There is an inscription on a paw print located at a reservoir in Singapore which accurately describes one of the stark realities facing modern society. Taken from the words of the native American Cree people, the inscription reads “Only after the last tree has been cut down, Only after the last river has been poisoned, Only after the last fish has been caught, Only then you will find out that money cannot be eaten”.
This statement begs the question: Can Muslims be tree huggers? I would say, yes! It is our given right in Islam to be environmentally conscious and to preserve and protect our natural world for all future generations. There is even the well known hadith which mentions when someone plants a tree, good deeds are recorded for the planter for every time in the future that a living being receives benefit from the tree.
It is sad that we don’t instill this this way of thinking in our children. Most of us in the west would talk about recycling, but in reality are not green thinking and instead just following a procedure introduced by the governments. According to the green movement, the biggest culprits are cities, vehicle exhausts, industrial fumes and household chemicals such as deodorants, washing liquids and general cleaners. The damage our modern lifestyles have caused will last for generations, and it is imperitive that we change now to improve the future for our children.
Take a look inside your own household. If your children have asthma or other respiratory illnesses then the likely culprit could be lurking inside your cupboards. So instead of using the best modern laundry detergent or household cleaners, why not look for natural alternatives available? Thanks to the internet, information on the organic movement is easily accessable and this has contributed to a massive growth in the green household industry.
This information has helped me to understand and make my own choices. I now comes natural to me to read every label at the supermarket, leading to my children calling me an “Organic Junkie”. They’re well aware that processed meat such as sausages are bad food, and soy lecithin is just one of a great number of toxins found in our food which can lead to devastating illnesses. However it is difficult to find food in our supermarkets without these added poisons. When you do your groceries next time and start reading the labels you will know what I mean.
I am not asking anyone to be Vegetarian, but we can improve our health by taking small steps such as reducing our meat consumption and adding more Omega 3’s to our diet. Allah has given us wonderful whole foods like grains, seeds, nuts and honey, so why not make use of these. Then there are a variety of plants and herbs including basil, oregano, myrtle, ginger and aloe vera, along with nutritional fruits such as dates, olives, figs and pomegranites. How did we come to replace all these wonderful health giving foods for meatier, processed carbonated junk?
Many of these herbs and foods can be grown at home, so why not start your own little eco garden. It is a great way to teach and educate your children and start them on the path to Eco Jihad. You can set a good example by choosing to walk or ride instead of driving, and give them lessons on reusing and reducing waste. If I accidently keep the tap on for two seconds my daughter would scream that I’m wasting gallons of water, so thanks to her I am always conscious about turning the tap off. Children are great listeners and watchers, and they can help us put a healthy living lifestyle into practice.
If you are wondering where to go for some further information on starting your Eco Jihad, here are a few links to relevant websites to get you started.
Natural News – Heaps of info on many eco issues, with a focus on food, medicine, and natural living
Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Science – Publisher of the Eco Islam newsletter
The Muslim Green Team – A project of the Muslim American Society which focuses on initiatives in America
Green Prophet – Stacks of articles on a variety of topics, with a focus on the Middle East
Wisdom In Nature – An ecological & community activism group guided by Islamic principles
Green Muslimah – Provides an insight into not just being organic but also on aspects of mind, body and soul
The Eco Muslim – Eco-lifestyle, Halal living and enviro-news from the UK, plus great info on Eco Mosques
One of the best resources is the popular Green Deen book. Authored by Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, the book connects environmentalism with Islam, and can be accurately summarised through its sub title – What Islam teaches about protecting the planet. Abdul-Matin encourages us to be “Stewards of the earth”, which he has been since he was just five years old where on an outing in the countryside his father taught him “The earth is a mosque. You can pray anywhere.”
By Shyamalee Mahibalan