Food Waste, Ramadan and the Middle East

With the holy month of Ramadan only a few days away, huge food wastage in the Middle East is again hogging limelight. It is a widely acccepted fact that almost half of the municipal solid waste stream in the Middle East is comprised of food wastes and associated matter. The increasing amount of food waste in the Middle East urgently demands a strong food waste management strategy to ensure its minimization and eco-friendly disposal. 

Food Waste in Ramadan

Middle East nations are acknowleded as being the world’s top food wasters, and during Ramadan the situation takes a turn for the worse. In 2012, the Dubai Municipality estimated that in Ramadan, around 55% of household waste (or approximately 1,850 tons is thrown away every day. In Bahrain, food waste generation in Bahrain exceeds 400 tons per day during the holy month, according to Rehan Ahmad, Head of Waste Disposal Unit (Bahrain). As far as Qatar is concerned, it is expected that almost half of the food prepared during Ramadan will find its way into garbage bins.

The amount of food waste generated in Ramadan is significantly higher than other months. There is a chronic inclination of Muslims towards over-indulgence and lavishness in the holy month, even though the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), asked Muslims to adopt moderation in all walks of life. Socio-cultural attitudes and lavish lifestyles also play a major role in more food waste generation in Ramadan in almost all Muslim countries.

Economic Implications

The greater the economic prosperity and the higher percentage of urban population, the greater the amount of waste produced. A good example is the case of oil‐rich GCC which figures among the world’s most prolific per capita waste generators. High-income groups usually generate more food waste per capita when compared to less-affluent groups. Hotels, cafeterias, restaurants etc are also a big contributor of food wastes in the Middle East.

Food waste generation is expected to steadily with the rapid growth of regional economies boom. The per capita production of solid waste in Arab cities such as Riyadh, Doha and Abu Dhabi is more than 1.5 kg per day, placing them among the highest per capita waste producers in the world. These statistics point to loss of billions of dollars each year in the form of food waste throughout the Arab world.

Parting Shot

The foremost steps to reduce food wastage are behavioral change, increased public awareness, strong legislations, recycling facilities (composting and biogas plants) and community participation. Effective laws and mass sensitation campaigns are required to compel the people to adopt waste mimization practices and implement sustainable lifestyles. During Ramadan, religious scholars and prayer-leaders can play a vital role in motivating Muslims to follow Islamic principles of sustainability, as mentioned in the Holy Quran and Ahadith The best way to reduce food waste is to feel solidarity towards millions and millions of people around the world who face enormous hardships in having a single meal each day.

 

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Concept of Garden in Islamic Culture

alhambra-gardenThe Arabic words Hadiqah, riyad, janna, raudah refer to the garden in its classical sense, with different nuances. The words bustan, munia, ruzafa, buhaira, 'ars refer to the large agricultural or leisure estates generally located on the periphery of towns. These terms and others go to show the diversity of meaning in the concept of garden in the Islamic culture.

In Islamic Culture, the garden is above all the essence of elements of Creation: Creation itself is a garden. This garden is at the heart of all the flowering Islamic civilization: beauty, mathematics, architecture, spirituality, poetry, botanic sensibility, hydraulics, biodiversity… But at the same time it also hides the secret of Islam, and all the gifts in this world and in the next: contemplation, peace, gratitude, conviviality, sensuality and including eternal rest.

Undeniably, the Islamic garden has been enriched by numerous influences over the centuries, especially those coming from the Nabatean and Persian civilisations. However, it is incorrect to think that the spiritual and conceptual nucleus of the Islamic garden is of foreign influence.

The Garden is above all the essence of elements of Creation

The Garden is above all the essence of elements of Creation

The presence of water, the fragrances, the shade, the fruits within reach of a hand and the pavilions of leisure offer more than just a charming visual spectacle. They transcend this: they offer a rich interpretation of The Sacred Book, the Prophetic traditions and the Sufi works.

There is no doubt that the idea of the garden as a representation of the spiritual garden or Paradise is not new. 2 700 AC the Babylonians described Paradise in the epic poem of Gilgamesh in this way: 'In these immortal gardens stands a tree… this tree is next to a sacred spring'.

It is also notable the symbolism of the garden in Genesis as synonymous with Paradise, although it was possibly the Persians who most nurtured spirituality in the garden, being as they were the forerunners of landscaping in the Islamic world. It is used in the same way in the Quran more than 120 times: 'Whoever obeys God and his Chosen One will be chosen to live in gardens beneath which flow rivers, and where they will live eternally' (Quran 4:13).

The Garden in capital letters is seen repeatedly in the Prophet's Sunnah. In a hadith the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) told: 'The greatest door to the Garden is the awareness of Allah and good character.'

However, the garden in its spiritual meaning is more than merely a recreation or imagination of the Garden of the Hereafter. It is associated with death, or eternal rest, as is apparent from the name given to a cemetery (rauda, one of the terms for garden). It also embodies the flowering of the human spirit, as seen in the word Raudiyah, or the discipline to educate the soul until it transforms into a fragrant garden which offers flowers and fruits.

For this reason it is not unusual for Muslims to use the term 'win the Garden' between themselves, referring to the spiritual wealth associated with seeking perfection in behaviour.

The Holy Quran: A New Ecological Paradigm

Among the world scriptures, the Holy Quran provides a unique resource for building a new ecological paradigm. Grounded in the Abrahamic tradition, it presents a harmonious view of nature reminiscent of the Far East. In the Quran, "whatsoever is the heavens and on the earth glorifies God" (59:1; 61:1; 62:1; 64:1). "The stars and the trees prostrate" (55:6), "the thunder hymns His praise" (13:13), and "unto God prostrates whosoever is in the heavens and whosoever is on the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, and the beasts" (22:18). In these and many other verses, the whole of creation is presented as a Divine symphony, for "there is no thing, save that it hymns His praise, though you do not understand their praise. Truly He is Clement, Forgiving" (17:44).

Common Cause of Humanity

According to the latest results from the Pew Research Center, by 2050, over 60% of the world's population will be Christian or Muslim: 29.7% will be Muslim and 31.4% will be Christian. Muslims and Christians have no choice but to come together to work for the common cause of humanity in confronting this unprecedented challenge. Moreover, to take root in humanity any sustainable ecological worldview must incorporate and address the teachings that much of humanity seeks to follow. As Pope Francis observes, the solutions cannot come from science and technology alone.

