Dreaming of a Green Ramadan

By Omar Mahfoudhi

Originally published in the August 2009 issue of the Muslim Link newspaper and can be seen at iqra.ca

Want to Green Your Mosque, School, or Centre? Check out these awesome full size posters that you can print and post in your favourite place.

Ramadan is upon us, Alhamdulillah (thanks be to Allah). We are now a few days into this blessed annual guest. Preparation for this month’s treasures are well underway. Individuals have prepared their dua lists. Muslim grocers have stocked up with the regular Ramadan delights. Mosques, centers, and organizations are preparing to host iftars for the masses. And groups are planning their nightly devotions at their favourite masjids (mosques). All are abuzz leading up to the Month of Quran. Yet, something remains amiss.

The culture surrounding Ramadan, as far back as I can remember, is very much the same attitude many of us hold for most quasi-religious and secular holidays and festivities; materialistic consumerism. In order to taste the sweetness of Ramadan, it seems we must indulge in the taste of sweets of every kind, from kulfi to baklawa, gulab jamun to knafa. In this month that is supposed to teach us simplicity and humility, we often lose the very essence of minimalism and conservation.

There are a number of areas in which we can make our Ramadan have the same healing effect on the Earth as it would on our souls. Here are a few tips to make our Ramadan a little more earth-friendly.

Quran: After all it is the Month of Quran. Take a few minutes to renew your commitment to the responsibility Allah has entrusted you with; the trust and weight of being managers of this Earth. Pay heed to verses reminding you of your place on this earth and your duty towards it and its inhabitants, from people to animals, plants to the inanimate: all natural bounties from Allah. Furthermore, I can’t imagine a better way to implement the command of Allah to ponder His creation than by going out into the natural environment that so abundantly surrounds our city to explore the beauty of Allah’s creation and the might of His design, glory be to Him. It would be a beautiful habit to develop this Ramadan, that would also be following of a practice of the Prophet Mohammed’s tradition of seeking solitude in the outskirts of Makkah to worship and ponder upon Allah’s miracles. Take a copy of the Quran with you, and sit on the grass, or under a tree. You may enjoy your surroundings more without a picnic in tow.

Use local ingredients for your "Ramadan Menu"

Use local ingredients for your "Ramadan Menu"

Food: The wonderful ethnic diversity of our community is reflected in the beautiful and colourful array of deserts, and foods on the iftar spread. This I’m not about to criticize, since I certainly enjoy my occasional laddu (Indian sweet). I do suggest that we not make Ramadan the Month of Food, but that’s a whole other discussion. What I’m proposing is to try to use local ingredients in your embarrassingly named “Ramadan Recipes”. Instead of using imported chickpea flour, use local produce. Instead of imported –and incredibly expensive– dairy products, consider Ontario dairy. This will help reduce your ecological footprint, and insha Allah (God willing) with the proper intention perhaps help you increase your foot print in Jannah (paradise).

Cut back on your waste water during Woudu

Cut back on your waste water during Woudu

Water: The same applies to our use of water. We could do with the revival of some of the forgotten sunnan (traditions) of the Prophet, may peace and blessings be upon him, such as the use of very little water in our ablution. Even though we live on the banks of the Ottawa River, consider the reminder the Beloved of Allah, may peace be upon him, gave his companion to conserve water even if at a flowing river. I believe that advice is particularly appropriate for Ottawans and Canadians who have one of the most abundant freshwater resources at our hands. The fact that the prophet peace be upon him was able to make woudu with a moudd of water which is less than half a litre shows that we are far from the prophetic traditions than we should be with our woudu and water consumption.

Use reusable items vs disposable ones

Use reusable items vs disposable ones

Waste: Quite frankly a very pressing concern associated with modern Ramadan traditions is waste. Whether it be wasting the food we can’t finish on our plates, or the waste generated from using disposable plates, cutlery, and cups. This must stop. It is an illness that plagues our Ramadans. The entire month should be reminding us of the plight and distress of others, except that when that daily opportunity to ward off hunger arrives, it’s as if we forgot all about it, and are feasting with our eyes. Again, lets not make this the Month of Wasting Food.

