Resources

Environmental Challenges in the Light of the Theory of Maqasid

The Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE) leads the reform and renewal of contemporary Islamic legal and ethical thought and behavior by contributing a sustainable ethical framework for addressing contemporary global challenges. CILE’s initiative is maintained by the production, dissemination and application of Islamic ethical thought and behavior. This is achieved by engaging scholars of text and scholars of context to bring about a transformative ethical school of thought.

Overview:

Islamic scriptural sources (the Qur’an and Prophetic tradition) abound with references and reminders about nature and all of creation. Because creation is a sign of the Creator, respecting and preserving it is not just altruistic but also an act of faith and worship.

The environment is an essential topic for Islamic applied ethics. In light of the contemporary environmental challenges (deforestation, global warming, how the use of technology and our lifestyles destroy nature and kill animals), we need to turn to the Islamic scriptural sources to derive an ethical framework to halt, if not to reverse, the destruction of our planet.

We recognise that this field cannot be tackled separately from economics and politics. Many environmental decisions by politicians and states today are based on economic interests and/or pressures. In the global south as much as in the industrialised countries of the north, these three fields must be considered together in order to acquire a better and more holistic understanding of the framework of Islamic environmental applied ethics.

This requires Muslim scholars of the text/Shari’a and experts in this field to work together on specific questions and create a framework for resolving the crisis we confront. Only then will Muslim scholars be able to produce effective and relevant legal opinions.

The following video is from the CILE Granada Summer School session on the Environment 

Creating a Community Garden at your Islamic School

Community gardens have recently taken off as a way of engaging communities in the local food movement. Not only does it raise awareness, community gardens can also serve as a learning tool for schools. The Safa and Marwa Islamic School (SAM) in Mississauga, Ontario received a grant from TD Friends of Environment in 2015 towards the creation of their own gardening space. Khaleafa.com has the opportunity to speak with Nisreen Shawahneh, who was instrumental in coordinating the project, to learn some successes and challenges in creating a community garden in a school environment. 

Preparation:

a.     How did the idea for a community garden first come about, what was the motivation?

At Safa and Marwa Islamic School (SAM) our goals are to deliver a ‘living’ curriculum that ensures the spiritual and academic success of our student body and to build a sense of comradely and community amongst our students, parents and staff. Every year our team brainstorms projects that would help us meet these goals. It was in one of these sessions that the idea for a community garden was born. We recognized that building a community garden would bring to life curricular concepts allowing students to cement their learning in the classroom by living examples in the garden. From a spiritual point of view, having a garden would allow students to understand the importance of stewardship and the environment in Islam. Furthermore, having a garden that was not owned and manned by one, but the entire school community brought teachers, students and staff together to work towards a common goal. It was heartwarming to see the way harvests were enjoyed and celebrated by all involved.

In addition to being motivated by our goals for students we were also cognizant of the fact that having a community garden would complement our healthy living and physical education program nicely. Prior to having our community garden our student body has regularly participated in the 60 second kids club, we are currently ranked 10th in the Province. We would also have healthy eating competitions across the grades. We hoped that the addition of the garden would give kids the push they needed to begin eating healthier in their day to day lives.

b.     How have the students been involved?

Students from Junior Kindergarten to grade 8 all participated in the community garden.  Each class was assigned a plot to plant in. Students chose what to grow; the school provided the seeds and the seedlings. Students, with the help of their teachers, planted the seedlings and seeded the seeds. Students, watered, weeded and took care of the garden the whole season.

In addition, we conducted workshops for both parents and students on how to establish and run their own gardens at home. The presentation was delivered by Ms. Nisreen, the Garden Coordinator. The agenda was as follows:

  • General information for parents and students on how they could begin their own community gardens in their neighborhoods.
  • General information for parents and students on how they could begin their own community gardens in their backyards.
  • General information on the different types of plants that could be grown year-round.
  • General information on the tips and tricks of gardening. 

c.     What was involved in planning the project?

To plan the project we put together a planning team that consisted of members from administration, teachers, auxiliary staff, parents and students. The following diagram depicts the team and their tasks in terms of planning the project.

d.     What were the greatest hurdles?

In bringing this project to fruition, there were several hurdles. Following are the greatest hurdles we faced and we feel that these were all equally challenging:

·Finance: In Ontario, private faith based schools do not receive any public funding. Therefore, all the money that is generated to operate the school is derived from tuition. It is difficult to allocate tuition money to a project such as this because there are often competing needs that take precedence such as those related to the facility infrastructure and those related to curriculum delivery directly. Although there are many grants available through the Government of Ontario that could fund a community garden, they are often only open to publically funded schools - which we are not. We had to be creative in finding a grant. We are very appreciative of the grant we received from TD to deploy our garden.

·Space: We are at capacity in terms of student body because SAM has consistently been named the top Islamic school by the Fraser institute. Space is over utilized and therefore to carve out space on our grounds was extremely difficult. It required re-planning our play areas and putting in another outdoor rotation for our students which resulted in an overhaul of the school and classroom schedules. It was also challenging to convince some school members and parents that the reutilization of the space would add more to the curriculum then the original play space.

·Manpower: Maintaining a garden (watering, weeding, harvesting, replanting) and asking teachers to integrate curriculum related to the garden day to day was extremely challenging because both are time consuming and rely on volunteerism.

 

Participation:

a.     What has the response been to the project?

The garden has received so much love and support from students, staff and parents, especially around harvest time where everyone gets to taste their success. Our garden has inspired parents to create their own gardens.  Following are some testimonials:

I love the garden. I planted it, watered it and picked it. It was fun in the garden because I saw plants grow - Hannah, Grade 6

I love being in the garden. We picked basil and onions and many more. There were even carrots, being in the garden made me feel free and happy - Mustafa, Grade 4

The garden was the best. I especially loved when it was time to pick the plants. I even got to sell it. I loved the garden - Adam, Grade 3

I got to pick plants from the garden. We even bought some. I ate carrots, too. They tasted amazing - Leena Grade 1. 

 b.     Have you been able to incorporate parents and other groups into the project?  

We have successfully been able to engage parents during garden planning and planting. We did not incorporate other groups into the project.

c.     How does the garden sustain itself over the summer?

SAM operates a summer program that incorporates a unit on community gardening. Students in this program maintain the garden over the summer and are supervised by the summer teachers and administration.

d.     What happens to the produce in the fall?

Throughout the summer and fall produce is harvested and, depending upon the yield, either sold to parents during school fundraisers, distributed to student volunteers and those who have completed a related curricular unit, donated to families in need and shared with the entire school in our ‘welcome to school’ fall barbecue.

Programming:

a.     Have you included any spiritual or religious programming into the garden? If so, what has the messaging been?

Our community garden helped us explain Islam’s ethos of environmentalism and stewardship to our students using a hands-on approach. In Islam humans were created to serve God (Allah) and work towards creating the greatest good for all his creations which includes the earth and its environment. Caring for the earth is our shared responsibility. Our department of religion began incorporating what it means to live a sustainable life into religious curricula as follows:

  • Allah created us directly from the Earth and we must therefore be stewards of the Earth by taking care of it and protecting it in a sustainable way.
  • We have undertaken a trust with our creator to protect the planet and contribute to and sustain its resources responsibly.
  • We must treat all creation including the natural world with justice.
  • We must recognize that Allah has created the world in a balance and we must work to sustain that balance.
  • We must live a simple lifestyle – which includes growing our own produce.

b.     Are multiple grades involved in the project?

Yes, multiple grades were involved in the project namely: junior kindergarten, senior kindergarten, grade 1, grade 2, grade 3, grade 4, grade 5, grade 6 and grade 7. Each grade was assigned their own part of the garden and were responsible for caring for it.

c.     How do you see the garden growing in the future?

Thus far, we have planted produce that was quick and easy to grow in our garden. We planted: tomatoes, curled parsley, basil, strawberries, carrots, sunflowers, corn, peas, beans, green onion, hot pepper, bell pepper, cucumber, potatoes, beets and Swiss chard.

In the future, we would like to plant our garden by theme. For example, we would like to plant a salad garden, a salsa garden, a fruit salad garden etcetera. In addition, we are looking to move our school to a new location to continue to deliver quality curriculum. Whereas a community garden would never have made it onto our list of ‘must haves’ for a new property in the past; after our project, we have decided that our new location would never be complete without space for a new community garden.

Lessons Learned:

a.     What have been the biggest challenges and what were the lessons that were learned in creating a community garden?

As mentioned in 1d above the biggest challenges were finance, space and manpower. The lesson we learned were as follows:

  • Finance: When establishing the garden, we factored in the cost for building the garden however we did not factor in the cost for continuing to maintain and sustain the garden.
  • Space: We could have collaborated with our school neighbors and shared property to build a larger garden which would not have compromised out play area.
  • ·Manpower: We need to build capacity around having more consistent volunteers for the garden and demonstrate to teaching staff that taking their students out to the garden is worth the time it takes to do so. In addition, we learned that it is important to ensure that those that tend to the garden document what they have done so that it can be passed on to those who take it over the following year.

b.     Can you provide any advice to other groups looking to start their own community garden?

Be cognizant of our lessons learned.

Be Calm & Plant Your Seedling

1019_fahmy-03.jpg
Shaykh Yasir Fahmy shares two important points of action to remember in the face of the tragedies surrounding us. Courtesy of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center.

  [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=327&v=AV3cKodXbmM[/embed]

Shaykh Yasir Fahmy was born and raised in northern New Jersey and completed a BS from Rutgers University and worked for three years in corporate America. During his seven years of studying in the Middle East, he completed a degree from the prestigious Al-Azhar University, while simultaneously studying with other numerous scholars. Shaykh Yasir received numerous ‘ijazaat in the subjects of fiqh, hadith, aqeeda, usul al-fiqh, seerah, tazkiyyah, mantiq, Arabic grammar, sarf (morphology) and balagha (rhetoric). In 2013, he became the first American Azhari to teach in the renowned Al-Azhar Mosque.

Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change

maxresdefault.jpg

  [embed]https://youtu.be/kMr9EHDXvyU[/embed]

The Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change was launched by Islamic leaders from 20 countries at the International Islamic Climate Change Symposium in Istanbul on August 17-18, 2015. The Declaration presents the moral case, based on Islamic teachings, for the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims and people of all faiths worldwide to take urgent climate action.

Read the declaration: http://islamicclimatedeclaration.org/islamic-declaration-on-global-climate-change/

Related News Articles:

“Major Islamic Climate Change Declaration Released” Press Release, August 18, 2015 http://www.greenfaith.org/media/press-releases/major-islamic-climate-change-declaration-released

“Can Islamic scholars change thinking on climate change?” By Davide Castelvecchi, Quirin Schiermeier, & Richard Hodson, Nature, August 19, 2015 http://www.nature.com/news/can-islamic-scholars-change-thinking-on-climate-change-1.18203

“The Islamic Climate Change Declaration Could Be More Effective Than Pope Francis's Encyclical” By Emma Foehringer Merchant, New Republic, August 19, 2015 http://www.newrepublic.com/article/122575/islamic-climate-change-declaration-more-effective-encyclical

Shared from: Forum on Religion and Ecology Newsletter (September 2015)

5 Ways to be more green this Ramadan

The blessed month of Ramadan is drawing nearer by each sunset – and boy can I feel the excitement in the air.

There is no doubt that in the month of Ramadan; we are able to renew and strengthen our spirituality, increase both our mental and physical state and purify our hearts.

Yet, as we change our habits to become closer to Allah, we should also look at ways to become closer to the earth (figuratively speaking of course). “It is He (Allah) that has appointed you (mankind) as stewards in the Earth…” (Qur’án, 35:39) - With this in mind, I have compiled my 5 ways to be Green this Ramadan

1. Drop the Grande Vanilla soy sugar free, shaken not stirred latte - now hear me out. I know that coffee is very much the essence of intelligent life on Earth and without it we become only shells of our former selves. But this Ramadan can be a great way to drop the coffee, not only will it have lasting health benefits, but coffees are making the world more brown than green, and no I’m not talking about teeth stains. It takes 140 litres of water to create one cup of coffee. With water scarcity becoming a real and prominent issue effecting 1.2 billion people- let’s do what we can to help!

For more information about the hidden cost of water click here

2. Eat your greens... please - go veggie this Ramadan, I mean you can do full throttle and go the whole month as a vegetarian (or dare I say it, a vegan *insert horror scream*) or just avoid the meats (please take note of the plural) once or twice a week. From Middle Eastern Dolma to Southern Asian Aaloo Gobhi, the Muslim world has a range of vegetarian dishes just waiting for you to try.

To find out even more reasons to go veggie click here

3. Skip the supermarket, get the local stuff - the majority of our food from the supermarket is imported. This means that the food we eat has travelled thousands of miles, leaving massive impacts on our environment. This Ramadan let’s try to eat as local as possible, whether that be growing our own mints in the flower pot for those special mint teas after Taraweeh, or going to the local city farm/community garden to buy some greens. To be fair, if you live in London, you’re spoiled for choice. With the amount of city farms, community gardens and farmers market- you’ll never believe just how close they are to home and how cheap the veg is! A bag of spinach, a bag of lettuce, a packet of strawberries and a bunch of coriander all for under £5 #WINNING, and if you help grow the produce you can take it home for free! Did I mention #WINNING

Check out your nearest local producer here

4. Spend more time outside - let’s try and not get sucked in by the comfort of our homes this Ramadan, let’s spend more time outside! Whether that is by starting to garden, turning that small patch into your own personal produce section, or praying and doing dhikr outside. Once you find that special outside space, visit it regularly and let it remind you of what’s at stake.

Just in case you’re not quite sold on the outside thing, click here

5. Don’t take that free water bottle at the Masjid… - unless it is a reusable bottle that you can just keep using till the end of time and the bottle can accompany you forever and ever, much like this sentence. There is no doubt about it, Masjids hit full capacity during Ramadan, and as lovely as it is, it gets REALLY hot. Now the Masjids do what they can to help - by turning that air conditioning on, and getting the volunteers to ensure everyone is well by giving out free plastic water bottles. Now I might be speaking for myself, but normally I’m there at the word ‘free’- but try to not take those free plastic bottles this Ramadan. Buy a reusable water bottle, not only will you look chic, stylish, effortless (the list can go on) but you will be reducing your carbon footprint, helping clear those landfills sites and reaping up those ‘saving the world’ points.

For more info, check out MADE’s ‘I drink tap’ campaign here

So you have read the list on how to be green this Ramadan! So share and spread the greenness, and just like Hulk, nobody can be too green, so share your own tips below!

Fatima El-meeyuf, Eco Ambassador

This article was originally featured onMADE  in Europe in June 2015. 

Green Tips from the Sunnah

photo-1429000263672-1b8b4008d2f7.jpeg

This article was released in advance of Earth Day 2015 at the Islamic Institute of Toronto. For more information, please visit www.islam.ca. 

By Shaikh Ahmad Kutty

Today, the earth is in a deplorable state: greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from our over use of fossil fuels is creating a crisis of epidemic proportions. Rising sea levels are making parts of the world at risk of disappearing into the sea, and the earth is becoming parched and dry making it more or less unsuitable for further cultivation. Isn’t it about time we asked ourselves how we are contributing to this and what we can do to reverse the process?

Fortunately, for us as Muslims, we have in the Prophet of mercy, a guide for us in even this. And so let us look to, and allow his daily examples to serve as a source of inspiration, and motivation for us in our attempt to live life green.

  1. While brushing our teeth or making wudhu, think of the Prophet (peace be upon him), who never used more than one liter of water for his wudhu and remember that no one can perform wudhu better than he.
  2. As we take our morning shower, think of the three liters of water that the Prophet used for bathing and consider making your shower shorter (not more than five minutes).
  3. Remember that the Prophet’s mosque had only lanterns, which were themselves used sparingly, and that many of our eminent scientists and scholars used the moon light to read and write. Following in their lead, turn off the lights when not absolutely necessary and learn to relax and function without light or in dim light!
  4. Before debating purchasing a new outfit, remember that the Prophet’s wife, Aisha, wore a gown with close to sixty patches on it.
  5. Pitch in to remove litter from the streets knowing that the Prophet (peace be upon him) has said that doing so is an act of charity.
  6. Curb our never-ending desire to consume and amass more by reflecting on the Prophetic words that, “He is not a believer who fills himself while his neighbor is starving!”
  7. Recall that many of the Prophets were trained as shepherds and that a good shepherd is one who is out in the field. So, get to know the earth and its inhabitants and act as a guardian and goodly shepherd over it.

So, let us think of the blessings of Allah and appreciate them, and know that appreciating them means to use them wisely, in moderation and never abuse them or be wasteful. And let's take responsibility for protecting the environment by following in the non-carbon, green footsteps of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him)! 

Huge support for ‘Islam Is Green’ environment campaign

  Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 10.45.58 AMEarlier in March, the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) launched its ‘Islam is Green’ campaign in conjunction with the ‘Time to Act Climate Change’ march in London.

The ‘Islam is Green’ campaign saw iERA’s official launch of their official website, a destination designed to empower Muslims in tackling climate change, and fulfilling their religious duties towards nature.

Additionally, iERA provided training and delivered a lecture on the importance of looking after the environment from an Islamic perspective at a local community centre. After the talk, iERA volunteers made their way to the assembly point in central London, where they joined a group of more than 5,000 people from various backgrounds who came together to voice their concern on climate change.

During the demonstration, iERA volunteers handed out leaflets to members of the public informing them of how Muslims take the preservation of the environment seriously. They engaged in many interesting discussions, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Demonstrators were very surprised to know that Islam has a supportive stance towards the environment, and this initiated numerous discussions where they wanted to find out more.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2hdU7zTce0]

iERA also teamed up with an organisation called ‘Made in Europe’, a campaign group who envisage the Muslim community leading the struggle against global poverty, injustice and environmental issues. The collaboration with Made in Europe was very productive, and the feedback from the general public was extremely promising.

The ‘Islam is Green’ campaign was endorsed by the general public who wanted more Muslims to participle in future environmental events.

The iERA team also gained interest from a number of independent media outlets, which led to two interviews with Reel News and Nuwave Pictures.

This article was originally featured on Aquila Style in April 2015. 

Watchful Eyes

Dr-Ingrid-Mattson-and-Dr-Mark-Toulouse_Emmanuel-College-Prayer-Room-Inauguration_Jan-22-2013.jpg

 

Filmmaker Aman Ali shares word of Homegrown Homies, a wonderful new internet short film series with Google about the lives of Muslim Americans. The first episode is about professor and author Dr. Ingrid Mattson and her dog Ziggy.

"Dr. Mattson is one of the most prominent female leaders in the Muslim community, and was almost attacked and received several hateful threats for being in her position," Aman tells us. "So she got a dog named Ziggy to protect herself and her family and thus a beautiful bond was born."

"Our series is steering clear of religion and preachiness because that shit is lame and turns people off," adds Aman, "Myself included. So our storytelling series is about the lives of Muslim Americans focusing on emotions like love, regret, redemption, guilt, sadness, and joy."

Dr. Mattson understood that dogs were haram, or forbidden, when she converted to Islam. She learned it's more nuanced than that. And at any rate, she and Ziggy are best buds forever.

Subscribe for more.

Dua: Bringing Faith to the Climate Change Discussion

406785_10150500165216940_618729468_n.jpg

This Dua was written by Imam Zaid Shakir, senior faculty member of the Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California as part of the Our Voices campaign.

O Allah, our Creator, the one who originated the heavens and the Earth,

There is not a moving creature but You have grasp of its forelock.

Verily You are our Sustainer, our Protector, the Watcher over us.

Forgive us for spreading corruption on the land,

And make us among those who spread peace and mercy.