The extinction of species and the eradication of pristine environments are like the removal of a section from this orchestra of which we are all a part. The Quran thus enjoins us to "walk not exultantly upon the earth" (17:63) and to view the whole of nature as "signs for a people who hear" (10:67; 16:65; 30:23), "signs for a people who reflect" (13:3; 30:21), and "signs for a people who understand" (2:164; 13:4; 16:12, 67; 30:24; 45:5). Yet, in our rapacious approach to nature, we have failed to reflect and thus become like those of whom the Quran says, "they have hearts with which they understand not; they have eyes with which they see not; and they have ears with which they hear not" (7:179). Unable to see, listen and understand, we have become like one of whom the Quran warns, "when he turns away [from God’s signs], he endeavors to work corruption upon the earth, and to destroy tillage and offspring" (2:205).

Relevance of the Papal Encyclical

Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si ("Praised Be"), is a clarion call to all of humanity. It also provides an important opportunity to expand the conversation regarding the relationship between religion and the environment. Many scientists maintain that we have reached "decade zero" for addressing climate change. We thus have no choice but to mine the riches of all the world's traditions to create new paradigms and new solutions to environmental degradation. As the encyclical states, "We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing and its human roots, concern and affect us all."

The Papal Encyclical provides an unprecedented opportunity for the people of the world's faith traditions to turn away from the corruption we have wrought and open our hearts to one another and to the plea of Mother Nature. For her fate will be determined by the decisions of our generation. By drawing upon the shared teachings of our traditions, humanity can again learn to honor the immutable rights of rivers, animals and trees, as well as human beings suffering inhumane working conditions. By bearing witness of our own transgressions, we can reverse our course and ensure that the rights of God's creation prevail over the transient interests of corporations. As Pope Francis observes, we have no choice but to take this direction and to work with one another.

For Muslims and Christians, the place of human beings is not to subdue the earth. It is to hear the patterns already established within nature and live in harmony with them, had we but eyes to see and ears to hear. In both Christianity and Islam, human beings are presented as stewards of the earth. In the Quran, this responsibility is both an honor and a trial.

Verse 6:165 states, God it is Who appointed you stewards upon the earth and raised some of you by degrees above others, that He may try you in that which He has given you. From this perspective, being stewards of nature is about our responsibility toward God, not our dominion over creation. Neither the Bible nor the Quran has any place for what Pope Francis calls "a tyrannical anthropocentrism unconcerned for other creatures.

We will thus be held accountable for the degree to which we have carried out our function as stewards. As the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is reported to have said, "The world is a green and pleasant thing. God has made you stewards of it, and looks at how you behave."

Conclusion

Given the state of the environmental crisis and the alarming increase in environmental degradation, one cannot but conclude that contemporary humanity has failed this test. The world and our children can no longer afford the cost of our failures. It is thus time that people of all faiths unite and in the words of Martin Luther King, "rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world."

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Islamic Principles on Sustainable Development

A huge number of verses in Qura’n and several sayings of the Prophet Muhammad indicate the great importance that has been given to environmental concerns and the responsibility of man to the environment. The concept of sustainable development in Islam can be defined as “The balanced and simultaneous realization of consumer welfare, economic efficiency, attainment of social justice, and ecological balance in the framework of a evolutionary knowledge-based, socially interactive model defining the Shuratic process”The Shuratic process is the consultation or participatory ruling principle of Islam.

The over arching principle in the use of nature is derived from the prophetic declaration that states: "There shall be no damage and no infliction of damage". The right to benefit from the essential environmental elements and resources such as water, minerals, land, forests, fish and wildlife, arable soil, air and sunlight is in Islam, a right held in common by all members of society.  Each individual is entitled to benefit from a common resource subject to establishing the degree of need, (needs have to be distinguished from wants) and the impact on the environment.

Earth is mentioned 61 times in the Qura’n. According to Islam, the universe has been created by Allah (God) with a specific purpose and for a limited time. The utilization of natural resources (ni‘matullah – the gifts of Allah) is a sacred trust invested in mankind; he is a mere manager and not an owner, a beneficiary and not a disposer. Side by side, the Islamic nation has been termed as) ummatan wasatan) the moderate nation in the Qur’an, a nation that avoids excesses in all things. Thus, Muslims in particular have to utilize the earth responsibly for their benefit, honestly maintain and preserve it, use it considerately and moderately, and pass it on to future generations in an excellent condition. This includes the appreciation of its beauty and handing it over in a way that realizes the worship of Allah.

The utilization of all natural resources – land, water, air, fire (energy), forests, oceans – are considered the right and the joint property of the entire humankind. Since Man is Khalifatullah (the vicegerent of Allah) on earth, he should take every precaution to ensure the interests and rights of others, and regard his mastery over his allotted piece of land as a joint ownership with the next generation. 

Land Reclamation

Prophet Muhammad said, "Whosoever brings dead land to life, for him is a reward in it, and whatever any creature seeking food eats of it shall be reckoned as charity from him". The Prophet in another occasion said, "There is no Muslim who plants a tree or sows a field for a human, bird, or animal eats from it, but it shall be reckoned as charity from him"; and, "If anyone plants a tree, no human nor any of the creatures of Allah will eat from it without it being reckoned as charity from him". This testifies the importance the Prophet in the early days of Islam has given to reclamation of land and the equal rights of all God’s creatures to benefit from the resources of earth. 

Wildlife Protection

Wildlife and natural resources are protected under Shariah (Rules of Islam) by zoning around areas called “hima”. In such places, industrial development, habitation, extensive grazing, are not allowed. The Prophet himself, followed by the Caliphs of Islam, established such “hima” zones as public property or common lands managed and protected by public authority for conservation of natural resources.

Water Rights

In the Shariah, there is a responsibility placed on upstream farms to be considerate of downstream users. A farm beside a stream is forbidden to monopolize its water. After withholding a reasonable amount of water for his crops, the farmer must release the rest to those downstream. Furthermore, if the water is insufficient for all of the farms along the stream, the needs of the older farms are to be satisfied before the newer farm is permitted to irrigate. This reflects the sustainable utilization of water based on its safe yield.

