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Interfaith Tree Planting

Dear all,

A big thank you for sending your students to take part in MADE’s ‘Show the Love’ tree planting yesterday. We were really pleased with the way the young people got involved in this environmental event, got their hands dirty (literally), made new friends and shared extracts from their faith traditions about the importance of the environment and particularly trees.

Jewish, Christian and Muslim teens show their love for the environment together…

Teenagers from Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith schools across London came together on 7 February to plant trees at Heartwood Forest and demonstrate a shared love for trees and the wider environment.

45 teenage boys and girls from Muslim, Jewish and Christian single-faith schools planted saplings at the Woodland’s Trust Heartwood Forest in St Albans. This is part of the Climate Coalition’s “Show the Love” campaign – a celebration of all that we love but could lose to climate change.

2017 marks the launch of a new Charter for Trees, Woods and People, which will ensure the UK’s trees and woods can continue to being benefits to people and the environment in the future. Trees are not only at risk from climate change, but can offer support in coping with climate change. Acting as natural carbon sinks they clean the air, cool urban areas and do much to prevent floods by slowing rainwater and improving drainage. The interfaith event therefore called upon students to ‘show the love’ for trees in this historic year.

After in-school assemblies, pupils came to the forest and discussed the importance of trees as part of the climate change debate, planted the new trees in inter-faith groups, and wrote messages on green hearts about the things they love about trees, the environment and the future they want. The event ended with reflection and celebration of the importance of the environment, and particularly trees, to all three faiths. Jewish students explained how the event linked to the upcoming tree-planting festival of Tu Bishvat, Christian pupils shared prayers, and Muslim students shared relevant stories of the Prophet Muhammad and extracts from the Qur’an.

Lucy Bushill-Matthews, CEO of MADE (and author of ‘Welcome to Islam, a convert’s tale) said:

“MADE is delighted to partner with the Woodland Trust, the Tree Charter, and the Climate Coalition, providing opportunities for young people of different faiths to plant trees for the future, show their shared love for the environment, and work together on social action projects that strengthen our communities.

“The Torah is known to Jews as the Tree of Life. Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai, who lived in Jerusalem when it was being sacked by the Romans, cleverly taught the priority of planting. He said: ‘If you should be holding a sapling in your hand when they tell you the Messiah has arrived, first plant the sapling, then go out and greet him.’”

“In the Islamic tradition, a hadith (saying of the Prophet Muhammad) tells us: ‘If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift for him.

The young people really enjoyed getting involved in tree planting in interfaith groups – by the end they were tired, happy, and swapping Instagram account details with each other!”

Rushanara Ali, MP said:

“It’s wonderful to see such pioneering community-based inter-faith work led by MADE (Muslim Action for Development and Environment). At a time of rising Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance, I commend the work of this inter-faith alliance.

It gives me great pleasure to see Ebrahim Academy from my constituency working with other faith groups on the important issue of protecting our environment.  It is collaboration and partnerships between different communities that will help us to tackle climate change whilst also building bridges in the face of increasing hostility against minorities in many parts of the world.”

Matt Larsen-Daw, Project Lead for the Tree Charter at the  Woodland Trust, said:

“The Tree Charter, launching in November, will speak for every tree and every person in the UK. We all benefit from trees, regardless of our age, gender, culture or faith. Trees are our best friends as we try to deal with Climate Change. This event was a perfect example of young people from different faiths all standing together to show the love for trees in the most meaningful way possible – by planting for the future. Their future.”

Mr. Adam Cohen, from Yavneh College said: ‘ We have all come together this afternoon from a variety of schools that subscribe to a variety of different faiths to benefit the environment and to allow new trees to grow. Perhaps in the end it is us who will benefit and grow the most in the process.’

Georgia, a student from Yavneh College said: ‘I enjoyed planting trees today because it felt good to give back to the environment because they give so much to us. ‘

Faith from Townsend Church of England School said: ‘ I didn’t know what was in store for me today, but we are interacting with children from different faiths and having fun. ‘

Hannah from Islamia Girls School said: ‘I am here to help the environment to plant trees and different schools to come together to help the earth and show that we are all humans.’

Notes

This event was led by MADE (Muslim Action for Development and the Environment), a charity that enables and inspires young British Muslims to serve society and the environment, and to contribute to building integrated stronger communities.

MADE hosted this event in partnership with the Climate Coalition and the Woodland Trust.

Warm regards,
Lucy

Lucy Bushill-Matthews I CEO

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