O Allah, give light to the words of those involved in the climate change negotiations,

Instil wisdom, fairness, compassion and courage into the hearts of our leaders so that they

May lead us to a path of justice for the sake of our planet, our children and children’s children.

You have reminded us in Qur'an,

'Corruption has appeared on the land and in the sea, owing to the misdeeds of human hands. Thus do We give them a taste of what they have brought about in order that they may return.'

O Allah, bless our leaders and ourselves to return to the path of responsible stewardship of the earth and the limited resources you have blessed us to enjoy therein.

Ameen.

Dua for Climate

Islam and the Environment

islam-environment-featured When Islam is featured in popular media, it's often in the context of conflict: extremism, radicalism, fundamentalism. But Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University, has a surprising perspective on his own faith: that it's deeply predisposed towards environmental stewardship. In a public lecture and later interview with IDEAS host Paul Kennedy, Dr. Nasr explains why Islam may well be seen as a 'green' religion.

To hear the complete episode, please visit the Ideas website. 

Islam: Is it the Green Religion? by IDEAS producer David Gutnick

These recent headlines from mainstream media around the world highlight how the words "Muslim" and "Islam", are often mentioned in the context of terrorism.

But according to a world-renowned scholar, there's another word that should be associated with Islam -- and it may surprise you -- environmentalism. Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr of George Washington University, believes Islam is more disposed towards environmental stewardship than other faiths, and may well be regarded as the 'green' religion.

"Christianity in the West," said Nasr to CBC Radio One IDEAS, "has had a tremendous problem: how to come to terms with the environment at a time when its most devout followers have not shown much interest in the environment. If you take all the verses of the New Testament, there is no reference to nature."

Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr was born in Iran. He holds undergraduate degrees in math and physics from M.I.T, a Masters in geology and a Ph.D. in the history of science from Harvard University.

"The Qur'an addresses not only human beings, but also the cosmos," says Nasr. "It is much easier to be able to develop an environmental philosophy. Birds are called communities in the Qur'an. Human beings, bees, it is so easy to develop an authentic Islamic philosophy of the environment."

islam-environment-nasr-book.jpgNasr's interest in science, religion and the environment spans five decades. He's published dozens of books including Man and Nature: The Spiritual Crisis in Modern Man. In it, Nasr compares how Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, particularly its Sufi expression, see humankind's relationship with the environment.

"As long as men lived according to religion there was no environmental crisis," says Nasr.

"St. Francis of Assisi wrote, ''Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;in the heavens You have made them bright, precious and beautiful.'"

But Christianity's sensitivity to the natural world changed in the 1600's, says Nasr, when the Catholic Church burned its hand with the trials of Galileo. Catholic and Protestant Christian theologians became less interested in thinking about the cosmos, with the world of nature.

Nasr says the scientific revolution in Europe "left nature in the hands of two forces: modern science where the meaning of nature is totally irrelevant, and -- of course - greed."

"Islam was never secularized as Christianity was," says Nasr. "Muslims did not lose faith in the same way that happened in the Christian West. You had a very different dynamic in the phenomenon in what has to do with nature."

Nasr's views have been both celebrated -- and censored. He acknowledges that there's a considerable rift between his understanding of the Islamic faith and what's actually practiced in Islamic nations: "In almost every Islamic country, what the preachers preach on Friday is ordered by the government,"says Nasr. "One of the things these governments do not like is anything that will stultify what they believe to be economic progress. So there is a very strong opposition to environmental issues."

Nasr says that when he talks about pollution in countries like Pakistan and Iran, he hears people say that the West will somehow find a solution. "That is the attitude of most people with an inferiority complex," he says. "That is why the Muslim minorities living in North America play such a huge role in the future of the rest of the Islamic world."

Nasr has criss-crossed the globe speaking to religious and environmental leaders trying to build consensus on how to best raise awareness about what he calls a 'worldwide crisis.'

"We human beings cannot be happy without the happiness of the rest of creation," he says. "We have killed enough, massacred enough of God's other creatures,"

"God will judge us in the future on whether we are able to live in harmony and peace with the rest of his creation or commit suicide," he says. There is no third choice."

To hear the complete episode, please visit the Ideas website. 

Ramadan Reminders

Back by popular demand, Ramadan Reminders will be returning every week for you to share with your friends and family. These humorous reminders encourage Muslims to take the green alternative this Ramadan and think about the environmental consequences of everyday actions. For those who missed them last year, we have uploaded these cards for your enjoyment below. Check out our Facebook page for new additions every week during Ramadan.

1069996_641779359167638_611110209_n 934976_632971393381768_1819120812_n 1013168_636235723055335_1590141744_n 944764_650854048260169_1257002837_n

10 Green Hadiths

Forest
Forest

By: Muhammad Fathi

Did the Prophet (peace and blssings be upon him) say anything about saving our planet? Did he promote any ideas or practices relevant to the world's growing concern about the future of the earth and its resources?

Today, with the increasing awareness of the dangers facing our planet and the great interest in green ideas, a reflection on the guidance of the Prophet in this area proves helpful and relevant. What is distinctive about the Prophet's approach to environmental issues is the connection he establishes between green practices and the Hereafter reward, which represents for Muslims an incentive greater than any worldly gain or reward and, as a result, prompts a greater care for the earth and more effort to conserve its resources.

Plant a tree even if it is your last deed:

1. Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “If the Hour (the day of Resurrection) is about to be established and one of you was holding a palm shoot, let him take advantage of even one second before the Hour is established to plant it.” (Authinticated by Al-Albani)

Planting trees is a renewable source of hasanat:

2. Anas also reported that the Prophet said, "If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift (sadaqah) for him." (Bukhari)

Conserve resources even when used for rituals:

3. Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al-`Aas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet passed one day by Sa`d ibn Abi Waqas (May Allah be pleased with him) while he was performing wudu' (ritual cleaning of body parts in preparation for prayer). The prophet asked Sa`d, "Why is this wastage?" Sa`d replied "Is there wastage in wudu also?" The Prophet said, "Yes, even if you are at a flowing river." (Ahmad and authenticated Ahmad Shakir)

Keeping environment clean is important:

4. Mu`adh (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet warned, "Beware of the three acts that cause you to be cursed: relieving yourselves in shaded places (that people utilize), in a walkway or in a watering place." (Ranked sound, hasan, by Al-Albani)

5. Abu Zarr Al-Ghafari (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Removing harmful things from the road is an act of charity (sadaqah)." (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

No for over-consumption! Consider recycling and fixing before buying new items:

6. Abdullah ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet said, "The believer is not he who eats his fill while his neighbor is hungry." (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

7. Asked about what the Prophet used to do in his house, the Prophet's wife, `A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), said that he used to repair his shoes, sow his clothes and used to do all such household works done by an average person. (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

8. The Prophet said, "Whoever kills a sparrow or anything bigger than that without a just cause, Allah will hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment."  The listeners asked, "O Messenger of Allah, what is a just cause?" He replied, "That he will kill it to eat, not simply to chop off its head and then throw it away." (An-Nasa'i)

Animals should be cared for:

9. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet said, "A man felt very thirsty while he was on the way, there he came across a well. He went down the well, quenched his thirst and came out. Meanwhile he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. He said to himself, "This dog is suffering from thirst as I did." So, he went down the well again, filled his shoe with water, held it with his mouth and watered the dog. Allah appreciated him for that deed and forgave him." 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)

10. Abdullah ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet said, "A woman entered the (Hell) Fire because of a cat which she had tied, neither giving it food nor setting it free to eat from the vermin of the earth." (Bukhari)

This article was originally published on OnIslam on April 22, 2014. 

Sharing Success: Fair Trade Commerce for a Better World

HY-660x330.jpg

By: Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

[The following is the video and transcript of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf's lecture entitled 'Fair Trade Commerce for a Better World.' The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity. This transcript originally appeared on MuslimMatters on March 28th, 2014].

All praise be to Allāh (SWT). I’d like to thank Allāh (SWT) for the blessing of all the angels that come with all of you. You brought angels into this arena and inshā’Allāh Allāh (SWT) will let us taste some of the pleasure of angelic presence.

Alhamdullilah, what I wanted to talk about was fair trade, and extending that meaning beyond the confines that have defined it in the dominant western discourse. The Qur'an tells us not to consume “wa la ta'qul nasi bi batili”. Don't consume the wealth of people falsely, unjustly, vainly. Batil is everything that is empty, it's what's not good. So it's the opposite of haqq, which is truthfulness, sincerity, reality, what is real. So it says don't consume the wealth of people unjustly. “takuna tijaratan aow Ila tijaratun an taraadin minkum,” let your trade only be trade that is mutually content. In other words, each side is content with the actual event of trade and commerce. This is an incredibly important point, all of the Qur'an is important but this verse is so central to what's happening right now globally, and why we're seeing so much turmoil in what are called the markets.

These global markets, where wealth is consumed unjustly. People's wealth is stolen, misappropriated, given to people without the right accountability. And this is happening in many many places. And so Allāh (SWT) tells us that “tejarat”, commerce should be fair. In other words, each side should be pleased with the event that's happened, that's transpired.  Allāh (SWT)also says in Surah Rahman, “wa wada'al meezan, al-laa tatghow fil meezan”. He placed a balance, scales, that you not transgress the balance. Historically, our scholars identified these verses that are between the heavens and the earth. They're between, if you look at Surah Rahman, it opens with heavenly, celestial discourse, and then it talks about this balance and then it goes, “wal ardha wada'a ha lil anaam” and we placed the earth for all living things but between those is the balance. This refers to all types of balance. Allāh (SWT) has given an economic balance, and this is historically how they understood it, the prohibition of cheating people in the marketplace, which is related to this balance between the celestial and the terrestrial.  And Allāh (SWT) reminds us that the earth was placed for all creatures, al-anaam are all living creatures. It's not just the human beings.  Some of the commentators say “an'aam” comes from “nowm” which is all things that sleep, because sleep is the gentle tyrant. It's what Allāh (SWT) has given us to remind us that He is “Qaahirun fawqa ibadihi,” that Allāh is overpowering, overwhelming His servants. The fact that we have to sleep at the end of the day, and our lives are rounded by this little sleep.