Environment Protection

The rights to benefit from nature are linked to accountability and maintenance or conservation of the resource. The fundamental legal principle established by the Prophet Muhammad is that "The benefit of a thing is in return for the liability attached to it.” Much environmental degradation is due to people's ignorance of what their Creator requires of them. People should be made to realize that the conservation of the environment is a religious duty demanded by God. God has said.  “And do good as Allâh has been good to you. And do not seek to cause corruption in the earth. Allâh does not love the corrupters”, (Al Qasas 28:77.(

Waste Generation

Islam calls for the efficient use of natural resources and waste minimization. God says in Qura’n: “Eat and drink, but waste not by excess; “He” loves not the excessive”, (Al-A'raf 7:31). "And do not follow the bidding of the excessive, who cause corruption in the earth and do not work good”, (Ash-Shu'ara 26: 151-152). “And do not cause corruption in the earth, when it has been set in order”, (Al-A'râf 7:56).

Water Pollution

Water also plays another socio-religious function: cleaning of the body and clothes from all dirt, impurities, and purification so that mankind can be presentable at all times. Only after cleaning with pure (colorless, odorless and tasteless) water, Muslims are allowed to pray. One can only pray at a place that has been cleaned. In light of these facts, Islam stresses on preventing pollution of water resources. Urinating in water (discharging wastewater into water stream) and washing or having a bath in stagnant water are forbidden acts in Islam. The Prophet said: "No one should bathe in still water, when he is unclean”. 

Water Conservation

The teachings of Prophet Muhammad emphasize the proper use of water without wasting it. The Prophet said: “Don’t waste water even if you are on a running river”. He also said: “Whoever increases (more than three), he does injustice and wrong”.  

Sustainable Forestry

Islamic legislation on the preservation of trees and plants finds its roots in Qura’nic teachings of Prophet. They include the following:Whoever plants a tree and looks after it with care, until it matures and becomes productive, will be rewarded in the Hereafter” and “If anyone plants a tree or sows a field and men, beasts or birds eat from it, he should consider it as a charity on his part". He is also reported to have encouraged tree planting as a constructive practice, saying that even if one hour remained before the final hour and one has a palm-shoot in his hand, he should plant it. Even at times of war, Muslim leaders, such as Abu Baker, advised their troops not to chop down trees and destroy agriculture or kill an animal.

Public Participation

The protection, conservation, and development of the environment and natural resources is a mandatory religious duty to which every Muslim should be committed. This commitment emanates from the individual's responsibility before God to protect himself and his community.  God has said, "Do good, even as God has done you good, and do not pursue corruption in the earth. God does not love corrupters”.

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Islamic Perspectives on COP22

COP22We are on the eve of COP22 (UNFCCC Climate Change Summit), to be held this November in Marrakesh. It is therefore time to reflect briefly on this issue, from an Islamic perspective. By now everyone is well aware of the cause of severe climatic disturbances which affect us all and the poorest and most vulnerable in particular: sheer greed and unbridled, reckless, consumption.

Islam has always provided the keys to a harmonious life in which humans refuse to take more from nature than they need for their sustenance and enjoyment. Islam has repeatedly warned about the imbalances and inequalities that would arise if one were not to follow its recommendations.

God created the world in balance (mizan): habitats, ecosystems and all forms of life. A balance that only humans are capable of breaking, due to their capacity to corrupt the Earth (fasaad), as repeatedly mentioned in the Quran. So much so that man’s actions have led to the climate change we are witnessing in the form of chronic drought, devastating floods and all manner of extreme meteorological phenomenon.

Mankind as Vice-regent

Man, as vice-regent, or God’s representative on Earth – “Lo I am about to put a vice-regent on Earth” (Quran, 2:30) – has the highest degree of responsibility, al-Amanah, with respect to the rest of Creation: his peers and other living and non-living things. Therefore, he is responsible for exercising justice on Earth. This concept of justice is firmly rooted in the Islamic tradition, although it is not always exercised:

“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not personal inclination, lest you not be just.” (Quran, 4:135).

Islam considers mankind to be stewards of resources endowed by Allah

Islam considers mankind to be stewards of resources endowed by Allah

In this practice, environmental justice is vital, based on fair and equitable management of the natural resources that have been created and which are available to all without exception: animals, plants and people. It is necessary to create sustainable and lasting economic models, distinct from the current financial debauchery, which reaches all sectors of the population and all regions of the planet with equanimity.

Islam Loves Nature

Islam is the Green Civilization. A civilization which loves nature and which is conscious of its value and fragility. Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) set an example as to how to relate to the world, and consistently urged restraint in our dealings with nature. He was especially careful in the use of water, this resource which is so rare and scarce in certain regions of the planet. His zeal reached such a degree that he encouraged people to carry out their ablutions with as little water as possible, even if they were bathing by a river. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) prohibited the killing of animals that were not intended for the table, and the felling or uprooting trees without just cause. He also called for frugality in eating, urging people not to consume more than necessary and what the body is able to assimilate, thereby preventing disease and the hoarding of food.

Conclusion

This brief overview invites us to become aware and to take individual and collective action, based on the most genuine Islamic principles, which are true for all mankind. If we achieve the goals of COP22, which is to be held under the slogan “Act”, we will achieve a COP23 of “Liberation”.

Islam and Animal Rights

All living beings – humans, birds, animals, insects etc – are worthy of consideration and respect. Islam has always viewed animals as a special part of God's creation. Mankind is responsible for whatever it has at its disposal, including animals whose rights must be respected. The Holy Qur'an, the Hadith, and the history of Islamic civilization offer many examples of kindness, mercy, and compassion for animals. According to Islamic principles, animals have their own position in the creation hierarchy and humans are responsible for their well-being and food.

Islam strongly asks Muslims to treat animals with compassion and not to abuse them. The Holy Qur'an states that all creation praises God, even if this praise is not expressed in human language. Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) often chastised his Companions who mistreated animals, and spoke to them about the need for mercy and kindness. 

Holy Quran and Animal Welfare

The Holy Quran contains many examples and directives about how Muslims should treat animals. The Quran describes that animals form communities, just as humans do: 

"There is not an animal that lives on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but they form communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they all shall be gathered to their Lord in the end"(Quran 6:38).

