A few weeks ago, award-winning filmmaker Mawish Raza and I made the unlikely journey to Houston in the middle of July to make a film about climate change and the Muslim community. Everyone knows that Houston is hot and humid, but our time there included temperatures rising to 105 degrees. Some of our camera equipment was on the verge of melting. While there, many people mentioned to us that summer temperatures continue to rise year after year.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) recently confirmed in a groundbreaking study that these increased temperatures contributed to the historic flooding that Houston experienced during Hurricane Harvey nearly a year ago.
According to the study, even after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, its arms reached out over the nearby Gulf of Mexico and drew strength (and water) from the warmer-than-usual Gulf.
Lead author Kevin Trenberth, a NCAR senior scientist, commented:
"The implication is that the warmer oceans increased the risk of greater hurricane intensity and duration." He continued, "While we often think of hurricanes as atmospheric phenomena, it's clear that the oceans play a critical role and will shape future storms as the climate changes."
In addition to filming the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, we wanted to highlight the resilience and spiritual response of Muslim Houstonian families. We learned about how their eco-conscious lifestyles are rooted in the Islamic teachings of moderate consumption and care for all creation. From gardening in the backyard to repurposing materials for artistic furniture creations to voting for elected officials committed to sustainability, we were inspired by the variety of ways in which diverse Muslim-Americans are living out the environmental spirit of Islam.
During these first ten days of Dhul Hijjah - the last month of the Islamic calendar when Hajj is performed by millions of pilgrims and Eid al-Adha holiday takes place - we are reminded of the increased reward for performing meritorious acts. This is an opportunity to develop small but impactful green habits like changing over to energy efficient light bulbs, using reusable bags at the grocery store, and limiting red meat consumption in our diets. All of these shifts save us money, prevent us from packing on extra pounds, and are in line with the sustainable practices to which our Islamic tradition calls us.
As we prepare for the 55th Annual ISNA Convention in Houston over Labor Day Weekend, we are making the final touches on our film, "The Earth is Our Mosque" which showcases the extraordinarily ordinary things that Muslim Houstonians are doing to live out their faith as green Muslims!
Join us on Saturday, Sept 1 at 5:30 PM at the George R Brown Convention Center in Houston, TX for the premiere of The Earth is Our Mosque as we celebrate how Muslim-Americans are responding to our climate crisis with confidence and creativity. For more information about ISNA's 55th Annual Convention, please visit: www.isna.net/convention/
Colin Christopher is the Director of the Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances at the Islamic Society of North America.
The Islamic Society of North America is a proud partner of Blessed Tomorrow, a coalition of faith leaders committed to serve as faithful stewards of creation. Founded by ecoAmerica, Blessed Tomorrow offers tools, resources, and communications to demonstrate visible climate leadership, inspiring and empowering faith leaders to speak about, act on, and advocate for climate solutions. This month’s talking points will help you to talk to family and neighbors about the connection between extreme weather and climate change. Learn more about our partnership and the resources available to you here www.isna.net/.