PBS’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly sat down with Green Muslims at a reflection-based discussion on verses from the Qur’an and narrations from the prophetic tradition related to the environment.
The extended version of the interview with Sarah Jawaid is available below:
Welcome to our newly redesigned website! Beyond the fresher appearance, greener hosting and improved performance, we’re excited about the following:
Please be sure to bookmark the new address (http://greenmuslims.org) – the old address (http://green-muslims.org) will continue to re-direct here.
Please feel free to post a comment to us know what you think and how we could improve!
I’m excited to announce that Green Muslims is back! We have some exciting developments to share with you and new events planned for this summer and onward.
We have launched a brand new Green Muslims web site where we hope to rally and organize around environmental issues, especially during the month of Ramadan. In the future, we will be soliciting writers for our blog so please stay tuned and let us know now if you are interested in our survey (below)!
As Green Muslims looks to expand its reach, we decided to drop the DC. While all of the leadership is based in DC, we will be engaging in activities that reach beyond the DC area, including pamphlets for Ramadan and potentially Sunday school curriculum.
Survey to Get Involved
If you are interested in getting involved with Green Muslims, please complete this survey that asks about: 1) Specific ways you would like to get active and 2) How Green Muslims activities can suit your interests and availability. Please complete the survey by Tuesday, July 5th. We look forward to working with you!
I’d also like to introduce the Green Muslim leadership for 2011-2012. To read more about the staff and how they got involved, click here.
Our Vision and Objectives
We have worked on refining our vision and objectives in order to move Green Muslims forward with a stronger and more organized vigor. Please go to our web site for more information.
Rain was falling faster and it was getting late as we both sought refuge under the shelter at the bus stop that evening. I was waiting for the S2/S4 there at the corner of 16th and U, just down the street from my apartment. He was probably just there to wait out the rain under the shelter, if not make it his apartment for the night. So I was in his apartment and he was at my neighborhood bus stop. We were both sharing each other’s space. In fact, we were sharing the same bench. I was on one side, he was on the other, and his overstuffed bag was in the middle.
The man, visibly drunk and in a talkative mood, was the first to say something. I was feeling quiet, but I responded. Then he asked me my name. My response changed everything. His response was to move his bag, from between the two of us to the other side of the bench. I wish it stopped there. Instead, he asked me what I was doing here?…
Whether I was going to blow him up? Why my people always blew things up? Why didn’t we go back to where we came from? What was I doing here, anyway? Was I going to blow him up?
Then he grabbed his bag and crossed the street, under the rain, to the bus stop at the opposite side of the street. Talking loudly to himself all the way there. I should note that at no time during this interaction, from sharing a bench with the man to listening him berate me about “my people,” did I feel threatened in any way. Though I hate to admit it, he – poor, drunk and homeless – simply was not in a position of power or dominance. I was recently asked to reflect on a time when I felt powerless, not dominant (i.e. subordinate) when interacting with someone. “What did it feel like?” they asked. This was my response:
JFK at the mouth of the jetway with the police officer holding my passport. Only my passport. “Randomly.” I felt small, short of breath, nervous, self conscious and myopic. I couldn’t think clearly, almost paralyzed, frozen in place. Just wanting for it to end. Biting my tongue, but wanting to scream and fight. Or simply just to walk away. To have the freedom to walk away. Or the freedom to have control over my own emotions. Not have someone else control them.
Tell me, which is scarier? An armed police officer trained to pick out my racial profile in a crowd or a homeless man with little to no vested interest in discriminating against me, but doing so anyway. Both these scenes speak volumes about how far we’ve let our fears (over)take us. As far as I’m concerned, the latter scene speaks much more clearly and more loudly. But what does this have to do with the environment? Nothing. And everything.
As intense as that exchange at the bus stop might sound, the homeless gentleman and I were only just scratching the surface. The questions that encounter raises, albeit implicitly, have more to do with race, gentrification, suburban sprawl, social services, poverty and health than anything else. These are all environmental issues. They are also social justice issues, without doubt. These very issues, if championed by American Muslims as I believe our faith impels us to do (and as the groups I linked to above are doing), could begin to address the sad reality of those scenes at the airport and the bus stop that I described above.
I believe in reframing false frames. The guru of how arguments are framed is George Lakoff, a cognitive linguist at UC Berkeley who wrote the book on cognitive framing. It’s called “Don’t think of an elephant!” Which, of course, is exactly what you think of when you hear or read that title, an elephant. Another Lakoff framing example is Richard Nixon’s classic line, “I am not a crook.” Sure, Dick, sure. Finally, and more to the point of this post, is the fact that Islam/Muslims/Muhammad and terror don’t belong together. Not even in that sentence.
The point is to focus on what we are or stand for, not what we’re against. The difference is subtle, but it makes all the difference in the world. I stand for a vision of the world that is peaceful, serene, loving, forgiving, merciful, understanding and whole. I’ve been there before and it is blissful. That is where I want to live. Not by myself, but with others. Not in a far off time and place, but here and now.
Article about the origins of DC Green Muslims in the context of the larger DC Muslim community embracing eco-consciousness!
The sky is his ceiling.
The earth his floor.
Tired eyes are his windows.
Day and night his doors.
He is never homeless-
As long as the trees have the earth
And the birds have the sky.
This is where he lives; this is where we live.
Still we call him homeless.
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?
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.
From time to time, I come across websites that link to the DC Green Muslims blog. Three recent finds:
* MPAC-DC News & Views: Faith Goes Green
* USC Knight Chair in Media and Religion: The Next Big Thing (scroll down the page to the see the link)
* From the Green Party in England – Another Green World: Ramadan is Green (DC GM link and info about the London Islamic Network for the Environment’s (LINE) Fast for the Planet – www.fastfortheplanet.net).
Also, make sure to check out MSA National’s Link magazine – two short articles on “Connecting to Allah’s Creation” (Spring/Summer) and “Putting your MSA on the Green Path” (Fall/Winter). (Thoughts or feedback to the author much appreciated! 🙂
Green Muslims was recently mentioned in the American Public Health Association’s The Nation’s Health newspaper:
Faith groups bring new voices to climate change discussion: Social justice, health are key messages
by Kim Krisberg
From the book jacket: “Food. There’s plenty of it around, and we all love to eat it. So why should anyone need to defend it? Because most of what we’re consuming today is not food, and how we’re consuming it – in the car, in front of the TV, and increasingly alone – is not really eating. Instead of food, we’re consuming ‘edible foodlike substances’ – no longer the products of nature but of food science.”
From the intro (page 1): “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy. I hate to give the game away right here at the beginning of a whole book devoted to the subject, and I’m tempted to complicate matters in the interest of keeping things going for a couple hundred more pages or so.”
…and he does (201 pages)! I haven’t read the whole book (In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, by Michael Pollan), but I’m loving it so far. Nutritionally insightful and deliciously simple… or is it the other way around??? Read the book and you’ll see what I mean! It’s about much more than simply (complex) nutrition.
“Food,” writes Pollan, “is also about pleasure, about community, about family and spirituality, about our relationship to the natural world, and about expressing our identity” (8). All this, he explains, is basically culture – “which, when it comes to food, is really just a fancy word for your mother” (3). So that’s what I’d like to leave you with…
Pollan’s three big suggestions remind me of what I grew up learning (in part, from my mother… God bless her!) about how and what the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) ate. So here’s some prophetic food for thought:
Finally, if you see a theme in the last couple blog posts… great! Food will be our theme for this summer and into Ramadan, insha’Allah!