Meet the Senegalese Imam Waging a “Green Jihad” Against Pollution

The waste problem in his city has become unbearable, so Youssoupha Sarr is calling on his congregants to do something about it.

Screencapture from Al Jazeera English segment.

An imam in Senegal is mobilizing his congregation in an aggressive “jihad” against... pollution. In his suburb of Dakar, Imam Youssoupha Sarr has become increasingly anxious about the waste problem, which has spilled itself out onto the streets of the city. Plastic bags litter the neighborhoods and garbage piles lay untouched for weeks, growing and multiplying at impressive rates. Even a local nature reserve is cluttered with human debris. New anti-litter laws have done little to abate the accumulation of garbage.

"This isn't just a local problem, it's a global issue. One the Muslim world is ignoring!" Imam Sarr, known as the “Green Imam,” sermonises one Friday.

At his local mosque, Imam Sarr has been positioning the anti-pollution struggle as an inherently Islamic one to his congregants, calling for a green “jihad.” Al Jazeera English went to Dakar and met the environmentalist imam, who is taking his activism to the prayer halls of Senegal.

“Islam is clear,” he told Al Jazeera English. “Any form of pollution or aggression towards the environment is a sin and clearly forbidden. People need to be reminded of this.”

In the mainstream Western press, the word “jihad,” which means “struggle,” is used to refer to acts of physical war within a religious context. But within the Qur’an, the word is more frequently invoked in reference to a spiritual struggle—one that occurs within the hearts and minds of people. Imam Sarr is hoping he can win the hearts and minds of his own Muslim neighbors by appealing to their religious imperative to protect the earth.

“God has handed out to humanity the responsibility of conservation of nature and other creatures on this earth,” he says. “As Muslims, it’s our duty to protect the environment.”

Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

The Trump Administration won't be remembered for being kind to animals.

In 2018, it launched a new effort to reinstate cruel hunting practices in Alaska that had been outlawed under Obama. Hunters will be able to shoot hibernating bear cubs, murder wolf and coyote cubs while in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears.

Efforts to end animal cruelty by the USDA have been curtailed as well. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, the USDA issued 4,944 animal welfare citations, in two years the numbers dropped to just 1,716.

Keep Reading Show less
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less