From Symbolic to Systematic in Response to Climate Change

Zaid Shakir


Channel: Zaid Shakir

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Salam Alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh this demands a check here 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. Our brothers and sisters, as we all know, there's a crisis. I recently, within the last week or so saw a phone clip of a flyover of Greenland, showing all of the ice that and noted, and does a vast swathes of grey 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. That ice shelf that built over 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 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 and the thing with that was those leases are sold have a subsequent administration can revoke those sales.

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And 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 suffit chatter Vich works with many of them in the context of greenfaith 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 exploited. And we're not going to

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be or anyway the rapture is coming so we're not going to have to deal with it. 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

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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 evacuated last night in the middle of the night. Their neighborhood got a warning and they had to evacuated 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, Barbie will barely be mcheza but a DNS Leoville calm bardella the army Lula along your journey. Corruption has appeared in the land and sea based on what the hands of humans have brought about. Thus do We

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give them a taste of what they've done in order that they return back to the path of the divine guidance. So our religion is beautiful brothers and sisters our religion it generates and encourages ecological consciousness. And it's not just in theory, it's not just a lofty sounding verses. It's in practice. If you look at a book for example of mmm hmm Suki Merida, nam mobila. Naka. So, perpetuating the blessings and eradication.

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The curses

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he many of 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 no ensures that they're healthy, that they're cared for the The Guardian the the one responsible for stuff going the walls of the city. So in the medieval times, even in the Muslim realm, was a four to five 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 ones stuck on the walls of the city war. Whenever you find a hole in the wall of Berlin, make sure there's no animals or birds living in there,

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before you stuck all 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 there are 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 it's 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, we're not caught in this prison. While we advocate for racial justice. We don't do an injustice to 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 this 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

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disproportionately from 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 is 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 poll taxes, the literacy tests, all of those things designed to undermine our black political power. We're pushing many African Americans north or west from East Texas,

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Louisiana, Arkansas, to 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 are war declared Superfund cleanup sites, EPA Environmental Protection Agency, Superfund cleanup sites, so just says the Love Canal crisis, a famous incident near Niagara in 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 there are toxic chemicals from industrial waste that will create in those health problems. Such health problems are rampant. And many of our poor communities get African American communities are built on or near toxic dump sites

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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 than 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 courses 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 Americans 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 epitomised 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 and 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 are 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 areas is placed to spread 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 they're covered 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 the people who make the laws that allow this crime to happen, we'll 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 excrement 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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Appalachian, where you have poor white folks almost overwhelmingly and 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. The minister 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 a heavy rains, many of these blue lagoons flood over and pollute their waters their wells on drinkable. Many of these areas. Also these poor

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A 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, dig digging shafts in and bringing the coal out is far cheaper 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 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 in to their streams, blocks their streams, poison 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 the the reservations many of the reservations going gold mines. So gold was found in the Black Hills of North Dakota, there's a gold rush and gold was found far

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earlier. One of the main reasons for the Trail of Tears for Native people were gathered up and forced to march west of the Mississippi many 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 these massive amounts of arsenic and its weight, weight and it's awake, and that 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 gold mine in the western tribes in the Sierra Nevadas. The same thing the 40 Niners so we have the 40 Niners and the gold rush that is described by that term 1849 in the

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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 halifa. We are the Kunsthalle custodians of this earth. We are the people who have the responsibility of guarding and protecting these resources to make sure they're used judiciously to make sure they're extracted responsibly. And to put that

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key latha in modern terms, 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 think that I am, but for a lot of Muslims activism has been relegated to gender based issues to feminism, LGBTQ activism and defending the rights. And whatever your motivation is a male law

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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 learn with poison water land will 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 popular

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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 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 extractive almost free pennies, literally pennies for the gallon.

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Where is it activism, whereas our sense of social responsibility in these realms and so we have to we have to question ourselves because our the Sharia calls for the preservation of religion Mikasa the 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 below, up to Agenda we'll insert in lallier balloon. If we don't have religion, life isn't worth living.

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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 poison 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 the pollutants and the diesel and West Oakland where the activism around the pig feces, the spray and aerosols, we're worrying about aerosols from Coronavirus. What about the aerosol of liquefied feces, and urine and aborted fetuses that's been 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. Where's our activism? Where's our activism as the ice shelf melting Greenland as the sea rises, and those rising seas lead

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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 tell us? For me, in the context of the many, many 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 Quran 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 panic

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will 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 ecology collage, the birthday, 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 their topsoil and Easter Island became an uninhabitable. You have many isolated areas. What distinguishes the Anthropocene is our ability through nuclear conflict great conflagration in 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 the coast 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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agricultural lands, if the cycles of extreme drought and then extreme rainfall leads to our river valleys being incapable

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incapable of sustaining regular farming, 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 issues the feminists work with. And as Muslims, we endorse many of those, because a lot of our women and cooling 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 the 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 him enough 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 Manoj bringing their 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 they're doing look up green Muslims to see the kind of work that they're doing. Put, urge your master 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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Wait a minute, there was no one in the masjid. Subhana Allah. 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, as green next year. 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