The conference organized by the Intercultural Dialogue Platform (IDP) and hosted by the vice-president of the European Parliament Isabelle Durant and Green MEP Ska Keller, comes at a time when Muslims are being portrayed as trouble-makers in Europe and extreme right wing parties are enjoying record-high voter support for the first time since the post-World War II.
Joined by Prof. İbrahim Özdemir, Prof. Zafer Ayvaz, Dr. Mawil Izzi Dien and Fazlun Khalid, the conference agreed on the urgent need to change the way of life humankind has adopted in the 20th century to save the planet. While Fazlun Khalis called on the ulema (Islamic scholars) to change the way they were teaching Islam and the environment, Prof. Özdemir urged European Muslims to be a part of the “Green” debate in Europe.
IDP Chairman Şerafettin Pektaş argues that the reason they planned to have a program of the sort was two-fold. First being the deep ignorance of not only non-Muslims but also Muslims that Holy Quran is one of the “greenest books” and had lots of things to say on one of the very basic problems facing humankind today. The second reason was the rise of extreme-right in Europe, targeting almost exclusively Muslims, characterizing adherents of Muslim faith “people having nothing to contribute but just to abuse European opportunities.” “In my countless encounter with Green politicians in Europe, they always told me that Holy Quran is one of the greenest books, they pointed the prophetic tradition is one of the most eco-sensitive traditions. It is very unfortunate that Islam these days is always mentioned as one of the sources of Europe’s problems today,” said Pektaş underlining the concern they had on the rise of Islamophobic racist parties. 20 percent could either be part of the problem or the solution
Fazlun Khalid, the founder and director of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences who delivered the most interesting speech on the panel said 20 percent of the global population was Muslim and it was up to the Muslims either to be 20 percent of the problem or the solution. Stressing that Muslims should turn the strong theology on environment in the Quran into action by starting at the mosques. He argues that mosques should go “green” first. “We use, for example, water five times a day. Using water consciously is one of the basic tenets of both Islam and Green politics” said Khalid. While Dien argued that the Islamic view was considered by many as a potential catalyst for the rediscovery of the West’s root to self-understanding.