Dr Mozammel Haque
Lord Mohamed Sheikh of Cornhill took part on the Second Reading of the Environment Bill in the House of Lords on 7th June. 2021. He made a speech on Environment. He also made a speech on Animal Life on 16th June 2021. At the beginning, I would like to draw your attention to the following paragraphs:
On Environment at the House of Lords
Lord Sheikh said, “Tackling the climate crisis must be a national and international priority, especially as we recover from the pandemic and build better and greener situations. The Bill sets out a clear road map by which we can meet these ambitious targets. It is a modern Bill for a modern age, and we must support it. As a Muslim, we are taught by the Prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him – to look after the environment. The most popular Hadith on the environment states:
‘The Earth is green and beautiful and Allah has appointed you his stewards over it’.
This principle reiterates the Holy Qur’an’s teaching that human beings have been given the responsibility of guardianship over the natural environment. We must all live by these principles and do what we can. The Bill is an important step in doing that.
Lord Sheikh also welcome the provisions in the Bill related to tree felling and planting. According to the Hadiths, Prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him – told us that if one plants a tree it is deemed Sadaqat jariya: an act of continuous charity. Consequently, we are discouraged from cutting down trees.
Lord Sheikh is the co-chair the APPG on Islamic Finance, and he suggested that Islamic Finance be used to provide support to the provisions of the Bill, such as the issue of Islamic bonds. Islamic Finance provides support to projects which help communities, such as protection of the environment. Can my noble friend the Minister comment on utilising Islamic Finance in our activities?”
You will no doubt appreciate that Lord Sheikh promotes Islamic principles and values in his speeches wherever he can in the House of Lords.
Lord Sheikh’s Speech; 7th June 2021 –
Second Reading of the Environment Bill
Lord Sheikh contribution in full to the Second Reading of the Environment Bill. He started by saying: “My Lords, I am the tail-ender and I hope to bat effectively. It is imperative that we redefine our relationship with the natural environment. As I said in my maiden speech, the environment is a passion of mine. I was brought up in Uganda and, as a young boy, would fish on the shores of Lake Victoria and swim in the clean waters of the River Nile. I saw green vegetation around me and wildlife in its natural habitat. I was lucky enough to enjoy nature in my youth, and those experiences led me to a lifelong love of the environment.
“It saddens and worries me when I see the problems created by climate change and human actions. Now we have left the European Union, we have the opportunity to set out our own legally binding targets that go above and beyond what has been set before. As we prepare to host COP 26, the Bill demonstrates our determination and commitment to deliver key objectives and set an example for other nations to follow.
Tackling the climate crisis must be a national and international priority, especially as we recover from the pandemic and build better and greener situations. The Bill sets out a clear road map by which we can meet these ambitious targets. It is a modern Bill for a modern age, and we must support it.
“As a Muslim, we are taught by the Prophet Muhammad—peace be upon him—to look after the environment. The most popular Hadith on the environment states:Column 1295
“The earth is green and beautiful and Allah has appointed you his stewards over it.”
“This principle reiterates the Holy Koran’s teaching that human beings have been given the responsibility of guardianship over the natural environment. We must all live by these principles and do what we can. The Bill is an important step in doing that.
“I welcome the Bill and have been impressed by how it sets out a new environmental system of governance. As a nation committed to healing our planet, we must enforce environmental protection, while holding the Government and businesses to account. I support the targets, plans and policies in the Bill, which are proactive and allow us to set out own path to protecting the natural environment. I welcome the environmental improvement plans and the ability of the Secretary of State to make regulations relating to air quality, water, biodiversity, resource efficiency and waste reduction. Having a policy statement on environmental principles is essential, as protecting the environment and climate should not be an afterthought but should be proactively considered in all legislation.
“Furthermore, the office for environmental protection will provide necessary oversight, scrutiny, and enforcement through the courts where needed to restore the natural environment. It will also provide continuity and consistency to hold the Government and successor Administrations to account. I welcome this, but I hope that we can make sure that it is a robust and independent body which can work constructively. It is important that it should deliver the provisions of the Bill, and their adequate enforcement. Can my noble friend the Minister comment on these points, and give us this assurance?
“The other issue which concerns me is air quality. In 2021 the Central Office of Public Interest has found that a quarter of homes are in areas with dangerous levels of air pollution. We must act on this, and I am pleased that the Bill has provisions on air quality targets. I look forward to discussing these points further.
