Environmental Care: An Opportunity for Muslim-Evangelical Cooperation

The first time I met the Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, we talked about … Continued

The first time I met the Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, we talked about earth, not heaven.

He told me that the most important new initiative among evangelicals is “creation care.” Google it and you will find literally hundreds of projects, including a Declaration whose first item reads: “Because we worship and honor the Creator, we seek to cherish and care for the creation.”

That sounds like a Muslim value, I said.

The Holy Qur’an teaches that God created Adam to be His servant and representative on earth with the primary task of caring for the beauty and diversity of creation.

I started telling the story of this meeting on college campuses where my organization the Interfaith Youth Core works, and discovered that students were already one step ahead of us. They were organizing practical envrionmental stewardship projects on Earth Day and the Days of Interfaith Youth Service, sometimes with evangelicals and Muslims in the lead.

I like this partnership precisely because it is unlikely. Evangelicals and Muslims are often viewed as aggressive communities bent on domination. Lord knows there are enough people in both camps who deserve the label. But it is both inaccurate and immoral to assume that every evangelical is Pat Robertson and every Muslim is Osama bin Laden.

I like this partnership also because it concerns itself with matters neither immediate nor material. In my Muslim outlook, I believe this is moving creation in line with the intention of the Creator.

You don’t need to share that religious viewpoint to hope that this works out. It might help both your children and mine breathe easier one day.

About

  • Matthew

    A lovely reminder of how, very occasionally, the unexpected profoundly challenges our appallingly low expectations for the mundane. The environment is the precondition for our faiths and our politics; managing the dangers confronting the environment should similarly transcend ideological difference.

  • Nicholas Price

    Brother Eboo,I wholeheartedly agree with you that love for creation and the stewardship of it is a common value that we share. In Genesis we read that God formed “man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being…The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:7 & 15). From the very beginning of God’s work we see His deep love for creation and that it was this love that He instilled into humanity’s very being. Like God we were made to love and care for creation.However, Christians also believe that when humanity sinned we shattered this unity with the earth and it was affected by the curse that we brought down upon it. Since then we have done a poor job indeed in caring for God’s creation. But the joy is that God has not forgotten His creation nor condemned it. In Revelation John writes, “Then I say a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 21:1 & 22:1-5)What we see here is a redemption not only of humanity, but of the very earth. Eden is restored, the garden reconstituted, and creation made complete by the presence of humankind and God living together in the creation as God intended it to be. The world is not merely something that God created and left to our care, but it is meant to be the place where we meet with Him and that is why His heart is with it.Therefore, as Christians, we are called to take part in Christ’s work of redemption in the world and this involves caring for creation. I think that this is why more and more Christians are taking part in God’s call to stewardship of the earth. One personal example of this was a class that I took at my church entitled “Connecting with God Through His Creation”. The whole focus of the class was on how we can know God through the work of caring for His creation. More and more there is a push in the church to realize our call as the stewards of God’s world and it has been my great joy to serve alongside not only my Christian brothers and sisters, but also Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and many others, in projects that focus on responding to this calling.Excellent post my friend:)Sincerely,Nick

  • Zoe

    It’s always refreshing to hear how different groups find common ground. I wonder if, in fact, parnership is itself a value shared between these two religions.

  • Zoe

    It’s always refreshing to hear of when two different groups find common ground. I wonder if, in fact, partnership itself is another value shared between these two religions.

  • SAYEED

    -The Holy Qur’an teaches that God created Adam to be His servant and representative on earth with the primary task of caring for the beauty and diversity of creation-Another astonishing case of stupefying ignorance of elementary biology by a Muslim theist whose knowledge of science comes from an ancient book dictated by a 7th century Arab business man. Apparently the Oxford educated Mr. Patel rejects the overwhelming scientific consensus on evolutionary theory. He much rather prefers, judging from his statement, in recycling the mythological tale of Adam, Eve and the forbidden fruit plagiarised extensively from the Bible.In all earnestness Mr. Patel, are those of us who appreciate the scientific method in adjudicating between fact and fiction, supposed to take you and your creationist brethren seriously?With kind regards- your former Muslim brother turned freethinker, Sayeed.

