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Day 5: Water and Electricity

Welcome to day 5 of No Impact Week, Fri Oct 23rd! The fifth day is all out about the most common and ubiquitous resources available to us, that we almost never stop and think about, water & electricity.

Please use the information below in addition to the No Impact Project’s Manual (alongside the DC Green Muslims No Impact Manual).

Remember each day builds upon the previous one, so keep up what you have been doing today and previous days and add to it with what you do tomorrow as well.

General Tips

  • Water Conservation:
    • Wudu is an act of purification and we can be conscious of how much water is being used, in hopes of preventing unnecessary loss of water.
    • Shorter showers, turning the faucet off when washing the dishes and brushing teeth.
  • Electricity Conservation:
    • Turn off the lights when exiting a room.
    • Unplug appliances.
    • Wear a jacket instead of turning up the heat.

Islamic Inspiration:

“And it is God who created the human being out of water.”

Water is a symbol of life. In Islam, it is also seen as an important sign of God as it is mentioned over 60 times in the Qu’ran. We are told “from water God brought everything to life.” (21:30)

“Your God is One God, there is no deity other than Him, the most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Truly in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the succession of the night and the days, and in the ships that speed through the sea with what is useful to humanity, and in the waters which
God sends down from the sky, giving life thereby to the earth after its death, and…in all of this, there are ayat for those the people who use their intelligence.”(2:163‐164)

Water is typically described as being “sent down” from the sky, comparable to how God’s scripture and mercy came from above. Some scholars have referred to water as a metaphor for a broader meaning based on mercy and knowledge being distributed widely to mankind.

God sends down water from the sky, and [once‐dry] valleys are running high, Each according to its capacity. (13:17)

God asks Muslims to pay attention the signs around us as proof of God’s bounty and mercy and as a way to become closer to Him. Once we start contemplating the natural signs all around us, we can begin to recognize the symbiotic relationship that exists between man and nature.
And when Moses asked for water for his people, We said: ‘Strike with your staff the rock.’ And there gushed forth from it twelve springs, and everyone knew his drinking place. (2:60)

The advice that Moses’ community is given in that verse is the very ethical notion of eco‐spiritual trusteeship that we also need to heed today:

“So eat and drink of God’s sustenance, and do no evil or mischief on Earth.”

In a subsequent verse of the Qur’an, we are told that the rock that the prophets strike is not just a physical rock, but rather the rock‐like hardness of our own hearts:

‘‘Then even after that, your hearts grew hard so that they were like rocks, or even harder, for indeed there are rocks from which rivers gush forth, and there are rocks which split asunder so that water flows from them, and others which sink because of the awe they have towards God. And God is not unmindful of what you do.’’(2:74)

Dont forget to relate your experiences and thoughts and comment on the appropriate days blog post at our blog, dcgreenmuslims.blogspot.com, for a chance to win organic soaps from Mosaic Soaps (http://mosaic.azam.org/)

Day 4- Waste

Salams,
Welcome to day 4 of No Impact Week, Thur Oct 22nd! The third day is all about the waste we generate throughout our daily lives.
Please use the information below in addition to the No Impact Project’s Manual (alongside the DC Green Muslims No Impact Manual).
Remember each day builds upon the previous one, so keep up what you have been doing today and previous days and add to it with what you do tomorrow as well.

General Tips

No WasteTry it out. Generate no waste and find a reusable or recyclable way of disposing all of your waste. This includes anything that can be thrown into a trash‐can.

Islamic Inspiration:

“Mischief has appeared on land and sea because of (the meed)that the hands of men have earned, that (Allah) may give them ataste of some of their deeds: in order that they may turn back(from Evil)” (30:41)

“But waste not in excess: for Allah loveth not the wasters”(6:141), (7:31)

Notes:

