Conference for a greener Haj

Joni Northam
CAIRO: Even for one of the oldest, most sacred traditions in religion there is always room for improvement. Omar Faruq, as well as other eco-friendly activists, have started to create a blueprint for making the Islamic pilgrimage, or Haj, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, a more green and eco-friendly journey.

The pilgrimage is a nearly 1,400-year-old tradition where countless Muslims make way from their current location to Mecca, where they can worship and pay respect; an important and vital pilgrimage in every Muslim’s life.

Faruq, an “eco Muslim” has planned a Towards A Green Hajj conference on September 14, where topics of how to create a more green Haj will be the focal point of the seminar. The conference will be held at the House of Lords.

Representatives from Jordan, Kuwait and Oman will attend the seminar including Khalid al-Duwaisan, Abdul Aziz al-Hinai, Advisor of GM Social Responsibility Fund at Ministry of Social Affairs and Mazan Kemal Mahmoud Houmoud.

Also attending as well as co-hosting the conference is Lard Marland, Britain’s Under Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, where he also will be presenting and explaining potential means of how to go green during the pilgrimage.

Potential topics on the colloquium’s agenda include the Mecca Metro – a high speed train built in November of 2010. Passengers can help reduce CO2 emissions by taking the 11-mile light-rail system instead of the buses or cars; this will also help eliminate some of the ample amount of traffic and congestion in the city.

Other suggestions for going green include installing solar panels and reusable drinking water bottles. As always there are also the recommendations of: use less water, use less electricity, and recycle when possible. Some groups of people have also mentioned the possibility to leave earlier in the season so they may travel slower; taking a bus is a way to group travel and cut down on the CO2 emission per person.

Some Muslims have even reported cycling from South Africa – a great way to cut down one’s carbon footprint.

However, Faruq has made it clear that he will not substitute green movements at the cost of health issues. With the 2009 Hajj swine flu outbreak, health still remains a top priority.

September 13, 2011, BM

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