Religious Institutions Are Saving the Earth. How About You?

|, Good Community, Good Examples, Good Leaders, Good System and Culture|Religious Institutions Are Saving the Earth. How About You?
  • Nature is precious, according to all religious teachings.

Saving the earth is now a worldwide issue.

The world, including the USA, consists of a multi-religious society living in harmony with each other.

It is estimated that over 80 percent of people in the world embrace a spiritual faith (there are some 2.0 billion Christians, 1.34 billion Muslims, 950 million Hindus and 200 million Buddhists).

The phobia of different religions and hate mongering between the religions are the work of a few irresponsible people. However, being rational and embracing humanity, we can overcome all these.

Each religion has a different area in the world where its believers are concentrated. But despite all the differences in the teachings and rituals, there is one common thing that all the religions call for.

It’s preserving mother nature.

Nature teaches about the beauty of God’s creation.

Nature teaches about the beauty of God’s creation. FREEPIK

Saving the earth: Being sustainable is being religious

All religions, by principle, acknowledge that nature is created by God and thus should be protected.

In 1903, President Teddy Roosevelt was convinced to create the US Protected Area system, with the argument that this would protect the ‘creation of God’.

He saw nature and biodiversity as the best evidence of there being a benevolent God and that faith-based argument helped established Yosemite, Sequoia, Grand Canyon, and Mt. Rainier National Parks.

In spite of this, some misinterpretations of the religions have ironically occurred. The result is a false dogma about the absolute dominance of human over other life forms. Such understanding, however, is not well accepted.

Being above nature without divine ethics and guidance leads to the destruction of the environment.

Being above nature without divine ethics and guidance leads to the destruction of the environment. Image source

Each religion, emphasizes the care of the environment by their unique concept, according to Curtis Abraham.

Christian teaching, for instance, in its Holy Bible told in Genesis about God speaking to Noah and telling him that he now establishes a pact between himself and every living creature on the ark (although different sects in Christian have various perspective on nature).

The Holy Quran of Islam, also promotes in its verses that all animals, including creatures that fly with wings, are precious to Allah.

Hinduism also is not left behind: it regards nature highly, especially for wild animals who possess symbolic power and subscribe to the Dharmic law of Ahimsa, non-violence, as a way of life.

It is delightful to see these three major world religions, together with all the other religions, taking proactive efforts to put this religious teaching into practice.

Here are some of the initiatives by the religious institutions on this matter.

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It is not holier, with more water used in ablution

A Muslim father and his son performing ablution.

A Muslim father and his son performing ablution. GETTYIMAGES

In the religion of Islam, Muslims are obliged to perform five daily prayers with ablution (washing some of their body parts using clean water) beforehand.

At the same time, they are taught to conserve the water consumption as much as possible during ablution. There is a hadith (saying) about Prophet Muhammad passing by one of his Companion who was performing ablution. The Prophet said: “What is this extravagance?”

Then he was asked: “Can there be any extravagance in ablution?” in which he replied:

“Yes (there are extravagance in ablution), even if you are on the bank of a flowing river.”

In reality, there are still some Muslims who ignore this guideline. Hussain Lootah, the director-general of Dubai Municipality said that almost 35,100 liters of water are used by a single person during ablution every year in Dubai.

The mosques are working together with the municipality to replace the conventional taps with the new modified ones to address this concern.

These new taps, called ‘Dubai Taps’, have a flow rate of just 1.41 liters per minutes as compared to 6.5 liters per minute in a standard ablution tap.

Look at the difference!

Look at the difference! SAJILA SASEENDRAN/GULF NEWS

With these, up to 80 percent of the current water usage for ablution could be reduced to 7,614 liters and saving an estimated 27,486 liters (27.5 cubic meter) of water per person every year.

A minute adjustment, yet a huge difference and impact for nature.

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Have a company, Jesus

Lars-Gunnar Ziel, the managing director of Berlin Cathedral, shows a honeycomb produced in a honey bee hive at the roof of the Cathedral in central Berlin, Germany.