Furthermore, with all the iftars around town and the huge numbers of people in i’tikaf (spiritual retreat) in the mosques, imagine the amount of waste produced from disposable plates, cups and cutlery, not to mention the enormous pile of PETE water bottles. I don’t imagine it would be very difficult for mosques to invest in reusable plates and cutlery. I mean we did it at our MSA at the University of Ottawa, and we all pitched in cleaning up afterwards. In fact this investment may save them a lot of money in the long run. You Can even rent dinnerware froim your favourite party store at less than $0.50 per dozen, and they will handle the cleaning. Also, all you brothers and sisters heading to the mosques should take reusable bottles for water. Think about how much easier that would be than constantly running back and forth to the water cooler, waiting in line, and then hunching over a fountain that barely produces enough water to keep its pipes moist.

Use natural "alternative" sources or energy and cut back

Use natural "alternative" sources of energy and cut back

Energy: While devoting our nights to prayer, and our days in the remembrance of Allah and the study of the Quran we needn’t help the fat cats at the energy company milk more money out of our mosques, schools and centers. Use the light of the Sun shining through the windows to read the Quran and try praying in the dark or at least in low light. You would be surprised what that can do for you in terms of increased tranquility and concentration (khushou’). Praying in the dark can increase your sense of privacy with your Creator. Maybe this Ramadan climate change watchers may see a dent in emissions because Muslims around the world have lowered their energy use. I can dream, can’t I?

Perhaps, with these tips we may not only be able to give our bodies a rest from all the food, as well as the toxins we inadvertently consume, we may give our Mother Earth the rest she well deserves from all the toxic, hurtful, wasteful habits we’ve plagued her with. This way she may leave us with more places to pray upon that will vouch for us on the Day of Recompense.

Visit the Muslim Link archives, available online at http://www.muslimlink.ca to read last year’s tips on how to green your Eid parties and gift wrapping.

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The Rights of Plants and Animals in Islam – Islamic Ecology

There is a Chapter in the Quran Entitled: The Spider.

Recap of the Previous two weeks:
First week: Islam’s attitude towards the Environment: 

  • balance
  • purpose
  • relationship:meditation, sustainable, utilization, care and nurture
  • Stewardship ( خلافة)

Second week: Conservation in Islam

  • Ecology: Water, Air, Land and Soil.
  • Conserve: DON’T waste – Allah says: “In deed those who are wasteful are the brethren of devils”
  • Justice and goodliness: DON’T harm – Allah says: “Do not cause ruin in the Earth after it has been developed”‘What may lead to a prohibition is prohibited itself’

This week: Animals and Plants in the Ecology of Islam.

  • Living resources of enormous benefit.
  • All with a purpose and in balance.
  • Part of a balanced ecosystem.

Plants:

“Then let man consider his nourishment: that We pour down the rain in showers, and We split the earth in fragments, and therein make the grain to grow, and vines and herbs, and olives and palms, and gardens of dense foliage, and fruits and fodder- provision for you and your cattle.”

  • Sustenance and nourishment for animals, and humans.
  • Plants enrich the soil and protect it from erosion
  • They conserve the water by impeding its runoff.
  • Habitat for other living things.
  • They moderate the climate and produce the oxygen, and store CO2.
  • Medicines (Periwinkle childhood leukemia, yew tree à anticancer), oils, perfumes, waxes, fibres, timber, and fuel.

The prophet Mohammed peace be upon him said: “If on the day of resurrection, and there is in the hand of one of you a sapling, then let him or her plant it”

It is forbidden to cut down trees even in the time of war.

“The is nothing in this Earth except that it exalts Allah with His Grace, but we do not comprehend their praise (of Him)” – Al-Issra’ 44

“See you not that to Allah prostrates whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and the mountains, and the trees, and Ad-Dawab (moving living creatures, beasts, animals etc.), and many of mankind? But there are many (men) on whom the punishment is justified. And whomsoever Allah disgraces, none can honour him. Verily! Allah does what He wills”. Al –Hajj 18

أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَسْجُدُ لَهُ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَن فِي الْأَرْضِ وَالشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ وَالنُّجُومُ وَالْجِبَالُ وَالشَّجَرُ وَالدَّوَابُّ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنَ النَّاسِ وَكَثِيرٌ حَقَّ عَلَيْهِ الْعَذَابُ وَمَن يُهِنِ اللَّهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِن مُّكْرِمٍ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَفْعَلُ مَا يَشَاء

