Finding Interfaith Potential in Environmentalism

Many saw President Obama’s speech in Indonesia last month as a second attempt to improve America’s relationship with Muslim communities around the world, after his first attempt in Cairo in June 2009. He addressed issues such as development, democracy, and religion — complimenting Indonesia’s ability to move development, establish one of the world’s largest democracies and function as a religiously pluralistic society.

However, his words elucidate our domestic need to reframe our understanding of interfaith work. Diversity is a fact, not an achievement. As a plural nation, we must not see tolerance as a destination, but as the first step of engaging faith communities in tacking our must fundamental issues. Rather than rehashing our differences in creed and theology, we must focus on the problems that we all face in America: need for more jobs, economic and financial reform and a clean environment.

Our environmental problem is one place where the religion, democracy and development trifecta has a clear potential for success. Communities of faith around the country are joining the “green” conversation and the environmental movement. Groups like Green Faith and Interfaith Leaders for Environmental Justice are bringing people together around protecting planet, not destroying it. An Amazon Environmentalism bestselling book is Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet, a book that encourages people of faith — specifically Muslims — to see themselves as stewards of the Earth with a divine responsibility to leave the planet better than we found it. Faith communities can set aside their differences and work towards solutions to common problems.

Once we’ve decided together that the environmental crisis is dangerous to everyone, it won’t matter to who one prays in order to push the leaders we’ve selected to change policies and programs that have supported a pollution-based economy thus far.

I heard the author of Green Deen, Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, speak at a recent World Faith service event in Brooklyn, where we volunteered in a community garden. In his book, he discusses the choice between Energy from Heavens vs. Energy from Hell. Energy from Heaven is renewable and comes from above, like wind and solar. Energy from Hell is non-renewable and is extracted from the ground and burned, like oil and coal. People of faith can make a conscious choice to use one over the other and to push policy makers to make it easier to choose Energy from Heaven.

If we can get our elected officials to really invest in clean energy innovation as a way to protect the environment, we will get development that not only emphasizes profits but emphasizes people and our survival on this planet. We will have to cooperate with other nations, investing in and sharing the best ideas. We will create new industries, new educational tracks, new jobs. None of this will be possible without both engaging the networks of our religious communities and expressing our shared values of wise stewardship.

:: Originally published on The Huffington Post and written by Frank Fredericks

:: Image via samlavi on flickr.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Naushad Somji
    Jan 02, 2011 @ 08:11:31

    Bismillahir Rahmannir Raheem ~ In the Name of Allah Almighty, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful.

    Assalamu’alaikum, Namastee, Shalom and Greetings.

    I am a Syed Muslim male from Pune, India and of Indo-Iranian descent. Over the years Allah the Most High has made me to have major spiritual and mystical experiences. Based on my personal understanding of the esoteric meanings of these experiences, I am pasting below an article along with copy of the email I received in response to these experiences.

    I swear in the name of Allah the Most High that the experiences that I have mentioned are true to the best of my knowledge and understanding. I was made a mureed or disciple and then later on given the khilfaat by Islamic Saints / Auliyas, including Prophet Muhammad (saw), who appeared to me in the resurrected from from the unseen world. This could mean that I am the awaited Imam Mahdi (as) in the making. Also, at times some divine power descends in my heart and when that happens I become spiritually extremely powerful and bright white light emerges from my heart. That time I get a feeling that I have become one with Allah the Most High spiritually and that thousands of Angels circulate around me. But when this devine power leaves I become a normal person again. This happens by itself and I have absolutely no control over it. It seems that Allah the Most High has chosen me for a devine mission and has been preparing me spiritually over the years.

    With love and blessings,

    Brother Naushad Somji.
    naushadsomjee43@gmail.com
    ————————————————————————————-
    Second Coming of Hadrat Isa (as) or Jesus Christ and the emergence of the awaited Imam Mahdi (as) as the world saviors :

    The scriptures of many religions speak of a coming leader who will consummate the fulfillment of the divine will on earth. He will manifest in his person the righteousness and compassion of God, and he will bring about the final defeat of evil, and establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. This person who will be specially chosen by God for this mission and empowered to accomplish it. Prophecies that a leader will come and accomplish such a mission are nearly universal.

    Religions call him by various names: Jews long for the promised Messiah; for Christians the Messiah is Jesus of Nazareth, who has already come and ascended to heaven but will reappear (perhaps in a new guise) at his Second Coming. Muslims also expect the second advent of Jesus, who will come as a Muslim Imam, and among Shiite Muslims there are various expectations of a future Imam Mahdi. Buddhist sutras prophesy the coming of the Maitreya Buddha; Vaishnavite Hindu scriptures prophesy the future descent of an avatar named Kalki; Zoroastrian scriptures prophesy the coming of the Saoshyant; and some Confucian texts speak of a future True Man who will finally bring peace to the world by perfectly instituting the Way of Confucius.

    In 1997 when I was 30, Hadrat Imam Ali (as) appeared to me in resurrected form at the Holy Shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Muinuddin Chisty (ra) at Ajmershareef. He looked into my eyes, smiled and went away. This opened my heart and my spiritual journey began. I started to isolate myself from people and my personality changed completely. Thereafter I experienced the divine knowledge of Allah gradually entering my heart and soul and I became very religious.

