US Green Mosques


Aisha Qidwae, IOL Correspondent

Khalid Iqbal

It’s so important for us as Muslims to take the lead in it,” Iqbal said.

DC — A growing awareness of everything environmentally friendly is
taking place in mosques across the United States, which are joining
hands with grassroots faith-based groups to encourage the mainstream
society to work towards better environmental stewardship.

“It’s so important for us as Muslims to
take the lead in it,” Khalid Iqbal, Deputy Director of All Dulles Area
Muslim Society (ADAMS) in Virginia, told 

Iqbal believes being conscious of the environment and going green is part of Muslims’ moral responsibility.

“It’s so incumbent on each and every Muslim, not just because it’s a buzz word or in fashion.”

His ADAMS Center embarked on an education
campaign, by getting community member to recycle, plant more than 300
trees, cut down on water usage and change light bulbs inside the

ADAMS, working with their Sunday school,
introduced a Green Mosque project. They reduced their carbon footprint
by about 13% and their energy consumption by 21%, according to Iqbal.

In many other mosques, environmentalism is
being encouraged by giving Khutbahs on sustainability, starting a
recycling program, saving electricity by switching to LED lights, and
reducing the place of worship’s carbon footprint.

Some mosques are working with local
interfaith organizations, such as the Interfaith Power and Light, to
implement environmentally-friendly changes.

The first mosque in the nation to go
green, the Mosque Foundation, located in Bridgeview, Illinois,
installed solar panels to heat water on July 31st, 2008 and received an
Environmental Hero Award for their commitment.

The mosque improved insulation and got recycled-fiber carpeting as part of their renovations.

In Southern California, groups like the
Islamic Environmental Group of Wisconsin, DC Green Muslim and Green
Deen are educating the Muslim community and the broader public to
implement a healthier and sustainable lifestyle.

Bigger Role

“It is not possible to have a real
change if all we’re doing is working with the level of individuals and
faith based institutions,” believes Abdul-Malik.

Muslims, however, affirm that despite of the green mosques efforts to spread environmentalism, there is still a lot to do.

“There’s a lot of awareness that as
Muslims we are the custodians on earth, but people don’t know how to do
that,” said Dr. Zaher Sahloul, the Chairman of the Council of Islamic
Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC) and President of Mosque

Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, the Director of Outreach for the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Virginia agrees.

He believes that while personal
environmental stewardship and institutional partnerships are dimensions
of raising awareness, faith-based institutions need to get on board
with the mainstream green movement to ask for changes in public policy.

“It is not possible to have a real change
if all we’re doing is working with the level of individuals and faith
based institutions. That’s not enough,” Abdul-Malik told IOL.

“We have to move to the level of public
policy, where our voices are heard along with the chorus of others who
are not part of the faith based movements to ask for changes in the

Imam Abdul-Malik testified at the Environmental Protection Agency’s public hearing on global warming on May 18th.

As part of Muslim Action Day in Illinois
on May 21st, CIOGC led about 500 Muslims to the state capitol to lobby
for a cap and trade program, among other issues.

This past Ramadan CIOGC led seven mosques in participating in a Green Ramadan campaign.

One of the steps they asked members to do was to lobby their local representatives about environmental issues.

“When we started the campaign, we asked the mosques to sign pledges,” said Sahloul of CIOGC.

They also requested mosques to start a
Green committee, incorporate environmentalism in a Friday Khutbah,
start a recycling program, connect with faith-based environmental
organizations, use solar energy for water heating and eat organic Halal

CIOGC plans to promote a Green Ramadan to mosques around the US next year.

“We’re planning to use every Ramadan to push further in the Muslim community.”