The Quran further describes animals, and all living things, as Muslim – in the sense that they live in the way that Allah created them to live, and obey Allah's laws in the natural world. 

“Seest thou not that it is Allah Whose praise all beings in the heavens and on earth do celebrate, and the birds (of the air) with wings outspread? Each one knows its own (mode of) prayer and praise, and Allah knows well all that they do.” (Quran 24:41)

 "And the earth, He has assigned it to all living creatures" (Quran 55:10).

Animals are living creatures with feelings and connections to the larger spiritual and physical world. We must consider their lives as worthwhile and cherished. 

"And the earth, He has assigned it to all living creatures" (Quran 55:10).

These verses serve as a reminder to us that wildlife, like humans, are created with purpose. They have feelings and are part of the spiritual world. They too have a right to life, and protection from pain and suffering.

Ahadith and Rights of Animals

Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) exhorted Muslims to show kindness and compassion towards animals and birds, and repeatedly forbade cruelty towards animals.

"Whoever is merciful even to a sparrow, Allah will be merciful to him on the Day of Judgment."

“A good deed done to an animal is like a good deed done to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as cruelty to a human being."

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) once passed by a camel that was so emaciated that its back had almost reached its stomach. He said, "Fear Allah in these beasts who cannot speak." (Abu Dawud)

Humans were created by Allah, the Almighty, to be custodians and guardians of the Earth. Killing without need- that is killing for fun- is not permissible.

The Companions said,”O Allah’s Messenger! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?” He replied: “There is a reward for serving any living being.” (Bukhari)

A group of Companions were once on a journey with the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and he left them for a while. During his absence, they saw a bird with its two young, and they took the young ones from the nest. The mother bird was circling above in the air, beating its wings in grief, when the Prophet came back. He said, "Who has hurt the feelings of this bird by taking its young? Return them to her." (Muslim)

In Islam, hunting for sport is prohibited. Muslims may only hunt as is needed to meet their requirements for food. This was common during the time of the Prophet Muhammad, and he condemned it at every opportunity.

Few Points to Ponder

We need to seriously ask ourselves – is the Muslim community upholding the rights of animal despite explicit orders from Allah (SWT) and the Prophet (SAW)? What should our role be, not only in the debate on such subjects, but in conservation and protection of animals and the environment as a whole? Have we disenfranchised wildlife? How do the laws of the country in which we live stand up to the Islamic principles? And finally, how does Islam help us to find solutions to the dilemmas we face?

It is not impossible to demand greater action and consideration for the natural world. Bolivia has gone as far as to legally grant nature equal rights with humans and has introduced the Law of Mother Earth which reportedly assigns 11 new rights to nature, including: ‘the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.’ Ecuador has also changed its constitution to give nature "the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution". 

These laws are considered radical, but what it enshrines does not ask for much, indeed only that animals, and nature are given equal respect and care- as much as is expected of us in Islam. Individuals and governments have an important role to play in educating the public animal welfare and establishing institutions to support animal well-being.

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Animal Welfare: Guiding Principles in Islam

Survival and sustainability of animals are key principles in Islam. We are not their creator, only their caretakers, and have no right to engage in practices that will bring about their extinction or even their suffering. Animals have God-given roles to play on the earth and we are not entitled to stop or hinder them, except in the case of defending ourselves or our property from danger. We are not entitled to destroy the environments in which animals live, as this also impacts their ability to survive.

Animals, humans, and plants all live together in an interrelated ecosystem, dependent on one another for care and survival. Humans and plants provide food for animals. Animals in turn provide food for humans and fertilizer for plants. Animals also provide commercial products for humans, such as wool, hair, fur, leather, tallow, meat, eggs, milk, cream, butter, cheese, and honey. Some animals provide protection, transportation or assist with farm labor. Others merely provide companionship. And in all of them we delight in their beauty and charming behaviors.

 

Guiding Principles

Through verses in the Quran and recorded sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, God’s peace and blessings be upon him, we can learn the guiding principles of proper animal care according to Islam.

“Do you not see that God has subjected to your use All things in the heavens and on earth And has made His bounties Flow to you in exceeding measure, Seen and unseen?” [Quran 31:20]

“And the earth, He has assigned it to all living creatures” – Quran 55:10

All living creatures have an equal right to Earth. Islam views animals as highly valued creations of God. They are living beings with rights and responsibilities similar to those of humans. Animals play critical roles in the development of human society and Islam teaches that they are created specifically in our service. We are obligated to care for and protect all living creatures as a sign of gratitude for the blessings God provides us through them. God created animals as communities — or societies — exactly like humans, and declares in the Quran:

“There is not an animal that lives on the Earth, Nor a being that flies on its wings,
But forms part of communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, And they all shall be gathered to their Lord in the end.” [Quran 6:38]

“Show mercy to those on earth, and He who is in heaven will show mercy unto you.” Prophet Muhammad (SAW)

The Prophet Muhammad gave his followers many commands and prohibitions regarding animals. He warned them that anyone causing an animal to die of starvation or thirst will be “punished by God in the fire of hell,” and he instructs animal owners to provide mercifully for their well-being. He says, “Show mercy to those on earth, and He who is in heaven will show mercy unto you.” Referring to the wretched, thirsty dogs in their community, his followers asked the Prophet, “O Messenger of God, is there a reward in doing good for these animals?” He replied, “There is a reward in doing good to every living thing.”

 

Guidelines for Animal Care

On the basis of statements by the Prophet Muhammad, recorded more than 1400 years ago, animals have rights which mankind must extend to them. To treat our animals humanely, we must:

  • Provide the specific foods they naturally prefer;
  • Provide fresh water continuously;
  • Provide comfortable safe lodgings that protect them from weather and predators;
  • Separate them from the aggressive behaviors of each other;
  • Bring males and females together during mating seasons;
  • Never harvest them for food faster than their ability to breed new generations;
  • Never overburden them beyond their natural abilities; and
  • Never neglect them or cease caring for them at any time, but especially in sickness or old age.

 

Wonderful Examples

One time, passing by a camel that was so malnourished that its back was almost reaching its stomach, the Prophet of Islam said to those nearby, “Fear Allah in these beasts who cannot speak!”

