Full Title: Medina to go green: Medina will be the first Islamic city to go green, the Grand Mufti of Egypt has announced, as part of a seven year plan to make the religion more environmentally friendly.
November 3, 2009
By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent
Speaking at the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) conference at Windsor Castle, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, said Islam teaches its followers to protect the Earth.
He announced the plans for Medina as part of a seven year plan to make the faith more environmentally friendly by teaching about climate change in Islamic schools, using renewable energy in mosques and encouraging green habits in places of pilgrimage.
Medina, the second holiest city in Islam, will go green by improving public transport, providing clean water from taps so pilgrims do not continue to use plastic bottles and printing leaflets and the Koran on recyled paper.
Faith leaders from all the world's main religions have already declared it is a "moral imperative" for the world to fight climate change. The Archbishop of Canterbury has said going green is "good for the soul" and the Church of England have also announced a range of plans such as putting wind turbines on vicarages and encouraging congregations to recycle more.
But this is the first time that the Islamic faith has made such a strong announcement on places of pilgrimage.
Sheikh Ali Gomaa said it was a "religious duty" to go green.
"It is a religious duty to safeguard our environment and advocate the importance of preserving it," he said. "Pollution and global warming pose an even greater threat than war and the fight to preserve the environment could be the most positive way of bringing humanity together. Environment-related issues ought to be a significant component of educational curricula. It is the duty of all religious scholars to acquaint themselves with the environmental crisis we are facing."
There are 1.4 billion Muslims worldwide and every year at least four million go on pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
As an oil-producing nation, Saudia Arabia has not been seen as a "green destination". However the pronouncements of the Grand Mufti is likely to influence the deeply religious country and encourage millions of pilgrims to reduce their carbon footprint.
As a green city Medina will start using more renewable energy sources like solar power and conserving water in the desert region.
Martin Palmer, Secretary General of ARC, said Islam has always had a "green" message but it has not been emphasised until recently.
"People think the environmental message has always come from the West but the message is now coming from Muslim religious leaders and their own religious texts," he said.