Mr. Aziz Junejo
God entrusted the earth to us, so act accordingly
As the world's human population swells, as our natural resources near depletion, as pollutants decimate forests and cause global warming...
Special to The Seattle Times
Salmon Homecoming 2008: www.salmonhomecoming.com
As the world's human population swells, as our natural resources near depletion, as pollutants decimate forests and cause global warming, we must remember that God created the Earth as a trust and put it in our care.
We must all be better stewards of the Earth.
Conservation work not only helps preserve God's incredible gift, it fosters peaceful coexistence as people of varying faiths and walks of life learn to trust and respect each other in working toward a common goal.
All the Abrahamic faiths believe God created the heavens and Earth so that humankind could live and prosper.
In the Quran, men and women are described as Earth's vicegerents (representatives of God). We are told that God created nature perfectly and that mankind's obligation is to maintain and guard its delicate balance through intelligent authority and good behavior. (Quran 2:30)
On Sept. 11 this year, I was honored to give a special presentation at the reception following the annual Salmon Homecoming Forum. Steve Robinson of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission describes Salmon Homecoming as "a nonprofit organization dedicated to building bridges of understanding between tribal and nontribal communities in natural-resources management and environmental protection."
At this year's forum, a "Unity Accord" on the environment was finalized among an array of ethnic groups. It is the sort of effort we in the interfaith community should not only support but help lead.
When I was a young boy, my father and I participated in many of the local YMCA programs; one I especially enjoyed was Indian Guides. Together, fathers and sons learned to respect and honor Native American culture and tradition. Out in nature, camping and canoeing and hearing stories that conveyed the wisdom of the ages, we learned to love and respect the environment.
When I was older, I became a Boy Scout where, again, love and respect for nature were taught through hands-on experience in the Cascade and Olympic mountains. There I earned many merit badges I displayed with pride on my uniform.
Many mosques, churches and synagogues still participate in such programs, and they make a difference in our children's lives, teaching them to never forget the importance of environmental stewardship.
Still, people of faith today must collectively become greener. A stronger relationship with nature can't help but build that essential link between the theological and the ecological.
Even beyond the walls of our religious institutions, we practice our faith through environmental stewardship and conservation of vital resources. By thinking about how we consume food, water and energy from a spiritual perspective and utilizing technologies such as solar and wind power, we make good our responsibility to God.
The Prophet Muhammad reminded his followers they would be rewarded by God for taking care of the Earth. There are hundreds of verses in the Quran that encourage all believers to reflect and ponder on nature.
But sound ecological principles should be taught and practiced in all faith traditions. Together, we must create a religion-based movement to protect the Earth, a global effort to provide our children and their children a better place to live.
Aziz Junejo is host of "Focus on Islam," a weekly cable-television show, and a frequent speaker on Islam. Readers may send feedback to email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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