On International Women’s Day, Religions for Peace UK Women of Faith Network called upon all organisations and communities to lobby political leaders and governments to:
Commit to a sustainable programme of tree planting within the next two years to significantly reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and
Stop the deforestation of rainforests.
The seminar, hosted by Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, ‘Protecting Mother Earth’ took place on 8 March at the Nishkam Centre, Birmingham, UK.
Our Chairwoman Ravinder Kaur Nijjar told participants that the achievements of women across the world were usually celebrated on International Women’s Day however humanity had forgotten to protect the greatest mother of all, Planet Earth. As human beings we all have a responsibility to protect and care for the environment.
The participants then heard from speakers from a variety of different religious communities on what Religious Scriptures say on the environment and what can be done individually and collectively to help overcome the negative impact human beings have had on the Earth.
Ravinder Kaur presented a summary of the current climate crisis situation and the need for religious communities to get involved with the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 taking place in November in Glasgow, UK. She highlighted that research shows that in order to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere there needs to be a sustainable programme of planting trees by countries throughout the world. She explained that the Founders of the different religions have all spoken of the need to treat Mother Earth with dignity and respect so the impetus to action is embedded within Religious Scriptures.
She introduced Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh who spoke on the environment from the Sikh perspective. He said that in the Sikh religion our planet Earth is a Dharamsal, a sacred place of worship. The planet is a legacy for humanity and should be regarded as sacred and that all creation within it should be revered. As it was International Women’s Day he explained that five hundred and fifty years ago Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion had exalted the status of women and said that women should be treated with get respect and dignity.
“Why call her inferior who gives birth to humankind?”
Ruth Tetlow, Chair of ‘Footsteps: Faiths for a Low Carbon Future explained that the ‘Footsteps’ organisation brings together faith groups in Birmingham to respond to the challenge of moving to a low carbon future. She spoke from the Christian perspective on the environment and quoted
“The angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, …On either side of the river is the tree(s) of life…and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations”. Revelation v2-5
Dr. Lakshmi Vyas, President -Hindu Forum of Europe explained that particular trees and plants are considered very important in the Hindu Vedic Scriptures. She explained that from the Vedas the message is clear that environment belongs to all living beings, so it needs protection by all, for the welfare of all.
In the Rig Veda it is written, “Do not harm the environment, do not harm the water and the flora, earth is my mother, I am her son, may the waters remain fresh, do not harm the waters—-. Tranquillity be to the atmosphere, to the waters, to the crops and vegetation.’’
Zarina Ahmad, CEMVO-Climate Change & Environmentalist spoke of encouraging ethnic minority communities to get involved in environmental projects locally and nationally. Her presentation explained that humans are stewards on the Earth and through their actions need to protect it.
“The Earth is green and beautiful, and Allah has appointed you his stewards over it. The whole earth has been created a place of worship, pure and clean.” HADITH
Ravinder then introduced the “Let Earth Breathe, Plant Trees Project- a simple concrete method whereby individuals, families, schools, places of worship, businesses, councils etc, plant a symbolic ‘Tree of Peace’ thereby helping to negate carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. The project will develop Peace groves throughout the UK and further. The planting of the tree would enable discussion on the climate crisis and what can be done individually and collectively.
The seminar concluded with the planting of a ‘Tree of Peace’ in the grounds of the Gurdwara in Birmingham.
A similar planting of a ‘Tree of Peace’ took place in Edinburgh led by the Moderator of the Church of Scotland the Rt. Revd. Colin Sinclair.