The earth is a mosque, and everything in it is sacred. I learned this basic tenet of Islam from my father. He was raised in New York City in the borough of Queens, spent summers in Virginia, and always loved and respected the natural world. He took it upon himself to share this appreciation with his children. I spent my early childhood in the New York boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn. My brother and I used to think the entire world was a sea of concrete buildings. My father upended that reality the day he took us to Bear Mountain. Just north of New York City, Bear Mountain is known as a hiker’s paradise. On that trip, we were Black Muslim city kids hiking in “the country” for the first time. What I recall from that day was moss growing on rocks, mushrooms on rotting wood, and drinking from my first juice box – the kind you poke a straw into.
When it was time for the afternoon prayer, my father stopped to pray. My brother and I asked him where he was going to pray. He pointed to the ground, to a small area he had brushed free of twigs and leaves. Until the day, prayer for us had always been something done at home or in the mosque.
Our mosque, Masjid At-Taqwa, was an oasis of Islam in the heart of the struggling Bedford-Stuyvesant neighbourhood (better known as Bed-Stuy) or Brooklyn. The imam of Masjid At-Taqwa, the respected Siraj Wahaj, later became the first Muslim to give the opening prayer in a session of Congress. My father was one of the first twenty-five brothers involved in building Masjid At-Taqwa. To us, the mosque meant proud black families creating community and praying together.
On Bear Mountain, as we prepared to kneel down in prayer, my father related a hadith, a saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Wherever you may be at the time of prayer, you may pray, for it (the Earth) is all a mosque.” At that instant, and I could not have been more than five or six years old, I understood for the first time: the Earth is a mosque; a mosque is sacred; therefore, the Earth is sacred. That moment of prayer on the mountain, thanks to the hadith my father relayed, transformed the way that I would see the world forever.
As an adult, my contemplation of the notion that the Earth is a mosque led to my discovery of the core message of this book – that Islam, the world’s second-largest religion, provides a helpful lens to prompt action among Muslims and anyone else concerned about saving the Earth. This lens encompasses a variety of principles – understanding the Oneness of God and His creation (tawhid); seeing signs of God everywhere (ayat); being a steward of the Earth (khalifah); honouring the covenant, or trust, we have with God (amana) to be protectors of the planet; moving toward justice (adl); and living in balance with nature (mizan). Each of these principles points to the same well-kept secret: that Islam teaches a deep love of the planet, because loving the planet means loving ourselves and loving our Creator. That is to say, Islam teaches that we are all One. “The Earth is the mosque” is another way of saying that we are all part of the same, wonderful fabric of creation.
A policy advisor and writer
Quote from GreenDeen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet
(Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc, 2010) page 1-3.
I disagree with the core teachings, beliefs and theology of Islam. But I highly support and recommend the teaching of Islam (as the author portrait in this book) about environmentalism and protecting our planet Earth. This book is good.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.