So the idea of just commerce and balance is very important in the Qurʾān. Historically in the marketplace -and this is unfortunately no longer the case because of digital scales- but historically you had scales in the marketplace, so people could actually see the justice. If you bought a pound of fruit, the merchant would put a pound weight on the scale, and then he would place the fruit on the other. And in Islamic tradition they used to always tip the scales to be on the side of the buyer, not on the side of the merchant, because the Prophet (saw) said may God have mercy on a man or a woman, who is forbearing, who is forgiving, who is generous, when they sell or when they buy. And I've seen this many times when I was in Fez or places in Morocco, they would do this. They would tip the scale, they'd put an extra date to tip the scale, just to show that you're getting the extra, because they wanted that ziyada, that extra, ofihsaan.

We're living in a time of incredible economic injustice and that injustice is because we have an unjust economic system.  Economics now has become a necessary science to understand. You have to understand the basics of economics to be living on the planet that we're living in, because it's affecting all of us. It's affecting our lives. We have to understand the false dialectic that's been created between the so called Keynesian and monetarist.  This left/right dialectic, as if there's no other alternative to these two approaches to economics because the Muslims have an alternative, but unfortunately we've been absent from the discourse. Even though much of what is beneficial in western commerce came out of transacting with the Muslims. In fact, “average” is from an Arabic word, because merchants they used to say, and you can look this up in chambers etymological dictionary or google it. Average is an Arabic word because merchants used to have a type of takaful, when they would send a ship with goods, and if goods were destroyed, a portion of the goods were destroyed, they would take an average and all the merchants would share in it. It was a type of insurance. So this came, ta'reef, tariff, is from the Muslims because we forget that our religion is a religion of commerce. I reflected deeply at one point when I was studying the sīrah, why the Prophet (SAW) would be a merchant before he was a prophet. Why was he a merchant? Because Allāh (SWT) could have made him many things, but he made him two things: he made him a shepherd in his youth, and he made him a merchant in his adult manhood. He made him a shepherd because all prophets are shepherds because the essence of being a prophet is caring for a flock, it's caring for people in a way that the shepherd does not want any harm to come to the flock. And who does the shepherd guard the flock from? The wolf. The wolf.

The reason, I believe, the reason that the Prophet (SAW) was chosen to be a merchant was because the merchant is the most beneficial human being in human society. There's no one more beneficial to human society than a merchant. Everything, the chairs that you're sitting on are from commerce, the clothes that you're wearing are from commerce. The glasses that you're looking through if you're looking through glasses, are from commerce.  The fillings in your teeth are from commerce. The medication that is keeping your blood pressure low right now is from commerce. Everything that is beneficial to the material wellbeing of the human being is from commerce. But there's another secret in commerce. Commerce teaches you good character, because the most successful merchants are the ones with the best character. You go back to people who treat you well, and that's why historically they used to say 'customer is king.' The customer is always right. A merchant shouldn't get angry because even if the person buying from him is making him angry, he'll lose the sale if he starts getting angry because the person will just walk, walk out.  And so it actually creates good character.  Tahleebul nafsAkhlaq. “Wa innaka ala khuluqal adheem” – you're on a vast ethos, (SAW).

But the other thing about commerce is, if you want your commerce to be successful, you have to be trustworthy.  That is the essential characteristic of commerce, trustworthiness. If you give your word, you stand by it. If you write a note, you fulfill it. If you promise goods on a certain day, you fulfill that. And if you don't, people stop doing business with you. The Prophet (SAW) before Islam was known as al-āmīn, the Trustworthy. He was known as al-āmīn because he was the most trustworthy of merchants. People knew that if you gave him your money, not only did you get it back, but you got it back with great benefit.  Khadijah never had anybody that transacted with her money like the messenger of Allāh and should we be surprised?  And when she sent Maysara out with him, and all the people around him have beautiful names, like Maysara, and Umm Baraka, Baraka, Ummu Ayman, Haleema as'Sa'diya, they all have beautiful names, all the people that raised him and nurtured him. So he's with Maysara, the place of ease, the one who makes things easy, and Maysara noted all these things about the Prophet (SAW) and informed Khadijah [but Khadijah had insight into who he was before anyone else, which is why she's Khadijatil Kubra (MPWH).  Her name Khadijah is from khidaaj, which is like naaaqis. It's used in the Arabs would, if a child was born early, they would be thin and skinny, they would call them Khadijah. But she's also naaqis until the Prophet (SAW) completes her. Khadeja al-Kubra was a merchant and she used her wealth for the sake of Allāh (SWT). Abu Bakr was a merchant. He used his wealth for the sake of Allāh (SWT). Umar. All of these people, look at them. The people around the Prophet (SAW), the Qureish were the great merchants of the Arabian Peninsula. But he went to the people of agriculture, because these are the two forces in the world, agriculture and commerce, these are the things that make the world go round, they're what enable us to survive and they're in our original story, is all of the human condition. Everything is there in that original extraordinary story of the messenger of Allāh (SWT).

The Prophet (SAW) told of principles of commerce.  One of the principles that he taught, (SAW), was that the truthful merchant is with martyrs on the Day of Judgment. Theulema say that it's because of the rarity of a real merchant. Imām al-Awzai once was in Beirut, and he passed by an onion seller and the onion seller was saying, onions sweeter than honey,  and imām al-Awzai said to him, do you think it's permissible to lie about something like that?    That's called advertising. Don't think advertising is some new thing. Arabs were marketing a long time ago, they used to market with poetry. Now we have jingles plop plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is. The Arabs had jingles as well, right. I wish I could get that part of my brain back, that that got lodged into. But they're very good, these jingle makers. Jingle bells. They used to advertise, but truthfulness is important. The Muhtasib, which is like the ombudsman, it's the person that goes into the marketplace for quality assurance.  It's a person that is an interface between those who regulate the weights and those who are weighing in the scales in the marketplace.  Umar appointed Shafa or Shifa as the muhtasiba during his time. She used to go in the marketplace with a stick and she would turn over fruit to make sure the good fruit was not on the top and the bad fruit on the bottom. If you go into a store now you will get your strawberries. They have all the big ones on the top and then the tiny ones on the bottom.  That's not by mistake.  But it's a type of “ghish”, because you buy the big ones and then when you open the package you get all the little ones one the bottom. Although little ones can be better than big ones. So this is what the muhtasib did. The hisba is part of our tradition, having quality assurance in the marketplace. This is part of the Islamic tradition and we forget this.

Now one of the things that is very striking about our age is the incredible disparities between the north and the south. The north and the south, and this is something that was pointed out in the seventies by Brant in Germany, he wrote a book about this. So this is, this has been going on for a long time but people in the west, the best of the people, Ulul Baqiyya, those people that are still on virtuous tradition from their ancestors, these people are very concerned about these disparities. Canada is one of the countries that has a real concern. Many of the best countries in the world, if you look at them today, that have the highest social indices in the world have a great concern about social justice. Not just in their own countries but in other places.

And so what happened, you had a movement that began from a Mennonite Christian woman and the Mennonite community is a strong community in Canada. She went to Puerto Rico and she witnessed the types of social disparity, and it troubled her and she wanted to help. And so she thought of bringing goods paying good prices, just prices to people in Puerto Rico and importing those goods into these countries like United States and Canada.  And this was the beginning of the fair trade movement.

CNN recently reported from a website that was supported by, was actually a state department funded project that the average American has, and this would obviously be very difficult to work out. But it's interesting to think about. The average American has 59 slaves working for them around the world. 59. In other words, your lifestyle is based, our lifestyle, not yours, I'm putting myself in there too. Our lifestyle is based on the suffering of other people because, for instance, and I've stopped eating chocolate for this reason, when I found out, and you can see the film on this. There's a documentary that was done on it, on the child labor in harvesting cocoa, that 70% of cocoa on this planet is harvested by child labor. And so when you're eating that chocolate, your pleasure is somebody else's pain. And if you don't think that's having an impact on your being, then you have to wonder why everybody's on Prozac in these countries.  Why are people so depressed? They're depressed because, because much of what we're enjoying, the fruits of our cheap lifestyles, of our cheap gasoline, of our cheap clothes, of our cheap shoes, all of these things, the Walmart world of cheap goods is based on exploited labor from other places.  Not only is that exploited labor the pain and suffering of other people but its direct result is the unemployment that's happening all over these western countries. They're losing their jobs because they're going to Walmart and buying something that's made in Indonesia with labor laws that don't exist, often in incredibly difficult conditions, people working in factories that are really subhuman, and they will buy that instead of buying something that was made by somebody in their own town. There used to be people that made shoes, Americans and Canadians and these other places, they actually used to produce things. That's no longer the case.  But it's not fair because it's based on the exploitation of other peoples. And we have to deal with the fact that this is the life that we're living.

Now the other aspect of it is we have multinational corporations and not all corporations are evil. And I'm not going to go down that route. Not all corporations are evil. Just most of them. There are socially responsible corporations, but many of them are not because they serve the bottom line.

There was a study done where somebody took corporate behaviour and then took the DSM which is the diagnostic statistic manual, of mental diseases and took the sociopathic personality and matched the fact that corporations mirror almost exactly sociopathic personalities.  The corporation is a legal person in the West, even though Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, may Allāh preserve him and unfortunately he wanted to come, Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah was the only person on the fiqh council that was against the idea of making corporations legal persons, because he said it's against the sharia principle. There has to be human responsibility. You cannot have a corporation that's run by people, and that those people can walk away from the corporation scot-free when the corporation does all these terrible things.  So you can sue the corporation but you cannot sue the people behind the corporation.  And he was against that idea, and they were saying, Shaykh this is the age we're living in, this is, and I told him, when I told him I said, you know, the most progressive voices in America, and in the West are saying the same thing that you're saying. And he said they should come to the fiqh council and help me out.

