The Relationship Between Muslim Communities and the Climate Crisis
Last year, from June until October, Pakistan endured a devastating flood that the country is still recovering from, impacting the lives of more than 10 million people and leading to a reported death toll of 1,486, including more than 500 children. These numbers represent just one predominantly Muslim territory profoundly affected by environmental disasters. The rage and frustration generated by this particular catastrophe were deeply felt by many fighting for climate justice globally—and among those voices is 28-year-old Pakistani-American climate activist Saad Amer.
Amer is a 2016 Harvard Graduate and a first-generation immigrant who has devoted his life to protecting the planet as we know it. As a believer in political policymaking being the vehicle for actionable change, Amer co-founded Plus1Vote in 2018, a platform encouraging voter engagement and registration among diverse youth communities. A consultant to the United Nations and an expert reviewer of IPCC, in 2022, he founded Justice Environment, a social impact consultancy supporting businesses and organizations in sustainable strategy and environmental justice.
As a Muslim person of color engaged in the fight for climate justice, the work is deeply personal and often taxing. Intersectionality isn’t an option when it comes to environmental justice—it’s a requirement. No one is exempt from the climate crisis and the warning of disaster it presents, meaning this fight must be a collective effort. This year, as both Earth Month and Ramadan are celebrated, the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr overlaps with Earth Day, making for a symbolic moment that also holds a deeper significance.
Here, Amer walks Vogue through the importance of honoring this rare calendar overlap in 2023.
It’s easy to overlook the connection between different communities and how they’re disproportionately impacted by climate change. My parents are immigrants from Pakistan: I grew up Muslim, going to the mosque, and always getting together for holidays like Eid to celebrate. I was given a culture and a language with all sorts of depth and history far beyond my own existence, and when practicing my own climate activism I think so much about the long history and legacy of these different communities all across the Muslim world, and how there is so much overlap between all those different cultures and identities.