On/File: A Continuing Record of Groups, Movements, People, and Events Impacting Contemporary Religion

Launched on February 27 at the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) in Nairobi, Kenya, Al-Mizan: A Covenant for the Earth presents an Islamic outlook on the environment in a bid to strengthen local, regional, and international actions that would combat climate change and other threats to the planet. The result of a work that started in 2019 and of a process of consultation with 300 Islamic institutions and international partners, the document aims to offer “an Islamic equivalent to Pope Francis’s Laudato Si” (2015). While there is no supreme authority in the Muslim world equivalent to the one in the Roman Catholic Church, Al-Mizan “has the endorsement of the Muslim Council of Elders, an independent organization chaired by Egypt’s Grand Imam, Ahmad al-Tayeb, a top Sunni cleric” who met with Pope Francis (National Catholic Reporter, Feb. 28). Along with other efforts, the document also reflects the involvement of representatives of various religious traditions integrated into UN environmental efforts through the Faith for Earth Coalition of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

“Faith for Earth has three main goals: to inspire and empower faith organizations and their leaders to advocate for protecting the environment, to green faith-based organizations’ investments and assets to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and to provide them with knowledge and networks to enable their leaders to effectively communicate with decision-makers and the public.” Scholars of Üsküdar University (Turkey), which has been involved in drafting the document, believe that Al-Mizan and the various initiatives that should be associated with it is a project that will contribute to “mental transformation.” The Director of UNEP’s Faith for Earth Coalition, Iyad Abumoghli, sees Al-Mizan as a “a catalyst for change” toward translating Islamic values into concrete actions (TRT World, Feb. 28). After a review of major threats to the environment, the document identifies Quranic references that can address such issues and describes “the ecological ethos and ethics of Islam.” It lists Islamic principles and practices that could be used for answering a variety of ecological concerns. Its obvious ambition is to provide the foundation for a variety of initiatives. (Sources: National Catholic Reporter, February 28; TRT World, February 28; Al-Mizan, https://www.almizan.earth/)