Allah (SWT) has created us with very basic, physical needs – drinking, eating, sleeping and intimacy. These needs essentially connects us to our environment, and connects us to the living and non-living elements that surround us. Recognising these needs and this connection helps us to understand and embrace our dependence on our Creator through His creations.
Allah (SWT) has granted us free will. Often, in our state of spiritual weakness, we go against our inner fitrah and transgress the boundaries set down by our Creator. We lie, gossip, cheat and steal, we become unreasonably angry and fight, we become negligent of and harmful to our surroundings. Ramadan is that month where we break from this routine. By raising above our physical needs, we become more aware of who we are. We become more aware of our dependence on and responsibilities to who and what surround us. We become more aware of our dependence on and submission to our Creator.
Many aspects of our fasting in Ramadan reinforces environmentally consciousness. From moderation in consumption to self-discipline, the principles emphasised in Ramadan are in accordance with good spiritual, social, economical and environmental practices. While we try to find a balance between work, food preparations, and prioritising our spiritual activities, we must simultaneously embrace a greener Ramadan.
To remind us of the unbreakable connection between our Deen and our actions, here is a series of theme-based tips for Ramadan – read below!
Be-a-green-soul-searching-tree-hugging-frog-loving-Muslim this Ramadan! (And thereafter!) #GDRamadan
Post One: Don’t waste food!
¤يَا بَنِي آدَمَ خُذُوا زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا وَلَا تُسْرِفُوا ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ
“O Children of Adam! wear your adornment at every place of prayer: eat & drink: but be not excessive, for God does not love those who are excessive.” Noble Quraan, Surah Al-Araf, Ch7, V31
An important emphasis that needs to be made in this blessed month is that to waste food is sinful. The “waste” in wasting food is more than the little bit of food that we throw away, but rather is a lot more. The waste includes all the resources that goes in to the growth, preparation and delivery of food from the rural farms to our tables and includes the use of land, water, energy, petrol, packaging, pollution and effort. We have no right to simply throw this food away to rot in landfill sites on the outskirts of our towns!
Food considerations for this Ramadan.
- Eat healthy food that is less processed. Locally-sourced, fresh foods are both good for our internal physical and spiritual environment, as well as the larger physical environment.
- Estimate properly. We tend to make more rather than less in these hungry times, but just think twice before frying another dozen of samoosas (or cut another dozen slices of cucumber #thinkgreen).
- Share the bounties of leftover iftaar goodies with your visiting friends and family and send them off with ‘barakatjies’. (Barakatjies – like a doggy bag, but with more panache.)
- Eat leftover iftaar food for sehri the next day.
- Pack leftover savouries for non-fasting kids for school lunch (less preparation for you in the morning)
- And best yet, plate it up beautifully and distribute it to needy people at the masjid or in your community.
Let us try to be green with the correct intention and may Allah reward us for caring for the resources that he has granted us.
Think deen, think green, think green deen! 🙂
Post Two: Use Water Wisely
¤ أَفَرَأَيْتُمُ الْمَاءَ الَّذِي تَشْرَبُونَ
¤ أَأَنتُمْ أَنزَلْتُمُوهُ مِنَ الْمُزْنِ أَمْ نَحْنُ الْمُنزِلُونَ
¤لَوْ نَشَاءُ جَعَلْنَاهُ أُجَاجًا فَلَوْلَا تَشْكُرُونَ
“And have you seen the water that you drink? Is it you who brought it down from the clouds, or is it We (Allah) who bring it down? If We willed, We could make it bitter, so why are you not grateful? ”
Quraan, Surah Al-Waaqiah, [56:68-70]
After an entire day of not drinking water (even during these short winter days ), one can’t help but appreciate the importance of water. Allah (SWT) often speaks of the value of this blessed resource that we are dependent on in several places of the Quraan. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) emphasised the saving of water even whilst using it when it is plentiful. It is reported that Prophet (SAW) saw Sa’d (RA) performing wudu he said: “What is this? You are wasting water.” Sa’d replied: “Can there be wastefulness while performing ablution?” The Prophet (SAW) replied: “Yes, even if you perform it in a flowing river.” (Ibn Maja : 1990 : Vol. 1: 147: no.425).