  • Matthew

    Sayeed, I think you’ve misunderstood the post – Patel’s talking about caring for the earth, and using the Creation stories as a way of thinking and talking about environmental issues. I think he very carefully avoids expressing a position on _how_ the world was or wasn’t created, but instead focuses on _how_ we’re going to do something about the mess we’ve landed ourselves in.

  • Nicholas Price

    Thank you for you kind comments Matthew. I think you highlighted exactly what my friend Eboo is speaking to and this is something that I am very much affirming from my Christian tradition. The issue here is caring for creation as a divine task and how we can share that value with one another. Thanks again for that clarification.

  • Scientist

    There is NOT evidence to state that global warming is caused by humans or industrialized nations. Period.

  • Solid_NOx

    Who sent this paid political hack with the gaul to call him or herself a “Scientist” to this forum?Brother Patel, your point is very well taken. Who stands to benefit from division of social movements? The powerful and wealthy who want to maintain the status quo is who. At a recent pro-homosexual demonstration I noted the young, creative, lovely, and loving gay and lesbian teens were referring to an organization, that calls itself GodHatesFags, as religious conservatives. I corrected a few, telling them that those people are not true conservatives but are Fascists. This communiity communicates and the word spread quickly. In parting I told them what Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu told me over NPR, that Hitler was a Christian…I wish I had thought to add, as Bishop Tutu had, that so was Mother Theresa. Fortunately, these were very bright, energetic minds. I have little doubt that they will put it all in perspective. I certainly hope so. Persecution sometimes…oft times leads to an over counter reaction. Want to know where the term Closet comes from? In context I think it refers to clothing preferences. The desire to adopt the culture normal appearance of your true inner self. Why should they have to lie and deny? That alone dams any chance they have. So very ugly the violators of the 3rd Commandment. They acutally protest at Grave Site funeral services. I better not see that. I better not. Oh the abomination of God Word grates against all that I am, all that I seek to be. God Bless you for saving our youth. These are very troubling times and we would be quite lost, quite fast without the Stewardship of Blessing like you Sir. Please please please stay strong and keep up God’s Work and may you and yours receive seven fold what you sow in God’s name…just be very careful please. Amen.

  • Bob

    “Creation care” . . . more stupid metaphors, like intelligent design, creationism . . . sounds like a muslim value, you think? . . how about a Native American value, or a human value? . . what arrogance, you simply offend thinking people with your self-serving phony piety.Thank you.

  • fern

    After subtracting the gratuitous insults, I agree it’s a human value shared by many. But it is an encouraging sign, none the less, that groups that agree on very little can find this important area of agreement.

  • Firas Ahmad

    Congratulations Eboo for being added to the On Faith contributors list. Your voice is is much needed in our times.I found your post to be quite timely and would also add that this effort can also be a source of unity within Muslim communities (sunni-shii) as it could be for different parts of other religious communities.

  • Paganplace

    I really don’t get the impression Mr. Patel is talking about being an evolution-denier, here. Lots of people have religions with creation-stories and don’t feel the need to interpret in a way that means they ‘have’ to teach false science or call anything environmentalist ‘anti-God.’ I think it can be a slippery slope with those kinds of books, toward, ‘I must reject science when convenient to my book, even if that means doing things we know aren’t good in order to preserve some profits that are based on dependence upon things we know we’re about to run out of, anyway.’ I’d say the problem in this regard isn’t in *having* books like that, or in believing things about them: the problem is when they are *used* to justify the otherwise-unjustifiable. I don’t see this columnist doing so.

  • Mark

    Interesting choice of word.Many muslims are semitic. E.g. All Arabs or all who speak Arabic.

  • SO Tired of it

    GIVE US A BREAK!

  • SO Tired of it

    GIVE US A BREAK!

  • Mr. Jones

    How can a Muslim be an anti Semite? Can the pope be anti catholic? An Irishman anti Hibernian? Antisemitism used to be ascribed to those who hate Jews. Today like everything else in politically correct society it’s been turned upside down to mean anyone who disagrees with a Jew. The result, such canards weakened through lax and careless use have been rendered toothless and roll like water off the proverbial duck’s back.

Read More Articles

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

noplaceonearth
An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

shutterstock_148333673
Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

shutterstock_53190298
Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

shutterstock_185995553
How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

HIFR
Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

shutterstock_186364295
This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

SONY DSC
Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.