Imam Qari Asim image

Imam Qari Asim

Imam - Makkah Mosque, Leeds

How have you been changing your lifestyle to move towards a more climate-friendly way of life, in one or several of the three areas of transportation, diet, and home energy use?
In the efforts of moving towards an eco-friendly lifestyle I have made a considerate amount of changes within my own lifestyle as well as my family’s. Islam does not say that Muslims need to become vegan but it definitely urges a balanced diet, and consuming more vegetables than meat. For instance, rather than having biryani, I am cooking chick-peas rice in an effort to cut out meat and replace it with vegetables. Research from Oxford University found that if every family in the UK swapped out a red meat based meal for a plant-based alternative just once a week, the environmental impact would be equivalent to taking 16 million cars off the road. I am trying to conserve energy at home by doing things such as making sure heat drains are fully stopped, and are blocking the edges of doors and windows. We have just replaced an inefficient gas boiler to yield important energy gains. In our house, we have also replaced halogen bulbs with more energy efficient LED bulbs. I often travel across the country and I am choosing to hold more video calls than burn fuel to get to those locations or I am using trains rather than driving down myself, even when driving would be more convenient. I regularly attend meetings and conferences across the world, in order to reduce my carbon print, I am cutting down on air travel this year. Where possible, I am choosing an airline that offers carbon offsetting opportunities.

How has this experience of personal change been a journey, and what have been both the joys and the difficulties on your path?
As chair of MINAB, these are some of the energy efficient changes that I am also advocating in mosques and Islamic institutions, partly because these are ethical practices, inspired by Islam and partly to bring about radical changes to save the planet. I am conscious that lifestyle changes at the individual level can only go so far, and the vast, powerful governments and industries need to do more to curb pollution, and take urgent and radical action on cutting our reliance on fossil fuels. However, I do feel that whilst I urge others to choose Planet over Profit, Action over Inaction, Challenge over Comfort, I also need to play my role and bring about small environmentally-friendly changes in my lifestyle and my surroundings/environment as although my small actions will not change the world – they can inspire others to make changes and together make the world a more eco-friendly place for us all to live.

How have your faith and spirituality been supportive of your journey of change, e.g. thanks to texts you cherish, prayers or meditation practices, dialogue with members of your community, etc.?
One of the great threats for human society and the environment is extravagance. The origins of this are greed and negligence. This character is controlled by religious teachings. In Islamic sources, two sins are distinguished. One is “Israaf” or (wasteful consumption) and another sin is “Tabdhir” (squandering). Environmental awareness and preservation of natural resources is an integral part of my faith in Islam. As a trusted editor on this earth, we have to utilize natural resources in a sustainable manner in order to ensure that we neither misuse, pollute nor destroy the environment that has been entrusted to us. The principle of conservation is beautifully illustrated by the rule which says that while making ablutions (wudu), which is an essential part of Islamic worship, we should be conscious of not overusing the water even if we have a river at our disposal.

Imam Qari Asim, Chair of Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB)

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