RFF Network Meeting  –  “Our faiths and the Climate Crisis”


Redbridge Faith Forum (RFF) Network Meeting in Partnership with NELEF (North East London Eco Faith) - Tuesday 19th September 2023: 

44 representatives from local faith groups met at the Ilford Islamic Centre (IIC), over lunch, at an event organised by RFF and NELEF.  NELEF has been going for just under a year; it began as an informal group for all faiths interested in completing the Eco Faith/Mosque/Synagogue/Temple programmes, but has become perhaps wider in its reach, aiming to support all faith groups in their attempts to respond to the climate emergency. NELEF meetings alternate between ‘practical’ and ‘spiritual’ - this one was spiritual. The meeting was chaired by Phil Butcher, RFF Trustee.

The meeting started a small group having a round discussion sharing ideas and texts from their faith traditions on why we should care for creation. It was fascinating and enlightening to hear views from so many traditions, and reassuring to hear that the message was basically the same: God wants us / is telling us to care for the planet.

We also heard from the guest speaker who outlined the Islamic response in more detail. Imam Alfeshani Cassim; who is a part time Imam, educator and chemistry technician. He was born and educated in Ilford, where he completed his A levels and Hifz (memorisation) of the Quran. After studying pharmaceutical chemistry at university, he embarked on his Islamic studies in UK, Turkey then Egypt with a variety of Scholars. Having completed his formal education, he began teaching, delivering khutbahs/ sermons and pursued his academic career.  Currently keen to engage in local community projects.

The Imam shared an Arabic recitation from the Quraan, from a chapter named Al-Imran/ the family of Imran who was the father of Maryam/ Mary (peace and blessings upon them both), also known Joachim in the biblical tradition.  The verses mention the alternation of the night and the day. He went on to explain that we don’t know for certain the exact age of the Earth but recent scientific research indicates that given our current trajectory we can make an accurate estimate of its death. There are several human factors contributing towards this estimate; we can speed it up or slow it down. Recent natural disasters in Morocco, Libya and wildfires across Europe show the negative impact human beings are having. He quoted an Arab philosopher Avicenna who was working with Aristotle an ideas describing that ‘man is the only rational being’.

There are more than 426 verses in the Quran referring to the Earth. He shared various Quranic verses and reiterated the importance of the earth. “The sky is a canopy” and “we are the Creation of God”. He has made all of us.  Do not walk the earth arrogantly but humbly.  Humanity should take an Oath to preserve all life. The Imam shared that he’s been hearing about the climate crisis since childhood and felt we need to act. We can still make a difference.  All of this corruption is due to those who reside on earth – humans. God has given us a wakeup call and we need to act now!

On a positive note, 87% of Redbridge residents adhere to a faith. He made several recommendations including introducing recycling facilities to places of worship. Most mosques already have a clothes recycling bin. He also suggested developing the outdoor spaces places of worship already have into gardens. Cambridge Central Mosque has an example of a beautifully designed garden in its courtyard.  He finished off by saying in Islam it is encouraged to conserve in all we do including reducing water use when washing, eating locally produced food and reducing the amount of meat we consume. A quote from the Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him was shared, stating that each and everyone of us is a shepherd and has a flock under his or her care and is responsible for looking after them and will be accountable for it.  He finished by quoting Helen Keller “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

These are some of the comments from the small group discussions on

 ‘What your Faith says about taking Care of the Earth?’

  • “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;

for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters”. Psalm 24:1-2 (Bible)

