The Eco-Imams of Indonesia

In order to protect its critically endangered peatlands, Muslim religious leaders have begun preaching a "Green Islam."

As Indonesia's vast CO2-storing peatlands are burned away to clear land for the nation's burgeoning agriculture industry, the country's Muslim leaders have been integrating environmental messaging into their worship. This national initiative was developed in 2018 as a collaboration between Indonesia's Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG), the Center of Islamic Studies in National University (UNAS) and the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the country's highest Islamic authority.

Thus far, the program as trained hundreds of local imams to promote peatland restoration as part of the Muslim faith in the majority Islamic communities of Sumatra and Kalimantan. "I told them that it is haram [forbidden] for us as Muslims to burn the land,” said Mustangin, a Sumatran imam, to the BBC.

The MUI has also released six fatwas (a legal opinion or ruling issued by an Islamic scholar) on environmental affairs—including water management, the protection of endangered animals and, most recently, land burning—and has introduced the concept of EcoMasjid; an environmentally friendly mosque that is managed in the spirit of Islamic environmentalism.

According to the BBC, a typical EcoMasjid has a "sustainable water management system (water is essential because it is used to purify the body before prayer) and the sermon usually combines scientific explanation and Koranic verses to promote conservation and environmental protection."

To date, more than 100 mosques are registered as EcoMasjids in Indonesia, with “Green Islam” trending in neighboring nations like Java.

Read more on The BBC.