Even Greener This Ramadan
Green is said to have been the Prophet Mohammad’s favorite color, and it has been a traditional color for mosques around the world. But now green is taking on a new meaning.
The Green Masjid (Mosque) Movement began last year and has been growing through out North America. H-IPL’s own board member Dr. Saiyid Masroor Shah, a resident of Newburgh, Indiana, member of the Islamic Center of Evansville, and retired radiation physicist, chairs the Islamic Society of North America’s Green Masjid Task Force. Indiana also boasts a second founding task force member, Ms. Uzma Mirza, a LEED-certified professional architect with the US Green Building Council in Fort Wayne, whose work focuses on sustainability and green Mosque design, interfaith bridge building, and a non-profit sustainable platform that hosts Fort Wayne’s annual Taste of Ramadan. Both Dr. Shah and Ms. Mirza are active members of H-IPL affiliates.
What Is Ramadan?
During the month of Ramadan, which begins this year on June 6, Muslims around the world practice one of the faith’s five pillars by fasting. The first revelation of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad also occurred during this month. From sunrise to sunset Muslim adults (except those traveling, pregnant, or ill) fast from all food, liquids, smoking, and sexual relations, and are encouraged to offer increased prayers, charity, and spiritual self-discipline. A predawn meal called suhur begins each day, and a post-sunset meal called iftar breaks the fast, often with extended family, friends, or even in large banquet halls.
What Is Green Ramadan?
Increased attention to spiritual practices during Ramadan, as well as the environmental demands of iftar, have made Ramadan an excellent season to attend to environmental impacts. ISNA’s Green Masjid project invites all mosques and members to join the Greening Our Ramadan campaign. Reminding members of the Qur’anic command, ““Eat and drink but waste not by extravagance” (Surat Al-Aʿrāf 7:31), the Green Masjid Task Force asks Muslims to:
- Conserve food at iftars, and avoid wastefulness by giving excess food to people in need. Conserve water, especially during wudu. Follow the tradition of Prophet (peace be upon him).
- Use quick degradable or paper products for iftars and not Styrofoam cups and plates.
- Recycle materials, especially plastic water bottles.
- Replace all light bulbs with energy saver bulbs and thus conserve electricity.
- Give a khutbah (sermon) on the Islamic imperative to conserve and protect our environment.
What Are Hoosier Muslims Doing?
Islamic greening practices do not end with Eid al-Fitr at the conclusion of Ramadan. Here in Indiana several congregations are leading the way year-round:
- In South Bend the Islamic Society of Michiana is participating in Greening Our Ramadan. They have been working extensively on energy conservation measures and just last week installed 20 kW of solar panels on their rooftop. Recently retired engineer M.H. Jerry Muhajeri, P.E., who moved here from Iran in 1959, has been the dynamic driving force behind the mosque’s efforts.
- In Bloomington the Interfaith Community of Environmentalist Youth, or ICEY, including several members from the Islamic Center, has been the powering home weatherization projects for the past two years as well as lobbying in Washington D.C. They are also helping the Islamic Center reduce energy and acquire solar panels.
- The Islamic Center in Evansville has made Ramadan this year greener than ever with the installation of Sunforce 82120
120-LED Solar Motion Lights, a necessity especially after Ramadan’s late-night gatherings. These battery-equipped, solar powered lights cost about $250 per post, and the simple installation was done by members. The batteries charge during the day and turn on at night with motion sensors. A priority this month and in the future will be to discontinue food waste and use of bottled water during meals.
- Several other mosques throughout Indiana have joined the Greening Our Ramadan campaign, including the Iqra Center in Plainfield, Masjid al-Fajr and the Muslim Community Center in Indianapolis, the Northwest Indiana Islamic Center in Crown Point, and Masjid Noor ul-Islam in Fort Wayne.
To learn more about Islamic green practices, Ibrahim Abdul-Matin’s book GreenDeen: What islam Teaches about Protecting the Plant is a great resource, as are the websites linked to in this article.