Now we have to understand that the fact that we support these corporations is impacting our lives. And here's what I'm going to say, people say what can I do? There's a lot you can do and so the first thing you can do when you go home is go onmoveyourmoneyproject.org.  You can move your money out of banks that are doing all these heinous things and put them into credit unions and local banks but this is only a temporary solution. The reality of what we have to do, and I've started this process. We all have to do it, you have to move your money, get it out of these multinational banks that are. Listen, if you want to understand what happened in Egypt, what happened in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, all these places, it's directly related to what happened on Wall Street. Because the commodities market zoomed up because all the real estate was collapsing and so they start putting their money into commodities, commodities go up, and suddenly the Egyptian who's paying 25% of his income for food is now paying 45% of his income for food, and he can't afford it. And they're literally starving. This is happening in many, many places around the world. People are suffering from this unjust, economic system that has to be identified, the culprits behind it need to be identified because these are real people, and they have names. And they are doing things that are completely immoral. They're doing things that are absolutely immoral and we're all suffering from it.

Canada's been spared a lot of this egregiousness because there were much better fiscal policies here but don't think that you're free from it.  And the other thing is, if we go, you go.  So you better hope that because 80% of your economy is tied to our economy. And you should know that so don't get high and mighty. Like we, I've put maple syrup, I use it on my oatmeal, Canada Imported.  So I'm supporting Canadian economy in my own house, alright.

So what you can do is move your money, but that is only a temporary solution. Muslims need to develop their own banking systems. Anybody can open a bank if they have a charter, it's not hard to do and banking is the biggest scam that's ever been perpetrated on people.  Really, if you understand banking you will be amazed at what they get away with because this is the only private company that can create money out of nothing. We all have to earn our money, they just literally create it out of nothing. And so you need to understand we as, as a community need to open banks but they can't be like some of these shifty shady things that are going on, Sariah complaint, quote, unquote, right. And Canada has already tasted the bitter brunt of that, alright. So we have to, really, we have to have our own banks. The other thing we can do, we have over 50, 000 doctors in the United States of America and you've got many Muslim doctors, 50, 000 Muslim doctors. And I've said this before but when, when an American comedian on national TV said I went to my doctor and he said faceMecca and cough, and everyone in the audience laughed, you know that Muslim doctors are having an impact on this society. People put their lives in the hands of Muslim doctors every day.

Muslim doctors are paying hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance. Every month. Who are they paying it to? They're paying it to Blue Cross, I thought we didn't believe in crosses? Really, they're paying it to mutual insurance, they're paying it to all these companies. We have a system called takaful which is superior to this insurance system where you actually, you're investing your money, and then if something happens then the money comes out of that. This is a superior system, you would get people from other faiths and non-faith people, they would want to be part of this because they wouldn't be just losing their money every month. But getting something back. We need Muslim insurance companies. All you people here are paying auto insurance, where's the Muslim insurance company, that could be a non- profit insurance company? That could be giving back to the community. Where is it? Where is our creativity? Why aren't we thinking economically? We're literally spending so much money on these societies, and what are we getting back for it?

Reasonably good governance, pretty good roads, you know. Good amenities, nice municipalities, but much of it is being squandered on companies that are doing terrible things. They really are. And if you read the fine print in a lot of these insurance companies, it's amazing what they get away with. All you have to do is look at what happened to the people in Katrina, they had insurance against hurricanes. But because the dam broke they blamed it on the dam.  And said oh it wasn't the hurricane, and people lost their houses. I mean this is the type, this is totally unethical.

The Qurʾān is about giving people respite until things are easier for them. Muslims don't foreclose homes. Really. Bank robbers don't chase people out of their homes but bankers do. Really. It's amazing what they get away with.

Woody Guthrie, the great American poet said some will rob you with a fountain pen.  Some with a sixth gun, and some with a fountain pen.  I mean people were completely robbed. All these securitized loans, derivatives packed in. And they were robbing everybody. It wasn't just the people that were signing those deeds. They were robbing the firemen's insurance, the teachers' insurance, peoples 401 k's all of these people that thought their retirement was in triple A loans, standards and poor,  and it wasn't triple A loans. And then they were betting against themselves. This was what was going on, complete unethical behaviour. Now if you look, Spanoza said that greed, avarice and covetousness are species of madness, they're types of madness. We forget that, that these people are actually insane and yet we give money. Allāh (SWT) says don't give idiots your wealth.  Don't give idiots your wealth.  Allāh says this in the Qur'an, do not give your wealth to people that will misuse your wealth. We are empowering them with every check we write. With every time you use that credit card, use cash. Don't give them that 4%. Why should some middle man, some sar'a.They're trying to eliminate cash. Who wants to eliminate cash? The bankers do because they'll get 4% of every human transaction. Don't let them do that. Start using cash.

But that's only a temporary solution. We need to recognize that, commodity backed wealth is the only sound form of wealth. Commodity backed wealth is the only sound form of wealth. They will argue, and let me tell you something about economics majors. Economics majors go through a brainwashing program. Seriously, because they come out of it with all these ideas and if you try to say something like uh, you know we need to get back to a bi-medal economy, oh no that's, that's passé, they got rid of that. It was a bad system it doesn't work. Who said it doesn't work? It worked for thousands of years.  Human beings traded in gold and silver for thousands of years.  Gold rarely inflates. It inflates when new mines are discovered, but there's only about a 2% increase in gold every year, so it's very minimal. But look at the inflation that your money is having.  You know, Robert Frost wrote a poem that he never published about currency. And in that poem he said, the pain of seeing ten cents turn to five, we clutch fiercely at the part we think we feel it in.  The head, the heart, is someone cutting us into a lie, is someone at us, cutting us in half? We cast a dangerous look from where we lie, up to the enthroned kings of earth and sky. They know too well what's good for them to laugh. Right? He was talking about inflation, 1919, inflation, when Woodrow Wilson to pay for all the war problems, printed up all this money inflating the currency and paying. Why do you think the Chinese are angry? Because they're seeing all of that money that they're holding is being inflated. They know what's happening. There's a book recently out called, Currency Wars, threatening about the collapse of the dollar, and the fact that we're in a currency war. If what's going on in Europe is currency war against the euro. The euro is being destroyed. The yen, the dollar the euro, the mark, these are the global currencies, and this is happening all around us.  And yet we remain oblivious to it because these currencies are fiat currencies that have no intrinsic value. Intrinsic value is in gold and silver. At the time of the Prophet (SAW), gold and silver was a 10:1 ratio. At the beginning of America's bi-medal economy, was a 14:1 ratio, under Hamilton.

In 1873 they prohibited silver, as a monetary means of transaction. Why did they prohibit silver? Because the bankers knew there was more silver than gold, they wanted payment in gold, because farmers and poor people could pay with silver, and it was like having an easier way of paying off their debts, and so they actually outlawed silver in the United States, in 1873. It was considered a great crime and this is where you get William Jennings Brian, don't crucify us on a cross of gold, it was a famous speech that he gave. The wizard of Oz is actually a metaphor, the wizard of Oz, the yellow brick road. In the original story she had silver slippers, because that was the secret. And he was talking about the farmers. The scarecrow represents the farmers, in the agrarian areas of America.  The tin man represents the industrial north, the factory workers that were losing their heart because of the alienation of their life. I'm not making this up.  This is L Frank Baum, it's the great mythology of America.

We need commodity backed currencies. We should be advocating this. We need economists that study our economics. And not this superficial economics that doesn't challenge the basic suppositions of this system, because Muslim economists now are talking about making halal transactions, that's band-aid, it's a start. Making these certain types of loans, mudarabamuradahaMudaraba is makrooh in the Malikimadhab. It's not an ideal system, the mudaraba system.  But making these loans is better than doing the other thing because everybody should have some risk involved.

Ribaa is the great sin in the Qur'an. “Fa'lanu harbin minallahi wa rasulihi,” Be declared war on you. The Prophet (SAW) said, “ya'ti alan nas zaman, kulluhum ya'kulunariba,” all of them will be consuming interest, or usury. Now they say interest but it is usury. All of them will be eating usury, interest or usury, and then the sahaba said, kulluhum”? Because they knew the enormity of this sin. They said “kulluhum, ya rasulullah?” He said all of them. And he said, “wa man lam ya' kuluhu yusabu min ghubarihi,” and the one that doesn't consume it directly, will be covered in its dust.  Sadaqa rasullullah.  You have to see the prophecy in that.  Sadaqa rasullulah. (SAW).

So the other thing that you can do, support your local economies, buy local. Support your local economies. We have farmer markets that are being revived in the United States, supporting small farmers.   Getting out of the agro business. All of these diseases are coming from these agro businesses.  You have to support your local farmers.

The other thing that is very important is to recognize the problem of food.  We live in a completely unjust food system. In America because sugar can be produced much cheaper in places, they put all of these restrictions on the importation of sugar. And so Americans now are eating corn syrup produced in America and getting fat from this corn syrup. Because corn syrup is actually not a good source of sugar. That's an example. But I'll give you a worse example.  The most important study that's been done on nutrition ever is the China Study by Doctor Campbell and his researchers. This was a first rate researcher from Princeton, teamed up with Oxford. He was a completely credible scientist, and pre-modern China, died of cancer of the bladder. Before he died, he set aside money to do a study of nutrition in China and disease relation. So this was independently funded. Campbell ran that team, and the result of it is the China Study.

Some things about the China Study that are very important. The first thing is that the result was so radical that the food pyramid was changed, to be more scientific. But because meat and dairy were completely minimized in the diet, the meat and dairy industry in the United States lobbied so hard that they actually changed the pyramid. Which means science is no longer serving humanity, it's serving corporate interest. That's what it means. Science is serving corporate interests that is wrong.

In the China study, what they found, is that in areas where their proteins were less than 5% from meat and dairy, there was no cancer. There was no cancer. The original study was done in Hyderabad in India, and Harvard scientists they laughed at it and they said oh they must have got the cages mixed up. Campbell replicated this science repeatedly.

