The Blog

Carry on your Lessons from a Green Ramadan

Green Muslims Update: May the transition from summer to fall find you in good health and spirits! 

As fall enters through the changing leaves and cooling winds, we find ourselves almost a month after Ramadan reflecting on the adjustments we tried to make during that blessed month and whether our efforts can be sustained in the weeks after.

During the month of Ramadan, we held multiple events to encourage Muslims in the Washington D.C. to use the holy month to start greener life habits. We heard back from many others that they were inspired to hold their own green iftars during the month. We were also busy hosting and were blessed to be able to hold an event with the Yaro Collective, using our reusable dinnerware. We also partnered with Crescent Moon Nights and America’s Islamic Heritage Museum to host a soul food iftar where the diverse D.C. community shared powerful words and brilliant concepts. Here too, we used our plates and debuted our compost bin. We held an iftar at a park protected by a canopy of trees with peaceful mist as backdrop and were led through great discussion by our friend Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, author of Green Deen. We also rented out our tableware set to a few other groups, leading over 600 people to reduce their trash for a meal through our reusable tableware and compost bin over the month. We are elated by this progress! Thank to all of our partners! (more…)

Beyond Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

by Sarrah AbuLughod

“You’re going to what? and you’re taking what with you?” one of the attendee’s of the annual Green Muslims Zero-Trash Iftar narrated the confusion of her mother as she walked out of the house with a bag filled with a reusable plate, spoon, and cup.

She told the group that her mother insisted that she take some fresh fruit rather than any leftovers to the gathering. “Leftovers are stigmatized,” explained another participant in the evenings meal, “it’s not seen as proper to take something that was from another meal.”

Our very own holy book, the Quran, relates time and again that God does not favor the people who waste and yet when have we ever asked ourselves as a community what that really means? The discussion at the “leftar”, as it was coined, lead by Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, author of Green Deen, took us one step further. He challenged our community to think less about ourselves as consumers, and more about ourselves as directors in shaping the next movement.

“It’s not about just reduce, reuse, recycle any more. It’s about reduce, reuse, refuse!” Abdul-Matin encouraged our small community to look into other ways of making a difference. Whether it was starting to compost, refusing to buy products that are overly packaged, researching and beginning to use products that are made from whole materials, or even on an even simpler level, taking a reusable kit to every iftar in order to politely reduce the overwhelming Styrofoam mountain at the local mosque, one plate at a time. (more…)

Iftaar Recap

The following was originally posted here.

Good morning, everyone! InshAllah, your weeks are off to a good start, even if it is Monday and you do not want to be back to the grind. Personally, this day is always a mixture of excitement at the prospect of making progress on life goals and loathing of the work week’s monotony. This past weekend, especially, is difficult to say good-bye to since it was very relaxing and involved an iftaar with friends in Meridian Hill Park.

Although I lived in the area and passed it everyday on my commute into work on a Metro bus, I never explored Meridian Hill/Malcom X Park prior to last night. Like the National Mall, which seemingly is unending stretches of dirt paths encasing a grassy interior, Meridian Hill encompasses several city blocks in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC’s Northwest quadrant. Each week the park hosts a famous drum circle where individuals bring drums of all varieties and play to a dancing crowd for almost 12 hours straight. What a background soundtrack to an interfaith iftaar I thought, with its constant beat that ebbed and flowed with the sun and light breeze passing through the nearby trees. As twilight approached, my group of friends and I gathered on some blankets and shared several delicious dishes together to celebrate the conclusion of another blessed day of fasting. Such highlights, which are included below, were a roasted eggplant dish, orzo with feta and grape tomatoes, and peanut butter cookies (note to anyone looking for one of my favorite foods, here is one). Thanks to my friends in the awesome Green Muslims group, who also participate in the weekly halaqa group. They were kind enough to rent me a reusable cutlery set that included plates and cups. Check out their website for information pertaining to how you can rent different size party sets for your next event; where else can you rent everything for $10?! The beauty of these sets is that you are not only preventing more trash from going into a landfill, probably incorrectly separated too, but that you also contribute to the good works of an environmental organization. (more…)

A Brief Introduction to Permaculture: Sustaining Our Future

A Brief Introduction to Permaculture: Sustaining Our Future and Why It Matters to Muslims 

By Tara Tariq and Sakina Grome

“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”

– Albert Einstein

In 2005, the United States Department of Energy published a report titled Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management, (also known as the Hirsch report). The report predicts that the production of oil that fuels today’s economy and our lifestyle will peak and decline in the coming years. According to some industry analysts, it has already peaked. The report also underscores the inevitable and “unprecedented risk management problem” that Peak-Oil will present to the world.