In the U.S., 4.39 pounds of trash per day and up to 56 tons of trash per year are created by the average person.Every year we fill enough garbage trucks to form a line that would stretch from the earth, halfway to the moon. Almost 1/3 of the waste generated the U.S. is packaging. Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.Every year, Americans make enough plastic film to shrink‐wrap the state of Texas. Americans throw away enough aluminum cans to rebuild our commercial air fleet every three months, and enough iron and steel to supply all our nation’s automakers every day.
Each year, Americans trash enough office paper to build a 12‐ foot wall from Los Angeles to New York City. Americans toss out enough paper & plastic cups, forks and spoons every year to circle the equator 300 times.As of 1992, 14 billion pounds of trash were dumped into ocean annually around the world. Only two manmade structures on Earth are large enough to be seen from outer space: the Great Wall of China and the Fresh Kills landfill.For more facts go to Clean Air Council:http://www.cleanair.org/Waste/wasteFacts.html

Dont forget to relate your experiences and thoughts and comment on the appropriate days blog post at our blog, dcgreenmuslims.blogspot.com, for a chance to win organic soaps from Mosaic Soaps (http://mosaic.azam.org/)

Day One

I probably won’t make it for the end of week potluck so I’m just sharing my little experience of No Impact Week here instead. Nothing big,

So it seems I actually started this project yesterday without knowing. I was invited to a babyshower for a beautiful mother to-be. I ended up making the card and offering a massage as the gift (but I still feel like I need to buy something–but it will be a USEFUL and organic little something).

Today, I stopped off at a thrift store looking for inexpensive wall art for my living room. Didn’t find anything I was crazy for so I just left. And didn’t go to an expensive store either (I actually did on Saturday, but didn’t buy anything then either. So I started on Saturday! Yay for me!)

As for foods, I guess I did pretty good: bought some organic bread, cabot cheese which sports both halal and kosher labels on the front (score), canned and frozen veggies (they’re not fresh or organic but they sure are cheaper when you’re at Giant–btw have I mentioned that the Korean store is AMAZING for fresh produce?? So much selection and such low prices). I decided to forgoe the frozen juices my husband requested (um, first ingredient is corn syrup followed by sugar thankyouverymuch), and all the sweets. Inshallah I’ll be baking something from scratch instead. My own bag? Check. The only other thing I coulda done was walk to the store from my apartment, but I was already out driving (muhahah, driving is later on in the week, so we’ll see what I do about that).

This topic of consumption is important to me b/c I always used to be pretty good about not buying–I barely bought anything in fact. Recently, however, I’ve been feathering my nest and catching up to things I never really used to purchase. It didn’t go out of hand but its been more than I have ever done before.

Day 1 – Consumption

The No-Impact guide

http://noimpactproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/No-Impact-Experiment-How-To-Manual1.pdf

Please use the additional information below to give you an Islamic perspective to help you through your eco-conscious journey this week which hopefully will be a stepping stone to a life long journey incorporating the eco-spiritual ethics of the Qur’an and Sunnah.


General Tips

Needs, Not Wants
Distinguish needs from wants, and act upon it.

Budget
Budget so as to identify exactly where do your resources go.

Avoid Luxury Spending
Identify the luxuries that have become commonplace. Take steps so as to wean yourself off of them.

Know what you’re buying
Develop a more intimate relationship with what you consume, and avoid blind consumption.

Aftermath
Understand the aftermath effect of your spending of money. Does this company use its finances responsibly? Does it undergo in ecologically unsustainable, or simply unethical, actions?

Islamic Inspiration

“And those on the left hand, how unfortunate will be those on the left hand. In fierce hot wind and scalding water, and under the shadow of black smoke that provides no coolness or comfort. Verily, before this they used to live in luxury.”
(56: 40-46)

“Give the kinsman, the poor, and the wayfarer their due, but do not spend wastefully. Verily, the spendthrifts are the brethren of the devils and Satan is ever ungrateful to his Lord.”
(17: 26-27)

“Eat and drink, but do not be extravagant. Verily, Allah does not love extravagant people.”
(7: 31)

“Do not make your hand as if it is tied to your neck nor extend it to its utmost reach so that you become blameworthy and in severe poverty.”
(17: 29)

Please leave comments about what you did to become more aware and/or lessen your consumption today, all week, and implemented into your daily practice.

