Category Archives: Events Diary

The #greenheroes of Mayfair, Fordsburg and surrounds

– Part of this article has been doing its rounds on social media and has been adapted by the @GreenDeenSA team for this post.

UPDATE ON #OperationCleanUp ….

Mayfair Fordsburg cleanup 2016The Pikitup (http://www.pikitup.co.za/) strike in the Johannesburg Metropolitan Area has been on for almost a month now. Citizens, tired of the rubbish piling on their street corners have decided to take matters into their own hands and clean up the neighbourhoods. An early start (usually around 6:30 pm) and an early ending (often at 2:30 am in the morning) is not uncommon for these brave citizens and workers. The cleaning brigade works the streets with tipper trucks, a compactor truck, and a grader, and is accompanied by an army of Red Ants, volunteers and support vehicles as security. A shortage of financial resources is no deterrent to these #greenheroes that are cleaning up the streets of Fordsburg, Pageview, Mayfair, Mayfair West, Crosby and Homestead Park. The enthusiasm of the group keeps them going night after night into the wee hours of the morning.

These are our unsung heroes. They are the champions of our community with no concern for their own safety. Leaving family and loved ones at home while they cart off mountains of dirt. #greenheroes

Mayfair Fordsburg cleanup (14)The going gets tough as the battle rages from street corner to street corner, suburb by suburb. The war on litter is by no means over, but being won one rubbish-filled bag at a time. From Newtown Square to Mint Road, along Albertina Sisulu and down into Church Street, along the railway line and criss-crossing through countless lanes, roads and avenues. Some areas are being cleaned for the third and fourth time. There seems to be no shortage of waste.

How do the organisers manage? Actually, they don’t! There was a shortfall of R 6,000 (six thousand rand) on one night to pay the workers. An army marches on its stomach and it is a constant struggle to feed this army of #greenheroes.

How can you help?

  1. Don’t dump.
  2. Reduce and reuse – produce less waste.
  3. Recycle.
  4. Volunteer your labour and services – join the clean-ups!
  5. Make a donation of money.
  6. Make a donation of food to the clean up crew!
  7. Donate supplies – gloves, bags, masks, etc.
  8. These are but a few ways you can get involved!

Only once you’ve gotten your hands dirty and smelt the odour of rotting garbage will you realise how mankind is choking its own environment. Call your friends into action and dare to be dirty! Take a whiff of Eu d’Foodsburg. It will change your life.

Please contact 0835809896 or 0825776780 or 0848861996 to get involved.

Mayfair Fordsburg cleanup (19)

(The organisers and volunteers involved in the cleaning up wish to remain unnamed. They are keeping their efforts apolitical and do not want to attribute it to any individual or organisation. This is a collaborative effort of community organisations in the area. May Allah SWT reward them for their sincerity and humbleness.)

Post Benoni Ijtima 2016 – a visit to the grounds

– 29 March 2016, written by Faizal Essop, edited by the @GreenDeenSA team

While overall everything seems to be in good shape, the ijtima grounds still have have a fair amount of litter. Cans, glass, plastic packets, plastic bottles and food polystyrene containers dot the grounds. Over the weekend, the ijtima grounds hosted the Benoni (Gauteng) Ijtima 2016 – a blessed mubaarak congregation of brothers from various different parts of the country. Brothers of different races and cultures sacrificed their time and wealth to come out and gain spiritual enlightenment and knowledge of Islam. The Ijtima, among other efforts and gatherings, is a symbol of Islam in South Africa. It is a representation of what a large sector of Muslims in South Africa are, and how they are working to serve the All Mighty.

The ijtima is no simple affair with estimates of 20 000 – 30 000 brothers attending, of various backgrounds, from South Africa and aboard. The ijtima runs mainly on the work of volunteers – planning, setup, running, cleaning up and packing away. During the ijtima and afterwards – the physical structures need to be cleaned and dismantled, including the wudu khanas and toilets. Electricity and lighting, plumbing, bedding, the list goes on and on.

The rubbish and waste produced at the ijtima is a serious issue. On the Sunday afternoon after the ijtima, walking through the littered battlefield, I had the honour of meeting brothers who were involved in cleaning up the grounds. At this year’s Benoni Ijtima, they worked continuously, day and night, clearing bins, picking up dirt and carting waste to designated areas. There were no dedicated shifts as the large workload usually required everyone present to work. At night, when the ijtima attendees slept, most of the cleanup work was done.

