Dr Daud Batchelor is a Sheikh and Committee Member for the Brisbane Muslim Fellowship, Australia. He is a devout Muslim who has a deep love of the Qur'an, and an active concern for environmental issues.
1. How does your faith describe the relationship with earth/ creation/ all beings?
All creation celebrates God’s glory showing the unity of creation. We should therefore approach Nature as being Sacred, show it respect and nurture it, especially as Adam, and we as his descendants, were appointed as God’s stewards (khulafa) to protect the earth.
2. Which sacred text inspires you to act for change?
When man’s inner being darkens from a materialistic mindset, nature is turned from harmony and beauty to disequilibrium and disorder. The Qur’an indicates that pollution and injustice arises from greed and corruption in human hearts. Key is to change hearts to respect our fellow creatures.
3. How does your faith and/or your community with others provide you with a guide to life?
Key sources of guidance in Islam are the Qur'an, and the Sunnah - practises and examples of Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) life, and his authentic Hadith - reports of what he said and did. The Qur’an states that purpose of our creation is to worship God.
4. Is there a time of the year or a tradition in your faith when your community looks at how we live and consider how we could change it and live with less?
Ramadhan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is a special month of fasting commemorating when the Qur’an was first revealed. Fasting develops God-consciousness by reducing dependence on worldly sustenance (food and water) and controlling desires.
5. What does your faith tradition teach about simplicity? What are the attitudes to material consumption in your faith?
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who exemplified self-restraint (zuhd) said: ‘I’ve got nothing to do with this world, like a rider who halts in the shade of a tree for a while and after taking rest, resumes his journey leaving the tree behind.’ This teaches us “to travel lightly” on earth.
6. Can you share a story of a change you have tried to make in your own life when it comes to diet (moving towards a plant-based diet and reducing food waste), mobility (decreasing use of car and plane) or renewable energy use?
Over the years my consumption of vegetables has increased as a healthier option to reduce intake of animal fats and lower cholesterol. I find small slices of meat Asian-style in a meal more delicious than a traditional Aussie steak.
Personally, I am benefiting from installing 6kW capacity (24 solar cells) of roof-top solar PV panels. This saves my electricity bill AUD900 per year with a 5-year payback period, and 18 years of savings totalling about AUD16,000.
7. What was it like to work to make these changes? What was difficult? What was rewarding? How have you persevered?
These changes can be brought about easily by convincing oneself that they are for the better in improving the environment; but often also clearly beneficial for one’s own health (eating less meat) or one’s wallet in the long term (installing solar panels).
8. How does your faith help you in times of struggles, changes and new beginnings?
Islam contains true guidance on how to live one’s life and prepare for transition to the next life. In the face of struggles and difficulties Islam provides a foundation on which to stand strong and inculcates a disposition that is resilient in facing life’s trials, which are anticipated, with fortitude of patience, perseverance and persistence.