30 November 2009

Minarets not Islam...

Minaret ban in a country that only has 4 minarets (Switzerland) – I don’t mind.
Islam is not in buildings. Buildings don’t do much for Islam.

But posters like this are scary. And plainly nuts!

Reminds me of these that I saw when I was there last year.

18 November 2009

Green Muslims

With roughly one-fifth of the world population being adherents to the faith of Islam, I thought it apt to highlight how this religion requires Muslims to behave with the environment.

The recorded sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (hadith) caution against the pollution of rivers and seas. He also promoted planting of trees to curb deforestation and a hadith records that he kept an area a forest by saying: “Whoever cuts a tree here should plant a new tree instead.” The Prophet was a man of the earth, totally against any form of wastage, over-consumption or cruelty. He expressed love for the earth and all its inhabitants – even the mountains. He said of the Mount Uhud near the city of Madina: “This is a mount which likes us; we also love it.”

The Muslim festival of Eid will be celebrated next Friday, 27 November. It involves commemorating the willingness of the Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son, by slaughtering an animal. The actual purpose of the sacrifice is to create piety, devotion, obedience and submission to God. There are strict laws over the treatment of animals used for food from their rearing and breeding; the pre-slaughter; and handling during and after slaughter.

There is no suggestion in the Quran or in any other of the Islamic sources that eating meat is good for physical or spiritual health. Islam's approach to the eating of meat is neutral. While it has left the choice to the individual, the Quran does urge those that do choose to eat meat, to do so in moderation.

As a Muslim, I often need to explain why I promote the curbing of meat consumption. Here are some good reasons:

1. Environment - eating vegetarian is better for the environment. Too much meat consumption = too many farting cows = too much gasses being released into the environment.

2. Faith – as described above, the Prophet was an avid environmentalist and would probably not be pleased that tracks of forests are being cleared to make way for cattle grazing ground. Also, during his time people ate meat quite rarely, and were discouraged from gorging on it.

3. Suffering – unless you’re eating an animal that was humanely slaughtered by your father during Eid, there’s a good chance that your fried chicken was battery reared in terrible conditions.

4. Health – eating locally produced vegetables will leave you feeling healthier and happier. You’ll sleep better, wont need as much sleep and can lead a healthier lifestyle.

5. Change – having survived on a meat intensive diet for most of my adult life, switching to vegetables meant more creativity and excitement in my diet. Limited options of healthy vegetarian ‘fast food’ also means cooking myself more often.

Zuma, go to Copenhagen

It takes only 20 countries to emit nearly 90% of the world's greenhouse gases. And South Africa is the only African nation amongst these 20.

South African President Jacob Zuma knows very well that the impacts of climate change will be devastating for Africa, as he reminded the world during his latest address to the UN General Assembly.

But Greenpeace has criticised our climate strategy for failing to focus on energy efficiency and failing to invest in renewable energy. Our strategy is currently based on expensive, unproven and unsustainable technologies such as nuclear and CO² dumping. This could change when the Climate Bill comes before South African Parliament in 2011 – if politicians are made to understand the importance of the issue and the science behind it.

Greenpeace has said that we can cut our emissions by more than 200 million tonnes by 2050 without sacrificing economic growth. This is enormous and what the climate treaty summit in Copenhagen would like to hear. In order to do this, we need to use energy more efficiently and increase our wind and solar power production, claim our green crusaders.

In the past few months South Africa has had widespread and violent service delivery protests – which is a nice way of saying that people, who have been deprived of basic services since the days of Apartheid, have reached their tolerance limits. Greenpeace argues that rather than following the “polluting path blazed by the West”, we can provide what people need “in a smart way - it's about smart development and smart energy.”

South Africa, and other developing countries, want rich countries to pay to help the poor get clean technologies. With Obama and Hu having recently declared their determination to tackle climate change together, Zuma needs to be there in Copenhagen to try and make sure a good deal is made. Sixteen other South African lawmakers were there last month, making up the largest delegation at the climate-change forum for legislators. At the last forum we had only one representative.

More than getting money from countries that got rich messing up the planet, Zuma needs to lead the way and commit South Africa to play its role in stabilising the world’s climate.

Photo: greenpeace

12 November 2009

Last night in Joburg city centre

Osama bin Laden is still my best friend in the whole world.
This was the writing on the wall. Trust stood in front this graffiti, having his soup and bread. He is from Zimbabwe and has been in Joburg for just over a year. He was a painter back in Bulawayo, but struggles to find work here in South Africa. The occasional ‘piece job’, off loading containers in the Newtown and Fordsburg areas, is what he depends on to survive. The weekly Wednesday night soup kitchens that are run by Paballo is his culinary highlight for the week.

Like the hundreds of other homeless people that live in Joburg’s city centre, he sleeps where he can. It’s not that bad now he said – things have improved since the harsh winter. All the ‘communities’ that existed since I first joined Paballo four years ago, have been split up. The abandoned buildings and properties where they had established themselves as communities, looking out and assisting each other, have all been reclaimed by the city administrators and owners.

The 2010 World Cup is coming and they want these homeless people out of the way so that the city can be poshed up for our many new international guests. Nobody seems to care where they go or what happens to them. I wonder if that has anything to do with why the person wrote that graffiti on the wall…