From Symbolic To Systematic In Response To Climate Change.

Zaid Shakir

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As salam o aleikum, wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh, this Imam Zaid Shakir and I'm here to talk about issues related to climate change ratio, ecological, environmental justice, and what we can all do to begin making a difference. Brothers and sisters, as we all know, there's a crisis. I recently, within the last week or so saw a film clip of a flyover of Greenland. So all of the ice that had melted and does a vast swathes of gray rock with little rivulet running through them the remnants of the melting ice. And then the narrator said something that really touched me to the heart. See, and the narrative said, even if the current climate

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direction is reversed, even if we reverse global warming, warming,

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that ice is permanently lost. The ice shelf that built up or up over the course of maybe millions of years, we don't know, is gone forever. And the point is, we are altering our environment. And we don't know the consequences. They're unknown to us. And then at the same week, it was announced that the Trump administration, I won't use any adjectives has opened up the Arctic wildlife reserve for oil drilling, and was beginning to actively sell oil leases to oil companies. And the thing was that once those leases are sold, a subsequent administration can revoke those sales.

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And just just looking at the juxtaposition of these two events, number one, the damage that we're doing, in many instances is permanent. On the one hand, and on the other hand, that we have a mentality that urges us to do yet more damage. And it's, and a lot of that is religiously based Hamdulillah. There are many many visionary Christian organizations, faith based organizations, our moderator sofit chatter vich works with many of them in the context of green faith. May Allah bless his work and bless the work of all the others who are working in those spaces. But there is a an understanding of Christianity that dominion over the earth means to exploit it. And we're not going

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to be any way the rapture is coming. So we're not going to have to deal with it. And this is criminal brothers and sisters, even if we don't have to deal with it, which isn't true. We're dealing with these devastating fires in California, unprecedented 500 active fires burning even in the inner Bay Area, the highly populated so we're not talking any longer way out in the forest, Napa wine country

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burned down Solano County, Napa County, or enough was in Solano, and now Alameda County. I have a friend in Alameda County. This is where Oakland is. This is where Berkeley is. Who had to evacuate last night in the middle of the night, their neighborhood got a warning and they had to evacuate from Alameda County. And so we are living right now. With the consequences of our actions. We're living with them. Allah Tala tells us there are consequences. Though Harold first said Phil barely will barely be mcheza but Aidan s. Li uveal. On BARDELLA, the AMI Lulu along your journey, corruption has appeared in the land and sea based on what the hands of humans have brought about.

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Thus do We give them a taste of what they've done in order that they returned back to the path of the divine guidance. So our religion is beautiful brothers and sisters, our religion generates and encourages ecological consciousness. And it's not just in theory, it's not just some lofty sounding verses. It's in practice. If you look at a book for example of Imam, Imam subkey, more Eden, one will be the knockout. So perpetuating the blessings and eradicate

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During the curses,

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he many, it's about the

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public duties that the Muslim ruler is responsible for. Many of them have ecological implications, and many of them today will be category categorized as eCola ecological policies. And so in the office of public duties, you have the guardian of the trees,

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of the guardian of the trees, one who ensures that trees are not unnecessarily cut down, one who ensures that they're healthy that they're cared for The Guardian, the the one responsible for stockpiling the walls of the city. So in the medieval times, even in the Muslim realm, was a fortified walls were very important to protect the city from invaders,

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or other encroaching parties. The instructions, in this book, I reference the instructions to the One Stop going the walls of the city war. Whenever you find a hole, in the wall of burrow, make sure there's no animals or birds living in there,

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before you stuck over the walls, because if you stuck all them in and you kill them, then the ruler is responsible for those deaths. So this is an indication of the kind of consciousness that our religion, both in theory and in practice. So this is a practical manual to guide the efforts of the those protecting the public realm. So the guardian of the trees, the guardian of the animals, and structures to ensure that no animal is unnecessarily killed, as one goes about executing their public duties. And this is something as Muslims we should be proud of. Right now, as we know, we're in the throes even though it's no longer dominating the news cycle of this demand and call for

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racial justice. That call is not complete. And real until this coupled with ecological justice, because many of our

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underserved communities, many of our communities

