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ShINE, Sheffield's Muslim Environmentalists

Drawn together by appreciation of nature and teachings of faith, ShINE , a group of Muslim environmentalists in the central British city of ...

shine sheffield muslim british islam environmentalists
Drawn together by appreciation of nature and teachings of faith, ShINE, a group of Muslim environmentalists in the central British city of Sheffield rolled up their sleeves in the service of their wider community and their religion.

“For Muslims the Qur'an is very clear: Islam teaches us about our duty," Nabeel Nasser, the vice-chair of the Sheffield Islamic Network for the Environment (ShINE), told the Sheffield Telegraph on Saturday, June 11.

"The Qur'an is very clar: Islam teaches us about our duty. And so it’s not an optional thing, you have the responsibility to go out there and improve your environment.”

Nasser was speaking on behalf of about 300 ShINE members, along with their families, friends and supporters, staged an activity day in Weston Park, a public park of over 5 hectares, in a bid to encourage the locals to care more about their domestic environment.

“The day is giving us a platform for getting our message across,” Nasser said.
“We want to encourage all Sheffielders to think about the environment, to think about improving Sheffield together. We think it’s a duty for everyone, you don’t have to wait for Streetforce to do their thing, the more we can do as Sheffielders the better it is for all of us.”
shine sheffield muslim british islam environmentalists
He added that ShINE has two audiences: Sheffield as a whole and the Muslim community in particular.

Misconceptions About Islam

Nasser says that by serving the wider Sheffield community, the ShINE is also involved in a campaign to dispel conceptions about Islam, an effort that trigger distinct reactions even from members of the Muslim community.


“One reaction is very supportive, with people saying it’s about time you’re doing this kind of thing, we should encourage it because people are fed up seeing Islam linked to all these other issues.

But the other reaction is that people say you’ve got to get your priorities wrong with all the other things going on. But we think this is probably the best way of dealing with these bigger issues, its about showing we’re not always in the middle of trouble, we’re in the middle of something good.”

Hostility against British Muslims, estimated at nearly two million, have been on the rise since the 7/7 attacks.

A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.

But he also urges Muslims to be patient. "If society is against you, don’t retaliate, be patient," he addresses the Muslim community.

Middle Eastern Roots
Nabeel’s father came to Sheffield as a young man from Yemen to work in the steel industry, so Nabeel has grown up here and says he adores Sheffield. He now works as a software development manager, with ShINE as a voluntary concern.

“If you look at the Middle East now, there’s a lot of anger, and rightly so if you look at all the oppression,” he said. “There’s a lot of injustice. But it saddens me to see aggressive Muslims, to me that isn’t Islam, the Prophet Muhammad was not an angry man, he was a calm, collected individual, he forgave and always tried to go for the least aggressive option.

“You’re not going to teach people unless you’re patient. In Islam, patience is beautiful.”

Nabeel said that ShINE has many links with the wider environmental movements, looking at issues like scarcity and climate change, and describes members as ‘footsoldiers.’

“The big concepts can’t happen unless at ground level people understand why they’re doing something.” Otherwise, he added, they will just dismiss big issues like climate change.

Getting To Grips With Eco-Isam
“We understand the Qur'an says this thing above us, the atmosphere, is to protect you and God says we should take care of it and don’t harm it. Often at big conferences they talk at a level that local people can’t get to grips with, but we think this is a way to say I am contributing to that issue.

“It’s about helping people to see their place of contact, how we can do things to help the world as a whole.

If you just clean up your own area, that is of benefit. There is an opportunity to go out there and make a difference."

Who are ShINE?
ShINE has been organising activity days for five years. The group operates a mailing list, and has seen local litter pick days as it’s main focus up to now, with sometimes up to 50 people taking part. In the future, ShINE also hopes to organise seminars at mosques and community centres.

shine sheffield muslim british islam environmentalists
Nasser said that the network's activities do not only reflect its members' interest in preserving the environment, but also adherence to the teachings of Islam.

“It’s stated in our tradition you must keep everything clean, it’s considered a noble act to remove litter from a path, for example, and it’s forbidden to chop down a tree if there’s no reason to do so," he says.

"Our tradition says you should be aware of everything that’s been created around you, humans and non-humans.”

Clean Up Campaign And Mosques
Armed with litter-pickers, the five-year-old network ShINE members made sure no litter escaped their campaign in the public park. Litter-picking tools were provided by the city council ranger service and Veolia, while children taking part learnt a new lesson with the main theme for the day was recycling. (OnIslam)

Organizing litter pick days as its main focus up to now, ShINE also hopes to organize seminars at mosques and community centers in the future.

shine sheffield muslim british islam environmentalists

There was a cardboard recycling bin for kids to recycle packaging, clothing and plastics, there were recipe cards for home-made food, planting advice and plenty of nature-themed craft and face painting activities.

The Future For ShINE
Nasswe said that ShINE is cooperating with the wider environmental movements, to raise awareness about big issues like scarcity and climate change. He even went further describing his movement members as "footsoldiers."

“The big concepts can’t happen unless at ground level people understand why they’re doing something.”

Otherwise, he added, they will just dismiss big issues like climate change.

“It’s about helping people to see their place of contact, how we can do things to help the world as a whole."

+ ShINE, Sheffield Islamic Network for the Environment

More on British eco-Islam:
Hajj Healthy And Safety Awareness Week For British Pilgrims
Cambridge Eco-Mosque Gets The Green Light
Suffolk Muslims' environment talk

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