  • “Thus We have made you trustees (khulafaa) on the earth after them, to see how you would act.” [Qur'an 10:14]. With the task of stewardship, Allah both honours and tests man. If man is allowed to make use of nature on the one hand, then on the other hand he is responsible for the balanced and sustainable use of it.
  • Garden of Eden, to work the earth & guard the earth (Jewish)
  • ‘My earth is tired of you’ should be no extremes of riches or poverty (Bahai)
  • Mother earth produces all we need (Quaker)
  • 4 elements – name of God is a combination of the elements Air is our guru. Water and earth our mother and father i.e. family – protect as we do our family (Sikh)
  • "Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, And the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. (Buddha Quote)
  • The earth is the Lord & all that is in it, relationship with God (Anglican)
  • Observe nature, corruption in and due to the actions of people (Islam)
  • Created to provide- human kind set to take care of it (Methodist)
  • Earth is called Mother Earth (Hindu) Dharti Maata
  • Name for God – Bhagwan – air & earth & water (Hindu)
  • Everyone held accountable (Quaker)
  • Love God & love your neighbour including every living thing (Roman Catholic)
  • History is still open.
  • We are stewards of the earth – good or bad.
  • The poorest are stuck in patterns that are not helpful. The poor suffer the most from poor stewardship.
  • Most Hindus own The Tulsi plant which represents all plants
  • Population 2.5 billion in the 1940s, now 8 billion. Overcrowding.
  • Roman Catholic – Love God and love your neighbour.
  • Islam – examples of the prophet not wasting, being kind, primary role model.
  • Food is there – being exploited.
  • Dominion over all creatures
  • At the start – few people, now overcrowding planet.
  • Take care of rivers, mountains, animals, give back by looking after.
  • Micah 6:8…to do justly, and respect people (Christian)
  • Needs & wants (motivated by media), e.g. sell by dates. Fix it – repair cafes, de clutter (Roman Catholic)
  • We don’t own the world, reverence for life, try to live simply (Quaker)
  • Encourage people to re-use, upcycle – personal responsibility.
  • Make ‘n’ mend, ‘Lithium’ dissolved in H2O
  • Mankind has raped (mother) earth – 70’s summer.
  • Task starts here; solar heat pumps, non-fluorescent lights, improve insulation.
  • Corporations to be held accountable.
  • Reduce use of animal products
  • False narrative
  • Ban toxic preservatives.
  • Earth is most stable of planets but shakes most when we abuse it.
  • We keep wanting to get as much possible – human greed undermining the patience of earth.
  • Khalifa on earth – everything is our responsibility (Muslim)
  • Creation made in 6 days then rest, Humanity is caretaker of creation (Christian, share with Jewish brothers & sisters)
  • Is the human trying to compete with God? (Psalm 104 – go into all creation)
  • Eco life -not losing anything by sharing candle.
  • Floods / fires – nature abused – competition with God.
  • We are stewards of the earth – all humanity, all faiths.
  • The poor suffer the most from poor stewardship of the earth.

Again The second part of the meeting was, again in groups, to consider what we would we be taking away with us back to our places of worship and congregations.


  • we can all do something. What are we leaving for the next generation?
  • let places run wild, plant trees in streets, green walls, woodland burial,
  • Garden of Eden, work and keep it, relationship with God. Act justly, don’t exploit, question sell by dates etc. Fashion – don’t throw, Repair Café. Judaism concept, you shall not waste.

What will you take away from today?

 Knowing importance & increasing awareness through meetings

  • Mindfully
  • Holding corporations to account & doing things – powerful group
  • World emphasising everything looking good but can re-use.
  • Not pushing people away / strength in working together.
  • Organise a gathering (multifaith) with readings about climate / environment etc. (a sort of service, where readings & prayers are heard – devotional)
  • Places of worship can be upgraded environmentally (e.g. Cheshunt Synagogue has a living roof & solar panels)
  • Look at what we have and try and buy environmentally friendly products, go more natural (products & food), recycle, be aware of not over buying / buying unnecessary things (e,g, not buy clothes so you can impress others, or wearing a different outfit each day and then throwing it away)
  • Be more aware of what we can physically do ourselves to help the earth & environment and encourage others.
  • Work towards influencing the media.
  • Please to see faiths come together and that we agree.
  • We need to gather ideas and share them.
  • We have to do SOMETHING, we can’t do nothing.
  • We can all do something- we must do things individually & corporately.
  • ‘Mother Earth’ is a useful concept.
  • Every house should have Tulsi – representing all plants (Hindu)

To do:

Put pressure on councils to support us / enable change.

Do more greening.

Start meetings in church ‘What can we do?’

Contact candidates (election) get green issues in manifestos

Ask for denominations to stop putting barriers e.g. with solar panels

The meeting was a powerful way of learning about the shared insights of all faith traditions, but, perhaps even more important, a wonderful way to meet and get to know each other. Great oaks from little acorns grow.

Huge thanks to IIC, for hosting RFF and NELEF so well!