If you are anything like me, at the end of every Ramadhan you tell yourself that you will be better prepared next year. That you will plan for it weeks ahead, get the food you need, finish random jobs you won’t have the energy to do whilst fasting and be more available to just enjoy Ramadhan. And yet every year you go into meltdown the week before, frantically trying to arrange everything. Whilst I have no explanation for the reason we will never be prepared for Ramadhan (which remains an unresolved mystery on par with the missing sock conundrum), I can offer some pointers to help you enjoy a simpler and greener Ramadhan and Eid.
Moderation, Moderation, Moderation!
The Muslim Ummah is supposed to be one of moderation and yet sometimes our daily activities don’t reflect that. From binging on food, TV and shopping, we often invest our time in things that don’t nourish the body or soul- much to the detriment of this struggling planet which can’t support our lavish lifestyles. So, in the true spirit of Ramadhan, slow things down, switch off your TV and just stop. Ramadhan reminds us that an entire year has passed so take time to re-assess your life and refocus on the things that you value most
Don’t Spend A Penny
There is no doubt that we are living in a consumerist age, a time when people spend more money than they have and the economy seems as fragile as a teenager deprived of an ipod. So why not go spend-free for the month by signing up to the ‘Ramadan Compact’? It challenges you to think about the unnecessary money you spend, the impact it has on the environment and ways you can slay that shopping urge without spending a penny. See http:// ramadancompact.blogspot.com for the rules.
Whilst Ramadhan may not seem like an ideal time to be experimenting with the food that you buy, the holy month of fasting reminds us that the food we eat is a blessing which makes it the perfect time to consider going organic. Foods that are grown without chemical pesticides or hormones are labelled ‘organic’ and due to their growing popularity you will usually find a wide range of produce in your local supermarket. If you’re not ready to take the plunge and go organic just yet, why not consider shopping at your local fresh food market or even growing your own.
Ban Plastic At Iftar
One of the best things about Ramadhan is organising iftar at the local mosque. However one major eco sin that is regularly committed at these events is the use of plastic plates, cups and spoons which all end up in the bin and eventually in a landfill or a small animal’s intestines. Plastic is the bane of my life as it’s such a deeply ingrained habit but the solution is simple: ask everyone to bring along their own plate, cup and spoon.
Use Your Car Less
Break the car habit during the month of Ramadhan by walking to your local masjid for tarawih prayers after iftar. To help you on your way, arrange to meet with fellow Muslimahs at a specific location by a certain time and then you can all walk down together. Walking is a great way to de-stress and exercise and it will also free you from road-rage-inducing traffic jams and parking nightmares. You are also blessed for every step you walk to the masjid.
Go Eid (Swap) Shopping
After my suggestion to give up unnecessary shopping, you may be worried that you’d be showing up at Eid prayers in rags, but fear not as there is a solution for you. It’s called swap shopping. This is basically the most fun you can have for free and consists of inviting all your friends and family members (women only!) to dig out all those clothes/shoes/bags/jewellery that have been gathering dust, and start swapping with everyone. Send out online invites, make some lovely food and it’s a mini party where you can pick up some new clothes as well as ideas for your Eid outfit! Check out “Swap till you drop” in the Delights section!
Grow Your Own Eid Card
Add a new twist to your Eid card this year by making a card that you can plant. All you need to do is mix crepe paper, water and seeds into a mush which can be shaped into a flower, moon, mosque dome, etc., and stick it on your card. As well as your own personal greeting, make a note of the back of the card of the growing instructions and tell your recipient to plant the mush and watch it grow!
Use less water
Nothing reminds you of the life-giving powers of water more than a month of fasting when all you really crave is a sip of water. However, avoid the temptation to buy bottled water to keep hydrated after iftar by using tap water in a re-usable bottle instead. Tap water doesn’t waste energy being produced or require plastic bottles, which end up in landfills – and remember that the Prophet (SAW) made wudhu with only half a litre of water and he taught us to conserve water even at a running spring.
Educate Yourself on the Green Principles of Islam
Swot up on the green ethics of Islam this Ramadhan such as the principle of Khalifah which states that we have been appointed to care for the earth and Tawheed or ‘one-ness’ that reminds Muslims that we are interdependent and interconnected with the earth’s creations. This will not only help raise your own awareness but will also mean that you can give a more informed response to people who ask why you have embraced going green.
Spread the Green Da’wah
Actions speak louder than words, so following any of the above steps will naturally help spread the green message to the Muslim masses. Even so, help connect the dots for those on the receiving end of your green deeds by explaining why you have decided to cook an organic meal, ban plastic cutlery or organise a swap shop party. Explaining your actions in terms of protecting the planet might be a totally new concept for some people and may even help inspire them to follow your eco example.
Arwa Aburawa is a freelance journalist based in the UK who writes on the Middle East, the environment and various social issues. Arwa is also the eco-Islam affairs editor at Green Prophet, the leading news site on environmental issues in the Middle East.