The Blog

Reduce, Reuse, Ramadan

Originally posted  on the Huffington Post.

“How do I make people realize how much they are wasting?” my mom tells me over the phone after becoming frustrated with heaps of trash occupying her mosque after iftar each night.

In recent years, I’ve been talking to my mom about the importance of recycling and how it’s an act of faith. My family didn’t grow up recycling because of environmental awareness. We did it because of the $.05 we got back from the bottle bill. The words “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” floated around us in middle school on bulletin boards and in art projects with little resonance. Growing up in dry California, we were always reminded about conserving water through PSAs and by our teachers. None of it really stuck.

At the mosque during Ramadan, gluttony and waste was all around us year after year. It was normal for the hungry congregation to take multiple Styrofoam plates — one for a date to break the fast, another for dinner and maybe one more plate for seconds. The same goes for cups. Many times food was wasted. Puddles of water were left in the restrooms from wudu. And while this was happening around me, I didn’t give it much thought.

Until I started reading more about what my faith tradition teaches about having humility with creation. In Islam, God identifies nature as a tapestry of signs for man to reflect upon His existence, just as the verses within the Quran are also considered signs, sharing the same Arabic word, ayat. Going further than contemplation of the universe, God bestowed mankind as stewards on Earth, entrusting humanity with the duty to protect and restore balance in the environment for future generations to enjoy the signs in creation. (more…)

Ramadan w/Green Muslims!

Ramadan LefTAR!
Join Green Muslims and Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, author of Green Deen for the first annual LefTAR (Leftover Iftar)!

Packing List:

  • A Dish to pass (leftovers are expected and welcome!)
  • BYOD – Bring your own dishes (and something to take them home in).
  • Serving Utensils
  • Picnic blankets

Details:

Meridian Hill Park (Southeastern Corner)

Corner of 15th St and Florida Ave NW

Washington, DC 20009

July 28th

8pm

Convietiently located four blocks from Columbia Heights Metro (on Green or Yellow line)

RSVP HERE!

 

Ramadan Footprint Photo Contest

THE RAMADAN FOOTPRINT PHOTO CONTEST
GREEN YOUR RAMADAN. SNAP A PIC. WIN A PRIZE.

This Ramadan, make a pledge to reduce your footprint and then share a photo of you “in the act” on the Green Muslims Facebook page.

The photo on our Facebook Page that gets the most Likes by the day of Eid will win and receive a generous prizes:

  1. My Halal Kitchen
  2. Nalgene
  3. Saffron Road!!

Your Photos: Get as creative, funny, or inspiring as you’d like! Just add a description in the caption of what you’re doing.

Need Inspiration? The Green Muslims team has put together a list of suggested activities (below) that you could photograph in any way you’d like. Any other ideas or green activities are encouraged as well!

10 Suggested Ways to Reduce Your Ramadan Footprint

1.) Forgo styrofoam! Ramadan iftars are often filled with styrofoam plates or cups, so bring your own reusable tableware to iftars to reduce waste. Styrofoam is harmful to the environment and takes a very long time to decompose. Recycle!

2.) Lessen your carbon footprint. Carpool, ride a bike, or walk to your iftars, taraweeh prayers, and anywhere else!

3.) Check your usage! Conserve electricity, gas and water. Be conscious of waste. Do your wudu with less water, cook with less, or pray by candlelight.

4.) Host a Zero-Trash Iftar. Ask people to bring their own plates/utensils or provide reusable tableware. You could always rent a set from Green Muslims! Use Green Khutba resources to share some tips to continue the environmentally-conscious ideas the rest of the month. Turn leftovers into a leftar. Don’t waste a morsel!

5.) Raise consciousness amongst your community about over-consumption. Take stock of what you have in your house; is there anything that can be better served by giving it to someone else? Volunteer at a local GoodWill storage room. The amount of stuff that needs sorting is eye-opening. And this is the stuff worthy of being used by someone else…Imagine what sits in the trash dump.

6.) Rock the boat! Ask your local mosque leaders to recycle, stop using styrofoam, stop using plastic water bottles (watch the documentary Tapped for inspiration),  and feel inspired to push the congregation to reduce water usage while making wudu. The Prophet pbuh only used a small amount of water to cleanse himself. It will take a long time for these kind of changes to take place, but it’s worth the effort.

7.) Plant a seed this Ramadan! Challenge yourself to spend some time in the garden. If gardening isn’t your thing or the land is arid, plant some herbs in a pot. Watch first hand a miracle of Allah swt take place in front of your eyes. The world is full of miracles for us to reflect and think upon.

8.) Pray under the stars. Remind yourself how small you are by praying under the vastness of the sky that holds us. We are small but our impact can be large. As inheritors of the earth, how are we fulfilling the trust we have with God to protect it? Pray for our planet and each other.

9.) Eat healthy food. Go to the farmer’s market and choose fresh, local produce.

10.) Fast! Eat less. Sometimes we even eat more in Ramadan than other months. Celebrate Ramadan by actually eating and consuming less. For any non-perishable food in your house that you’re not eating, donate it!

