Just over a decade ago, Hajjat Sebyala Aphwa, a Ugandan social activist, attended an interfaith forum run by the British Council in Nigeria looking at climate change in Africa.
Inspired, when she returned to her home in Kampala, Uganda, she was determined to do something to raise awareness of the issues among her fellow Muslims. Hajjat immediately went to the Uganda Supreme Muslim Council, which represents most of the country's 5.7 million Muslim community – and so Greening Friday was born.
Greening Friday is an annual day for Muslims to celebrate the environment and since it was first held in 2010, it has become firmly established in the Uganda Muslim calendar. It is held on the second Friday of Ramadan every year, which means huge numbers of people get to hear the environmental message that is preached in the sermon (kutba) that day, and it is also broadcast live across Uganda via Muslim radio.
‘Greening Friday is an annual day for Muslims to celebrate the environment and since it was first held in 2010, it has become firmly established in the Uganda Muslim calendar'
'The mosque is packed to capacity because it is a holy month,' says Hajjat, who has become known as Hajjat Green or Hajjat of the Trees. After Friday worship, a tree is ceremonially planted at the National Mosque, often by His Eminence the Mufti, and seedlings (frequently fruit trees) are handed out to worshippers to plant in their own gardens.
Hajjat Sebyala Aphwa, founder of Greening Friday, now widely celebrated among Muslims in Uganda. Picture: ARC