Pilgrims shown the way to leave a lighter footprint

Qadiriyyah Movement, Nigeria


By their nature, pilgrimages attract large numbers of the faithful, and when they travel and gather at the same time, their impact on the environment can be considerable.


The world’s biggest act of pilgrimage, the Hajj to Mecca, has been a focus for environmental action for many years. So too has the lesser-known Muslim pilgrimage in West Africa, to Kano in Nigeria.

Kano is the site of the tombs of the saints of the Qadiriyyah Movement, who are honoured every year by the Maukib pilgrimage.


The Qadiriyyah Movement is Nigeria’s largest Islamic sect, with 15 million followers, and its leader, Khalifa Sheikh Qaribullah Nasir Kabara, is working to make the pilgrimage more environmentally friendly.


'Whoever plants a tree, reward will be recorded for him so long as it produces fruit' – Majma’ al-Zawaid, v.480

Sheikh Qaribullah was one of the founding signatories in 2011 of the Green Pilgrimage Network set up by ARC, the Alliance of Religions and Conservation. The network encourages pilgrims, pilgrim cities and pilgrim places of every faith throughout the world to become models of care for the environment.


Setting an example: Sheikh Qaribullah travels by horseback on the annual Maukib pilgrimage, where cars and motorcycles are banned Picture: ARC


Sheikh Qaribullah has signed a partnership with the seven metropolitan councils of Kano to green the city and the Maukib pilgrimage.


One of the first targets for the Green Hajj movement was to urge pilgrims not to use disposable plastic bottles, more than 100 million of which are left behind after the Hajj each year. The Green Guide for Hajj asks pilgrims to avoid using plastic bottles and plastic bags, to clear up their own litter and to care for the environment once they return home from pilgrimage.


The pilgrims to Kano have been urged to follow the example of their fellow pilgrims to Mecca since 2012, when the Qadiriyyah movement had The Green Guide for Hajj translated into Hausa, spoken by around 34 million people.

Pilgrim street procession

Hajj pilgrims are asked not to use plastic bottles or bags. Similarly, pilgrims to Kano are urged to use traditional gourds for their water instead of disposable bottles. Pilgrims are also supplied with drinking points along the route, and local school children are mobilised to collect plastic water bags from the streets.


Rubbish bins and toilet facilities are also installed along the pilgrimage route.


Cars and motorcycles are banned entirely from the pilgrimage site, and Sheikh Qaribullah sets an example by making his own way to Kano on horseback. During the pilgrimage, he blesses and distributes free tree seedlings for planting and preaches on the environment.