Pick It Up Jamaat, Benoni Ijtima 2016, GDSA (2)

This year a brother from one of the large, local companies collected all the waste and sorted it out. What material could have been recycled was dealt with as such. He highlighted to me that the amount of wasted food found in the bins is disgraceful. Walking through the littered grounds, seeing the rubbish strewn on the earth of Allah SWT, I can’t help but wonder “Is this the message of dawah we leaving for non-Muslims who pass the site? What are we teaching our youth who are growing up? Will our Allah and Prophet Muhammad SAW be pleased with how we act as attendees of the is blessed gathering and how we left it?”

What happens on the ijtima grounds is the responsibility of the organisers, the ulemah and attendees. While we eat, sleep, wash, pray and attend the lectures, we need to be continuously aware of how we are affecting the earth and how we are making it more difficult for those brothers that clean up after us.

Some suggestions going forth:

  • We need to remind the brothers that attend the ijtima that as Muslims we cannot compromise on cleanliness and we need to be self-less in our dedication to serving our Creator by serving his Creation. We need to inform and remind our brothers how to reduce their waste produced and dispose of it correctly. No wasting. No littering.
  • Reminders and information should be done before hand – on radio, in the masaajid, in mashweras, etc. During the ijtima, announcers and ulemah need to remind our brothers via the loudspeakers. Additionally, we, as attendees need to remind each other not to waste, not to litter, and to help cleanup.
  • We need to ask those that serve and sell food and other goods to think of ways to reduce waste and look at food-packaging that is more eco-friendly, especially bio-degradable (compostable) alternatives to plastic and polystyrene (fact is, long after we have passed away, these containers will still be sitting in our landfills and bearing testament that we did not try to be better green-Muslims, scary).
  • To waste food is sinful. We need to drill that in to our brothers. While some of it can be given for charity, a lot has to be thrown away. Buy less and waste less! (Or take it home with you to give to family, friends or the needy).
  • We need to up our waste-infrastructure. It will take a bit of resources, but we need bins that separate waste. Plastic, glass, paper, cans, etc.
  • When the Ijtima grounds are not being used through, they need to be kept free of litter.

I strongly believe that as Muslims we are an ummah of excellence. Wherever we go and whatever we do, we need to be conscious of our Creator and how we can do the best to serve Him and His Creations. I make dua that we all can serve Him, humbly and efficiently. And I trust Allah that he will guide us to success in serving him on this earth so we can be successful in the hereafter.Pick It Up Jamaat, Benoni Ijtima 2016, GDSA (4)

And, inshaAllah, I will see you next year at the ijtima, resting in the shade of a tree, next to a recycling bin, with a piece of litter that you picked up of the ground! May Allah SWT reward all involved in the Ijtima – organisers, volunteers, ulemah and attendees. May Allah SWT strengthen their ikhlaas (sincerity) and keep them in the humble service of all of His creation.

Faizal Essop is an accountant by trade, a field guide for SANParks and is also pursuing Islamic Studies part-time at Jāmi`ah al-`Ulūm al-Islāmiyyah  (Jamiatul Ulama South Africa). Faizal speaks weekly on “Nature and Wildlife 360“, every Thursday from 11am to 12pm on Salaamedia. He also give Islam-and-Nature talks at schools, madressahs and masaajid on occasion.

 

Sisinde Survival Camp Dec 2015: Faizal Essop attends!

-2015-12-20, Faizal Essop

The Sisende Survival camp that is co-ordinated by Adil Mungalee and Mustaqeem Gani is truly a memorable, empowering and self-enriching program. Having attended the latest boys’ camp that took place on the 14-16 December 2015 at the Willows Express, Denneysville, I have to thank all of those involved. Thank you for giving me the platform to share the little knowledge I have and also in the process acquire and learn a lot. Thank you to the campers for their young energy and enthusiasm.

Sisinde Survival camp, Dec 2015, boys

The camp is based on principals of respect, leadership, discipline, team work and intelligence. Survivor skills in water procurement and purification, shelter building, fire making and food capture and preparation are taught to campers. Simple facts like general uses and medicinal uses of trees, grasses and plants are shared with the campers. Basic information on ecology, geography and history of the area is also shared. Kids enjoy fishing, canoeing and just enjoying nature in their leisure time.

