Interfaith Book on Caring for the Environment
Liam O'Callaghan, Columban priest, Pakistan
On 9 November 2015 the launch took place of The Sacredness of Creation: Spiritual Responsibility of Muslims and Christians to Care for our Common Home – Planet Earth. The book was the result of the Muslim-Christian symposium on the environment held in February 2014. The symposium brought together Christian and Muslim scholars who presented papers on the themes of protecting the environment based on the injunctions and teaching of the Islamic and Christian traditions.
Papers were presented on the Scriptures – the Qur’an and Bible – on how the command to protect and care for the environment is embedded in our sacred texts and that it is in and through nature that we give glory to God.
Other papers dealt with theological exploration of this topic, such as highlighting the reality of the deep sense of awe and reverence for nature in Sufism and in the lives and teaching of Christian saints, Ephraim the Syrian and St Francis of Assisi. Anther paper researched the poetry of seven Punjabi Sufi poets whose poetry is saturated with reference to nature and it being the means by which we come to know God.
The launch of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’, on 18 June 2015 gave this issue renewed energy and injected a spiritual dimension which was missing up to now. This has been followed in recent months by declarations on climate change by leaders from many different religions, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and also the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Because of the importance of Laudato Si’ and its dove-tailing with the theme of the symposium, we decided to include two papers on Laudato Si’ in Part II of the book.
By highlighting the importance of working together in interfaith harmony and cooperation, we hope this book will make a contribution in our common struggle to address one of the most serious challenges facing us today.