statement on climate change, I don't expect anything as beautiful as the Pope's recent publication of social doctrine on social, spiritual and ecological justice Laudato Si (Praise Him), in fact I just hope it is a significant improvement on the first draft.

Highlights from the schedule, detailed here, include. (NB. Istanbul time is 3 hours ahead of BST)

  • A 5 minute opening remote address by Prod Seyyed Hossein Nasr, the spiritual and intellectual legend who has been writing about Islam, secularism, science, the sacred and the environment since the 60s. Monday 1045-1050 (Careful you dont blink or you will miss it.)
  • A session of Climate Solutions and the Power of Faith, featuring IIED and ICCAD's Saleemul Huq and CAN's Mohammed Adow. Monday 1130-1300
  • A short series of interventions from 'Muslim Faith Leaders'. Tuesday 1005-1020.
It is what it is, hopefully by the end of it some less familiar voices will be more familiar. Its not like they are going to march through Gezi Park crying 

Labbayk Labbayk Allahuma Labbayk.

What should be, however is another activity, where by the social, scholarly and political movements of Islam and the Muslims sensitise, hone and exercise their eco-politics and their creation-relations. It is not as if there is any lack of interpretive stimulus, whether through the experiences of Kelantan's floods, Karachi's recent heatwave or the coastal erosion and salinisation of Khulna.

A Decolonial Dua

Owner of Judgement, Everlasting, Protecting Friend
forgive us those foolish decisions,
which enclose noble futures,
as we make our way to the minbar.
Guide us in our knowledge adventures,
beyond the accumulation of certification
to generation, political epistemic emancipation.
Protect us from developmentors on the watchtower,
and their developmentees,
Preventing us, from helping us
Selling poverty pornography and non answers.

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