Today we have reached a moment, a status quo that is characterized by extreme imbalance of resource depletion and consumption and it did not happen overnight: The famines in East Africa, riots in Indonesia, warfare in the Middle East, and tight-fisted policies regulating under- developed regions and their precious resources all share the common denominator of natural- resource and food insecurity. (more…)

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.

Connectivity & Community

Feeling connected to religion has been hard for me recently. The people I am around have a major impact on how I experience faith, and living in Washington, DC was an inspirational overload. From people who knew me when I started my religious journey to these new gems the community seems to cough up on a weekly basis, living there was a central part of how I experienced Islam. However, I moved from DC nearly a year ago, and it left a spiritual divot that has been so difficult to fill.

Yet, every morning I return to connect with God through a cool piece of carbon steel against my jugular vein, which, I’m told, He is closer than. I went on this environmental kick while in DC, mostly because I was convinced industrial chemicals in my food and hair products were the cause of my quickly balding scalp. But Green Muslims cultivated this awareness and it somehow became my primary connection to God. From the food I eat, to the products I buy, to the way I take care of myself, there persists a beautiful spiritual element on which I’ve managed to maintain a grasp. Nowhere do I feel it more than with my daily shave.

As I run the blade along its leather strop to prep it, I am caring for a tool that, by some miracle, God has taught us to create. As I run the blade across my lathered jaw-line, I’m caring for this body that, by some miracle, God has allowed me to inhabit. And as I oil the blade and put it back on its shelf, I’m preventing one small piece of disposable plastic from being tossed into a garbage heap on this earth, with which by some miracle, God sustains us.

Little acts such as shaving with a non-disposable blade have become one of the toughest sinews of my faith. For whatever reason, although I struggle at keeping in touch with my spiritual self in many ways, my connection to God is strong when I season the cast iron pans I plan to pass to my children or condition the well-cobbled shoes that will last me years. And it’s there when I forget to take my own bag to the grocery store or realize that, try as I might, I just can’t get myself to take shorter showers. My imperfect attempt to shift from a disposable existence reminds me that my relationship with God is indispensable.

And when I do at times fall forgetful and slip, there’s a little crimson nick to remind me how close he really is.

Adam Sitte is a law student at the University of Chicago. He is currently working on southern African litigation in Johannesburg, and wishes He could be with his community in DC this Ramadan.

 

Introducing the Ramadan Tool-Kit!

Ramadan
Enhance your Ramadan experience this year, by following along with the Green Muslim’s as they practice “greener” habits. Each day we contemplate an inspirational ayah, quote, or hadith and incorporate the teachings of our tradition into our practice with a daily challenge and reflection. Follow along!

Whether as a community, a family or an individual, the Ramadan tool-kit is a powerful way to green your deen during this holy month. Join us and our friends and partners all over the world in incorporating the eco-conscious teachings of our tradition into our practice with a daily challenge and reflection.

Download the Toolkit Here!

Easing Into Uneasiness

Okay, I have a confession.  I don’t always love nature.  Don’t get me wrong, I want to!  I want to be that girl who can strap on a backpack and go camping in the woods for a week.  Or the girl who hikes through the dessert all day to find the best spot to see the sun set.  I am just not that girl.  I’m the girl who starts sweating when it’s 78 degrees outside.  The one who really hates the feel of sand under her fingernails at the beach.  The one who struggles to keep up on even the gentlest of hikes.  The one who just learned what sea-sickness is like (gross story, you don’t want to hear it).