Some things about meat and dairy consumption. First of all, the meat and dairy today is not the meat and dairy that grandma and grandpa ate.  The meat that grandma and grandpa ate were free range, what they would call now organic, they didn't have a word for it because everything was organic fifty years ago.  Organic free range, happily raised animals on farms, where they actually treated animals with some dignity.  Farmers actually have relationships with their animals. They treated them with dignity.

Now, and my grandfather had a cattle ranch, so I actually spent my summers on a cattle ranch and I herded cattle and I saw. My grandfather, first time I got on a horse, before I got on a horse, he put a pencil in my mouth and yanked it back really hard, and he said that's what the horse feels when you're using that bit, so don't forget it. That was my first lesson because that's the way people taught, they had respect for their animals. In the United States, horses are not categorized as pets, they're categorized as livestock. You can starve a horse to death in America and not go to jail, which is wrong. Horses should have rights, animals have rights in Islam. This is not a new concept.   Our religion gives animals rights. Ants have rights. In the book ofzuhd, one of the sahaba used to go out and put bed crumbs on the ant hill that was near his house and one of the tabi'in asked what he was doing, he said I don't' want them testifying against me on yawmul qiyama, that I didn't fulfill the rights of the neighbor.  And this is an ant hill. What kind of psychology did these people have?  It's a different world they were living in.

Dr. Nasr was alluding to it last night. They lived in a different world. The Prophet spoke to animals. He spoke to animals. Our Prophet spoke to animals. He spoke to them and they spoke back to him, this is not mythology, this is reality.  We have people today that still speak to animals.  Animals respond to you. They respond to you. They're sensing creatures, they have nervous systems, they feel pain, and they become depressed.  In America we have dogs and cats on Prozac. This is a fact. Veterinarians prescribe Prozac for dogs in America. Don't think the dog is depressed because he's a dog. He's happy to be a dog. He's depressed because he's in a house that's depressing. The dog whisperer said, he doesn't go solve people's dog problems, he goes to solve dog's people problems. And the same is true for the horse whisperer, Buck, the horse whisperer said I don't solve people's horse problems, I solve horse's people problems. Animals are intuitive, they know when something's wrong.

Sayyidina Omar during his khalifa prohibited eating meat every day. This is a fact. Also don't think vegetarianism is not from Islam. People say that when they become Muslim and they are vegetarian, they say oh you have to start eating meat. Your īmānis not complete until you eat meat. That's what they say and then they give them the biryani and welcome to Islam.

Ibnu Abi Lahm, one of the sahaba, ibnu Abi Lahm, was a vegetarian. Can a nabataean, this is in the tradition. And the Prophet (SAW) accepted that from him. Now if you swore off meat for ibadah, that's a different thing, the Prophet (SAW) told them not to do that. But he didn't want to eat meat, maybe he didn't like it.  But today, eating a lot of meat is unethical.  I would say that eating fish, this is your choice, and I'm not dictating to anybody, you have to make your own choices, you do your research, you know we're not fascist. Think for your selves. I'm not here to tell you what to do, I'm here to make you think about things, and you go back and you do your own research and you decide for yourselves because you're all sovereign human beings, and nobody can tell you what to do other than Allāh and His Messenger, and that's it. Nobody can tell you what to do.

And every scholar that tells you, is telling you what he thinks Allāh and His messenger is telling you what to do, that's called ijtihad. But there are few things where Allāh spells it out, and fallibilism is very important, our scholars need to have more fallibilism. We don't doubt Islam but we should doubt our understanding of Islam, we should doubt our understanding of Islam, we don't doubt Islam. But we should doubt our understanding of Islam, because to have certainty about your understanding is to arrogate to yourself some divine knowledge that you don't have.

So Sayyidna Omar said, it's in the Mu'ata, beware of meat, because it has, it has an addiction like the addiction of wine. Beware of meat because it has an addiction like the addiction of wine.  We have Muslims now eating meat three times a day and then they're wondering why they have gout, why they have all these diseases. Seriously, start cutting that out.

The other thing, I read a book last year called The Caveman Diet. And in that book, he was arguing, he's not a Muslim, he said, everybody should fast at least a month out of the year where they diminish their intake, this is what he said in his book. He's from LA.  Everybody should fast a month out of the year, and fast a couple of days in the month.  Because he said our bodies are designed to be food deprived, they're designed that way, to be food deprived.

If you want to see an amazing documentary, look at, “Sick, fat, and nearly dead,” and you look at the miracle that happens on that. A man who fasted sixty days and then got another man who was almost dead to start fasting and the man's transformation was amazing. We need to transform our food. We need to eat healthy food that's locally grown.  If we're going eat meat, you shouldn't eat meat more than once a week.

Imām Sahl al-Tustari, one of the conditions when he took on students, one of the conditions he stipulated was that they ate meat once a week.  In Maliki fiqh, a rich woman is entitled to meat twice a week. Muslims were semi-vegetarians. The Prophet (SAW) was a semi-vegetarian, he did not eat a lot of meat. This is a fact, you can read it in the sīrah.

Two months they would see no smoke came out of his chimney, and they would say, what were you eating? They said al-aswadayn, it's in the sahih collection, al-aswadayn, water and date. Dates are one of the most beneficial foods in the world. So this is absolutely imperative that you change your diets. We're eating far too much processed foods, all of this cancer, one out of four people is getting cancer now. Heart disease, diabetes, 70% of the people in some of the Gulf States over 40 have type 2 diabetes. 70%. They're drinking, eating all this processed food. Cancer has become epidemic, in West Africa because they're eating all these processed foods. Eat fresh, healthy foods, eat good foods, this is part of our religion. Allāh (SWT) doesn't mention food without mentioning halal and tayyib. Make your food a source of nutrition. Don't eat empty food, don't eat too much food. Really. Eat twice a day. Sahl was asked, he said, what do you say about a man who eats once a day. He said, that's the way Prophets eat.    He said what about twice a day? He said, that's the way righteous eat. And then he said what about three times a day? He said, build for them a trough. Build for them a trough.

Now the other thing, this is very important, and with this I'll conclude, I'm out of time, I'll conclude with this.  Support companies that are socially responsible. The way that you can do this starting out is get, there are several guides that can do this. There are fair trade guides. One of the best is the better buying, better world buying guide, you can get an app for it.  I've got an app here. We actually invited the author who's a sociologist, really sweet man, we invited him. It's called better world shopper. It's an app that you can buy. Anything that you want to buy, you go onto it. So you go to supermarket and they will rate your supermarket based on how socially responsible they are, A+, A, A-, C, C+, C, D and F.  Airlines, if you're going to fly, fly Virgin Airlines, fly Air Canada, fly the Jet Blue, Southwest Airlines. There are airlines that you can fly, that are better than the other airlines. They're more socially responsible. They're donating more. They're treating their employees well. And this has been analyzed, they're people that are really serious about this.

There are people now called Freegans. You know about Freegans? People Freegans are literally dropping out, they're just checking out because they don't want to be part of this unjust system that is killing us, that is killing our planet. It's killing us. And there are people that are morally, they are more morally responsible in the non- Muslim community than I find in the Muslim community. I know non- Muslims that have given up credit cards altogether because they don't want to be part of these banking systems, and yet we as Muslims aren't willing to make changes. We can create our own system, we have to do these things.  This is our duty.

And finally, this is all about preparing for the Day of Judgment. Maybe we won't change this thing. Maybe this is the way it's all headed. You know, Bob Marley, I used to listen to him when I was a kid, before I became Muslim. Bob Marley, he said, free your mind from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds. Have no fear of atomic energy, they cannot stop the time.  How long will they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look, but some say it's all a part of it, we've got to fulfill the book.  Allāh (SWT)is in charge, we're not going to predict the future, but we're people of hope.  Our religion is a religion of hope. We have hope in God. Li man kana yarjullah, we have hope in God. We have hope in our Prophet (SAW), who will never betray us. No matter how much betrayal in the world, he will never betray you. He will stand by you. He will take you across. He will give you from the howdh. He will stand by you as long as you stand by him. The Prophet will never betray you. God will never betray you. Hope is, our religion, our religion is hope. We have to give our children hope. Hope is the thing with feathers that purges in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops it all. And sweetest in the gale is heard and sore must be the storm that could abash the little bird that kept so many warm. I've seen it in the chilliest land, and on the strangest sea. And never in extremity it asked a crumb of me.  Hope is a beautiful thing, our religion is a religion of hope. We have hope. Change your lives. Clean your houses out, stop supporting this unjust economic system.

Islamic Gardens in the UK

IMG_0446.jpg

By: Muaz Nasir

Are there community gardens operated by your local mosque? Is there such a thing as an Islamic or Quranic garden? What are the Islamic principles regarding gardening and agriculture in general? These questions and more have been asked by avid gardeners in the Muslims community who have been keen on establishing natural areas that conform to traditional Islamic permaculture.  While access to this information has been limited in the Western world, there is a growing movement towards spiritual gardening that incorporates the sacred and scriptural teaching into how we grow plants, raise animals and interact with nature in general.

The Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) recognized the interest in this area and recently commissioned a report examining the need, value and viability of Islamic gardens in the United Kingdom. The goal of Islamic Gardens in the UK was to promote conservation through an alternate means and to better engage the Muslim population in the UK about environmental issues. The researchers were seeking to establish the feasibility of bringing Islamic gardening traditions and faith-based environmentalism together, and evaluate the likelihood of its success.

Although the findings demonstrate that many of the existing Islamic gardens in the UK do not pro-actively promote biodiversity and conservation, they do act as a medium for educating both Muslim and non-Muslim audiences about the traditional gardens in the Islamic world and the rich heritage it represents.

The concept of an Islamic garden can still be found today across the Muslims world. Areas from Persia to Northern India have remnants of the integration of formal garden architecture with symbols of paradise as described in the Quran. There is also emerging evidence that the gardens of the Islamic Empire were sites of experimental study and more closely resemble the botanical gardens or experimental farms of today.

