Green Faith Raises Provocative Questions

Last Tuesday night’s panel discussion, Green Faith, drew over 100 people to discuss religiously inspired eco-consciousness and interfaith activism around environmental issues. A number of provocative questions were raised by both panelists and audience members throughout the two-hour event. Local media coverage provided a good summary of the themes covered for those unable to attend.

Panelists from Baha'i, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions spoke with Inside Islam Radio Show Host Jean Feraca at the Green Faith Conference this past Tuesday. Photo: Nayantara Mukherj.

The evening started out with a short video clip and discussion by UW-Madison Associate Professor Anna M. Gade on the tradition of Muslims conserving natural resources in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation. Gade highlighted models for embracing inter-religious cooperation that draw on the Qur’an (e.g. 49:13), values that are highly influential in Indonesia’s religiously pluralistic society today. She also spoke of faith-inspired environmental practices that emphasize loving-kindness and compassion, and reminded the audience that both Muslim and non-Muslims across Southeast Asia have transmitted these philosophies since long before the advent of the “environmental movement” in North America. Continue reading

Indonesia’s Islamic Environmental Boarding Schools

Today’s Inside Islam radio show, Green Faith, will preview the upcoming event Green Faith: An Interfaith Conversation on Eco-Consciousness and Activism, to be held at the Pyle Center at UW-Madison on Tuesday, March 6th. Jean Feraca will speak with Anna M. Gade, UW-Madison Associate Professor and expert on eco-Islam in Indonesia, and Cal DeWitt, UW-Madison Professor and author of Earthwise: A Biblical Response to Environmental Issues. (Broadcast details follow below.) In addition to today’s radio show, earlier posts here on the blog have explored Muslim and Christian perspectives.


Indonesia is home to more Muslims than any other country, with 205 million, or 13% of all Muslims worldwide. In addition to being the world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia is also one of the most eco-conscious places on the planet. We’ve talked about eco-Islam in Indonesia before and it is one of the foci of our Green Faith series because the country’s combination of biodiversity, religions, and cultural traditions have formed the basis for the unparalleled development of widespread integration of faith and environmentalism.

The video above is an environmentally focused religious song performed by students from Pondok Pesantren Al-Ittifaq, an Indonesian environmental boarding school, or pesantren. An expression of love for God, eco-consciousness, and artistry are all rolled into one, as students integrate the idea of environmentalism naturally with other aspects of their daily life.

Since the 1950s, Islamic environmental pesantren have been teaching students the importance of stewardship and the deepening of their faith through a higher level of environmental consciousness and activism. It’s also important to point out that “environmental activism” as seen in the U.S. may be understood differently in an Indonesian context. Environmental practices such as water conservation and the planting of trees are commonplace practices in Indonesia and not necessarily viewed as uniquely progressive, political, or radical acts.


Anna M. Gade, filmmaker of the clip above and Associate Professor in UW-Madison’s Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia, has been studying the intersection of Islamic practices, community initiatives, and government policies in Indonesia for over a decade. Gade and renowned Evangelist environmental steward and scholar, Cal DeWitt, will speak to Jean on today’s Here on Earth radio broadcast about faith-based environmentalism, from both local and global perspectives.

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