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Greening Your Fasting, Being An Eco-Muslim In Ramadan At Home And Work

What is an eco-suhoor? Am I fasting the most eco-halal way? How do I green up my Ramadan?  The Eco Muslim shares her Green Ramadan advice ...

What is an eco-suhoor? Am I fasting the most eco-halal way? How do I green up my Ramadan? 
The Eco Muslim Guide To A Greener Ramadan
The Eco Muslim shares her Green Ramadan advice on WorkingMuslim.com to help you implement eco-Islam at home and work during the fasting season.

What is an Eco-Muslim?
The Eco Muslim is part of The Eco Jihad™, a Muslim’s greener effort towards self-improvement and preserving natural resources. This means changing our behaviour to minimise environmental impact.

Although many Muslims view other Eco-Muslim-Activists as something novel or not as important as prayer, ecological ethics have always been deeply infused in Islamic principles.

Hundreds of verses in the Qur’an describe how nature, clay and water, is a part of us and in need of safeguarding. The Qur’an describes believers of God as those who "walk on the Earth in humility," (25:63).

What does this indicate? This is interpreted along with many others like it, to mean that Muslims are supposed to protect the Earth’s provisions from which they survive. Numerous Ahadith (sayings) of a true environmentalist, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (God’s peace and blessings be upon him), also teach us to have a deep and long-standing respect for the natural world.

Preservation is therefore more than a good policy recommendation - it is a commandment from God.

Environmentalism while fasting
“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, so that you may (learn) self-restraint.” (Qur’an, 2:183)
Choosing to practice the religion of Islam goes hand in hand with affirming a relationship with the environment. As part of ‘greening’ your Ramadan, try going the whole month without extra “stuff”. No more packaged foods, less use of television and computers, no more cars and fumes, no more indulgent-consumption, nothing bought from a department store, nothing with an on and off switch.

Try just letting go and disconnecting from material “things”.

The whole idea of being a Muslim activist – whether in community or environment – is founded on discipline. You are in control of what you use, what you eat, what you do, where you go, and what you affect. The boundaries of halal (good for you) and haram (bad for you) are there so we are not taking more than we ought to. A Greener Ramadan is therefore the greatest training ground for consciously making better choices of what we consume, and being more earth-friendly.

Top Tips For Greening Your Ramadan
“If any Muslim plants any plant and a human being or an animal eats of it, he will be rewarded as if he had given that much in charity.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, 8:41)
1. Prayer: Nothing like prayer (salat) opens up your heart to being a steward of the Earth (Khalif). Prayer is a key which shows us the signs of God and His creation, all praying in time. Before you can treat the Earth with respect and bring the best out of your fast, you need to get your prayers in.

2. Water and Wudhu: The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said “cleanliness is half of faith”. For Muslims, cleanliness begins with a ritual ablution (wudhu) before every prayer, no less than five times a day. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ also taught against “squandering” water, even if by a river. We can make wudhu part of our green Ramadan by being mindful of how much water is used.

3. Green at Work: Remind your colleagues of fasting inspired ethics such as reusing the blank side of printed papers, and recycling cups and packaging. Let them know what Ramadan is about by hanging Working Muslim’s Ramadan guide in the staff lounge.

Take your own mug to reduce usage of Styrofoam cups and ask your managerial department what steps they’re taking towards an environmentally friendly workplace. Suggest purchasing more eco-friendly stationery such as recycled envelopes and staple-less staplers from My Eco Store.

Simple things like replacing bulbs with low energy ones will significantly cutback annual electricity bills; during the summer heat everyone will want air conditioners but opening up windows and praying outdoors is healthier for the mind.

If you’re staying late after work, take a home made Iftaar meal and invite a friend to share the moment.

Avoid ordering out or buying from vending machines which are usually wasteful in packaging, with poor nutritional content and low energy.

4. At home: How you consume and the way you live will significantly influence family members. Begin by making an eco-plan that others can contribute to and put into action weekly. Switch all technology off when leaving for work and during prayers to reconnect spiritually. Break from your household routine to carry out community service in your neighbourhood, even if it’s just 5 minutes a day.

Shop at charity stores to buy inexpensive things you need for your home and always ask yourself before buying brand new, “Do I really need this?” More often, the answer will be no.

Encourage little ones to draw food-pie-charts which they can colour in to meet their 5-a-day requirement of fruit and veg. Reward them with gold stars when they meet those goals. Learn to cook basic staple meals at home as this will motivate family dinners at the table for Iftaar and give more control over what you eat.

Separate your rubbish into – recyclables (paper, plastics, card) – organic (uncooked food, peelings) and – metal and glass. Order a recycling bin from the local council and start a compost heap to reduce how much you chuck. Reuse empty egg cartons to plant vegetable seedlings in the spring. And give away unwanted furniture in good condition to people in your area. Check out the Recycling Guide for more ideas.

Packing An Eco-Iftaar And Suhoor
Eating organic and Islamic is not as troublesome or expensive as it’s made out. You’d be surprised at how dependent you are on shop bought food and that you could “make most of it at home for nothing”.
  • Eat more natural at Suhoor - the light breakfast before every fast – to provide enough healthy energy until the opening of the fast, iftaar.
  • Grow your own garden of fruit and vegetables over the summer. If you don’t have a garden, a large container on a windowsill or balcony will work great for herbs, lettuces and tomatoes. Find the nearest allotment, check out GardenGuides.com for advice and motivate your family to join in the green spirit.
  • Buy ‘local’ produce through BigBarn.co.uk for eggs, fish, milk and seasonal vegetables – from farmers in your hometown. Buy halal so you know exactly what you’re getting. Always check the full ingredients list to avoid alcohol and artificial preservatives.
  • Make fruit smoothies for a high energy suhoor and herbal teas for calming effects.
  • Wholegrain cereal and porridge oats go beautifully with honey and berries. Fruits like blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are full of antioxidants which boost your immune system while fasting.
Follow the effective 4S’s with every Iftaar and continue good eating habits for the rest of the year.
  • Smaller – reduce portions, share your meal and eat a variety of fresh food at iftaar for a balanced meal.
  • Substitute – replace meats (a source of protein) for lentils or brown/black rice; instead of sugared desserts satisfy your cravings with fruit salads, natural sweeteners such as honey, and pack granola and oatmeal bars in your iftaar-box. “White food” is stripped of nutrients - swap white bread for wholegrain as it’s more filling and nutritious.
  • Sip – The Prophet ﷺ encouraged a drinking etiquette: sitting down, taking 3 sips and ending with ‘Alhamdulilah’, praise be to God. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated and focused; cut out fizzy drinks and take bottled water with you; refresh your mind by making wudhu in between prayers. Ramadan makes you appreciate the blessing of clean running water so give back to a water project such as Muslim Hands’ Safe Water Scheme.
  • Slowly – There’s no race; eat slower to stay fuller longer and chew your food more for better digestion.
May God bless your Ramadan and accept all your eco-actions.
Peace & Eco-Jihad,
Zaufishan.

Image + flickr
Originally published 2011

Greening Your Fasting on WorkingMuslim.com

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