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that are poor are poor communities, and that includes poor white communities. You know, as Muslims, we were not caught in this prison. While we advocate for racial justice. We don't do an injustice to poor white folks who are suffering. And in this realm, ecological justice, there's a lot of poor white folks suffering also. And just as the Eco the educational policy, I don't agree with it and all of his particulars, No Child Left Behind. And as Muslims, our attitude should be no oppressed community left behind. And so just as we identify, yes, African American communities many Native American communities, many Latino communities suffer in some instances disproportionately from

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things like what from a communities where inner city areas in many of our large urban centers that attracted workers from the south and workers fleeing the South, so the those the attraction of jobs, especially after the during and after the Second World War, but there was also a desire to escape the oppressive conditions prevailing. This is pro civil rights movement about pre civil rights movement, rather, this is a pre Voting Rights Act. And so in the 40s and 50s, the lynchings, the cold taxes, the literacy tests, all of those things designed to undermine a black political power were pushing many African Americans north or west from East Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas to

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California from Mississippi, Alabama, to Chicago, from Georgia, Florida, the Carolinas to New York and New York and other cities. There was that push in there was the pool the attraction of jobs in these industrial centers before massive deindustrialization, which started with Reagan. In any case, those areas where the factories are located, are areas that in many instances, war declared Superfund cleanup sites, EPA Environmental Protection Agency, Superfund cleanup site so just as the Love Canal crisis, a famous incident near Niagara, New York, where an idyllic suburban community was built over a toxic dump and people started

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Getting cancers, asthma and other debilitating diseases. And then the investigation revealed there there are toxic chemicals from industrial waste that were creating those health problems. Such health problems are rampant. And many of our poor communities you can African American communities are built on or near toxic dump sites are built are built near ports such as West Oakland, California, we have the diesel trucks come in to pick up the goods from the diesel, and

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other even dirtier fuel and diesel that's burned by many of these ships. So you have the the ships with their air pollution and soot and and carcinogen, carsick CARSS, carcinogenic, I can't even say extremely poisonous byproducts of burning dirty fuel with the trucks that are burning diesel. And so people in those communities which since the Second World War was overwhelmingly African American has actually been gentrified. Now despite the health hazards. But many of the communities are in these toxic environments. And Environmental Justice says we have to clean up those communities, we have to clean up those toxic waste sites, we have to clean up the air, we have to institute policies that

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demand cleaner air that demand

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ships and trucks and burn cleaner fuel, that demand filters that will eliminate a lot of the particulate matter that's causing severe health problems in these communities. And until we do that we are environmentally unjust. And in many instances, as we mentioned, the case of West Oakland is also racially unjust. And this is a Pyramides to me in terms of the racial injustice and how the politics merge with the racism to perpetuate institutional and systemic racism. And North Carolina, there are pig farms. There are millions of pigs during the hurricane Matthew, for example, millions of pigs died in the floods. And just imagine the stench and all of that, but these pig farms,

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the pigs are are mass produced as if they're a commodity on these fence like grids and the aborted pig feces. fetuses the extra minute the urine, the feces falls through the nets, and then is flushed out. And it's either dumped into an adjacent tenten river falling that river or is sprayed in the air. And the area's displaced to spray it in the air overwhelmingly African American communities. And so people put their clothes out to dry and they on the clothesline they pull their clothes in the cover with pig excrement and urine and feces. They're breathing this particulate in the air

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and the the legislature North Carolina State legislature which is overwhelmingly white

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ban or prevent any legislation that will bring relief to these communities by forcing these pig farms to invest in the proper disposal and or storage of this waste. So it's just bone in the air.

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And the the people who make the laws that allow this crime to happen would never allow that in their own in their own neighborhoods. And so these are the kinds of and this these are just two examples. The diesel pollution in West Oakland, the the pig, extra men and feces being thrown into the air in North Carolina. And I'm sure this is a practice in other areas.

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Appalachia, where you have poor white folks almost overwhelmingly, and their poverty and their desperation is highlighted by the opioid crisis which has hit many of those areas far harder than other parts of the country. They're in many of their living next to

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open pits open lagoons of waste that's generated from cleaning coal.