“There shall be no unfair loss nor the causing of such loss” — Prophet Muhammad (SAW)

The Prophet Muhammad once forbade his followers from setting fire to an anthill. He related to them that an earlier prophet of God was once bitten by an ant and ordered the burning of the whole ant colony. However, God rebuked this prophet by means of a revelation in which God said, “Because an ant stung you, you have destroyed a whole nation that celebrates God’s glory.” Perhaps this is why God reveals this same message clearly in the Holy Quran:

“Seest thou not that it is Allah whose praise all beings in the heavens
and on earth do celebrate, and the birds with wings outspread? Each one knows its own (mode of) prayer and praise, and Allah knows well all that they do.” [Quran 24:41]

A man once gathered some baby birds from their nest and the Prophet ordered him to return them to their mother, saying that the man had hurt the feelings of the mother bird by taking her babies. He likewise forbade anyone from needlessly and wrongfully cutting down trees which provide shelter to humans or animals, especially in the desert. It is clear from this that mankind is prohibited from destroying the habitats of God’ creatures.

War is another form of destruction, or corruption, in the land. The Holy Quran teaches that God hates any form of corruption, especially noting the crimes of destroying plants and killing captured livestock:

“And when he turns away, he hastens through the land
to cause corruption therein and to destroy the crops and cattle And God loves not corruption.” [Quran 2:205]

In another hadith, the Prophet Muhammad taught his followers, “No human being kills (even) a sparrow without right, except that God will ask him about it on the Day of Judgment.” His followers then asked him, “O Prophet of God! What is its right?” He said: “Its right is that you slaughter it and eat it, not that you decapitate it and throw it away!”

 

Stewards of the Earth

Caring properly for the animals of the earth is a duty God assigned to humankind, as “khalifah” or stewards of the earth. The following is a story illustrating the proper care of our animals according to Islam. Recorded in The Essential Rumi, this lesson is related by Mawlana Jalal Al Din Muhammad Rumi, the famous and beloved 13th-century Sufi teacher and poet:

“A Sufi had been travelling and after he stopped at an Inn for the night, and had meditated for a while, he told the servant who took care of the animals to be sure that he mixed a lot of barley with the straw that was to be his donkey’s supper. ‘And please make sure you wet the (uncooked) barley with warm water. He’s an old donkey and has trouble chewing.’

“Then the Sufi asked, ‘Did you remove his saddle gently and put salve on the sore he has? Did you currycomb his back — he loves that.’ The instructions continued and the servant became annoyed. He ended the conversation with the claim that he had taken care of thousands of animals, with no complaints, and that everyone who stayed at the Inn was ‘treated as family.’

“The Sufi went to sleep but had terrible nightmares about his donkey being attacked by wild beasts and falling, helplessly, into a ditch. And although the details of the dream were wrong, what it conveyed of danger to the donkey was true. His donkey was being totally neglected, without care, food or water all night long. The caretaker had spent the whole night carousing with his friends.

“The moral of this story: Do the careful, donkey-tending work yourself. Don’t trust that to anyone else.

“The nightmares of the Sufi testified to his doubts about the animal’s well-being, but he was tired and it was late, so he slept. When your compassion and concern extends to another creature, do not trust its care to those who do not have the same concerns.” – Jalal Al Din Rumi, The Essential Rumi

“A good deed done to an animal is like a good deed done to a human being, While an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as cruelty to a human being.” — Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

 

Note: The article first appeared on EdenKeeper, a site dedicated to our faithful stewardship of creation and exploring the relationship between faith and environmentalism. The original article is available at this link.

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Significance of Rural Culture in Islam

Rural culture developed magnificently during medieval times in the Islamic Mediterranean countries. It has left its mark on many aspects of daily life in the countryside, from Sicily and the Spanish Levant to the Maghreb and the Eastern regions. Al-Andalus was a perfect example. Not only are Arabic words present in every movement, skill and tradition throughout much of Spain, but the actual rural landscape forms part of this heritage. And the same can be said about age-old customs for the distribution and use of water, for sowing, grafting, harvesting and storing, and many of today’s extensive, organic farming methods.

Alcorque, aceña, acequia, alberca, almatriche, almazara and aljofaina are just a few of the Spanish words of Arabic origin that refer to rural culture, and Arabic farming systems such as albuferas (lagoons), olive groves and terraces give the Mediterranean landscape its characteristic appearance.

But what is especially outstanding is the way in which the medieval Muslims managed common natural resources both fairly and sustainably, to use a word that is much in vogue today. This was based on Islamic tradition regarding justice and distribution of goods. The Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah, as well as traditions attributed to the Prophet Mohammed, frequently mention the importance of equity and transparency in distribution and trade.

The following Quranic verse, posted at the entrance to Harvard University, lays the foundations for an unmistakable concept of social justice:

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted. (Qur’an, 4-134).

Although in short supply today, solidarity was much appreciated in the Muslim world during the early centuries. The second Caliph of Islam, Omar Ibn al-Khattab, stated that if a person died from poverty, the inhabitants of the town were required to make up for his death as if they had all been guilty of his murder.

Natural resources had to be fairly shared throughout the community. As the Hadith states, “Muslims share three things: water, pastures and fire”. And day labourers taken on for specific tasks had to be paid immediately, as stipulated by the Prophet of Islam, who ordered that their wage should be paid “before their sweat dries”. On the subject of food, it is of note that the famous Spanish saying, still in use today fortunately, “where three can eat, so can four”, comes in its literal form from a well-known hadith.

Also of interest is the close relationship our forebears had with nature. For Muslims, tending the land is an amanah, a responsibility, because during their time on earth they are mere khalifah (or vice-regent), and are obliged to use the land with moderation and balance. In Islam, work in itself is an act of adoration, and if the work involves cultivating the land, the benefit multiplies. There is a hadith that states, “No Muslim plants or sows something, so that a bird, a man or an animal can eat from it, without there being a benefit for him”.

A person who farmed land in the public domain or that belonged to no-one had a special right over it, as stipulated by the Prophet in the 7th century, many centuries before the famous sentence by Emiliano Zapata, “Land belongs to whoever works it”.

But, perhaps, where regulation and sharing were most important was in the use of water. Al-Andalus was again an example, though not the only one. There were public persons such as the sahib al-saqiya, the water sharer, or the qada al-miyah (water mayor), and the official al-amin al-maa. The term amin in Arabic, the person who is trustworthy, came to be used in irrigated farming in the Christian parts of Spain, in the form alamín in Castile, and alamí in Valencia.