The methodology of the study involved consulting with various experts and activists, specifically those that work in the field of Islamic garden design and Islamic environmentalism.  They also worked with those members of conservation and horticultural societies to seek their feedback on the viability of Islamic gardens as well as engaged with other faith groups to document the benefits of gardening from a spiritual perspective.

94

The remaining sections of the report document the case studies and aggregate results of the research study. Some notable findings of the case-research study include:

The most significant barriers in terms of visiting botanic gardens, in the respondents view, are in order of frequency

  1. lack of publicity and an associated unfamiliarity with what a botanic garden might have to offer
  2. geographic distance
  3. lack or prayer facilities
  4. expense, both in terms of travelling but also admission charges
  • In relation to other British Muslims, the respondents indicated they were aware of environmental issues and that this was largely driven by the efforts of secular/mainstream initiatives (64%), rather than Islamic principles and obligations (12%). Islamic leaders could have an important role in reversing this balance, and 94% of respondents would like to see Friday sermons addressing this issue.
  • Islamic gardens could have a significant role in promoting Muslim heritage, which could be valuable for inter-religious understanding and social cohesion.
  • Passive educational methods (posters, pamphlets, film) could be effective in enabling visitors to appreciate the link between Islam and conservation.

The researchers did note that the environmental message is of Islam is slowly being taken up by a new generation of British-born activists who possess the credibility and knowledge to demonstrate environmental responsibility from an Islamic perspective. Developing traditional Islamic gardens is one tool towards promoting greater stewardship within the Muslims community.

Quote

 

Overall this report represents an important first step in surveying the Muslim community on their perspectives towards the environment. Although the sample size is fairly small, the findings document a genuine interest and inherent need for the environmental message to be incorporated into the religious framework of the mosque.

From a Canadian context, the findings of this study can be applied to our municipal, provincial and national park network to better engage Muslims with the natural environment. Many of the barriers identified in the UK are a less of an issue here as many Canadians have access to parks, and admission fees are reasonable if they are charged at all.

The development of passive educational methods is one tool that is fairly inexpensive to develop and would be a significant first step in connecting the natural world with the spiritual teachings in Islam. Raising the profile of environmental issues through mediums like the Green Khutbah Campaign is another takeaway as there was a strong desire from the respondents to learn these messages through mosques.

Ten Green Hadiths

Nature By: Muhammad Fathi Did the Prophet (peace and blssings be upon him) say anything about saving our planet? Did he promote any ideas or practices relevant to the world's growing concern about the future of the earth and its resources?

Today, with the increasing awareness of the dangers facing our planet and the great interest in green ideas, a reflection on the guidance of the Prophet in this area proves helpful and relevant. What is distinctive about the Prophet's approach to environmental issues is the connection he establishes between green practices and the Hereafter reward, which represents for Muslims an incentive greater than any worldly gain or reward and, as a result, prompts a greater care for the earth and more effort to conserve its resources.

Below is a collection of the Prophet's hadiths that, although said 14 centuries ago, are so relevant today. The green ideas are not novel, they are as old and well established as the religion of Islam is.

Plant a tree even if it is your last deed: 1. Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “If the Hour (the day of Resurrection) is about to be established and one of you was holding a palm shoot, let him take advantage of even one second before the Hour is established to plant it.” (Authinticated by Al-Albani) Planting trees is a renewable source of hasanat: 2. Anas also reported that the Prophet said, "If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift (sadaqah) for him." (Bukhari)

Conserve resources even when used for rituals: 3. Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al-`Aas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet passed one day by Sa`d ibn Abi Waqas (May Allah be pleased with him) while he was performing wudu' (ritual cleaning of body parts in preparation for prayer). The prophet asked Sa`d, "Why is this wastage?" Sa`d replied "Is there wastage in wudu also?" The Prophet said, "Yes, even if you are at a flowing river." (Ahmad and authenticated Ahmad Shakir)

Keeping environment clean is important: 4. Mu`adh (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet warned, "Beware of the three acts that cause you to be cursed: relieving yourselves in shaded places (that people utilize), in a walkway or in a watering place." (Ranked sound, hasan, by Al-Albani)

5. Abu Zarr Al-Ghafari (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Removing harmful things from the road is an act of charity (sadaqah)." (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

No for over-consumption! Consider recycling and fixing before buying new items: 6. Abdullah ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet said, "The believer is not he who eats his fill while his neighbor is hungry." (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

7. Asked about what the Prophet used to do in his house, the Prophet's wife, `A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), said that he used to repair his shoes, sow his clothes and used to do all such household works done by an average person. (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

8. The Prophet said, "Whoever kills a sparrow or anything bigger than that without a just cause, Allah will hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment."  The listeners asked, "O Messenger of Allah, what is a just cause?" He replied, "That he will kill it to eat, not simply to chop off its head and then throw it away." (An-Nasa'i)   Animals should be cared for: 9. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet said, "A man felt very thirsty while he was on the way, there he came across a well. He went down the well, quenched his thirst and came out. Meanwhile he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. He said to himself, "This dog is suffering from thirst as I did." So, he went down the well again, filled his shoe with water, held it with his mouth and watered the dog. Allah appreciated him for that deed and forgave him." 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)

10. Abdullah ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet said, "A woman entered the (Hell) Fire because of a cat which she had tied, neither giving it food nor setting it free to eat from the vermin of the earth." (Bukhari)

This article was originally published on OnIslam.net on April 22 2013.

Photo Credit: kaybee07

How We Began a Green Movement at our Muslim Students Association

gm-week-flyer.jpg

by Tesneem Alkiek and Layth Dahbour The Green Muslims Initiative (GM) at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is two-fold. Firstly, we hope to educate and implement environmentally sustainable habits that can be easily adopted by our campus community. Secondly, as we are a new initiative under the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA), we want to create a clear connection between the importance of environmental conservatism and the faith of Islam. In our first year we already have made major changes in the way the MSA, as an organization, treats the environment, hosted events that educate our community of habits that they can adopt, discussed several connections between the protecting the environment and Islam, and provided college students with opportunities to get further involved with green activities on campus.

We hit the ground running and started our year off by inviting Chaplain Nuri Friedlander of Harvard to shed light on the Islamic importance of living green. One of our greatest investments has been using reusable plates, cups, and utensils at all of our MSA events! In addition, we have found a homeless shelter in our community that accepts all the extra food left over at the MSA events.

Our biggest event this year was the “Green Week” that happened in early February. Throughout this week, we put a green twist on MSA weekly events. We held a “Green” Mini-Qiyam where one of our community members who studies Environmental Science explained to us that our role as Muslims is to be stewards of the Earth that Allah (swt) has blessed us with. GM also hosted the MSA’s first ever “Brothers vs. Sisters Cook-off.” This event was meant to teach our community the importance of buying local, organic food, in order to minimize the impact we have on the environment.

The Green Muslim Initiative’s Green Week schedule

Prior to the cook-off, we had a workshop on simple steps that we can incorporate into our daily lives, in order to protect the environment in general, and the University of Michigan campus more specifically. This is part of UM’s new Planet Blue Ambassador Program. To conclude the week, the Green Muslims Initiative influenced a “Green” Friday khutbah and also hosted a trip of volunteers at the local arboretum where we cut down invasive species from their natural habitats.

Looking forward, the Green Muslims Initiative hopes to continue providing the Muslim community and the overall campus community with opportunities to be more educated and involved in environmental sustainability. In the future we hope to implement regular services that encourage college students to be more conscious of how they treat the Earth. Strategies to do this include collaborating with campus offices and student organizations in Ann Arbor and elsewhere.

We also want to continually remind the members of our community that our faith emphasizes our role as stewards of the environment. It is through verses like the one below that drive the progress of GM:

“But waste not in excess: for Allah loveth not the wasters” (6:141), (7:31)

Tesneem Alkiek has completed her sophomore year at the University of Michigan, studying Early Christianity and Islamic Studies. She is currently the Community Service cochair for the MSA. Layth Dahbour is a junior majoring in Political Science and Biomolecular Science and has become involved with Green Muslims to learn more about Islam and environmentalism.

If you have questions or comments about the Green Muslims Initiative at the University of Michigan, please feel free to e-mail greenmuslims@umich.edu.

Originally published online on April 26 2013 on Green Muslims, (www.greenmuslims.org/)

 

Islam and Fair Trade

International trade and globalization has had some benefits including alleviating poverty in the developing world and raising the standard of living of millions within these countries. However, the impacts have been uneven in some industries which have left many producers vulnerable to exploitation. Small scale producers, such as farmers, are unable to compete with foreign subsidies and trade restrictions placed on their goods, which leaves them at a disadvantage when seeking a share of the international market.

While there are many factors that can be attributed for this (skillset, infrastructure, incomplete markets, and governing policy), the fact remains that many of these marginalized producers are either excluded or susceptible to fluctuations of commodity markets.

What is fair trade?

The concept of fair trade aims to promote a more sustainable relationship between the rich and poor by including these producers in the global economy and providing them with a secure and fair income for their products. Often this includes providing training to develop and diversify their business in an effort to become self-sustaining over the long-term. While the term ‘fair trade’ can refer to anything from handicrafts to clothing, it is predominantly associated with cash crops such as coffee and cotton.

 

What is the Islamic perspective on fair trade?

Historically, trade and commerce played a crucial role in the spread of Islam. Mecca was a centre of commerce and caravans from Asia to Africa passed through on a regular basis. As a result, there are many teachings within the Quran and Sunnah relating to business transactions, trade and ethics. The Prophet (PBUH) promoted fairness and equity and indicated that one should not involve themselves in transactions that will cause greater harm than benefit to the community and the environment.

The Quran also quite clearly emphasizes the importance placed on justice and fairness when dealing in trade.

