Fatima Ragie

Co-Founder, Green Deen Campaign

Environmental issues must be presented in a way that inspires the target audience to take action if anything is to be achieved, believes Fatima Ragie.

That’s why she became a founder member and the project manager of the Green Deen Campaign, created to highlight environmental issues in the Muslim Community.

Ragie (23) is taking a master’s degree in environmental science at the University of the Witwartersrand (Wits), and formed Green Deen as an offshoot of the Muslim Students Association. Deen is an Arabic word for religion.

“The main focus is to create awareness about environmental matters and the issues we are facing,” she says. “The problem with a lot of environmental campaigns is they don’t address the culture of the people and talk to them in a language they understand and will be inclined to act upon. They give a general message that a lot of people don’t identify with,” she says.

As an environmental science student and a Muslim, Ragie believes she has a valuable insight into where she can make a difference.

Green Deen has compiled a booklet that introduces and educates South African Muslims about environmental issues. It also held an inaugural Green Deen week on the Wits campus last year.

“We spoke to a lot of radio stations and got people talking. We are now doing a fortnightly newsletter and running campaigns on Facebook and Twitter,” Ragie says.

The group also raises awareness about visiting speakers who come to highlight environmental affairs and helps them to reach the Muslim community. It is also compiling a list of local environmental activists.

“There are so many individuals doing something but nobody knows about them and they don’t have the tools to reach people, so we have started a database,” Ragie says.

Part of Islam involves being respectful to God’s creations, she says, such as caring for animals. “Everyone values things in different ways and hearing foreign values doesn’t make people inclined to do anything. The Quran speaks so much about nature and we need to draw people’s attention to it,” she says. — Lesley Stones