This is just a brief outline, but it gives an idea of the moral and ethical values that, in general, governed the rural life of Muslims in medieval times.

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Reflecting Upon Signs of God: Call to Climate Action

As over a billion Muslims celebrate Ramadan, the month of the Qur’an, it behooves us to reflect upon all the āyāt – verses or signs – of God. God enjoins us over and again to contemplate every āyah (verse) of the Holy Writ, as in Surah Muhammad: ‘Do they not contemplate the Qur’an? Or do hearts have their locks upon them?’ (47:24). In Surat al-Mu’minūn, He says: ‘Have they not contemplated the Word, or has there come unto them that which came not unto their forefathers?’ (23:68). In Surat al-Baqarah we are told: ‘Thus does God make clear unto you the signs (āyāt), that haply you may reflect’ (2:219).

Contemplating and reflecting upon these āyāt of revelation shows us that there are many other āyāt upon which God calls humanity to reflect – the āyāt, or signs, in the created order. Just as God has ‘revealed the Book in truth’ (2:1762:213), so too did He ‘create the heavens and the earth in truth’ (45:226:73). Revelation and creation both come ‘in truth’ and convey to human beings the truth. Given their shared Source and shared message, the Qur’an is presented as a guide to help us reflect upon the āyāt of God within creation, as in verse 38:29, in which the Qur’an is referred to as ‘a blessed Book that We have sent down upon thee, that they may contemplate His signs and that those possessed of intellect may reflect.

Indeed, the Qur’an presents all of creation as signs of God: ‘And whatsoever He created for you on the earth of diverse colors—truly in this is a sign for a people who reflect’ (16:13). Nothing exists but that it is a means by which we can better understand the glory of the Divine. A bird, trees, the stars, the change from night to day —God is present in each of these.

Reflecting Upon Signs of God

Every part of creation, no matter how big or small, is like a word or letter in an ongoing revelation. The Qur’an speaks of the heavens and the earth being filled with ‘signs for believers’, ‘signs for a people who reflect’, ‘signs for a people who hear’, ‘sign for those who know’, ‘signs for a people who understand’, ‘signs for a people who are reverent’, ‘signs for those possessed by intelligence’, ‘signs for the possessors of intellect’, ‘signs for those who possess insight’, and ‘signs for a people who are certain’. This continuing message makes it clear that when the human being is sound in heart and mind, he or she is able to reflect upon the world of nature in a manner that increases both faith and knowledge. In this vein God says, ‘We shall show them Our signs upon the horizons and within themselves till it becomes clear to them that it is the truth’ (41:53). This reveals a third group of signs upon which we are called to reflect, those within our souls, as in 51:20-21: ‘And upon the earth are signs for those possessed of certainty, and within your souls. Do you not then behold?

If we contemplate the āyāt of the Qur’an yet fail to contemplate the āyāt upon the horizons and within ourselves, we follow only part of the Qur’anic injunction to reflect upon God’s signs. We are thus among those regarding whom God asks rhetorically, ‘Who does greater wrong than one who has been reminded of the signs of his Lord, then turns away from them?’ (18:5732:22); and in another verse, ‘Who does greater wrong than one who denies the signs of God and turns away from them?’ (6:157)

A Call to Action

Given the state of the natural environment today, one cannot but conclude that we have indeed turned away and forgotten how to reflect upon the signs of God in the created order. Numerous scientific studies indicate that the balance of the world’s ecosystems has been compromised by our irresponsible and excessive consumption. This very balance is something that we are entrusted to maintain, as when the Prophet Shu`ayb enjoins his tribe, O my people! Observe fully the measure and the balance with justice and diminish not people’s goods, and behave not wickedly on the earth, working corruption’ (11:85). Having failed to maintain the balance, today the āyāt that we witness speak to us not only of God’s glory, but also of our own corruption (fasād). Of such corruption we have been warned: ‘Corruption has appeared on land and sea because of that which men’s hands have wrought, so that He may let them taste some of that which they have done, that haply they might return’ (30:41).

Despite the ominous tone of this verse, there is a sense of hope in that by tasting some of what we have done, we might take heed by turning again to reflect upon God’s āyāt on the horizons and within ourselves. At this junction in history, when the fate of future generations lies in our hands, we must take heed of the Qur’anic injunction to ‘walk not exultantly upon the earth’ (17:63) and be instead the ‘servants of the Compassionate whom God says are those who walk humbly upon the earth’ (25:63). Let us take the month of the Qur’an as a time to reflect upon all the āyāt of God and begin anew to live in harmony with them. ‘Has not the time come for those who believe to humble their hearts to the remembrance of God and that of the truth which has descended?’ (57:16)

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Islam and Environment Protection

Environment protection is an important aspect of Islam. Being stewards of the Earth, it is the responsibility of Muslims to care for the environment in a proactive manner. There is a definite purpose behind the creation of different species, be it plants or animals. Muslims are encouraged to reflect on the relationship between living organisms and their environment and to maintain the ecological balance created by Allah. Protection of the environment is essential to Islamic beliefs and mankind has the responsibility to ensure safe custody of the environment.

Environment Protection and Resource Conservation 

The Islamic perspective on environment protection reflects a positive image about Islam and how it embraces every single matter the humans face on earth. The Islamic attitude towards environment and natural resource conservation is not only based on prohibition of over-exploitation but also on sustainable development. The Holy Quran says:

"It is He who has appointed you viceroys in the earth … that He may try you in what He has given you." (Surah 6:165)

"O children of Adam! … eat and drink: but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters." (Surah 7:31)

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) encouraged the planting of trees and the cultivation of agriculture which are considered as good acts. This is illustrated in the following traditions: Narrated by Anas bin Malik (RA) that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said: "There is none amongst the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, but is regarded as a charitable gift for him."‏ (Bukhari).

Islam is against the cutting or destruction of plants and trees unnecessarily as is evident in the following Hadith: Abdullah ibn Habashi reported that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: "He who cuts a lote-tree [without justification], Allah will send him to Hellfire." (Abu Dawud). The lote-tree grows in the desert and is very much needed in an area which has scarce vegetation. The devastation caused by deforestation in many countries causes soil erosion and kills many of the biodiversity of the earth.

