The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) calls for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty at COP26 Glasgow.
Co-operate with one another for virtue and piety, but do not co-operate with one another for the purpose of vice and aggression. Quran: Al Ma’idah, Chapter 5, verse 2
Clearly, Allah the Creator and Sustainer of the Earth and all in Creation, placed obligations to establish justice towards all of Creation on every Muslim. We must work with all of humanity who demand tangible action to stop the existential threat of Climate Change and continued Fossil Fuel Use.
Oh humanity! We have created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may know one another and work together (for Justice). Truly the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (the one who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah is well-acquainted (with all things). Quran: Al Hujurat, Chapter 49, verse 13
The Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change on August 18, 2015, called to the conscience and action of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. The drafting team and delegates to Istanbul convening to finalize the text of the Declaration understood that even with the undertaking of actions and lifestyle changes by Muslim individuals, families, communities, institutions, and businesses, the concrete actions of the governments of Muslim countries (or any other national governments for that matter) was a must. There was not much hope that concrete actions would be taken with real measurable results on this obvious and pressing spiritual and moral obligation. That unfortunately proved to be true.
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the largest and oldest Muslim umbrella organization in America, through its Green Initiative team has been actively working for the cause of protecting Mother Earth and a sustainable environmental future. In 2016, ISNA publicly announced its commitment to divest from its investment portfolio any stocks and financials that were connected to the fossil fuel and allied industries and re-invest a portion of these funds in clean renewable energy solutions, declaring “It goes against the mission of ISNA to invest in fossil fuel companies whose operations and products cause such grave harm to humanity and to creation.” This made ISNA the first such Muslim organization worldwide to do so. This divestment movement now includes over 1,500 institutions worldwide committing to divest $39.2 trillion.
In 2019, at the Financing the Future Summit in Cape Town, the Fiqh Council of North America issued a fatwa (an authoritative religious ruling) affirming fossil fuel divestment and calling on Islamic investment firms to create fossil fuel-free investment vehicles. In addition, three UK-based Islamic
groups issued a joint statement saying that profiting from fossil fuel investments is no longer morally acceptable or religiously justifiable.
Islamic economics and financial investment decisions should help society achieve the goals of the Maqasid al-Shari’ah (objectives of Shariah, Islam’s sacred law) which include the preservation of life (Nafs), faith (Din), family (Nasl), intellect (Aql), and material resources (mal). As the renowned Islamic scholar Abu Hamid al-Ghazali wrote, “Whatever ensures the safeguarding of these five principles serves public interest and is desirable, and whatever hurts them is against public interest and its removal is desirable.” Maqasid al-Shari’ah is designed to enhance public welfare (maslahah) on the one hand and prevent harm (mafsadah) on the other hand. This ensures justice and social welfare in all aspects of life. The extraction and burning of fossil fuels is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. It is also a driver of global warming and climate change and a cause of harm to the natural world, posing an existential threat to all life on Earth and therefore in direct contradiction to the life-affirming goals of the Shariah.
Today, we anticipate the publication of the UNEP lead project – Al-Mizan – A Covenant for the Earth eco-theology/eco-teachings. We pray that the Al-Mizan drafting team will also carefully examine the trail blazing work of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Persons and give recognition to the contributions that these ancient Indigenous nations and communities from around the globe continue to make as front-line defenders in protecting Mother Earth, her life-giving waters, and the many blessings necessary for all life. As a result of which, these First Nations Peoples continue to daily face the ravages of genocide and extreme violence.
When we consider the foundational work that our Muslim religious leaders and academics have contributed in recent years in addressing critical issues of Amana (trusteeship), Khulafa (Earth stewards, guardians and caretakers) and other Islamic eco-concepts, we have yet to see governments of any Muslim country, or international body of Muslim nations make the significant commitments and take the necessary measurable steps needed to fully raise up the legacy of the Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him) who was sent as Rahmaten Lil Alameen (Mercy to all the Worlds) and who “…Walked gently upon the Earth..“ (Quran 25:63), reducing our negative impact on the earth by reducing our carbon footprint through living the Prophetic life of compassionate simplicity and to stand up for climate justice and deliver on the clear cut, just, sustainable responses to effectively address the climate emergency. We ourselves must stand and deliver! When vulnerable persons like the children, women, mothers, elders, the disabled, our Muslim relatives and Non-Muslim neighbors around the world live without being secure and safe in their persons, lack nutritious and sufficient food, or access to clean water, or protecting shelter—all of these conditions being exacerbated and multiplied many fold by climate change today and hold no hope for tomorrow—who will understand and answer the Prophet (PBUH)? When climate refugees from Muslim nations are cast adrift, who will shelter and protect them?
Powerful interlocking corporate and governmental greed driven interests in much of the world, including the Muslim world and among global Muslim communities, have drawn a line in the proverbial sand, delaying and preventing the taking of immediate and full range of steps necessary to address the pressing crisis effectively. Today it is we who must courageously step across that line.
That line will be in Glasgow at COP26 in this weekend. ISNA calls on Muslims at the local, regional, national, and international level and their allies around the world to close ranks and join with others in demanding a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty based on an immediate moratorium on existing
fossil fuel infrastructure construction, no new exploration, a managed wind down of existing production, and a just transition to a Green- renewable carbon and fossil fuel free future. World leaders need to realize that they will be held accountable, by we the people – who are the world and by future generations. The Muslim world needs to lead by example. The reports of rising oceans submerging island nations, forests and jungles in every region of the Earth disappearing because of deforestation, clear cutting, desertification of arable lands and climate caused destructive wildfires; climate change melting the permafrost as well as historic ice packs in Greenland, Antarctica, and mountain top glaciers; and the increased risk of zoonotic pathogen spread are all inextricably linked to dirty energy derived from fossil fuel extraction. Production and burning must STOP. Fossil fuels must be kept in the ground!
It should be clear, the means to achieve success exist now. We already have enough renewable energy possibilities to replace fossil fuels without any more production. Renewable energy costs less to produce than fossil fuels. Renewables are becoming more affordable while the price at the pump of fossil fuels is skyrocketing. At least in the USA, there are three times more clean energy jobs than fossil fuel jobs.
ISNA and many other organizations of conscience and right-thinking people and institutions have in the past advocated and worked hard for many years to pressure nations of the world to bring into existence the historic Nuclear-Nonproliferation (NPT) Treaty, is it now high time we unite and do the same in bringing into existence a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty beginning at COP 26 in Glasgow.