Islam lays much emphasis on collective efforts and cooperation. It calls upon the people to encourage and support one another in noble aims. The Quran states, “…Cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression.” (5:2)
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ signed treaties with many Arab communities – including Muslim, Jewish, and Christian ones – to promote peace, prosperity, and collaboration. During his youth, the Prophet ﷺ attended the formation of the Fudul Pact, whose objective was to ensure fairness and justice for the oppressed. Many years later, the Prophet ﷺ reflected on this agreement in the following words:
“I was present in the house of Abdullah bin Judan at so excellent a pact that I would not exchange my part in it for a herd of red camels; and if now, in Islam, I were summoned to it, I would gladly respond.” (Reported by Ibn Ishaq)
In our age, cooperation at the global level is possible due to recent advancements in communication. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly set 17 goals as “the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. These Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) address issues linked to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace, and justice, and set certain targets for the year 2030.
Like the Fudul Pact, these SDGs call for collaboration to ensure fairness and justice. While countries are collaborating these days to bomb, blockade, or sanction communities, it is all the more important to support each other for a worthy cause. Hence, Muslims should play an active role in working towards these goals, unless a goal contradicts with the values of Islam, which is rarely likely to be the case. Even if the commitment of most governments in achieving these goals is debatable, we can always make individual efforts towards collective betterment.
The United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) has complied a list of daily actions we can implement towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Some of these actions are stated below. Let’s resolve to undertake a maximum number of these actions that shall not only improve our planet but improve ourselves too.
- Sponsor a child so they can have access to food, education, and health.
- Volunteer in homeless shelters. Your time can be more valuable than money.
- At birthday parties offer the option to donate money to your chosen charity in replacement of a birthday gift.
- Donate non-perishable foods to charities.
- If you employ workers on minimum wage, help support their other needs like education for their children, or housing supplies.
- Keep a bag of apples or tinned foods in the car for street beggars.
- Don’t smoke.
- Be more active. Go for walks at lunchtime or cycle to work.
- Eat a healthy diet and drink a lot of water.
- Heart disease remains the number 1 killer. Educate yourself on the causes and symptoms of heart disease as well as other Non-Communicable Diseases.
- Take education outside the school and keep it fun. Travel. Take kids on day trips to the planetarium or museums.
- Share your skills with the ones who need them.
- Encourage schools to provide scholarships for girls.
- Make flexibility and work-life balance a part of the company’s culture.
- Fix leaks at home. A leaky faucet can waste more than 11,000 litres per year.
- Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth and while soaping in the shower.
- Cover the pan with a lid. It reduces the amount of energy required to boil water by 75%.
- Turn lights off in rooms that aren’t being used.
- Use energy-efficient lightbulbs and set your household appliances on low-energy settings.
- Provide food for low-earning workers.
- Host a small event for people to donate their unused, working phones, and in turn raise the awareness about the lack of infrastructure for communication services that 1-1.5 billion people still do not have.
- Encourage children to make friends with kids from different cultures.
- Build schools, homes and offices to be more accommodating to older persons and people with disabilities.
- Don’t keep clothes or other items you are not using. Donate them.
- Arrange school groups to spend 1 hour a week on the beach, along lakes or in parks to pick up the litter and to raise awareness on water pollution.
- Partner with hotels and restaurants to fast track leftover foods to charities that would otherwise be thrown away.
- Keep showers short. Don’t fill the bath to the top. Excessive use of water contributes to global water stress.
- Drive less. Walk, cycle, take public transport or car pool.
- Take re-useable bags to the store.
- Maintain your car. A well-maintained car emits fewer toxic fumes.
- Organise for your school or company to plant new trees every year. Trees give oxygen and take in carbon dioxide.
- Only buy what you need. 20-50% of the food we buy ends up in a landfill.
- Use fewer plastic products, which often ends up in oceans causing the death of marine animals.
- Never buy products made from threatened or endangered species.
- Recycle used paper and go paperless where possible.
- Buy recycled products.
- Participate in your country’s decision-making processes in an informed manner.
- Stop violence against women. If you see it happening, report it.
- Demonstrate a peaceful environment at home.
- Practice teamwork at home. Share activities among all family members and outside the family.