Declaration of the Diwan on Environment
This document is the final declaration of Diwan on the Environment, which was organized as a Zoom meeting on July 2, 2023, between 15:00 and 19:00 (EST), with 96 participants. This declaration does not pretend to be the last word of the Hizmet Movement with regard to environmental problems but is rather intended to raise awareness and encourage action, negotiations, publications, and research.
- The Environment: The physical, biological, social, economic, and cultural surroundings in which people and other living beings maintain their relationships and interact throughout their lives.
- Caliphship: The authority to represent Allah, but without having power for power itself. The person holding the position of the caliph is responsible on earth and has limited right of intervention and acts in the name of Allah, and not in his own name.
- The Hizmet Movement: With the ideal of living together in peace and serving humanity, the Hizmet Movement is a civil society movement acting within the framework of social responsibility and philanthropy, and prioritizing education, dialogue, and humanitarian aid activities. It is based on volunteerism, peace-seeking, and the embrace of religious, social, and cultural diversity, and takes its inspiration from Islamic and universal humanitarian values.
- Hizmet Movement members: Anyone who feels committed to the Hizmet Movement and its principles and values.
- Islamic justice: Treating all existences, whether living or non-living, with the respect and care that they deserve, as they are manifestations of Allah’s names and mirrors of His creation. Islamic justice aims to maintain order and balance by taking meticulous care not to violate the rights of any creature.
- Sustainability: To meet the economic and social needs of the present time without adversely affecting ecosystems and harming future generations' opportunities.
It is recommended that service members model their behavior with regard to the concept of environmental issues based on the following general principles:
- Our own way of viewing the environment: A God-centered worldview facilitates understanding the value of all beings and opens the way to utmost peace. Nature is God’s work. Hizmet members see the environment as a means of getting to know God.
- Purpose and capability: Everything serves a purpose. Islamic theology emphasizes people’s ability to develop their talents and reach their potential is part of the plan behind the earth’s creation. Similarly, understanding the senses and their potential in beings forms the basis of a just and peaceful order. The value of a natural asset is not limited to the use that people can make of it. Every asset is valuable in itself.
- Responsibility: Islamic concepts of justice and accountability include the creation of sustainable peace and the duty to protect and watch over all of Allah’s creation. Hizmet members are aware that the duty of the “caliphate” includes observing, understanding, protecting, and maintaining the balance in the universe. They should do their best to ensure that the imbalance does not reach the point where it can no longer be righted. Obligations to protect the environment should be evaluated in the light of fards (religious duties) and sunnah (habitual practices). They should be addressed from the governmental level to the individual level with a sense of seriousness and responsibility.
- Seriousness and urgency: The problems arising from the environmental crisis concern all the inhabitants of the earth. The crisis should be addressed with the seriousness and urgency it requires. An important contribution of members of the Hizmet Movement should be to revive hope.
- Empathy and awareness of environmental protection: It is essential that there should be empathy and awareness regarding people and the environment. Disruption of the potentialities of creatures will harm people as well as it harms the environment.
- Waste and conscious use of resources: The conscious use and protection of energy and natural resources, and conscious action and consumption savings are important principles. People should use resources without exceeding their needs.
- Global solutions: Collective solutions to problems should be proposed. There is a need for worldviews proper to every individual in our shared earth home and for positive change. Conducting studies on global strategies with regard to the environment will be an important step in the Hizmet Movement’s effort to be a movement that can contribute to solving world problems.
- Local solutions: Local problems should be identified, behavior patterns that cause environmental problems should be avoided, and solution-oriented approaches should be adopted.
- Migration axis: We are in the early stages of a serious migration wave that will occur as a result of climatic changes and environmental problems. The principles set out in the Migration Diwan should be applied with the same seriousness to climate migration and should be revised if necessary.
- Paradigm change: Awareness should be raised that we are in a new geological age, called the Anthropocene, meaning that human activities have changed not only the climate but also the geology of the planet.
- Carbon footprint: Every person has a carbon footprint. Recognizing its negative impacts on the environment entails the responsibility to reduce this footprint actively. Information on how to fulfill this responsibility should be obtained and disseminated.
- Conferences: To raise awareness and persuade societies to take measures, conferences on the environment should be organized, with the participation of scientists, government officials, and young people.
- Educational paths: Environmental awareness should be kept on everyone’s agenda through resources such as education curricula, workshops, weekend schools, seminars, and brochures. Current and scientifically convincing research models should be used to prepare these resources. Similar applications should also share practical and local solutions.
- Scientific studies: Studies that include Qur’anic verses and hadiths on the environment should be prepared. Concerning the environment, the views and actions of leading figures in the history of Islam can be given as examples.
Spiritual Nutrition and Development Activities
- Guidance and practical decisions: Spiritual negotiations and guidance on the environment play an important role in shaping the attitudes of individuals with religious sensitivities. Raising awareness about the environment and making applicable decisions should be on the agenda wherever the Hizmet Movement is active.
- Platform for young people: Space for young people should be created in our existing guidance and social institutions. Projects should be proposed in connection with the initiatives for young people.
Dialogue (Peace and Harmony in Society)
- Environmental dialogue: In meetings, negotiations, and consultations with different segments of society, environmental issues should be included in the dialogue. It is recommended that members of the Hizmet Movement take part in platforms that appeal to a wide audience and that can create common ground. In environmental dialogues, issues such as radical environmentalism should be discussed, and this issue, which is on the world’s agenda, should also be on the agenda of the Hizmet Movement.
- Neighborhood: The issue of the environment should also be examined in terms of human rights and moral neighborhoods.
Humanitarian Aid, Social Welfare
- Disproportionate adverse effect: Climate change negatively affects many social factors, such as equality, sources of livelihood, and access to health and social support services. These impacts are disproportionately felt, especially by disadvantaged people, including women, children, ethnic minorities and poor communities, immigrants, and the elderly. This fact should be taken into account in the efforts to find solutions.
- Economic incentives: Unless the problem of climate change is addressed from an economic perspective, companies and organizations with global influence will not take the problem seriously.
- Sustainability: Members of the Hizmet Movement who are volunteers or associated with a community organization should request that the organization establish an environmental sustainability plan. It is recommended that Hizmet members participate in organizations attaching importance to sustainability and that they support these organizations financially.
- Institutionalization: Volunteering should be shifted to professional work. Non-profit institutions intended to deal with environmental problems should be established. The main duties of such an institution should be the regulation and enforcement of environmental laws, support of the public, and cooperation with the media.
- Frugality in organizing events: In organizing Hizmet Movement activities, care should be taken to use environmentally non-harmful materials and to avoid waste.
Culture, Art, Sports
- Art: It would be beneficial to compile the views on the environment of prominent figures in the history and culture of Islam and their works in this regard in prose, poetry, and art.
- Culture: Environmental awareness can be instilled in our Hizmet Movement culture by preparing short films or visual materials.
- Continuity and currency: In order to keep the issue on the agenda, a continuous publishing effort using up-to-date information is important. Publishers must be supported to make this happen.
- Social media: It is recommended to promote the sensitivity of the Hizmet Movement regarding the environment, referred to as "environmental ethics," through content production utilizing our sources, primarily the Qur'an and Sunnah. This can be accomplished through social media posts, documentaries, series, films, and other communication tools, as well as by forming social media teams to share this message.
- Scientific publications and declaration: Academicians and theologians engaged in environmental and biological sciences are encouraged to collaborate on articles and publish these articles in different languages, in order to appeal to a wider audience. It would also be useful to publish a general statement similar to the “Laudato Si” circular published by Pope Francis in 2015.