Sunday, July 13, 2008

Saving environment through faith

Saving the environment through faith

I am pleased to see that father Andang has taken up the responsibility to educate the public to be environmentally conscious. If All the leaders in faith can take this up, one item at a time, the world would be a better place to live. Congratulations to Father Andang.

My grade school teacher Mr. Abdul Hakim used to tell us the kids who would sit any place without thinking... he would say, watch the dog before it sits, it cleans the broken glass or rock with its tail. He has made us conscious of where we sit, where we step and be aware of it.

There is a saying among Muslims that cleanliness is half the belief in God or faith, and that needs to be encouraged.

The average Muslim is not conscious of hygiene, every one throws the trash on the street, right in front of their home... we need to take on this on our own and clean our own place and not wait for the municipality to do.

It is us who breathe that air, it is us whose' health is of concern, it is our neighborhood. Others may not join our efforts in cleaning... but over the time, they will. It benefits the whole neighborhood.

If we can do these simple things:

1. When we walk out of the public bathrooms, the sink and the commode will be cleaner than before we used it.

2. When we finished eating, the plate is not a mess with left overs, eat what we can and not take more than we can eat.

3. Keep the area where you work as clean as you can.

Just do it.

Mike Ghouse

Andang Binawan: saving the environment through faith
Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Social transformation can begin with waste management, a Catholic priest believes. With this belief, he focuses his pastoral duties on guiding people's garbage habits.

From a Driyarkara School of Philosophy's student lodging in Central Jakarta, where he acts as head of the dorm, Father Andang Binawan tells The Jakarta Post about his simple idea.

"Garbage is an entry point to a concern for something bigger. From there we can achieve good waste management, a healthy environment and an inclusive, pluralistic society," he says.
The 47-year-old is sitting in the front room wearing a black shirt with light brown trousers. His hair is black and thick, which suits his firm but soft voice.

Andang Binawan became the Jakarta bishop's environmental specialist two years ago. The church incorporated an environmental section in their program in 2006, focusing on solid waste management, appointing Andang as coordinator.

Andang teaches at the Driyarkara School of Philosophy. "My background is actually not in the environment. My discipline is Catholic law and human rights. However, since I have been appointed (to focus on environmental issues), I have studied more about the environment," he says. His program focuses on changing people's waste management habits.

"First is to make people put garbage in the right place; second is to make people separate their garbage into organic and inorganic waste; and third is to make people compost their organic waste by building biopores or using other composting techniques," he says.

After two years of campaigning for the environment, the student lodging now has a green and shady garden. Plant pots from water bottles line the fence.
"We use our own compost from our organic waste," he said.
Andang has always had an interest in nature, especially plants, since he was a child. He says that he likes gardening and learned to make compost in elementary school.

Caring for the environment is in line with the Catholic value of compassion. "It is different from feeding the poor or sending a child to school or giving clothes to victims of disaster, as you don't see the people you help (when doing the charity work). But caring for the environment means compassion for the next generation," he says.

He set up a church youth group called Gropes, which is short for Gerombolan Pencari Sampah (Garbage Seeker Gang), and has asked churches in Jakarta to encourage their congregations to manage their waste properly.

His efforts do not stop there.
Learning that about 15.3 percent of Jakarta's 27,633 cubic meters of garbage, which is around 6,000 tons a day, is thrown along streets, in parks and rivers, the priest realized he would need a lot of help to clean up the city.

So he gathered together other religious-based groups to work together on solving Jakarta's garbage problem, forming an alliance called Faith Movement to Care for Jakarta (Gempita).
The groups include Maarif Institute, Wahid Institute, Clean and Healthy Life Movement, Lantan Bentala Foundation, Interfaith Dialog Society, Indonesia Institute for Pluralism, the Nadhatul Ulama and Muhamadiyah youth groups, the Kemang Pratama Indonesian Christian Church and others.

"It is impossible to work alone in changing people's habits. If I worked alone, I would just get frustrated. That is why we should work together," he says.

"Faith in religious values is a powerful driving force. And Indonesia is a very religious country. Assuming that each religious group already has values to care for the environment, it will be easier to change people's habits toward the environment through religion," he says.
He says that this is where garbage enters the scene, as everyone, regardless of their religious affiliation, produces garbage.

Andang says that human behavior is one aspect that religion deals with.
"As religious values are connected to human behavior, religion can help social change by guiding human beings to more civilized behavior."

Launched in May 2008, Gempita is working on a joint program.

"Hopefully in August we will have training on waste management for members.
"Working together can make everyone more spirited in tackling the program. We can also share experiences on how each group attempts to manifest their values on caring for the environment," he says.

Amidst the rise of religious fundamentalism in Indonesia, Gempita is a fresh development that promotes inclusiveness and plurality.

"Fighting against the same enemy, which is environmental damage, can help religious groups to live and work harmoniously together," Andang says.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Email to:

Voice of Moderate Muslims

Voice of Moderate Muslims
Voice of Moderate Muslims

Moderate Islam Speaker

Moderate Islam Speaker
Moderate Islam Speaker

quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.