One of the most neglected aspects of our religion is our duty to the environment. Islam teaches us to be kind to our neighbors, to be generous with our wealth, and to feed the poor and the hungry. Yet, we seldom speak about our obligation of taking care of this planet.
June 5th marks World Environment day; the United Nation’s principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of our environment.
“Beat Plastic Pollution”, the theme for World Environment 2018, urges governments, industry, communities, and individuals to come together and explore sustainable alternatives and urgently reduce the production and excessive use of single-use plastic polluting our oceans, damaging marine life and threatening human health.
Plastic Pollution Facts:
- Every year the world uses up to 5 trillion plastic bags
- Each year, at least 13 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans, the equivalent of a full garbage truck every minute.
- In the last decade, we produced more plastic than in the whole last century
- 50 percent of the plastic we use is single-use or disposable
- We buy 1 million plastic bottles every minute
- Plastic makes up 10% of all of the waste we generate
In an age where excessive consumption is the norm and our connection to nature has been severely weakened, it is important we take a moment to remember the beautiful ecosystems all around the world that Allah (SWT) has blessed us with.
In a hadith narrated by Muslim, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) once said that, “the world is beautiful and verdant, and verily God, be He exalted, has made you His stewards in it, and He sees how you acquit yourselves.”
In this beautiful statement, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is reminding us that YOU and I are the caretakers of Earth and Allah is testing us on how we act and use the blessed resources He has given us.
The inordinate and uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources, furthered through our excessive consumer culture, is not a system that the average person has the ability to influence or control. What we do have, however, is the capacity to control our own carbon footprint and influence family, neighbours and the wider community to do the same.
For us to reduce our carbon footprint; from ensuring recyclables are correctly disposed of to replacing the 50ml water bottle purchased daily in Tesco’s meal deal to one that can be re-used and filled at home, changes to our lifestyles can be minimal.
Ramadan in our households should not encourage excess, be it excessive eating or waste from preparing Iftar. Ramadan should remind us of the shared responsibility we all bear in respecting, preserving and sustaining our planet. Ramadan this year could consist of less meat, a compost bin, refraining from shopping on an empty stomach, reusable shopping bags and taking our own reusable cutlery for Iftar at the mosque.
This Ramadan is not necessarily much different to the last, yet minor changes to our routines facilitate the reduction of our carbon footprint and the increase in our eco-consciousness. The global Muslim community is increasingly incorporating eco-friendly and eco-conscious decisions into their everyday lifestyle – an adoption more of us need to embark upon.
This Ramadan, let us all embark on our micro-journeys to eco-consciousness. Muslim organisations globally are taking this initiative upon themselves and advocating for a cleaner, greener Ramadan. From initiatives such as Abu Dhabi’s “think before you waste” campaign, Bahu Trust’s #PlasticFreeIftar initiative in Birmingham, to the DC Green Muslim’s how-to guide for a Greener Ramadan; there are tools, resources and information both online and offline to better aid our understanding, our agency and our lifestyle changes.
This Ramadan, let our God-consciousness filter through to eco-consciousness, for we are stewards of our Earth and must begin to take this role more seriously. As Muslims, it is our duty to acknowledge our responsibility to our Earth and, on the most intrinsic level, as humans we must try to ensure the sustainability of our planet for future generations.
Greener living starts with just one small step – take it today.