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Indian Islamic centre warns Muslims against felling trees

Indian Islamic centre warns Muslims against felling trees
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One of India’s most influential Islamic centres has warned Muslims not to chop down trees or burn fields after harvesting to help stem climate change and surging temperatures.

Much of northern India has been gripped by a deadly heatwave with temperatures above 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit), killing scores of people by heatstroke.

“Every Muslim must ensure no green trees and crops are set on fire,” Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahal, chair of the Islamic Centre of India, told AFP.

Mahal, a top scholar in the northern city of Lucknow, issued the non-binding fatwa or ruling on Sunday, saying that the religious duty of Muslims to conserve greenery and water was “stated in the Koran”.

“Burning trees and crops is forbidden in Islam and is considered a grave sin,” read the fatwa, published in Urdu and Hindi.

He also urged Islamic clerics to encourage stewardship of the environment during their sermons — telling people to take care of the trees around them.

“Instead of merely planting a sapling symbolically, it is more meaningful to take care of existing plants and trees,” he said, urging Muslims to prevent pollution of waterways and the sea.

Last week, an Indian court urged the government to declare a national emergency over the country’s ongoing heatwave, saying that hundreds of people had died during weeks of extreme weather.

The High Court in the western state of Rajasthan, which has suffered some of the hottest weather, said authorities had failed to take appropriate steps to protect the public from the heat.

India is no stranger to searing summer temperatures but years of scientific research have found climate change is causing heatwaves to become longer, more frequent and more intense.

Researchers say human-induced climate change has driven the devastating heat impact in India and should be taken as a warning.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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