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Poisonous waste during heavy rains many of these lagoons flood over and pollute their waters their wells on drinkable. Many of these areas also these poor

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rural areas where they're poor white folks are areas where fracking is common. So the aquifers are being destroyed. West Virginia mountaintop removal. So instead of

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conventional coal mining techniques, digging shafts in and bringing the coal out is far cheaper to just blow the top off of a mountain and

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have ready access to the coal where you can get it in massive the steam shovels and bring it up by the ton, a very easily and far more cheaply. But all of the debris from that mountaintop being blown apart, and the coal and other carcinogens that's the word that is in that waste flows, blows down and to their streams, blocks their streams poisoned their streams, sinks into the aquifers poisoning their drinking water. These are the things that are happening brothers and sisters. And we have to address this we have to address this.

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The the reservations many of the reservations go gold mines. So gold was found in the Black Hills in North Dakota, there's a gold rush gold was found far earlier. One of the main reasons for the Trail of Tears for Native people were gathered up and forced the march west of the Mississippi mini dying in the process. Hence the Trail of Tears was due to a gold rush in the Smoky Mountains. And a one of the consequences of gold mining is that it needs massive amounts of arsenic and its weight, weight and its wake and our arsenic poisons the water and poisons the land. And so you find many of our Native people, their lands have been poisoned. As a result of Goldmine in the western tribes in the

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Sierra Nevadas. The same thing the 40 Niners. So we have the 40 Niners and the gold rush that is described by that term in 1849. In the great California gold rush. To this day, many of those areas are poisoned by arsenic, right waste by lead waste. The many of our Navajo brothers and sisters, these are areas where many of the reservations in those areas you uranium is mined in those areas, radioactive waste. And so brothers and sisters unless and until we commit ourselves as a society, and as Muslims, we should take the lead. We should take the lead in this because we are the Khalifa. We are the construct custodians of this earth. We are the people who have the responsibility of

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guarding and protecting these resources to make sure they're used judiciously to make sure they're extracted responsibly. To put that Khilafah in modern terms, and so brothers and sisters, we have a responsibility. We have to highlight these issues we have to make these issues focal points of our activism, our activism, increasingly, I'm not trying to make a value judgment, but many people will think I am but for a lot of Muslims activism is we have been relegated to gender based issues to feminism, LGBTQ activism and defending the rights. And whatever your motivation is. May Allah

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be merciful to all of us. But what about the big picture? What about the things that are threatening our very existence as a human species? Where's our activism along those lines? Where's our activism in terms of environmental justice? That, as we said dovetails with racial justice, native tribes, being a native people being relegated to the worst land, pushed further and further west to land with poisoned water land with poison, poison Earth was difficult to farm. The aquifers are poison, it's difficult to get potable water. Where's our activism there? Where's our activism for our brothers and sisters in the inner city areas who are drinking poison water as in Flint Flint is the

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popular case. But the water in Cleveland is worse than the water in Flint. Where's our activism brothers and sisters? Where's our activism to to call for justice in a place like Flint, where while people are drinking poison water

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The clean water from the aquifer is being pumped out by Nestle's to sell bottled water for almost an extract of Almost Free pennies, literally pennies for the gallon.

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Whereas I activism, whereas our sense of social responsibility and these realms and so we have to we have to question ourselves because our the Sharia calls for the preservation of religion mocassin is Sharia the overarching objectives of the Divine not? That's number one. Recently a very famous scholar tried to make number two, number one, number two, the preservation of life.

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But the counter argument is, we were created to worship Allah we're not allowed to genuine insert inlandia balloon. If we don't have religion, life isn't worth living.

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And so number one, the preservation of religion number two, the preservation of life. That's that's one of the great overarching objectives and prioritize this is number two brothers and sisters. Poison a poisoned environment is a threat to life. A climate that renders California might be rendered and has an uninhabitable because of the fires every year getting worse and worse and worse, every year, burning deeper and deeper into populated areas.