Al Hajj – 18

Animals:

  • Provide sustenance for plants (fertilizers), for one another, and for man.
  • Pollination, and distribution of plants.
  • Provide food for one another and provide mankind with leather and wool, medicines and perfumes, and means of transportation, as well as milk, and honey and other by-products.
  • aesthetic functions of these creatures
  • ECOLOGICAL balance – keystone species,
  • Worshiping Allah – Spiritual INTRINSIC VALUE – WHALES Singing

“The is nothing in this Earth except that it exalts Allah with His Grace, but we do not comprehend their praise (of Him)” – Al-Issra’ 44

“There is not an animal on the earth, nor any being that wings its flight, but is a people like unto you.” – Al- An’aam 38

  • Absolute destruction of any species of animals or plant is unjustified; harvesting rates should not excess the rate or its natural regeneration.
  • This applies to hunting and fishing, forestry and wood-cutting for timber and fuel, grazing, and all other utilization of living resources.
  • It is imperative that the genetic diversity of living beings be preserved–both for their own sake and for the good of mankind and all other creatures.

The prophet Mohammed peace be upon him said: “The merciful are shown mercy by the All-Merciful. Show mercy to those on earth, and He Who is in heaven will show mercy unto you.”

  • Taught mercy to animals:
    • The woman who was sent to Hell for torturing a cat to death.
    • The prostitute who was granted forgiveness and paradise for giving water to a dog.
    • The practice of sharpening and hiding the blade when slaughtering and being quick to ease the animal.
    • Forbidding killing for sport. Cursed who ever used living things as a practice target.
    • Not to startle a mother bird by taking its young
    • Forbidding the killing of livestock in the time of war.
    • Animals have a sacredness of life similar to that of humans.

“The rights of livestock and animals with regard to their treatment by man: These are that he spend on them the provision that their kinds require, even if they have aged or sickened such that no benefit comes from them; that he not burden them beyond what they can bear; that he not put them together with anything by which they would be injured, whether of their own kind or other species, and whether by breaking their bones or butting or wounding; that he slaughter them with kindness if he slaughters them, and neither flay their skins nor break their bones until their bodies have become cold and their lives have passed away; that he not slaughter their young within their sight; that he set them apart individually; that he make comfortable their resting places and watering places; that he put their males and females together during their mating seasons; that he not discard those which he takes in hunting; and neither shoot them with anything that breaks their bones nor bring about their destruction by any means that renders their meat unlawful to eat.”

في كل كبد رطب أجر The Prophet Mohammed peace be upon him said: “and in doing good to any living thing there is a reward”

Islam looks upon these created beings, both animals and plants, in two ways:

1. As living beings in their own right, glorifying God and attesting to His power and wisdom;

2. As creatures subjected in the service of man and other created beings, fulfilling vital roles in the development of this world.

Hence the binding obligation to conserve and develop them both for their own sake and for their value as unique and irreplaceable living resources for the benefit of one another and of mankind.

أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَسْجُدُ لَهُ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَن فِي الْأَرْضِ وَالشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ 

وَالنُّجُومُ وَالْجِبَالُ وَالشَّجَرُ وَالدَّوَابُّ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنَ النَّاسِ وَكَثِيرٌ حَقَّ عَلَيْهِ الْعَذَابُ وَمَن يُهِنِ اللَّهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِن مُّكْرِمٍ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَفْعَلُ مَا يَشَاء – al Hajj 18

Air, Soil, Water, and Energy Conservation – Islamic Ecology

If you’ve been concerned, as many of us have been, about the state of the environment, you can learn more about it and how to become involved. I will be talking on the topic of Environmental Issues as seen from an Islamic perspective, and why it is important for Muslims to be concerned with this issue on Salam Ottawa 93.1FM radio. The second part of a four-part programme will be airing on Tuesday Jan 16 at 5PM for one hour. You can also listen on
http://www.ckcufm.com (click on “Listen Live” – you will need real player). Please email your questions, if you have any, and I will be happy to deal with them during the sessions to come ( salam_ottawa@yahoo.com). I will be posting the information provided on a Blog insha’Allah which I will announce later. Please pass on this message to your friends and family,