"Deal not unjustly, and you shall not be dealt with unjustly." (Quran 2:279)

"Eat not up each other's property by unfair and dishonest means." (Quran 4:29)

"Give full measure and full weight in justice, and wrong not people in respect of their goods." (Quran 11:85)

Sustainable development and social justice are two aspects of fair trade that run parallel to the teachings of Islam. Creating opportunities for marginalized producers, ensuring equitable wages and safe working environments for employees and ensuring that the environment is protected for future generations are all intertwined teachings of Islam and are supported by fair trade. In fact, Islamic principles go beyond the mission of the fair trade movement as it forbids speculation markets, hoarding goods to increase returns and interest as a tool for reinforcing poverty.

What can I do in my community?

The most effective action you can take is to raise awareness about the importance of fair trade and the inherent connection with Islam. Consider switching to fair trade products at home and at work and encourage others to do the same. You could also hold a fair trade iftaar during Ramadan or sell fair trade products at your mosque as a fundraising initiative. Mosques serve as the hub of our community, so consider making yours a fair trade mosque that chooses to use and support fair trade products. Ask your Imam to deliver a khutbah on the benefits of fair trade ahead of  World Fair Trade Day in May.

Islamic Relief has a wealth of resources online for those considering implementing fair trade products into their local mosque, school and workplace including posters, event ideas and educational material.

For more information on fair trade, please visit:

Islam and Fair Trade

An Islamic Perspective on Fair Trade

The Canadian Fair Trade Network

CBC News IN DEPTH: Fair trade

Figs, Dates, Laurel and Myrrh - Plants of the Bible and Quran

4547501174_30bbe2fd1a_b.jpg

Within the holy scriptures of the Abrahamic faiths, there are numerous references made in passing to elements of nature. Some are made in a descriptive form to allude to traits or behaviors, while others describe the beneficial or medicinal uses of specific plants. Recently, there has been a renewed interest in these plants and what we can learn about them from a historical and religious perspective. Figs, Dates, Laurel and Myrrh – Plants of the Bible and the Quran, by Lytton Musselman, examines the history and culture of these plants and how the society of the time was influenced by the ecology of their surroundings. This comparative analysis also reviews the ethnobotanical relationship of the traditional plants and explores the differences observed within Christianity and Islam.

The goal of the book is two-fold. The first is to help readers of the scriptures better understand the ecological and cultural factors that led to the inclusion of various plants within the teachings. The second is to provide insight into the plants themselves and reflect upon the diversity of form, colour, smell and use.

Musselman notes upfront the limitations of writing a book on such a topic which requires both a familiarity of the botanical history of the region and a strong background of the theology of the religious texts. There is also a literary style that is often lost in translation such as inadvertent descriptions or the identification of plants that are not native to the region.

The book itself lists over 100 plants documented within the Bible and Quran with one chapter devoted to each plant. This includes a short botanical description of its morphology, characteristics of its growing and harvesting cycle, its habitat range, the scriptural context in which it was described and its current uses today.

The number of well-defined plants within the Quran is about a quarter of those described within the Bible, with many of them overlapping both books. The observed difference is due to the Quran being shorter than the Bible and the semi-arid climate in which it was revealed.

Many of the plants have symbolic meanings that are linked to the scriptural imagery that is often expanded in practice. Examples of plants and their products described in the book are embedded in Middle-East culture. However, there are other plants that are less familiar to us today; either because they are not extensively used or they were traditionally imported from other regions. There are also plants that cannot be identified either because there are several meanings or the common names have eventually replaced the original species.

Overall the book is a good resource for those interested in exploring the background of the plants within the Bible and Quran. The historical context and evolution of their use provides an interesting framework to structure the book and cohesively ties in with the botanical descriptions of each plant. Where the plant is described in both scriptures, a comparison between contexts is made to demonstrate their respective importance within each faith. Musselman strives to maintain scientific rigor when identifying and describing each species, which provides a comprehensive picture of the ecology of the region and evolution of their use. This enables the reader to pair their understanding of the religious history to form a complete picture of how the interaction of the environment shaped the culture and development of each religion. I would highly recommend this book to those interested in the ecological aspects of religion or those curious about the use of plants in the holy scriptures.

The Green Hajj Guide

L24sN.png

 

Hajj is the sacred pilgrimage in Islam that is carried out at least once in the lifetime of every Muslim who is able to perform it. Millions of Muslims from across the world travel to the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia to fulfill the religious rites and requirements which is meant to align one’s physical, spiritual and moral well-being. This journey presents a great opportunity to move away from our materialistic culture and to put into practice Islamic teachings that include care for the environment and its creations.

The Green Hajj Guide was developed by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and commissioned by EcoMuslim and Global One 2015. The initiative was part of the Muslim Seven Year Action Plan on Climate Change launched in 2009 and is a joint venture between ARC and the United Nations Development Programme. The guide was developed to provide simple instructions on how to implement a greener approach to the Hajj and enables the pilgrim to prepare and carry out a Green Hajj and Umrah by:

1)      Asking you to purchase environmentally–friendly products and services

2)      Encouraging you to reduce waste and consumption

3)      Advising you to live environmentally-friendly post-pilgrimage

The guide is divided into several sections. The first reviews values and principles of Islam as they relate to conservation of the environment. The second provides guidance on preparing for a Green Hajj and offers advice on the mental state, your purchasing and travel choices and the importance of fair trade products. The third looks at reducing your carbon footprint during Hajj, such as using alternate transit options like the new Mecca Metro; to reduce congestion and pollution. It also reminds those returning that the habits instilled when you go to Hajj should continue when you return to you daily routines, including environmental stewardship. The closing section provides recommendations for governments and institutions organizing the Hajj to make it more environmentally friendly; however, these ideas can be expanded to include our local communities.

Overall, the guide provides a quick reference for those contemplating the pilgrimage and summarizes some easy steps that pilgrims can implement during the Hajj as well as action items they can incorporate into their daily routine once they return.

Photo credit from 5ivepillars

Observing a Green Ramadan with Imam Zaid Shakir

406785_10150500165216940_618729468_n
406785_10150500165216940_618729468_n

Last week GreenFaith hosted its annual Green Ramadan webinar with special guests Imam Zaid Shakir; prominent Muslim scholar and co-founder of Zaytuna College and Br. Saffet Catovic; board member of the Islamic Society of Essex County and Greenfaith fellow.

This annual seminar aims to raise awareness within the Muslim community about our environmental responsibility towards the planet and provides proactive tools and resources Muslims can adopt during the month of Ramadan.

Imam Zaid Shakir opened the webinar with a call for Muslims to stand with other faith communities in protecting the environment. No matter what faith group we belong to, the earth is part of our common heritage and should be treated as a gift for future generations. It is critical that our community join the environmental movement as an awareness of nature fosters an appreciation of the signs of Allah and enhances our spiritual well-being and development.

The Green Ramadan project was created to encourage and establish environmentally-friendly habits and practices during the holy month of Ramadan.  During this month we celebrate spirituality, brotherhood and strengthen our connection with Allah, however; there is a disconnect between our belief and some of the practices at our local mosques and community organizations. The prevalent use of disposable products like Styrofoam containers and plastic water bottles results in a staggering amount of waste thrown away after each iftar. These problems often have simple solutions such as utilizing reusable dishware and cutlery, composting leftover food-scraps and holding littlerless iftars.

Imam Zaid closes his portion of the seminar by reaffirming the need to reconnect with the earth and strive towards maintaining the balance that Allah has created. He urges Muslims to participate and contribute towards the larger environmental movement, or risk failing our responsibility of preserving the planet for future generations.

Br. Saffet Catovic is part of the Green Muslims of New Jersey network and is one of the founders of the Green Ramadan campaign.  The organization was founded as a response to many of our mosques who have yet to assume their full role when it comes to fulfilling our communal responsibility and promoting individual accountability towards the earth.

The Green Ramadan Initiative incorporates two components to address this deficiency: 1)      What can I do this Ramadan to be Green? (individual) 2)      How to Green my Masjid/Organization this Ramadan? (collective)

To accomplish this they collaborated with Khalid Dardir, an environmentalist within the New Jersey community, to form the Green Ramadan Pledge which tackles waste and excess through four categories.

GREEN RAMADAN PLEDGE

"I _______________________ pledge this Ramadan to MAKE A DIFFERENCE to be environmentally conscious, socially responsible and compassionate to those around me in following the example of Prophet Muhammad (SAAWS) – the mercy to the worlds. In order to fulfill this, I pledge to do the following action items (SELECT PLEDGE ITEMS):

WATER1. Adopt a Sunnah Wudu: It is reported that the Prophet Muhammad would perform the entire wudu from a bowl two-hands full together (approximately 0.5 liter) and he warned against excess in performing ablution (israf). 2. Quick Showers: Reduce shower time by 20%. On average, a ten minute shower results in twenty-five gallons of water down the drain.

WASTE3. Eliminate Plastic Water Bottles: Plastic should be minimized because of harm related to global warming and health. 4. Eliminate Styrofoam. Styrofoam is unrecyclable and non-biodegradable, which means that it will persist as garbage even a thousand year after its use. 5. Adopt a Reusable water bottle/mug whether you are at the mosque, work, or home. Avoid bringing plastic disposable bottles to the mosque during iftars and for tarawih. 6. Reduce Disposable Party items: Remove or reduce all of disposable items from your parties and save money while doing so.

FOOD7. Reduce food waste and over consumption by eating moderately, keeping in mind the hadith (fill ⅓ of stomach with food, ⅓ water, and ⅓ empty). Take only what you can comfortably finish. 8. Sunnah Iftars: Eat More Fruits & Vegetables, Less Meat: The Prophet’s diet consisted mostly of grains, dates, water, milk, honey, vegetables and fruits. Meat was not daily part of his diet.

ENERGY9.  Make an effort to carpool.  10. Plant or expand a garden this year (less grass, more trees and plants) at home or the mosque and remember that planting a tree is a charity.

For more information on this initiative, please visit:

GreenFaithGreen Muslims of New JerseyGreen Ramadan Webinar RecordingZaid Shakir – Green Ramadan 2012

Photo credit from Iqra.ca