So here are some tips, that if made with good intentions, Allah may reward us for our efforts:
- When rinsing out fruit and vegetables, collect the water in a dish. Use it to wash out dirty dishes, mop the floors or even water the plants.
- Cook with you pot covered where possible. You will use less water and energy.
- When waiting for warm water for wudhu, fill up a bucket with the cold water and water the plants, use it elsewhere or fill up your istinja jug in the toilet.
- Try to see how much water you can save by scooping water from a dish in the old fashioned way instead of using a running tap.
- If the bucket-wudhu proves difficult remember: Say bismillah, don’t leave the tap running especially during masah, and complete your wudhu as quick as possible without talking. Win-win situation, follow the Sunnah way and save water!
- Alternatively, take your wudhu outside and water the backyard vegetables at the same time.
- Many of us are reluctant to bucket shower these day. The easiest way to save water whilst showering – wet you body, close tap, lather soap, and then rinse off quickly.
- After a long period of sitting down and reading quraan, take a walk round your house and make note of any dripping taps and possible pipe leaks. Fix them up asap (or call a plumber)!
May Allah guide our intentions and accept all our good actions this month. Aameen.
Post Three: Use Fuel and Energy Efficiently!
¤فَرَأَيْتُمُ النَّارَ الَّتِي تُورُونَ
¤أَأَنتُمْ أَنشَأْتُمْ شَجَرَتَهَا أَمْ نَحْنُ الْمُنشِئُونَ
“Then tell me about the fire which you kindle. Is it you who made the tree thereof to grow, or are We the Grower?” Noble Quraan, Surah Al-Waqi’ah, Ch56, V71-72
A care-for-the-environment advice series cannot be complete without reminding you to save electricity, energy and fuel. All sources of energy are from Allah (SWT). From the sun that we depend on, the oil from deep within the Earth, the fuelwood that we harvest and the more “man-made” forms of energy like electricity and petrol – everything comes from Allah (SWT). Acknowledging our dependence on these resources is an inherent aspect of Islam, and hence we as Muslims must not be wasteful or excessive in the use of these resources.
Use less petrol this Ramadan!
- Take a walk to the masjid, work, school and to the shops.
- Car pool or offer your neighbours and family members lifts, especially to the masaajid for salaah.
Save energy in the kitchen this Ramadan!
Remember that that by reducing our use of electricity we remove pressure from a winter-strained national grid. Try to use less electricity, especially at iftaar, with the intention of trying to avoid inconvenience from load-shedding to others.
- Remember to switch off the stoves and oven after preparing for suhoor andiftaar, especially since iftaar is during the time when electricity is in demand.
- Cook less of a variety to save on preparation energy costs.
- Ovens use up a lot more than the stove-plates, so attempt to not use the oven everyday often by separating days for fried and baked goods.
- Introduce a Ramadan Food Schedule to help to shorten cooking time in the kitchen so you can spend more time on Ibadat.
- Reduce energy used to defrost foods in the microwave by letting it defrost outside earlier in the day.
- Cook with lids on pots when possible.
Another great idea is to read Quraan and salaah in one room so as to minimise the number of heaters and lights that are switched on at one time. Important to note is the multiple benefits associated with many green tips. Take a walk = healthier for you. Give a lift to the neighbour = build good relationships. Pray together = build family ties. Insha-allah. May Allah (SWT) guide us and accept our efforts. Aameen.
Post Four: Reduce Your Waste
¤كُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا مِن رِّزْقِ اللَّهِ وَلَا تَعْثَوْا فِي الْأَرْضِ مُفْسِدِينَ
“Eat and drink of what Allah has provided, and do not go about the earth spreading ‘Fasād’ (corruption, mischief, disorder).”
