Plan to set up 1,000 mosques using renewable energy, source water and food sustainably, recycle waste and teach about environment.
Worshippers in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country, are set to go green with a new initiative that aims to establish 1,000 eco-mosques by 2020.
Launched this week by Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla, the initiative will help the mosques to source renewable energy, manage their water and food needs sustainably, reduce and recycle waste and provide environmental education.
The project will see the top Muslim clerical body work with the private sector, the government's health and planning ministries, universities, and other religious groups in a bid to boost environmental awareness in communities across the country.
"Most Muslims in Indonesia listen more to religious leaders than the government," said Hayu Prabowo, head of environment and natural resources at the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).
Mixed environmental record
Indonesia, with 250 million people, has a mixed environmental record.
The archipelago is the world's top thermal coal exporter and palm oil producer, which has led to the clearing and development of swathes of forest land and intense international pressure to limit deforestation.
Many of Indonesia’s rural and poorest provinces suffer regular droughts due to climate change, while children's education is often hampered by the lack of regular power supply.
Hening Parlan, coordinator for environment and disaster management at Aisyiyah, the women's wing of Indonesia's second-largest Islamic organisation Muhammadiyah, said that the idea of eco-mosques stemmed from asking how to make mosques the centre for environment and education within a community.
"For many Indonesians, their understanding of the environment only happens when they see the impact of climate change (rather than through education) ... if they suffer from floods or landslides for example," Parlan said.
Solar power and biogas will also be promoted over fossil fuels and imams will teach better environmental awareness.
Edicts on forest fires
The eco-mosque initiative is not the first time MUI has taken the lead on the environment – it has also issued edicts, or fatwas, on forest fires and sustainable mining.
There are more than 800,000 mosques in Indonesia but officials hope to create more eco-mosques after the initial 1,000 are established and also include other places of worship.
An eco-mosque roll-out of this scale is rare.
In Dubai a mosque built in 2014 was the first to meet the US Green Building Council’s guidelines, while Britain, the United States, Morocco and Malaysia all have mosques aiming to be more green.
"We need concrete action to help mosques and their communities overcome the oncoming water and energy crisis by building resilience," said Prabowo.