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This might render the state large swathes of the state rather uninhabitable. Where's our activism to address the forces pushing climate change? Whereas our activism and the over the pollutants and the diesel and west of Oakland where's our activism around the pig feces, the spray and aerosols? We're worried about aerosols from Coronavirus, what about the aerosol of liquefied feces, and urine and aborted fetuses that's being sprayed in the air landing on people's houses on the clothing being breathed by the children in the earth that the children are playing in. Whereas our activism, whereas our activism as the ice shelf Melting Greenland, as the sea rises, and those rising seas

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lead to worse, storm surges during the typhoons, and Bangladesh and other areas, and more and more people are pushed from their land. And we're going to see, as we see now more and more climate refugees, where is our activism. So we have a lot of work to do brothers and sisters, and then Hamdulillah, this sort of forum creates the the consciousness helps to create the consciousness that pushes us to do that to do that work. So there are many issues we can touch on. But we just want to conclude by just urging you brothers and sisters to understand what does it mean, in 2020, to be the Khalifa of Allah? What does that Aletheia mean, in the context of the mini mini crisis that we find

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ourselves confronted with? What does it mean? I would argue that one thing that it means it means taking the lead, it means supporting those many of us, we are busy, we have children, we're working two or three jobs to make ends meet. We're trying to get the children over here for Koran school and over here for karate practice and over and we're busy legitimately busy. But we have to support those who are on the frontlines working in these areas. And so there are many areas. And this is one that we've been we've been asked to focus on. And this is one that's oftentimes neglected. But this is a big one. This is a big one brothers and sisters. Because if we don't address this, this planet

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can become inhospitable. We are living, and I'll say this, finally, we're living in what some called the Anthropocene. And how is that defined? We're living in an era

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of existence, that in which human beings have the capability to destroy all life on Earth. This is unprecedented. We've have you read Jared Diamond's collapse.

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We've had societies that have collapsed and ministers he collects the bird they cut down all the trees on Easter Island, and as a result, the rain stopped coming. They had nothing to build their houses with

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erosion washed away the topsoil and Easter Island became an uninhabitable and you have many isolated areas. What distinguishes the Anthropocene is our ability through nuclear conflagration, conflagration and the subsequent nuclear winter, a nuclear summer, and the depletion of the ozone layer destroying all life on Earth, through climate change, through rendering our environment, unable to sustain us by rendering some of our most fertile lands, where are our most fertile lands, they're located near rivers, they're located along along the coasts, where a lot of rain because of the precipitation patterns.

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If the rising sea level washes out the adjacent

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our cultural lands, if the cycles of extreme drought and then extreme rainfalls leads to our river valleys being incapable,

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incapable of sustaining regular forming the where does that leave us as a species, brothers and sisters, if the Arctic ice continues to melt, and the temperature in the Arctic continues to rise at twice the rate of anywhere else on earth, and that heat that was reflected by the polar ice cap by the Greenland ice cap is no longer reflected into the atmosphere? How does that affect our weather cycles? How does that affect regular rain, regular precipitation. These are the issues that we must grapple with as a species because they don't. They don't affect females. The issue is the feminist I work with. And as Muslims, we endorse many of those because a lot of our women, including Muslim

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women are treated unjustly. But those issues and many instances they're relevant to female.

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And then if there are unresolved they'll result in severe hardship or oppression, discrimination, but they won't threaten all life on Earth. If we don't address this climate problem, all life on Earth, male, female, gay, straight, whatever is threatened. And so this is something that calls for our collective, serious, passionate, dedicated action brothers and sisters. And we thank ISNA for hosting this panel. We think Brother soffit, for all the moderator for all the work that he does in this realm was greenfaith and other initiative now with mana bringing that expertise and skills to the Muslim Alliance in North America. So we thank him we thank our CO panelists for all of the

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things that they're doing to raise consciousness around this this issue. And we pray that we leave with a passion to get in to move into action to look up greenfaith See the kind of work that or look up green Muslims to see the kind of work that they're doing. Or urge your Masjid to get involved with the green Ramadan. This last Ramadan Allahu Akbar, it was the greenest Ramadan we've ever had. The community should be proud

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of Wait a minute, there was no one in the masjid Subhanallah so let's make it green next year if Allah lives this scourge of this virus and we're in the masjid, let's make it equally green as it was this year by doing the things we have to do in terms of recyclables in terms of composting, to make it as green this year when as green next year, when we're back in the messages inshallah as it was this year. Let's get moving. Get into action JazakAllah here. Salaam Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh