A Malaysian officer uses a telescope to perform "rukyah", the sighting of the new moon of Ramadan, in Putrajaya outside Kuala Lumpur..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Europe's first green mosque is hoping to harness the power of Islam to tackle climate change, urging Muslims who worship in the British newbuild to do more to protect the planet.
As one of the fastest growing faiths in the world, Islam could be a powerful force if Muslims were stirred to environmental action, climate activists say.
Which is where Cambridge Central Mosque steps in.
Located in the world-famous British university city, the mosque opened its doors in May just in time for the fasting month of Ramadan. It is adorned with latticed columns, clad in solar panels and surrounded by crab apples, with space for 1,000 and a mission to become a force for climate good.
"The mosque symbolises the spiritual heart of the Muslim community, it's the central locus where the worshipper connects to God," said mosque trust patron and musician Cat Stevens.
Stevens, famous for hit songs Wild World
and Morning Has Broken
, became Muslim in the 1970s and is now known as Yusuf Islam. He told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that Muslims had an important role to play in tackling the climate crisis.
"It (the mosque) is part of the re-education process, digging deeper into the true nature of Islam to reveal its harmony with the balance of the universe," said Stevens.
"Many Muslims have forgotten this and are not contributing enough to the present climate crisis."
The 24-million-pound ($30-million) building, funded largely by the Turkish government, will welcome hundreds of worshippers for night prayers every night, during this month of Ramadan - following a 18-hour fast from food and drink in daylight hours.
With recycled rainwater to irrigate the gardens and energy-harvesting heat pumps, the mosque says it produces close to zero carbon emissions and boasts better green credentials than the thousands of other mosques that are scattered across Europe.
"The Koran emphasises the beauty and harmony of the natural world as a sign of God's creative power and wisdom," said mosque trust chairman and Cambridge University professor, Timothy Winter, also known as Abdal Hakim Murad.
"The struggle against climate change and the mass extinction of species is not only a practical question of human survival, but is a battle to respect and protect God's gifts," he said.