Sisinde Survival Camp Dec 2015 2

Having been out in nature for almost three days, the young campers returned home with restored vigour and a renewed vision in life. They start to view the world around them in a different light, to appreciate the small aspects of life. Character and personalities are enhanced and most importantly, basic #GreenDeen principals are taught

The sad reality is that most of our children are not learning to swim, yet they are drowning in their laptops and computers. They obsession on what clothes they wear and how they look has detracted them from looking around them and building good, strong character within themselves. These camps present the ideal opportunity to be part of, experience and increase our love for nature. Natures and ourselves are the All-Mighty’s creation.With the correct intention, simply being in nature becomes a source of worship.

Sisinde Survival Camp Dec 2015

For more details on Sisinde Survival Camps, which are either boys’ or girls’ camps, please contact Adil Munglee on 0614592272 or visit www.fishingfanatix.com. The camps are aimed at the age group of 10-13 year youth. Sisinde Survival Camps are part of our Green Deen South Africa Network.

Faizal Essop is an accountant and risk manager from Johannesburg. Despite his rather “unnatural” career, Faizal is a staunch Green Deener. An accredited field ranger and a student of the Islamic Sciences at Jamiah, Faizal has been with us at Green Deen South Africa since 2014. Tune into his weekly Green Deen segment on Channel Islam International every Tuesday at 16:45 with Imraan Ismail on #TheBuzz.

The Environmental Justice In Islam Seminar, Cape Town 2015, A Reflection

– Mariam Phoplanker, 2015-12-10

This reflection follows an inspiring, spiritually uplifting and motivational seminar which addressed issues pertaining not only to the Environment, but also to the lessons that Islam teaches us in order to grow as Muslims (no pun intended). The second annual South African Environmental Justice in Islam Seminar took place in Cape Town on the 5 December 2015. The seminar focused on “South African Reflections on the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change”. The seminar was co-hosted by Islamic Relief South Africa, International Peace College South Africa, MJC, SAFCEI, Claremont Main Road Masjid and the Muslims for Eco-Justice. The guest speaker of the event was Professor İbrahim Özdemir — an environmentalist and professor of philosophy, ecology and religion at the Ankara University in Turkey.

Environmental Justice in Islam Seminar Cape Town 2015 (EcoM)The seminar began with true Cape-townian spirits: koeksisters and tea! This was followed by a short welcoming by our master of ceremonies and the melodious recitation of Surah Ar-Rahman by a Qari who studied under Sheikh Londt. During the recitation, the words of the Surah and its translation were projected on the screen; how appropriate this Surah was in reminding us of our purpose there that day. I could go on and expand on all the speakers, their talks and their messages, but before the core gist of the seminar leaves me, I will keep it short and succinct. May it be words, or water, neither should be wasted…

The Keynote Address: The Qur’anic Paradigm of Environment and Sustainable Development by Professor İbrahim Özdemir

Professor Özdemir from Turkey spoke of many things, but some key topics that he discussed included the Qur’anic Worldview and the environment, the Qur’anic values and Sunnah of our Prophet (PBUH) on which the Islamic Declaration is based on, and numerous quotes from authors, poets and our Holy Qur’aan. Some of these quotes and words of wisdom are as follows:

  • On feeling homesick during his trip to America for a conference: “To God belongs the East and the West; whithersoever you turn, there is God.” Realizing this, he felt at ease and at peace being in a country not his own.
  • “Iqra bismi rabbikalladhi khalaq.” Read in the name of your Lord who Created. Here, the meaning of ‘Read’ means a new way of looking at the world where the key notion is that reading should be in the name of your Sustainer and Creator. At the very beginning it is taught that God, as the Sustainer and Creator, gives existence and meaning to everything else.
  • The concept of balance (Meezan) in Islam and the environment, as seen in the Ecosystem, Subhanallah!
  •  Ibrahim/ Abraham PBUH is the perfect role model for faith and commitment; for his burning desire to learn and his search for meaning.
  • Islam teaches us to have a JUST and BALANCED life (55: 5-9)
  • Professor Özdemir uses examples of similes from the Quran. A Muslim:
    • Prostrates like plants,
    • Remains erect like hills,
    • Purifies himself like water, etc.
  • On the word Jihaad: the most misinterpreted word associated with Muslims. Despite this, Professor Frederick Denny feels the term ‘Green Jihad’ is most appropriate for addressing the global environmental crisis.
  • “The poorest countries are suffering the effects of climate change the most.”
  • “We will all, literally, sink in this crisis.” Sh. Dr Toffar.

On a side note, Professor Özdemir also encouraged the South Africans to feel proud of themselves for attending this year’s International Islamic climate change symposium, notably by Mr Taahir Salie (Chairperson of Islamic relief Worldwide) and Mr Ebrahim Rasool (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuN4mQ0-hB0).