Thank you and Jazakum allahu khairan.
“Ruin has appeared on the land and sea, because of what the hands of man have earned, that (Allah) may give them a taste of some of their deeds: in order that they may turn back (from evil).” (Ar-Rum: verse 41)

What Is Ecology –> Okios (Greek) –> The House; Think of:

• Earth’s condition manifest in seasons, night and day, solar energy input, lunar forces, etc.
• Earth materials and any transformation they undergo; physical, chemical, biological
• Living creatures of the Earth and the interactions they have with other creatures and the materials around them, as well as changes they inevitably undergo.

Specifically, the interactions of the living organisms on the earth with their respective environments (composed of living and non-living) with carful attention to the condition in which the Earth may persist. The complete state of the Earthly system with its various components in a balance of energy and matter.

As discussed, of all the creatures on the Earth that were presented the responsibility of the Earth it was mankind who chose to take that responsibility.

Allah says in the Qura’an: (and we presented or offered the “trust” (Amanah, responsibility, stewardship) to Heavens, and the Earth, and the mountains, but they declined to uphold it, so we had mercy upon them, so mankind upheld it” Al-Ahzab. 72

As stewards, and representatives we were given guidelines and rules to follow.

Generally, against thoughtless consumption; that is, wastefulness and extravagance.
Teaching justice, conserve, and preserve. “And don’t be wasteful” and “In deed those who are wasteful are the brethren of devils” etc. “Allah enjoins upon justice”

It is within God’s wisdom that His creatures be of service to one another. The balance and measure Allah has placed in everything, all of which with a purpose is above all legal reason to conserve the environment and the resources it contains. (Chines proverb) “We did not inherit this land from our fathers, we are borrowing it from our children”

How do these general laws and guidelines translate into our daily activities.

1. In water, energy, fuel, etc.
Allah reminds us of the value water: “Have you seen the water which you drink? Was it you who sent it down from the rain cloud , or did We send it? Were it Our will, We could have made it bitter; why then do you not give thanks?” , “and we have created from water everything living”

He also reminds us that the waters of the seas, oceans, lakes and rivers are habitat for other creatures of Allah’s creation that must be honored and not transgressed upon. “It is He Who has made the sea of service, that you may eat thereof flesh that is fresh and tender, and that you may bring forth from it ornaments to wear, and you see the ships therein that plough the waves, that you may seek of His bounty ,”

Realizing the value of water to life makes it clear that to fulfil our responsibility on this earth to honor Allah’s bounties and creatures we must also conserve and preserve this valuable asset.

Any action that obstructs or impairs the biological and social functions of this element, whether by destroying it or by polluting it with any substance that would make it an unsuitable environment for living things or otherwise impair its function as the basis of life; any such action necessarily leads to the impairment or ruin of life itself. And the juristic principle is,
“What leads to the prohibited is itself prohibited.”

The Prophet Mohammed peace be upon him said: ruin
“Do not waste! Even if you are at a flowing river”

Owing to the importance of water as the basis of life, God has made its use the common right of all living beings and all human beings. All are entitled to use it without monopoly, usurpation, despoilment, wastage, or abuse. The Prophet, upon him be blessings and peace, said, “Muslims are to share in these three things: water, pasture, and fire,”

2. Air,
Importance of “And we send the fertilizing winds. “ common use and right for all.

3. Soil and Land:
God has made the land a source of sustenance and livelihood for us and other living creatures: He has made the soil fertile to grow the vegetation upon which we and all animal life depend.

He has made the mountains to catch and store the rain and to perform a role in stabilizing the crust of the earth.

If we would truly give thanks to the Creator, we are required to maintain the productivity of the soil, and not expose it to erosion by wind and flood; in building, farming, grazing, forestry, and mining, we are required to follow practices which do not bring about its degradation but preserve and enhance its fertility.

For to cause the degradation of this gift of God, upon which so many forms of life depend, is to deny His tremendous favors. And because any act that leads to its destruction or degradation leads necessarily to the destruction and degradation of life on earth, such acts are categorically forbidden.