Farm of Peace

Over Labor Day weekend, a group of Green Muslims drove up to south-central Pennsylvania to the Farm of Peace. The Farm of Peace is a Sufi-run free range farm that raises chickens, donkeys, and sheep, and keeps a small orchard. Its rolling pastures, tucked between cerulean tree covered hills, are a bucolic treasure. The visual gem of the farm reflects the ideology that drives it – all animals are raised halal. Nowhere is this more evident than with the chickens, who make up the part of the farm called Sumayah’s Peaceful Poultry. It is second

nature for us to block out where the drumstick at dinner or breakfast eggs come from, but most of the chicken we ingest, including chicken slaughtered according to Zabiha standards, comes from hormone-injected birds who often have their beaks removed and are kept in cages too cramped to move around or flap their wings. On the other end of the spectrum is Peaceful Poultry, where the chickens are true free range and given the opportunity to live and grow naturally. You can learn more about Peaceful Poultry and its philosophy at their website.
Sumayah herself is an inspirational character
who kept us captivated as she spoke about her efforts. She helped us look deeper into the ethics of where our food comes from, reminding us of the great privilege mankind is given to take another creature’s life, and the responsibility that comes with that. We rarely think of the dignity and God-given purpose that is so often robbed from creation to supply our own sustenance. Sumayah helped bring our place in nature’s order to focus.
She made sure we gave back to the land as well, and had us clean the manure from the donkey stalls and lay it on one of their pastures. Though a small effort, it felt good to reconnect with the land and take part in its natural renewal. DC can leave one wanting for a stronger connection to nature, and the work was therapeutic. It also made the potluck iftar with some members of the local Sufi community that much more satisfying.
At some point, it would be great to bring more members of Green Muslims to the Farm of Peace. They would greatly appreciate the help, and there is reward to be found in it by anyone. Sumayah would certainly be thrilled to meet more members of our group as well, and we all have much to learn from her insight and experiences.

from headlines into head cases

the Post. the Times. the other posts and times. heck- the black ink that’s left behind after you fold away the last page of that paper you just absorbed along with your morning coffee.

like the coffee, the news has an immediate as well as a long term effect (on our collective psyche). your thoughts might center on it furiously for a while, and the effects wear off as the day, week, month goes on- but like the caffeine, it’s still in your system. and like the coffee, it morphs into your daily routine- soon, it’s unacceptable not to ingest it: how would one function?

it’s not that bad. there are worse things. it’s not like my tv is always on. it’s not like i believe *everything* i read (just most). i know fact from fiction….right? i’m not *as* impressionable as the average american….right?

what i’m trying to get at here is mental health/balance. i feel that most of the things we worry about about on a daily basis- the economy, chemicals in our food, natural disasters, you name it– are absolutely not the point of our existence. i’m not advocating hermetic existence and a swearing off of coffee, but i am asking: why do i “need to know” again? because quite frankly, i don’t think i need to know most of the things i read/hear on a daily basis. perhaps they should change the saying to “what we think the people should know, from our own often convoluted opinions.”

and Allah knows better.

Shady DC Recycling?

the rumor mill (which i’m unabashedly perpetuating here) in my office building has it that dc doesn’t actually recycle. i imagine this is somewhat a sensational account with some certain truths in it. the official stats are that my building does recycle. but that the garbage guys perhaps don’t. so now it comes down to a matter of trust- do i trust the dusty dc cogs and wheels to actually recycle the stuff i put out there? one office here certainly doesn’t- an employee hauls their paper off personally in his car to his local recycle center. but i don’t have a car and it’s impractical to carry officeloads of junk (cough, i mean recyclables) through the various modes of transportation i use to commute.

i’m not a recycling junkie (whether i should be is another story). i love putting stuff through the shredder and opt for new pads of paper instead of reusing scrap. i also get annoyed at having to rinse out aluminum/plastic cans/bottles (admit it- you do too). i just think that offices use way too much paper and that it shouldn’t have to take up ungodly amounts of space in landfills.

one more thing:
you know what use i don’t mind seeing trees donate of their resources to? paper ballots. my county uses computers, and i think i speak for more than just myself when i say that it makes people uneasy for good reason. happy election day!

Ramadan Reflection: Consumption and Empathy

We fast during the month of Ramadan for a number of reasons: to cleanse our spirits, refocus our minds for the coming year, empathize with the poor and most importantly, to strengthen our faith. Despite the obvious benefits, it is often difficult to balance the mental exhaustion due to waning energy and the resulting physical experience. We may even feel disempowered to complete our daily tasks. We continue onward with this struggle in hopes of coming closer to our Creator, despite the mental and physical difficulty associated with not eating and drinking.

