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Islam at Vatican Climate Change Symposium


Invited to the Vatican Climate Change Symposium in Rome, Italy, Dr. H. Din Syamsuddin represented Islamic views in a speech to conference attendees on Tuesday, April 28.

The conference, organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Religions for Peace, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Network, was entitled: Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: the Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development.

Aiming to find common ground on the important relationship between climate change and sustainable development, the event was opened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and attended by over 100 governmental diplomats and policy makers, religious leaders, scientists, and business leaders. President Mattarella of Italy and President Correa of Ecuador were also in attendance.

Thanking the Pontifical Academy of Sciences for hosting the symposium, UNSG Ban Ki-moon also thanked Pope Francis for the warm welcome and commended “His Holiness, and all faith and scientific leaders here, for raising awareness of the urgent need to promote sustainable development and address climate.”

UNSG: “Climate Change is the Defining Issue of Our Time.”


Discussing the importance of the symposium, Secretary-General Ban stated that: “climate change is the defining issue of our time.” He acknowledged, “It is a moral issue. It is an issue of social justice, human rights and fundamental ethics. We have a profound responsibility to protect the fragile web of life on this Earth, and to this generation and those that will follow. That is why it is so important that the world’s faith groups are clear on this issue — and in harmony with science.”

Exploring the moral dimensions of climate change and sustainable development, the Vatican symposium offered opportunities for delegates to offer scientific, religious, technological, global, and local perspectives. Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, delivered the keynote address.

Calling for a change of course toward the idea of sustainable development, Turkson offered a vision of a “holistic and ethical approach that links economic prosperity, social inclusion, and protection of the natural world.” Reciting from the Christian Old Testament/Hebrew Bible book of Isaiah, Turkson noted that “the earth languishes for the sins of man.”

Representing Islam at the Vatican

Many religious leaders spoke at the Vatican symposium, including Dr. Din Syamsuddin, chairman of the prominent Muhammadiyah Organization of Indonesia, Orthodox Metropolitan Immanuel France, Olaf Tveit of the World Council of Churches, Buddhist Rev. Kosho Niwano from Japan, Sikh Swami Brahmanda from India, and Hindu Swami Theertha.

Professor Din, representing Islam to the symposium attendees, gave a speech in a session entitled “Justice and Responsibility.” In his address, Syamsuddin explained that Islam is “a religion of nature with some 750 of around 6,000 verses in the Qur’an mentioning nature and environment and all its inter-connections.”

In regards to protecting the natural environment and promoting sustainable development, Prof. Syamsuddin presented relevant ahadith illuminating Islamic practices and values, as evidenced in the behavior of the Prophet Muhammad, God’s peace and blessings be upon him.

Likewise, Syamsuddin offered in his presentation Qur’anic verses regarding the environment, especially the creation of the universe, as well as biodiversity and balance which Allah bestowed upon His creation.

Syamsuddin shared with the symposium attendees the Islamic perspective which recognizes the sacred aspect of nature and the environment as God’s creation.

As the earth is a blessing from God, he said, humans are merely inhabitants, never owners, and in fact only borrowing it for a time from coming generations.

Moreover, Din stated, Islam requires humans “to treat nature justly and responsibly for the benefit of future generations.”

Finally, Dr. Din Syamsuddin encouraged all of the symposium participants to “build a coalition to glorify the environment, involving clerics, politicians and businessmen, as well as other stakeholders.”

Moral and Religious Imperative for Humanity

Noting that humans have all the means needed to transition to clean energy, the Vatican Climate Change Conference stated that “human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity.”

As scientists and religious leaders come together to build consensus and work together to resolve the issues of global warming, it is clear that these joint efforts are slowly but steadily helping. “Indeed, they are fully aligned. Together, we must clearly communicate that the science of climate change is deep, sound and not in doubt,” said UNSG Ban Ki-moon.

{Lo! We offered the trust unto the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man assumed it. Lo! he hath proved a tyrant and a fool.} [Surat Al-Ahzab 33:72].

wpid-1407769848089-hiroshima w quran text
(This article originally appeared on OnIslam.net)


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