The approach of Islam towards the use of natural resources was brilliantly put forward by the Fourth Caliph Hazrat Ali ibn Abi-Talib (RA) who said “Partake of it gladly so long as you are the benefactor, not a despoiler; a cultivator, not a destroyer. All human beings as well as animals and wildlife enjoy the right to share Earth’s resources. Man’s abuse of any resource is prohibited as the juristic principle says ‘What leads to the prohibited is itself prohibited”.

When Abu Musa (RA) was sent to Al-Basrah as the new governor, he addressed the people saying: "I was sent to you by 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab (RA) in order to teach you the Book of your Lord [i.e. the Qur’an], the Sunnah [of your Prophet], and to clean your streets." Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah (Peace Be Upon Him) forbade that a person relieve himself in a water source or on a path or in a place of shade or in the burrow of a leaving creature.  These values highlight Islam’s stress on avoiding pollution of critical resources and importance of cleanliness.

Spreading Environmental Awareness

There are various ways which you can raise environmental awareness in your personal and professional circles. The popularization of social networking among young generation makes it easier and attractive to spread environmental awareness using Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc. A simple and effective method which I use is the distribution of QR Codes (Quick Response Codes) in my college campus.

Another great idea would be to start your own school, college or workplace campaign for planting trees. Students, faculty members and co-workers can be motivated to donate a nominal amount of money towards plantation campaign. Keeping plants around your home, school or workplace is not only aesthetic and decorative but also keep you healthy and improve indoor air quality. According to Hazrat Jabir (RA) reported that Prophet Muhammad [S.A.W] said: “No Muslim, who plants a shoot, except that whatever is eaten or stolen from it, or anyone obtains the least thing from it, is considered [like paying] almsgiving on his behalf until the Day of Judgement." (Muslim)

Conclusions

Environmental awareness and protection of natural resource is an integral part of Islamic beliefs. As viceroys of Allah on this earth, we have to utilize natural resources in a sustainable manner in order to ensure that Allah’s Bounties to continue. The principle of conservation is beautifully illustrated by the rule which says that while making ablutions (wudu) we should be abstemious in the use of water even if we have a river at our disposal. As humans, we are keepers of all creation, including soil, air, water, animals and trees. A major objective of Islamic teachings and Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) traditions is to build and maintain a healthy and clean environment which is devoid of any source of pollution and misuse. 

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Attitudes towards Waste Management – The Case in Oman

Plastic-recycling-bin-OmanResponses to the Oman waste management questionnaire were interesting, enlightening, and often unexpected. The Omani interviewees gave thoughtful answers and additional insights and opinions that stemmed from their sociocultural backgrounds as well as from their individual experiences. Often, statements and assertions from these respondents were found to be corroborated by evidence from other types of research, such as the study on the composition of refuse found in dumpsites in Muscat, or the feeding habits of camels cited earlier.

Food waste

On the topic of food waste, respondents generally had a strong belief that such waste was immoral. When asked about the reasons for their convictions, many of them attributed it to Islamic teachings, and recited from memory well-known statements (hadiths) from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) prohibiting food waste, and verses from the Holy Qur’an such as verse 7:31: “…eat and drink, but do not waste by excess, for Allah does not love those who waste.

Water bottles

It seems that the use of non-reusable water bottles was on an exigency basis and was not the default choice for any of the respondents. However, it should be noted that all the households in this sample were either working class or middle class. Responses from a set of wealthy households might yield very different results on this issue.

Household waste

Regarding other sorts of household waste, respondents seemed to be aware that much of what ended up in their trash was packaging from purchased goods, whether food or non-perishables. As some respondents remarked in their responses, they recognized that the use of plastic bags instead of reusable bags at shops and supermarkets contributed to the plethora of plastic in their own household rubbish. One respondent in particular posited a clear causal link between the abundance of packaged, processed foods and the fact that packaging waste made up the bulk of what was in her household garbage bin on a daily basis.

Recycling programs

The majority of respondents were surprised and interested to hear that there were recycling programmes in Oman, but some were not optimistic that these programmes would soon be available in their neighbourhoods. The possibility of recycling electronics, batteries and/or printer ink was not suggested by any of the respondents, so it seems that they were unaware of any alternative to simply dumping such toxic items.

Influence of Islam

In line with the strong religious influence to which most respondents attributed their attitudes on the subjects of consumption and waste, several of them in their responses to the final question of the survey recalled this well-known hadith: “Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of people is a guardian and is responsible for his constituents. A man is the guardian of his family and he is responsible for them. A woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and his children and she is responsible for them … Surely, every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock.”

Key Takeaways

This study has presented results based on a pilot study with a very small sample of respondents. However, if we evaluate these responses in terms of what is already documented about Oman, its society, culture and economy, we can draw some useful inferences.

It is taken for granted that, as demographic, Omani men already play a key role in consumption patterns and waste management. As leaders and decision makers in government, in business and in private sector organizations, they establish the vision and best practices of their enterprises and institutions; as heads of households and families, they make and influence consumer choices for the household and the extended family. What our survey has hinted at is that Omani women have strong opinions about consumerism and waste management, too. Furthermore, as a demographic they seem poised to contribute a greater share of the input in this discourse.

Omani women comprise approximately 25 percent of the paid labour force in Oman, and the level of this participation is expected to keep growing. Meanwhile, their substantial contribution as unpaid service providers (in their roles as caregivers, homemakers, household managers, husbandry providers for small livestock, etc.) has yet to be truly measured. Yet like their male counterparts, as managers of their own households and the individuals who make and/or influence consumer choices for the household, they have significant potential influence on how waste is managed at the household level and the community level.

Another takeaway from this survey is that the role of religion is a crucial one. We saw that respondents directly credited Islamic teachings with shaping their attitudes and opinions on consumption and waste. Indeed, in the body of authentic Islamic texts one finds directives on land stewardship; prohibiting wastage and excess consumption; prescribing conservation of land, water, plant and animal life; and even reducing, reusing, sharing and recycling.

Thus we would extrapolate from these results that the Omani society is ready to engage actively in initiatives to promote more responsible consumption habits and sustainable waste management involving the four Rs. Omani culture has a strong tradition of conservative use, re-use, repurposing and recycling. Many of the traditional practices of family and community living now thought to be ‘outdated’ are actually highly efficient and ecologically sound. Omani men, women and children have the example of their grandparents to guide them in reviving and re-establishing local, traditional, sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices of careful consumption and waste management.  

