Khairiana (or Khairi for short) is one of the co-founders of FiTree, back in 2013. She has continuously led multiple efforts and events in hope to spread the message of Khalifah Fil ‘Ard (Stewards of the Earth).
Qn: What motivated you to co-found FiTree?
Towards the end of my time in uni, while bored senseless working on my Biomed FYP in the lab, i took Global (climate) Change Biology, and Environmental Ethics elective modules to keep myself sane. Also around the same time, i studied Surah Ar-Rahman for tafsir class at Pergas, and took another class on Islamic Worldview, while enjoying fortnightly contemporary tafsir lectures. I had also just returned from exchange in UK where i experienced firsthand what a much greener society is like and the issues that even they still can’t quite overcome. It was this Godincidental mix of simultaneous knowledge and experience acquisition that led me to a personally profound discovery which i shall summarise bluntly as such:
1. The health of our Earth is so horribly screwed up because of the actions of Man, who despite knowing this very well, is still continuing to screw it up at an exponentially increasing rate. WHY?
2. World leaders are not able to correct this grave irony because their actions, like the rest of secular Man, are dictated by value systems and ethics that are not yet able to satisfyingly accomodate environmental concerns. WHY?
3. The field of Western Environmental Ethics itself is divided many ways along a spectrum, from the ultra-green, nature-is-king camp, to the barely-green, man-trumps-nature-always camp, each of them having their own set of problems reconciliating between what is theoretically the right thing to do, what is needed to resolve the environmental crisis, and what is practically reasonable to expect people to do. WHY?
“Have they not travelled in the land so that they should have hearts with which to understand, or ears with which to hear? For surely it is not the eyes that are blind, but blind are the hearts which are in the breasts.” [Al-Qur’an; Al-Hajj 22:46]
4. How can they ever reach a unified and satisfying solution amongst their ranks, when Islam has the answer, had always had the answer and is the only satisfying answer. It is Syumul; all encompassing. Not only does Islam sufficiently answer the question of why (should one care about the Earth) but also how (can one care for the Earth while still leading a happy life). In built in this way of life, are all the necessary components needed for an effective solution:
A. Motivation (Value of nature is elevated by God, who is the True and only owner of all value. Steward of the Earth. Get rewards in the hereafter, even if the little that we can do in our lifetime can’t significantly improve the health of the Earth.)
B. Guiding Values (Repugnance of wastefulness, Mizan, Thankfulness, Fairness, Compassion, Rights, Sacredness, Adab, Not defeatist)
C. Specific jurisprudic solutions (Nature reserves, Plant trees, Mindful slaughtering, Don’t waste water)
5. WHY are Muslims not doing anything with the coveted answer key to the world’s most pressing problem? Because we are blind to the treasure that what we have, distracted by pseudo ‘Muslim’ problems like Terrorism, Extremism and Sectarianism.
6. Perhaps there is hikmah (wisdom) behind the frightening prospect of climate change. It is not often in history that a problem so great in magnitude occurs, threatening to affect the entire global population, regardless of race, religion or status. Alhamdulillah for Muslims, turning back to Allah not only gives us spiritual comfort, but also provides a practical framework for a solution. It is in this respect that the syumul (complete and comprehensive) nature of Islam has the opportunity to shine for all of Mankind to see.
So that, is my personal motivation for starting FiTree; to remind the Singapore Muslim community to return to our true fitrah as Stewards of the Earth, who are God-ordainedly capable of caring for our shared ailing Earth, if only we tried.
Curious on who are the rest of the people behind FiTree? Stay Tuned! 🙂