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June 05, 2017, 12:20 PM

Represent What You Believe, Reflections from a young environmental leader

Represent What You Believe, Reflections from a young environmental leader

Serferaaz (second from the right) sits on an intergreligious panel including (right to left) a Hare Krishna, Muslim, a representative from a local NGO and a Christian, for a discussion on "Faith In Sustainability" for World Interfaith Harmony Week 2017. 

Serferaaz Elahi, a young leader and member of IBS CC in the Netherlands, responds to the following questions: How do you address environmental issues in your community? and How do your values and/or belief systems support your environmental commitments? 


How do I address environmental issues in my Community? 

For the last two years I was addressing the environmental issue by going to various gatherings, and whenever the opportunity arises i would state it. Also for a year now i have been sending emails to my acquaintance on this topic (environment, society and religion). Stating the problem and sending the emails, are some kind of compulsion for the sake of doing something, in the hope it might spark action. My position as one of the youth, a muslim, without a high degree participating in these types of gatherings, was also factor to try and contribute.

If I would reflect as an outsider on these experiences: "the human design is missing to realize a just and compassionate world". There is tremendous amounts of knowledge, resources and passion, but humanity cannot form a collective and cannot employ these tools for the right causes. I would also say, that there isn’t an earnest thought on this paradox. Perhaps because at the end of that paradox the ever feared question lies: what is the purpose this all? In my case I can only Praise and be thankful to Allah for sending the Prophet peace and blessings upon him, because through Islam I find solace.


From  Allah, the Praiseworthy, the Elevated, through the Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings upon him, the Noble Qur'an was revealed over a course of 23 years. There is a revelation about placing a viceroy, a representative on Earth (S2:A30). From several Ayats one could deduct several qualities of such a viceroy: strive to be just, honest, patient, take care of the poor, the widow, the wayfarer, the orphan, use kind words, give charity in the open, but in secret would be best and be steadfast in prayer.

Do not be stingy nor be extravagant, do not strive for the glitter of this world, do not cause corruption through the lands, do not waste/be excessive, do not kill in aggression nor without justice, do not transgress with in the balance, and do not associate partners to Allah, the Praiseworthy, the Elevated.   

Looking at environmental issues: not corrupting (S28:A77), not wasting (S7:A31) and to not transgress with in the balance" (S50:A8), I would translate that to learning about ecological processes and how not to upset it in day to day activities. Currently the hot topic is CO2 reduction. 

In that sense I do most of my traveling by bike, I don’t eat meat, at home I only drink water or tea, I avoid buying plastic materials, rarely buy new clothes or new devices, I have no iphone/smartphone. And I get paid to keep the environment free of  waste. 

I think i’m well on my way of becoming at least a conscious viceroy. What kind of viceroy are you?


Serferaaz Elahi is a 31 year old Muslim and member of IBS CC in the Netherlands. He has his Dutch VWO, and has been working for the past two years as a sanitation work in a district in the Hague; previously he was working as a contracted coordinator for a pilot project on sustainable housing. 

In his free time he enjoys studying the Noble Qur'an, doing recreational martial arts, watching sci-fi and reflecting on changing gender roles in society. He also writes a monthly newsletter on environmental and social issues as well as interesting events he's attended. You can contanct Serferaaz and subscribe to his email by emailing [email protected]

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