Environmental Justice in Islam Seminar Cape Town 2015
To close off his talk, Professor Ozdemir shared the story of the Prophet Abraham and the Ant. This, unashamedly brought tears to my eyes, but also soaked my heart in a kind of warmth that only motivated me to do more for our environment:

“Nemrod lit a great fire in which to throw the Prophet Abraham. While a crow was carrying brushwood to throw into the fire, an ant was carrying some water.
The crow asked the ant mockingly, ‘What are you going to do with that water?’
The ant said, ‘I’m carrying water to put out the fire into which they will throw Abraham.’
The crow laughed and said, ‘The water you carry cannot possibly put out that huge fire.’
The ant said, ‘That’s all right; I know it will not be sufficient. But I will have demonstrated my commitment.’”

What we can learn from this simple, yet life-changing story needs no explanation… Just a Subhanallah…

Fighting Back Against Climate Change

A video clip was shown featured by Islamic relief, titled, “Fighting back against Climate Change” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1illTWrrrMs). The lesson learnt here was, among others, that disaster prevention is what we should be aiming for, especially in poorer countries, who are suffering the brunt of climate change. Disaster prevention costs less and saves lives. For example, supplying seeds and fuel rather than food aid alone can change people’s lives and their future.

Introduction to the encyclical on the environment by Father Peter-John Pearson

Despite our different religions and beliefs, the message delivered by Father Pearson was one that can and should be shared by all of humanity. Climate change affects each and every one of us, hence him stressing upon the need for interfaith solidarity to combat this problem. He zoomed in on the relationship of RELIGION and SCIENCE, where science can explain reality, but religion is what gives meaning to it. So together, they can both flourish.

The Panel Discussion

The audience was given a chance to ask questions to the speakers, who took to the stage. The only question I include here was one asked by a very keen and determined gentleman: “Can you please share with us some things that we can do to make a difference today?” The panel’s answers (summarized) were as follows:

  1. Teach children how to recycle, as they are the future.
    2. Trees Trees Trees
    3. Popularize environmental concepts, especially to children.
    4. Belong to a green organization or Masjid
    5. Inform those who are not here of what you learnt (base on Hadith by Prophet PBUH)

Some ideas and words of wisdom that were also discussed:

  • Try stopping big water events; it worked in Gauteng!
  • As suggested by Dr Najma Mohamed: Have measured containers for making Wudhu (see picture). However, it was noted that even 775 ml is too generous…
  • Put Fard above Sunnah! Sometimes, we tend to forget that. For example, if you enter the mosque late for Salaah, and there’s a queue for wudhu, make Fard wudhu to save time to be present for Khutbah or rather make wudhu at home or come earlier to mosque.
  • When making wudhu, for example, of the hands, the water that is dripping from your hands is still PURE. This same water can be utilized to continue your wudhu.

Alhamdulillah, this is where I stop typing and start hoping that my words get recycled to spread awareness and change, InshaAllah.

Mariam Phoplanker is currently finishing her fourth year of medicine at the University of Stellenbosch and is part of the MSA Cape/USTIS. A lover of the simple things in life including food, friends, family, procrastination and (obviously) nature, Mariam has been part our Green Deen Team since 2013. May Allah SWT bless you Mariam for attending this seminar and sharing this reflection! (And may Allah SWT bless brother Armaan Ujra for proof-reading it, Aameen.)

 

Interviewing Sister Faatimah Mansoor: World Forestry Congress, 7-12 September 2015, Durban

(Interview conducted by Fatima Ragie)

2015-09-21 World Forestry Congress Durban Faatimah Mansoor pic

1) Ragie: As-salaamualaikum sister Faatimah. Thank you for your time and I hope you are doing well.

Mansoor: Wa-alaikumusalaam. All is good and it my pleasure to speak to you.

 

2) Ragie: The fourteenth World Forestry Congress was held from the 7 to the 11 of September this year, 2015, in the City of Durban. You were privileged enough to be able to attend this international event. Before we speak of this forestry congress, Faatimah, as a scientist and a professional member of our Green Deen South Africa network, can you tell us a bit about yourself, what you are studying and why you have chosen to study what you have?

Mansoor: I am currently pursuing my Masters degrees in Plant Sciences with the School of APES at the University of the Witwatersrand. My research thesis is focussed on the conservation of Avocados. I chose to study in this field as I have always been passionate about plants and the natural environment.