Quraan, Surah Al-Baqarah [2:60]
As humanity, we often forget about the impacts of our daily activities on the earth. Our use of products in our homes, schools, businesses, masaajid, and community work has devastating consequences. Plastic and Styrofoam waste (especially single use plastics like shopping bags, straws, food containers, etc.) takes centuries to decompose. They usually end up in our oceans and result in the deaths of marine and land life. Just google it! You will be saddened at the picture of bird chicks, turtles, fish, dolphins, etc. choking and dying with our waste.
- For food – package and store food using reusable containers instead of throwaways.
- Gift gifts to family and friends in reusable and biodegradable packaging.
- In our masaajid and charity drives, food and items need to be packaged using reusable containers and bags. These items can also be reused by those receiving it (e.g. a reusable bag can be used for years by a recipient instead of a plastic bag).
- For clean-up after mass food distribution, encourage community members to assist in cleaning up. Additionally, this can be taken as an opportunity to create work in our job-scarce country.
- Dispose of waste correctly and tidy up!
We need to think about the effects our use and abuse of “modern” products on Allah (SWT)’s world. By using less, using wisely, seeking alternatives, and giving to others sustainably, we will help contribute to a better world for all, Insha’Allah.
Post Five: Connect To Your Creator
¤إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ
“Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.” Noble Quraan, Surah ‘Ali Ímran, Ch3, V190
The plants, the animals, the insects, the microbes, the landscapes and mountains, the rivers and oceans, the skies, the clouds, the stars, the sun are all the creations of Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) talks of these ayaah, these signs, frequently in the Holy Quraan. Surahs are named after natural elements e.g. An-Nahl, The Bee, Ash-Shams, The Sun, Al-Layl, The Night. Allah (SWT) often takes oaths with various natural elements. Allah (SWT) repeatedly reminds us that these creations are created, owned and controlled by Him, and that they glorify Him and are a means of reflecting His Greatness.
The seerah of our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is also rich with the relationship he had with creation. His initial reflection on there being only one Creator was rooted in the time he spent contemplating the universe in the deserts. We know that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was an advocate for not wasting resources, for keeping our environment clean, for planting trees and not cutting them down, for stressing the reward in treating animals kindly and the sin involved in ill-treating them.
Ramadan presents the perfect oppurtunity to connect spiritually with our Creator by contemplating on His creations as well as the chance to gain extra reward by doing “green” actions. Here are some simple green-spirit household ideas:
- Ramadan is the month of the Quran. Identify the #greenverses while reading your daily Quran and ponder on their meanings.
- Children love animals. Get your younger siblings, cousins and family members involved in sharing some of the nature-Ramadan spirit like feeding birds or ducks. Remind them that it pleases Allah (SWT).
- Plant a tree or shrub in your yard. Name it “Our Ramadhaan Tree”. Kids will love it and ask them to guess how big it will be by next Ramadhaan, Insha-Allah. Keep track of its growth throughout the year and InshaAllah the green spirit and Ramadan fever will be kept alive for the year .
- Alternatively, plant pot plants for your kitchen windowsill. Flowers or herbs – something to remind you to be thankful to Allah (SWT) and marvel at His creation.
- Take your ibaadat outside, especially when the fasting tires you. Sit outside, under a tree or near some green vegetation and read Quran.
- Take your tasbeeh and family for a walk in a nearby green space instead of a walk in the mall over the weekend.
- Take out some charity to help some of Allah (SWT)’s creation this month in addition to your routine charity The NSPCA is always in need of food and medical supplies to house stray, abandoned and abused animals. Or donate to an organisation that plants trees in poorer communities.
We should always keep in mind that it is Allah (SWT)’s creation. Caring and nurturing for them pleases him; abusing and being unmindful of his Greatness displeases him. May Allah (SWT) guide us all and be pleased with our actions.