But.  I’m also the girl who keeps going out there anyway.  Standing on the beach feeling renewed as the salt from the ocean hits my nose.  Walking through the woods and gasping at the beauty of the trees.  Going to the farmer’s market on the hottest day of the year to buy peaches with my neighbors.  Maybe not getting back on that sailboat, though…

This crazy heat that we’ve had recently has put me in the frame of mind that we need to learn how to be comfortable in an uncomfortable position.  A good friend of mine is a yoga instructor and explains to her students that it is only through discomfort that we grow.  She tells them to be gentle on themselves, to notice that they are uncomfortable without judgment.  To sit in it and become fully aware of their bodies.  This advice works whether you are trying to perfect a difficult yoga pose or just convincing yourself to leave the apartment on a hot sticky day.

Ramadan is nearly upon us, and (let’s be honest, people) we will be uncomfortable.  We will be thirsty and tired and hungry and hot.  And it will be okay.  It always is.  We can notice our discomfort without judgment and give thanks that we are alive feel it.

What about you guys?  Is there anything in nature that feels difficult for you, or are you the “give me some hiking boots and I’m out the door!” type?  How do you get beyond your fears to better connect to the natural world?

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Teresa Kane is an ESOL teacher at a nearby elementary school.

Simple Steps

Yesterday, my brother and I went on a lengthy bike ride, weaving through the buildings of DC proper and passing by the national monuments only to arrive at a secluded area on the edges of the Georgetown Waterfront. I sat upon the stone cliffs overlooking the Washington Harbor and couldn’t help but smile looking down at the purity of the blue water and the fresh green in the surrounding trees, listening to the laughs and cheers from the kayaking locals.

For a brief few moments I was able to think beyond the work I was behind in, the emails I was yet to respond to and the general reality that I didn’t have time to sit here. I began to reflect on how essential it is that we, as the DC community, do our best to preserve that natural beauty and build a stronger relationship with it.

As part of Green Muslims, I would love to discuss topics of conversations that can range from things as simple as ways we can work to green our daily lives to things a bit more complicated like expanding the ways we get our daily supply of energy and how we can raise awareness about how to lower energy consumption. I feel that Green Muslims will be a great opportunity to establish an open dialogue on these issues and a great opportunity to grow in understanding as to the relationship we should be having as Muslims with the environment.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgDJ_H-BzFo

Faizan Tahir is in his second year of undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he is studying Political Science and Legal Studies.

Doing Things

“I should have been a plumber, or a handyman,” a friend of mine reflected as he set forth fresh from school with his law degree. His rationale was not the prestige of the career path or the glory of the work, but the simple fact that people just don’t know how to fix things, and he thought he could make bank on just having a skill or two.  I think he has a point.

I’ve always valued skills. There’s something beautiful about working with your hands.I would spend summers watching my grandfather in the “shop,” as they called it, fixing trucks and mending various pieces of farm equipment. He’d lean down to explain what he was doing as he hammered something here, or added oil to something there and thus began my understanding of the importance of fixing rather than tossing, of mending rather than replacing.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5wmParkppw

I value people who have skills, who can teach their skills, and who are more self-sufficient beings because of their skills. Talents, like cooking, sewing, building, making things, and fixing things are like money in your pocket in this day and age. I’m sure every person has a skill or two that has remained untapped because of the lack of importance that was placed upon it.

The lack of value we have for practical skills goes hand-in-hand with how throw-away our culture has become. As soon as something breaks, we replace it.Yes, perhaps this is more a problem of quality.  I believe though, that with a little development of talent, and perhaps self-confidence, we could drastically reduce our consumerism.

It is my goal, inshaAllah, in the next few months, to develop a new skill set. Though ambitious, I’d really love to apprentice with someone who knows how to refurbish a house. Those talents would be not only useful, but priceless for the rest of my life. To be able to count on my own two hands to build and mend the place I call home would be of such use to not only me, but to those around me.

I also intend, inshaAllah, to teach what few skills I have already. Just as my grandfather did so patiently, I hope to pass along what I do know, to someone who doesn’t. It is important for us to recognize what knowledge we already have, and develop those untapped innate abilities to help those around us. Not only are we being resourceful, practicing the teachings of our Beloved, but we are also taking one step towards living a more sustainable life.

As I go forward to find my home refurbishing mentor, let me know if you’d like to learn how to sew on a button…or change a tire!

SarrahAbuLughod is a DC resident who works at a youth development non-profit that serves low-income students in the DC area. She is also the Educational Programming Manager with Green Muslims.

Sarrah grew up in Wisconsin and spent many summers on her grandparent’s farm, developing skills.