Finally, the Prophet Muhammad, God’s blessing and peace be upon him, declared that “The whole earth has been created as a place of worship for me, pure and clean.” Accordingly, we are charged with treating it with the respect due to a place of worship, and with keeping it pure and undefiled.
islamset.com

Why the Environment Should be Important to Muslims

ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُون

Surat Ar-Room, Verse 41

In the book Environmental Protection In Islam, Dr. Bagader et al explain Islam’s attitude towards the environment and the Universe (islamset.com):

 

 

  1. All things that God has created in this universe are created in due proportion and measure both quantitatively and qualitatively. God has declared in the Qur’an, “Verily, all things have We created by measure”1 and “Everything to Him is measured.”2 And He says, ” And We have produced therein everything in balance.”3
  2. God has not created anything in this universe in vain, without wisdom, value and purpose. God says, “We have not created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them carelessly. We have not created them but for truth.”6
  3. Man is part of this universe, the elements of which are complementary to one another in an integrated whole. Indeed man is a distinct part of the universe and has a special position among its other parts. The relation between man and the universe, as defined and clarified in the Glorious Qur’an and the Prophetic teachings,
    1. A relationship of meditation on, and consideration and contemplation of, the universe and what it contains.
    2. A relationship of sustainable utilization, development and employment for man’s benefit and for the fulfillment of his interests.
    3. A relationship of care and nurture, for man’s good works are not limited to the benefit of the human species, but rather extend to the benefit of all created beings; and “there is a reward in doing good to every living thing.”
  4. God’s wisdom has ordained to grant human beings stewardship (khilafah) on the earth. Therefore, in addition to being part of the earth and part of the universe, man is also the executor of God’s injunctions and commands. And as such he is only a manager of the earth and not a proprietor; a beneficiary and not a disposer or ordainer. He has forbidden waste and destruction, “Do not cause destruction in the Earth after it has been rectified”

All of the resources upon which life depends have been created by God as a trust in our hands. He has ordained sustenance for all people and for all living beings.
” And He has set within it mountains standing firm, and blessed it, and ordained in it its diverse sustenance in four days, alike for all that seek.”‘1 Thus, the
utilization of these resources is, in Islam, the right and privilege of all people and all species. Hence, man should take every precaution to ensure the interests and rights of all others since they are equal partners on earth.

 

Dr. Mawil Izzi Dien Ph.D., of the University of Wales, UK summarizes why it is “Islamic” to conserve the environment in the following reasons(captiveminds.org):

1. The environment, is God’s creation. The creation of this earth and all its natural resources is a sign of His wisdom, mercy, power and His other attributes and therefore serves to develop human awareness and understanding of this creator. (Quran 13: 2-4; 21:79)

2. Muslims should seek to protect and preserve the environment because by so doing they protect God’s creatures which pray to Him and praise Him. Humankind might not be able to understand how these creatures praise God but this does not mean that they do not do so:

The seven heavens and the earth, And all beings therein, Declare His glory: There is not a thing, But celebrates His praise: And yet ye understand not. How they declare His Glory! (Quran 17:44)

3. Thirdly, the environment contains God’s creatures which the `ulama’ or Muslim scholars consider to also deserve protection (hurma).

4. A fourth reason why Islam seek to protect and preserve the environment is that Islam, as a way of life, is established on the concept of good (khayr). Therefore it is expected that Islam will protect the environment once it is understood that such protection is good by itself. The Quran states that:

He whoso do good, An atom’s weight, Will see it. And whoso do ill, An atom’s weight, Will see it. (Quran 99: 7-8)

5. All human’s relationships in Islam have to be based on the concept of justice (`adl), and kindness (ishn), and not on material or economical gain. The Qur’an strongly emphasizes this concept in the following verse:

God enjoins justice; And kindness. (Quran 16: 90)

In Islam, humans are expected to protect the environment since no other creature is able to perform this task. Humans are the only being that God has “entrusted” with the responsibility of looking after the earth. This trusteeship is seen by Islam to be so onerous and burdensome that no other creature would `accept’ it. The Quran (33: 72) says:

Lo! We offered the trust; Unto the heavens and the; Earth and the hills, But they shrank from bearing it, And were afraid of it, And man assumed it, Lo! he is a tyrant and fool

Accordingly, not every human can claim this appointment, only those who are aware of this caring pact of respect for life can claim it.

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