    Since then I have been meeting many dead Islamic Saints or Auliyas who have also appeared to me in their resurrected forms. A few years after my experience at Ajmeershareef, Hadrat Syed Badr-u-din Shah Hussani (rh) appeared to me also in resurrected form. He prayed over a glass of water and made me drink it, thus making me his mureed or disciple. He came to India from yemen @ 1000 years ago and was martyred. His head is buried at the Holy Shrine in the jungle near the town of Pen, in the state of Maharashtra. He nevertheless continued his fight for the cause of Allah the Most High despite the head being severed from his body. His body is buried in the town of Parandha in Maharashtra, an eight hour drive from Pen.

    Two months later, Hazrat Syed Khwaja Muinuddin Chisty (ra) appeared to me in resurrected form. He gave me a fruit to eat and said that he was giving me the Khilafaat, the position as leader and spiritual master. I was told by him that I have a pure soul and that I will over the years work as a guru for people of all religions and they will call me a Messiah then.

    Of all my meetings with the Holy men of Islam, the most remarkable was with Prophet Mohammad (saw) who appeared to me along with Hadrat Imam Ali (as) and three more men whom I did not recognize. Prophet Mohammad (saw) led us all in afternoon prayers, and then we had lunch, all eating from the same big plate. After the lunch as the Prophet (saw) was leaving he shook hands with me with a big smile and I kissed his hands respectfully.

    This could be connected to the awaited Mahdi.

    “The promised Mahdi will be among my family. God will make the provisions for his emergence within a single night “…… (Islam. Ibn Majah, Sahih, Vol. 2, P. 519)

    Later on I got baptized by a Christian Priest and during this the Priest saw a bright light descending on my person and then entering my soul as a small flame of light. Even I felt something powerful entering my heart that time. At that instant the Priest had a vision of Jesus Christ standing in the Jordon River gettting baptised in my place. Thereafter major spiritual changes began to change place with me and there are at times I could do the kind of healing that Jesus Christ did during his time. Also, I have got the power to forgive sins and whenever I visit graveyards thousands of souls would approach me for prayers to have their sins forgiven. They would not leave me unless I prayed for them. When Pope John Paul 2 died, his soul came to me in the astral body and asked me to pray for him. He said master master please help me. Few days later on when President Yasser Arafat died, his soul also approached me and he said that he did not want anything for himself but rather he asked me to help his fellow humans in Palestine who are in great trouble.

    This could be connected the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

    “What would be your situation if the Son of Mary (Jesus) descends upon you and your Imam (Mahdi) is from among you”? ………..(Islam. Bukhari, kitabul-Anbiya, Chapter Nuzul Isa bin Maryam)

    Two years ago I suddenly got a pull to visit the Holy Shrine of Hadrat Shirdi Sai Baba (rh). Since then Baba has been guiding and protecting me and he calls me his son. During one such visit at the Temple of Hadrat Shirdi Sai Baba (rh) I saw a white ball of light approaching me from the right side during night aarti. When the aarti ritual was over, this white ball of light moved away. Recently Baba has informed me that this ball has been put into my heart by him and because of this over the period of time I will become spiritually one with God the Most High ~ an Avatar !!

    This could be connected to the Kalki Avatar.

    “Whenever the Law declines and the purpose of life is forgotten, I manifest myself on earth. I am born in every age to protect the good, to destroy evil, and to reestablish the Law” … (Hinduism. Bhagavad-Gita 4.7-8.)

    All these 3 powers ~ Mahdi, Messiah and Kalki Avatar combined make up the world savior. This world savior is destined to save the mankind from the rigors of today. The day to day lowering of human values, humans behaving more like a vicious animal (it is ironic sometimes it is difficult to distinguish human beings from animals), the breaking up of relationships between the family members, between communities and on larger scale the countries has become the order of the day. Such a one fully prepared and powered to address the ills of today head-on and shall annihilate the ills of today and make the humanity step forward towards a new golden era… the Satyuga ~ the golden period. He shall be one who makes dharma or pure religion prevail over numerous other corrupted religions followed world-wide. One who brings all countries on a common platform… can only be the deliverer! The society as of today awaits the coming of this world savior! Call him the Messiah of the masses or the downtrodden denizens of the society… coming of him would be a boon to the mankind at large!

    My case is in some ways similar to that of Prophet Younas (as) as mentioned in the Holy Quran. He was called by Allah the Most High for a divine mission but initially chose to run away from it. Many times over the years I too have tried to avoid getting too deeply into spiritual and religious things and have tried my level best to lead a normal life. But every time I tried to do that, Allah the Most High would pull me back into it and this has happened several times during the past few years. Since I could not run away from Allah’s call, I had no option but to submit humbly to it.

    —————————————————————————-
    (email feedback) :

    Dear Brother Naushad Somji,

    Thanks for your kind mail. Certainly you are a blessed soul. I am very happy to read about the experiences you have undergone. Strange are the ways of the Almighty and He alone knows about His scheme of things. Nothing is impossible for Him to do. Yes He can make a person a Messiah in one night as He did with the Prophet. My personal opinion is that one should leave oneself in His hands and pray Him for His grace. He alone knows what He wants to do.

    I have read your book completely. It appears that the God Almighty has chosen you for some special work. The mystery would unfold in due course. I pray that you prove His worthy instrument. It also appears to me that you should pray “Thy Will Be Done”. I am sure He would reveal His Will and lead you to the work for which He has so kindly chosen you. My prayers for you. May the Great Masters help you in your mission?

    With Kind Regards,

    Sufi Brother

    Reply

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