“There is no joy in life unless three things are available, clean, fresh air, abundant pure water, and fertile land.”
(Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p) Bihar al Anwar, Vol. 75, pg. 234.)
When we think of Islamic duties, we mostly think of such things as our prayers, fasting, zakat, consuming halal products, and so forth. Our duty to the environment is often a topic which is not discussed at the mosque, Sunday school, or at home. However, with more of our youth growing up in the West, there has been an increase in awareness of environmental issues and our obligations to the environment, due to the importance this topic is given in secular schooling and media.
Do we have an Islamic obligation towards protecting the environment? The Holy Qur’an has 14 chapters named after animals and natural incidents, such as the Cow, the Bee, the Elephant, the Ant, the Thunder, and the Night. These natural creations have their own awareness of God that we are not conscious of. Therefore, we are instructed to reflect on the intricacy by which everything has been created in perfect balance, as well as to appreciate and protect that which we have been blessed with.
“The seven heavens, the earth, and whatever is between them all glorify Him. There is nothing that does not glorify Him and always praise Him, but you do not understand their praise and glorification.” (17:43)
Reflecting upon the beauty of God’s creation on Earth, with particular attention to the inter-connectivity of nature and man, serves as a foundation for Muslim youth to take an interest in protecting the gift God has bestowed upon us as trustees and guardians of the Earth. It is, therefore important to assess environmental issues which affect our homes and community.
One of the greatest environmental concerns which affect our homes and mosques, in particular, is the amount of trash we produce, the lack of recycling receptacles, water wastage, and electric consumption. Of course, these issues can and do vary depending on the community.
ASSESS THE SITUATION
If you have a youth group at your mosque, then schedule a discussion on how to get involved in making the mosque a more environmentally friendly place of worship. Begin by assessing how utilities are consumed, how much waste is occurring, if there are recycling options available, and if the resources being used are ‘friendly’ to the environment (non-Styrofoam containers, biodegradable cleaning products, for example).
DEVELOP A CLEAR STRATEGY
Once you have completed your assessment, come up with a clear strategy of how to address each concern using the concepts of reduction, reusing and recycling. Have your assessment typed out including any necessary figures, price guidelines, and alternate providers. An Excel spreadsheet may be good for this purpose. Arrange for a meeting with the board of the mosque and present your strategy. The clearer your vision is as to how your alternative solution will be implemented, the more likely it will be taken seriously.
Of course, the fundamental basis of requesting changes is rooted on Islamic principles of moderation, cleanliness, and thankfulness.
“Children of Adam…eat and drink but do not be excessive for God does not love those who are excessive.” (7:31)
Unfortunately, very often, community members are not always conscious of how much waste occurs when using and disposing of plastic or paper products, and utilising water and electrical outlets, hence the need for education in the mosques as to the basic tenets of Islam and the environment. We must develop a community that recognises a sense of responsibility and guardianship over the environment with which we have been entrusted. It is when all of us truly appreciate God’s creation that we will do our utmost to protect it.
The Prophet Mohammed PBUH said, “Preserve the Earth because it is your Mother.”
Prophet Muhammad PBUH urged moderation when using water during ablution. He, Himself used a minimal amount of water, using just one Mudd of water (the equivalent of 625 ml) when carrying out Wudu and only five Mudds for Ghusl (slightly more than 3 litres).