We live in a world where half of the population is living in absolute poverty – that’s three billion people. MADE in Europe is a movement led by young Muslims who are assisting the Muslim community in leading the fight against injustice and global poverty. Very often, poverty denies people access to basic human rights, such as healthcare, education, the ability to earn a living and freedom of speech. These young leaders are also educating communities about the consequences of irresponsible and selfish lifestyles, such as climate change, and how we, people with great privileges, are not only destroying our planet, but also that it is the poorest in the world who are the first to suffer from our irresponsibility.
Through these bright young leaders, the mission of MADE is not just to raise money, but to transform the mindset of our communities so that we may adopt a life that is smarter, greener and more ethical: “Our response is rooted in the Islamic traditions of social action, justice and environmental stewardship.”
You may remember earlier in 2014, the SISTERS team participated in the Live Below the Line challenge, one of a number of campaigns organised by MADE, which challenges participants to spend only £1 a day for 5 days on food and drink. The challenge was an opportunity not only to raise money for charity, but also for participants to appreciate and stand in solidarity with billions of people across the globe who live on this much money each day for all their expenses, not just food and drink. It was also an opportunity to experience the simplicity of the lifestyle of the Prophet (SAW) and to incorporate a degree of this into their own lives.
Live Below the Line is only one of a number of campaigns organised by MADE. We caught up with Executive Director Sarah Javaid to find out more about MADE’s latest work.
Sarah tells us about the #BuyPalestinian campaign which is a long-term initiative that addresses the daily injustices, discrimination and oppression faced by Palestinian farmers and workers in the West Bank at the hands of illegal Israeli occupation. Farmers are blocked from access to their land, forced to buy water from their oppressors who have taken over Palestinian water sources and are unable to access international markets for their products, whilst workers on settlement farms are exploited and face daily abuse. The lack of support these farmers receive means they may be forced to abandon their land which makes it possible for Israeli settlers to take over.
“MADE is working with Zaytoun CIC to create a market for Palestinian products to compete with Israeli products, support Palestinian farmers to work themselves out of poverty and provide for their families, and build a strong and prosperous Palestinian state,” Sarah tells SISTERS. The #BuyPalestinian campaign raises awareness in schools and mosques about the importance of working beyond the boycotting of Israeli products and actually supporting Palestinian farmers by buying Palestinian products and lobbying shops to stock them. MADE is also training young people to be #BuyPalestinan advocates and lead this campaign in their local communities.
“Behind every Medjoul date we produce is a community and a family. Selling our dates in the UK means everything to us. It means people are listening. It means that people are celebrating our dignity and supporting our future. We are Palestine.” Taysir Arbasi, Zaytoun Project Manager
MADE’s other current major campaign is Green Up My Community! The aim is to help Muslim communities become more conscious of the impact of our lifestyles on the wider environment and global community. The campaign also serves to remind the community that the Prophet (SAW) was an environmental pioneer: he lead by example, teaching his followers about caring for both humans and animals, protecting the environment, respecting natural resources and warning against wastage and the overuse of land. “We are working with mosques to become pioneers of sustainability by making changes to their buildings and the way that they manage resources such as waste and water, as well as educating communities to make changes in their own day-to-day lives,” Sarah tells us.
Recently, MADE held the UK’s first Muslim-led Eco fair at London Central Mosque where Muslim businesses and organisations that focus on ethics and sustainability were showcased. This included organic tayyib meat, solar-power gadgets, organic cosmetics and skin-care and Fairtrade cakes.
“One of the initiatives which is really taking off is cycling,” Sarah tells SISTERS. “Our aim is to support more Muslims to make cycling a lifestyle choice to reduce vehicle-related emissions as well as having the opportunity to be out and about amidst Allah’s beautiful creation.” Beyond the cycling challenges, MADE are also looking to set up cycling clubs at different mosques around the country.
As part of the Green Up My Community! campaign, MADE also offers various educational opportunities for Muslim communities to learn more about living greener lives. They have developed a series of resources for Muslim schools to implement a global dimension into their school curriculum. These teaching resources, called Global Education, help students learn more about key global issues such as climate change, trade, women’s rights and the link between individuals and the communities in the UK and the wider world. Students are taught about agriculture and sustainable food production, children’s visits to a farm encourage the understanding of tayyib meat and an appreciation of how food is produced.
MADE also offers training workshops to young people – individuals, youth groups, Islamic societies or study circles – so they can develop important key skills such as critical thinking, team-work, communication and leadership. The students are introduced to various environmental issues from climate change to workers’ rights and ethical shopping, as well as maternal health issues like family planning, health services, education and community support.
To further this educational campaign, MADE has set up the MADE Café, a forum for young people interested in global issues to come together in an informal setting and discuss issues of global development, ethics and social justice.
Ultimately, MADE wants to encourage young people to become leaders of their communities – to develop a new generation that is active, responsible and can safeguard the future of our planet for the coming generations.
“Our individual choices and actions have a huge impact on the lives of people across the world. By starting with changing ourselves, we can help bring about the world that Islam envisions – a world free from injustice and poverty.” Sarah hopes enthusiastically.