The first time I met the Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, we talked about earth, not heaven.
He told me that the most important new initiative among evangelicals is “creation care.” Google it and you will find literally hundreds of projects, including a Declaration whose first item reads: “Because we worship and honor the Creator, we seek to cherish and care for the creation.”
That sounds like a Muslim value, I said.
The Holy Qur’an teaches that God created Adam to be His servant and representative on earth with the primary task of caring for the beauty and diversity of creation.
I started telling the story of this meeting on college campuses where my organization the Interfaith Youth Core works, and discovered that students were already one step ahead of us. They were organizing practical envrionmental stewardship projects on Earth Day and the Days of Interfaith Youth Service, sometimes with evangelicals and Muslims in the lead.
I like this partnership precisely because it is unlikely. Evangelicals and Muslims are often viewed as aggressive communities bent on domination. Lord knows there are enough people in both camps who deserve the label. But it is both inaccurate and immoral to assume that every evangelical is Pat Robertson and every Muslim is Osama bin Laden.
I like this partnership also because it concerns itself with matters neither immediate nor material. In my Muslim outlook, I believe this is moving creation in line with the intention of the Creator.
You don’t need to share that religious viewpoint to hope that this works out. It might help both your children and mine breathe easier one day.