Lars-Gunnar Ziel, the managing director of Berlin Cathedral, shows a honeycomb produced in a honey bee hive at the roof of the Cathedral in central Berlin, Germany. AP PHOTO/MARKUS SCHREIBER

Berlin Cathedral was built in 1905 and stands on Museum Island right in the center of the city. Interestingly, Jesus is not alone in the building. On the roof, just under the cupola, around 30,000 honey bees make it their home.

This Protestant church is participating in “Berlin is buzzing!” initiative, a brainchild of biologist Corinna Hoelzer and her husband, giving room for the bee population to be preserved.

For the record, bees and other pollinators have been on the decline for more than a decade. This statistic is worrying since a significant part of the human diet comes from plants pollinated by bees.

“Bees have no problem living in a high altitude such as here on the cathedral’s rooftop since they just need water and a supply of food,” beekeeper Uwe Marth told Bloomberg.

A combination of factors namely insecticides, parasites, disease, climate change and lack of diverse food supply have been blamed for causing the decline of the bee population.

Berlin Cathedral, German or also known as Berliner Dom.

Berlin Cathedral, German or also known as Berliner Dom. VIDEOBLOCKS

Spiritual energy? Here’s a bonus: electrical energy

Mumbai’s Ayyappa Temple has been exemplary for the whole country in term of India’s growing garbage crisis.

Holding on to the idea of transforming their liability to become an asset, this Hindu temple, which is dedicated to Lord Ayyappan, set up a biogas plant and solar panels to generate and store electricity.

This temple had been accorded the cleanest religious institution in Mumbai by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation last year.

This temple had been accorded the cleanest religious institution in Mumbai by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation last year. SWACHH INDIA

All the wet garbage consisting of food waste and floral waste first gets treated through composting. This process releases methane gas which was later converted into electricity using a biogas digester.

The electricity produced  is stored in a generator with the help of solar panels.

According to one of the temple’s trust members, Harish Mistry, “The project is not only supplying power to the temple’s community hall but is also providing gas for cooking.”

“We save money on cooking gas and transporting kilos of waste to the nearby dumping yard.”

“We want to put forward a strong message of sustainability.”

“We want to put forward a strong message of sustainability.” SWACHH INDIA

“Presently we are in the conceptual stages of trying to work out different options. By recycling the wastewater and generating electricity we want to put forward a strong message of sustainability,” said Girish Nair, another trustee.

“The whole idea is to make the temple a role model and encourage different communities to adopt simple ways of liquid and solid waste management,” he added.

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Saving the earth: Interfaith effort

Mao Mountain, a sacred Taoist site in eastern China, has 20 acres of land, including an organic vegetable garden. Taoist teaching states that “Humans follow the earth, the earth follows heaven, heaven follows Taoism, Taoism follows nature.”

Mao Mountain, a sacred Taoist site in eastern China, has 20 acres of land, including an organic vegetable garden. Taoist teaching states that “Humans follow the earth, the earth follows heaven, heaven follows Taoism, Taoism follows nature.” ADAM DEAN/NEW YORK TIMES

The number of such noble initiatives keeps increasing all over the world.

With all the devastating impact on the world from the destruction of nature, all the religions are digging into their sacred books, looking for divine inspiration to get the religious community participating in sustainability efforts.

However great is their effort, it could not create a significant impact without your participation. These religious figures and institutions could initiate something, and it is you who shall make the difference.

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About the Author:

Syuaib, who works best from behind the scene, is Do Good’s Research and Publication Executive. A graduate with double majors in both the fields of religious study and biotechnology, he is also the Vice President for Malaysian Association of Youth Harmony, leading the movement of over 2,000 youths nationwide. He is also actively participating in other NGOs and engaging various civil society groups, holding the firm belief that a combination of universal values together with regular and social media engagements is the key for a better world.