Recommendations

First of all, this pilot study ought to be taken further and a full scale survey of attitudes and awareness on this topic should be conducted along the lines of the 2015 Sultan Qaboos University Department of Geography investigation on climate change awareness and perceptions in residents of Muscat. Equipped with the information gleaned from such a study, we propose that it will be found that conditions are ripe for the implementation of a network of well-designed, integrated and efficiently executed recycling programmes that are accessible to the Omani population where they live, work and go to school.

Back to Basics

Collective memory to the rescue: Consider returning to some of the ‘old ways’ – the ways the previous generation used to shop for, store, prepare, and dispose of food and other consumables. At the level of the household, families can avoid buying packaged pre-processed foods, use drinking water supply services which provide refillable containers/dispensers instead of buying bottled water, bring their own reusable shopping bags and request that purchases from shops not be placed in plastic bags.

Omani society is ready to engage actively in initiatives to promote sustainable waste management

Omani society is ready to engage actively in initiatives to promote sustainable waste management

Households could aim for ‘zero waste’ by applying the four Rs and participating in composting where possible. This is already being done in local rural areas, and it is a practice that is being restored in urban areas of developed countries in Europe, North America, and elsewhere.

Changing the Rules

Use consumer clout to change the practices of business and industry: It is known that businesses which serve consumers are very sensitive to customer demands. With the food service and hospitality industry, individual consumers in Oman can effect change by demanding less wasteful and more sustainable practices and options from the industry (e.g., compostable packaging, less packaging, appropriate portion sizes and eco-friendly food containers in restaurants, and filtered water instead of bottled water in restaurants and hotels).

Conclusion

This article has evaluated the results of a pilot survey of attitudes and awareness of food waste and related issues, highlighting some relevant past practices and positing that ‘collective memory,’ together with individual and communal will-power, can be harnessed to reverse the current trend and regain control of Oman’s burgeoning waste problem. The solution is local, but it has definite regional and potential global application.

Note: This is the third and final article in our special series on 'Waste Management in Oman'. The first two parts are available at Waste Management Perspectives for Oman and Waste Management Awareness in Oman

References

  1. Palanivel, T.M. and H. Sulaiman. 2014. ‘Generation and Composition of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.’ ICESD 2014. APCBEE Procedia 10(2014): 96–102 (accessed 20/02/16)
  2. Chatty, D. 2000. ‘Women Working in Oman: Individual Choice and Cultural Constraints.’ Int. J. Middle East Stud. 32(2000): 241-254.
  3. ILO and Sultanate of Oman. 2010. Memorandum: Decent Work Country Programme 2010-2013. 1-25 <available on http://www.ilo.org/public/english/bureau/program/dwcp/download/oman.pdf
  4. Al Buloshi, A.S. and E. Ramadan. 2015. ‘Climate Change Awareness and Perception amongst the Inhabitants of Muscat Governorate, Oman.’ American Journal of Climate Change, 4, 330-336.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ajcc.2015.44026 (accessed 27/08/2015)
  5. Abdul-Matin, I. 2010. Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.
  6. ten Veen, R.C. 2009. 199 Ways to Please God. UK: Fastprint Gold. 

Guide to Green Hajj

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is an annual pilgrimage to Makkah. It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims which must be carried out at least once in lifetime by every adult Muslim who is physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey. The Hajj gathering is considered to be the largest gathering of people in the world whereby Muslims from many countries converge to do the religious rites.  Nearly three million Muslims perform Hajj each year. Making necessary arrangements each year for the growing number of pilgrims poses a gigantic logistic challenge for the Saudi Government and respective Authorities, as housing, transportation, sanitation, food and health care needs are to be provided to the pilgrims.

Environmental Footprint

The Hajj has an enormous environmental footprint. During Hajj, huge quantities of wastes are generated which needs to be appropriately collected, handled and managed. Other impacts are of water use and wastewater generation and treatment, transporting vehicles causing terrible air pollution damaging the health of the pilgrims, littering causing choking of public infrastructures, plastic bottles, used diapers, food packaging etc. are an eyesore. The problem is compounded due to ignorance, over enthusiasm, illiteracy of pilgrims and lack of commitment to handle the environmental resources.

Unfortunately, majority of the pilgrims are not aware of the innate nature of environmentalism within Islam and obligations of protecting the environment. According to the Quran, humans are entrusted to be the maintainers of the earth, its ecology and environment.The Hajj can be sustainable if the pilgrims behave in an environmental friendly manner and avoid different types of pollution.

A vast majority of Hajj pilgrims are not aware of the innate nature of environmentalism within Islam.

A vast majority of Hajj pilgrims are not aware of the innate nature of environmentalism within Islam.

Towards a Green Hajj

We need to understand that the respective authorities plan, spend and provide facilities to match with the number of pilgrims, but the irresponsible attitude of many people jeopardize the environmental resources. Following aspects will help the pilgrims in making their Hajj greener and help in conservation of resources:

  • Green purchasing, buy what is required and only environmentally–friendly products
  • Using minimum quantity of water for ablution, bath and personal use. Opening water gadgets and tap to allow limited flow. Washing clothes with minimum water.
  • Reporting any water leakages to the Authority.
  • Re-filling and reusing water bottles.
  • Buying food only what you can eat, surplus food should be avoided.
  • Avoiding food packaging.
  • Avoid disposable cutlery, plates, glasses etc.
  • Avoid littering, collecting all waste and disposing it at designated locations. 
  • Avoid using plastic shopping bags.
  • Moving and using group transport facilities.
  • Minimize electricity usage.
  • Avoid leaving lights on in empty rooms.
  • Switching off the chargers, once used.
  • Purchase energy efficient appliances, if required.
  • Avoid using electrical appliances on standby.

The recent Islamic declaration on climate change exhorts us to work steadfastly to minimize our ecological footrpint and make individual pledges to help our planet. Environment is Allah’s creation and has to be respected. Let us make our contribution to the Green Hajj and make a profound impact on the ecosystem, making it more sustainable and manageable and show that Islam is the ideal platform for ecological and environmental preservation.

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