Most importantly, set your intention for a Green Ramadan. Create a support network and set some goals to make this a green ramadan. And then continue to reflect on how you’ve grown over the last month!

For more ideas, check out our Ramadan tool-kit!

Going forward, try to continue the more environmentally friendly habits you have started this Ramadan. Take the knowledge you have gained and turn it into conviction.

Green Ramadan from Zaid Shakir!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFkP9yuzWn4

From Lawns to Greens: Changing the Suburban Landscape

I have a well sustained reputation of being all thumbs in my garden and unfortunately, none of them are green! Despite this fact, we decided to invest in a backyard garden and give ourselves and our children the invaluable experience of growing our own food. Perhaps it was initiated by my husband who recently turned vegetarian or perhaps it was the beautiful spring weather in Northern California, or perhaps it was Michelle Obama’s White House garden that everyone is talking about, but whatever the impetus, the initiative is well under way.

As long as my children can remember we have shopped at the farmer’s market for our weekly veggies and fruits and the time was ripe to begin our own garden. It’s not as if we hadn’t tried before, but the clay soil and the rocks holding up the hills we live on were not conducive to growing much and the deer usually enjoyed whatever little was able to sprout. This year, with a fence, a prepared garden bed, organic fertilizers and a host of little plants and seeds we were armed for the challenge. Best of all, I had an army of little soldiers ready to water, fertilize, weed, plant and harvest. I think their enthusiasm is what really took root.

When late spring rolled in with the fog from the bay, we began our humble garden. Like Arnold Lobel’s Toad, my littlest one would sing to the seeds waiting for them to germinate. My second son joked about hitting the jackpot once the beans he planted sprouted, while my eldest dutifully watered the garden and waited eagerly for the results. The budding plants reinvigorated my family as we began to see life emerge from the ground and my daughter let each flower be- as she now learned that this will be what she soon eats!

Environmentalists will tell us how we can reduce our carbon footprint by raising our own food, while the frugal shopper will tell us that it’s the cheapest food money can buy with a bountiful yield. Nutritionists will remind us how nutrient dense and tasty our home grown veggies and fruits will be, and doctors will agree that pesticide free, organic food will leave us healthier. What I want to highlight is how much my family has learned from the experience of gardening. From germination, pollination and a short, quick lesson on the birds and bees, to calculating the amount of water and fertilizer needed by a particular plant, to patience, responsibility, exercise, faith in God and gratitude- were invaluable lessons learned with ease while experiencing the most amazing cycle of life.

Now that my family has learned the values of healthy eating with fresh, delicious home grown food, they refuse to see it go to waste because they’ve seen it take so long to come to our plate. According to Ted Steinberg, author of “American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn”, Americans spend between $30-$40 billion each year on maintaining their lawns. The US census bureau tells us the average American spends up to 60% of their weekend hours working on their lawns. Imagine all this time and money spent on greens that we cannot even eat! Now imagine fresh, crisp lettuce- without threat of salmonella, green herbs only as much as your need, blossoming flowers, vine ripened tomatoes you don’t have to pay an arm and leg for and sweet delicious fruits when you want them; all this for much less time and money. This is the outcome of changing our backyard to our green grocery store. Remember change always happens in the home- or in this case, the backyard. Large backyard gardens or potted patio plants, each of us can teach our little ones the pleasures of gardening with a bit of will, water and Wikipedia; so get growing!

Originally posted at Soulfulstudies.

Pre-Ramadan Collective Consciousness

Ramadan always comes faster than expected and ends even sooner. In the midst of a busy and hectic life, preparing for the most blessed of months often falls to the wayside. However, with only about two weeks to go it is the perfect time to start creating the intention to make the most out of this Ramadan.

 

Ramadan is a time, as we all know, to be spent with community to share in the blessings that surround us and to think of those in need.  We have the opportunity to think of this time as a hardship, a test, or a blessing.  I have always felt that Ramadan is the ultimate test of willpower and a reflection on all the things, good and bad that have become habits for me. It has always been a time to assess the things I do, which are very often based on wants and needs. Through fasting, and through being mindful of my every action, I am given the opportunity in this month to truly revisit my daily life and reflect on ways towards self-improvement. This Ramadan however, in accordance with the mission of Green Muslims to promote the Islamic principle of environmental stewardship, it is my intention to not only consider ways towards a more wholesome self-reflection but to also assess how my lifestyle and actions impact the earth and the environment. We depend on the Earth for our livelihood and it sustains us. It is essential that we take time to reflect on whether our lifestyle is mindful of our impact on the Earth or if we are taking without consideration of the effect we are having on the environment. This Ramadan is the perfect time to judge both how are actions can work in the best way for ourselves and the Earth around us.

“O you people! Feel close (and love) your Guardian-Lord, Who created you, and those who came before you, That you may have the chance to learn righteousness; Who has made the earth your couch, and the skies your canopy; And sent down rain from the skies;  And brought forth from there Fruits for your sustenance …”  2:21-22

Sarina Bajwa is Green Muslims’ Community Outreach Manager.