Come sunset, we escape this struggle. The moment our bodies are once again nourished with food and water; we instantly become more present in our lives, more aware of our surroundings and have more faith in our ability to realize our human potential. So what about those who cannot escape? How can we expect the most broken, beaten and down-trodden in society to pull themselves out of poverty when their most basic needs are not met? That is a ridiculous expectation, given that we know how difficult this feat is in our own lives. Not to say we have the wisdom behind Allah’s gifts, but perhaps forcing us to see the plight of others through fasting is a very powerful gift, allowing us to be more aware of our own consumption patterns

This gift should be seen as a teaching mechanism, training us, through out 14 hours abstention from basic necessities. This fast, which is a commitment to God, acts as a shield. Come sunset, when this shield is taken away, it is important to remember our training throughout the day, paying special attention to what we consume. Being deprived for the day, our eyes will want to eat everything in sight; this same desire was locked up behind the shield of the fast. It would be ideal to take advantage of our training and consume that which is necessary. This level of self-restraint can be more broadly applied to our consumption of all material goods. Ramadan allows us to take an inventory of how we live and take the steps needed to become better versions of ourselves. Ramadan also creates ample opportunity for us to me more aware of our intake, our responsibilities in our communities and ultimately our carbon footprint. In the age of environmental awareness, Ramadan serves as a great impetus for Muslims to get involved in this process of reclaiming the environment and ourselves.

One man’s junk….

Ever heard the saying ‘One man’s junk is another man’s treasure’? Last Saturday’s DC Green Muslims dinner, ‘Reduce, Reuse and Redesign’ at the Goodwill Training Center, made sure of that.

We came armed with recycled-paper bags filled to the brim with the barely-worn clothes we found stuffed in the back of our closets.

We perused the racks of swap-able clothing – including everything from a Lacoste men’s shirt and elaborately embroidered kufi to women’s jeans and colorful tunics – and hauled our discoveries to the ‘redesign center’ where a cluster of talented seamstresses stood ready with their sewing machines to turn used clothes into new. A few designers were also on hand to offer advice on the best way to transform my newly discovered Indian-inspired tote bag into a new throw pillow.

In the midst of the swapping fun, it was easy to almost overlook the deeper purpose of the night’s event: to raise awareness about our habits of (over)consumption and expand our conception of sustainability and recycling to include clothing. A presentation at dinner took the concept a step further by introducing the intersection of fashion and spirituality — reminding us of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) habits of mending his own clothes.

But perhaps the most important take-away of the evening — besides my chic new pillow — was the reminder to try to gain barakah in all of my newfound ‘green’ habits, a reminder that may come in handy those times I feel the urge to wander the mall in search of that must-have item that I don’t actually need.

Submitted by Malika 🙂

Green in 30 Minutes or Less…

“A list of the town’s biggest water wasters, and the only non-laundromat on here is… hold on to your turbans…Mercy Mosque!”

My friend, let’s call him M. Rafique, or maybe Muizz R. is less obvious, got me started on watching “Little Mosque on the Prairie,” the widely publicized Canadian Muslim sitcom. After watching a few episodes here and there, a few questions came to mind. Namely: Are Muslims or Canadians cornier? And what about Muslim Canadians?

But there are some moments which offer a unique window into Muslim communities in the West which are worth viewing. One episode in particular I thought was relevant to post here. The movement to create a uniquely (North) American Muslim culture is an organic and ever developing process. Same too for the burgeoning Muslim environmental movement. In the episode pasted above, the two intersect for a TV experience that some would say is before its time. But for most of us, its long overdue.

While “Little Mosque” may have all the trappings of a Muslim camp skit, it has done a decent job of tackling a variety of issues related to the still growing Muslim community. Here, the issue of abusive wudu practices will hit home for anyone who has waded through damp, mildewy wudu areas before. By the time the end credits roll, the mosque is greened, and made handicapped accessible to boot.

If only all Muslim issues could be dealt with so effectively in half an hour time slots…