“I totally welcome Part 5, related to water quality, resources, drainage, and regulation of water and sewerage companies. These provisions are important, as use of water is an important part of our daily lives. I also welcome the provisions in the Bill related to tree felling and planting. According to the Hadiths, Prophet Muhammad—peace be upon him—told us that if one plants a tree it is deemed Sadaqat jariya: an act of continuous charity. Consequently, we are discouraged from cutting down trees. I co-chair the APPG on Islamic Finance, and I suggest that Islamic finance be used to provide support to the provisions of the Bill, such as the issue of Islamic bonds. Islamic finance provides support to projects which help communities, such as protection of the environment. Can my noble friend the Minister comment on utilising Islamic finance in our activities?
“The Bill is comprehensive, and I hope that it can help us to take action in pursuit of our environmental goals. I will certainly follow it through its various stages.”
Lord Sheikh’s speech in the House of Lords
On 16th June 2021 on Animal Welfare Sentience
Lord Mohamed Sheikh of Cornhill also took part on the Animal Welfare Sentience bill and he spoke: “My Lords, I welcome this Bill as I have always believed that animals are sentient beings and that they feel emotions and experience pains. I was brought up in east Africa in a house with a large garden. We had a dog, cats, chickens, ducks and rabbits, and we became very fond of them and got to know them. I noticed that they had emotions and felt pain, and I shall give one example. When my mother died, I was very upset and the cat we had at that time would not stop mewing and wanted to sit on my lap. I feel that the Bill is necessary, as we need to ensure that we look after their well-being and care for all animals, whether they are pets, on a farm or in the wild.
Lord Sheikh said, “The Bill will apply to vertebrates other than homo sapiens, but the Secretary of State may by regulation include invertebrates of any description. I agree with what has been stated.
Lord Sheikh said, “With regard to animals which produce something we consume or use, I feel that by caring for them, we will have better milk, meat, eggs, leather, wool, et cetera. The intention of the Bill is to ensure that all animals continue to have adequate recognitions and protections now that we have left the European Union. This must be ensured by appropriate domestic legislation. We were previously subject to Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which stated that administrative provisions and customs of the Member States must respect the religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage of their citizens.
Lord Sheikh said, “I ask your Lordships to note the words religious rites.
“I am a practising Muslim and I eat halal meat. There are nearly 1.9 billion Muslims in the world and over 3.4 million Muslims in the UK, and we make up over 5% of the British population. A number of Muslims, including me, will eat only halal meat, and their beliefs need to be respected. Animal welfare is very important in Islam. The Holy Qur’an and Hadith state that we must recognise animals as being sentient, and we are provided with guidance regarding how to care for, handle and farm them. In addition, we are told how they should be slaughtered for food. Islam forbids mistreatment of animals and their welfare is enshrined in Muslim beliefs. The Prophet Muhammad—peace be upon him—said:
Lord Sheikh said, “A good deed done to an animal is like a good deed done to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as cruelty to a human being. Islam permits slaughter of animals for food but dictates that such slaughter must be exercised humanely.
Lord Sheikh said, “There has never been conclusive scientific evidence to suggest that religious slaughter is less humane than conventional methods. In halal slaughter, the animal ceases to feel pain due to the brain immediately being starved of oxygenated blood. For the first few seconds after the incision is made, the animal does not feel any pain. This is followed by a few seconds of deep unconsciousness as a large quantity of blood is drained from the body. Thereafter, EEG readings indicate no pain at all.
Lord Sheikh said, “I have spoken previously in your Lordships’ House about halal slaughter, and had discussions with then Defra Minister and corresponded with David Cameron, the then Prime Minister. Will the terms of reference of the committee to be appointed under the Bill include looking at the religious practices of halal and shechita? If this is to happen, I suggest that a person or persons who have a very good knowledge of these practices should be appointed. This will enable the matter to be looked into comprehensively and thoroughly. Furthermore, I suggest that the committee holds full consultations with the communities and appropriate organisations to take account of the feelings of the people. I add that I would like to see the committee being independent.
Lord Sheikh said, “I ask my noble friend the Minister to comment on the points I have raised, particularly those relating to religious slaughter. Leaders and members of the Muslim community have approached me to speak on the Bill today and raised the points which I have made.”