 

3) Ragie: The World Forestry Congress (WFC) is the largest gathering on forests and forestry internationally and is held at six-year intervals by a host country and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Before we continue, I would like to ask you, what is a forest? What are the different kinds of forests that we find globally and in South Africa?

Mansoor: We usually think of a forest as a number of trees that are growing together. However, forests are more than that. Forests also include other vegetation forms (such as shrubs, herbs and weedy plants) and a community of other organism that live in them, such as mammals, birds, amphibians, insects and fungi. Globally, we find rainforests in tropical areas like central Africa and Brazil, while more temperate deciduous and evergreen forests in the northern most countries of our world. In South Africa, we have arid, savannah forests that cover large expanses of land, while smaller patches of tropical forests on our coastlines.

2015-09-21 World Forestry Congress Durban Faatimah Mansoor pic 2

4) Ragie: The World Forestry Congress served as a platform of discussion for various different parties and stakeholders in the forestry industry. You attended the conference with your professors and a fellow student from Wits University. Can you us an overview of the various types of people and organisations that attended? Who hosted the congress and who was actively involved in decision making?

Mansoor: The congress was hosted by the United Nations’ FAO and our South African government, especially the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. There were around 4 000 attendees from 142 countries. Participants, stakeholders and presenters included people from national government and local municipalities, academics and students from universities, representatives of indigenous communities, corporate industries, social and environmental activists, and other research organisations.

 

5) Ragie: The theme for the WFC2015 is ‘’Forests and People: Investing in a Sustainable Future’’. Can you unpack this for us? Why do we as people need to invest in our forests to ensure a sustainable future?

Mansoor: The theme was focussed on the importance of forests in supporting our livelihoods. We have become so urbanised that we forget that our existence is dependent on the forests that surround us. Forests provide us with important ecosystem services like air recycling, regulating natural water flow from rain, keeping our soils intact, climate moderators and are carbon stores that help against climate change. Products from forests include timber, fuelwood, coal, paper, furniture, crafts and all the plants, animals and living organisms that provide food and medicine. The emphasis was placed on the sustainable use of forest natural resources.

 

6) Ragie: Can you give us an overall idea of how the congress was structured?

Mansoor: The congress spanned over five days and consisted of panel discussion by politicians, scientists, people from the forestry industry, and people from indigenous communities. There was a special program dedicated for youth attending the conference which consisted of discussions, addresses by youth representatives from around the world and a few rather fun brainstorming workshop sessions.

 

The words WFC, staged by the youth during a “flash mob”. Photo source: http://www.iisd.ca/forestry/world-forestry-congress/wfc-14/9sep.html

The words WFC, staged by the youth during a “flash mob”. Photo source: http://www.iisd.ca/forestry/world-forestry-congress/wfc-14/9sep.html

7) Ragie: : The congress took place for first time on African soil. As a South African, did you identify with this and did the South African voice come out strongly?

Mansoor: Sadly there were not enough platforms given to South African experts and stakeholders to share their experiences and concerns. Encouragingly, the voice of Africa was strongly expressed by the youth in the round table discussions.

 

8) Ragie:  Information was shared and deliberated and decisions were made at the congress. Where can the public access these resources?
Mansoor: The public can visit the following pages:

Panel discussion “Youth- Forests for the future”

Panel discussion “Youth- Forests for the future”

9) Ragie: Two sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, comes to mind as we talk of trees and our relationships with them. The first is that if we plant a tree and any living creature eats from it, we will be rewarded. The second is that even if we think tomorrow is the end of the world and we have a sapling in our hands, we must plant it. What advise can you give to the average South African citizen to help care for these priceless assets of forests?

Mansoor: Educate yourself on what forests are, where they are and how important they are. Use and consume products, from fuel wood and paper to tinned food and clothing, in a moderate way and do not waste. Make informed consumer choices. Furthermore, green up. Plant indigenous trees and fruit trees in your immediate community and take active steps, especially as youth, to safeguard natural forests.

Bio: Sister Faatimah Mansoor is a plant scientist from Johannesburg who has obtained her BSc Honours degree in Plant Sciences and Environment, Ecology and Conservation at the University of the Witwatersrand. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Plant Sciences focussing on the viability of long term storage of avocado genetic material. She is a top achiever in the scientific academia and an avid gardener. Faatimah is part of Green Deen South Africa’s professional network. She can be contacted via email on faatimahmansoor@gmail.com.