Monday, March 23, 2009

Renewing the Green Movement

So we hear this Green thing all the time… what does it actually mean? According to the University of Maryland center for Environmental Science “Going Green” is “Adapting your lifestyle so as to do less damage to the environment”. This “Green” movement is a lifestyle change eventually to become a lifestyle that is inevitably going to help patch up what we have done to our beautiful Earth and make it even better insha’Allah for generations to come.

As Muslims we should NOT be apathetic about the environment. *We should be the best environmentalists because it is apart of our deen. There is SO much emphasis on being kind to our Earth in the Quran and the Sunnah. We need to be conserving and preserving our beautiful Earth that Allah swt has so graciously put forth for our use. "And it is He who spread out the earth, and set thereon mountains standing firm and (flowing) rivers; and fruit of every kind He made in pairs, two and two; He draweth the night as a veil over the Day.”

Why? Actually the concept of Going Green is not a new concept. The act of Environmentalism is a very old concept that is directly in line with Islamic principles. Allah (swt) says in the Quran "Greater indeed than the creation of man is the creation of the heavens and the earth." (40:57) This verse in the Quran clearly states the importance of the earth and its up keeping. From the Islamic perspective; simply put everything has its place and the Earth has a right over us to be protected and taken care of by each person using what Allah swt provides for us by the Earth.

Will there be reward? There are many Quranic references and hadith that explain ones rewards for taking care of the Earth and its provisions. The Prophet (SAW) has stated in a hadith "If any Muslim plants any plant and a human being or an animal eats of it, he will be rewarded as if he had given that much in charity." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, 8:41)

Environmentalism is a huge part of our Deen!
In fact, there are more than 700 verses in the Quran that exhort believers to reflect on nature. The world “Ard" (Earth) appears no less than 485 times in the holy book of the Qur'an.

The Quran says in Surah Baqarah verse 11...

وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لاَ تُفْسِدُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ قَالُواْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُصْلِحُونَ And when it is said unto them: Make not mischief in the earth, they say: We are peacemakers only!

We as Muslims should be the ones promoting peace! With this also comes taking care of our surroundings and environment. It comes in a hadith of Prophet Muhammad (saws) Abu Hurairah reported, The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:
"Removal from the way of that which is harmful is charity." Therefore as we should follow the Qur’an and Sunnah and pick up after ourselves and others. We shouldn’t just say “OH SOMEONE ELSE WILL GET IT”. That’s the sayings of Shaytan. Even if it’s something small it’s beneficial.

Although the concept of conservation slowly emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe, the US is given credit for starting the conservation movement in the 19th century. However, way before Europe or the US developed such a concept, Islam promoted conservation.

Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) taught his companions not to be wasteful.

It is related that the Prophet (PBUH) passed by his companion Sa’ad, who was performing his wudhu’ (ablutions), and said: “What is this wastage, O Sa’ ad?”“Is there wastage even in washing for prayer?” asked Sa’ d;and he said, “Yes, even if you are by a flowing river!” – Ibn Majah Allah Subhanu wa ta’ala also warns us against being wasteful in numerous Quranic verses.

“There is the type of man whose speech about this world’s life may dazzle you, and he calls Allah to witness about what is in his heart; yet he is the most contentious of enemies. When he turns his back, his aim everywhere is to spread mischief through the earth and destroy crops and progeny, but Allah loves not mischief”. (2:204-5)

Islam teaches Muslims to respect Allah’s creation and maintain the balance He created. Allah commands people, ‘Do not cause corruption on the earth’ (2:11). Command from Allah {swt} – as Muslims, should be perfect in anything
Helps the environment! Our future generations depend on it.

Think before you buy. Demand local and organic and seasonal food.
Don’t leave electrical appliances on standby, switch them off.
Wash your clothes in warm water instead of hot.

Recycling is a big way of improving our environment. Instead of just throwing everything together, try and take time to separate the plastics from paper etc.
Instead of sitting home and watching TV, go out with the family to the park.
Amongst your family members/friends, schools, work, organize to clean up the area you live in ( neighborhood, campus etc.

Start small – light bulbs that save energy actually save you money as well. Start by replacing bulbs in one room at a time.

A common estimate is that global consumption of plastic bags is over 500 billion plastic bags annually. Yes that’s 500,000,000,000 plastic bags used per year. In other words, that’s almost 1 million plastic bags used per minute.
Plastic causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year
Plastic causes the deaths of more than 100,000 marine mammals each year
About 90% of the rubbish floating in the ocean is plastic

Even if it is a small act, a small simple deed done consistently is greatly loved by Allah swt. As Muslims we should be on top of all the new ways to conserve and preserve. Muslims need to reuse, recycle, and renew! Plant a tree, don't waste, don't litter, and recycle non-biodegradable materials.
Volunteer your time whether at home, in the masjid, at school, at work, or anywhere else! This is NOT just an organization.... this is a MOVEMENT!
Remember a small deed done consistently is better than no deed done at all!

Embracing a greener lifestyle isn't just about helping to preserve equatorial rain forests, it can also mean improving your health, your bank account, and, ultimately, improving your overall quality of life. Continues to Read first bullet point on ppt.
May God keep us on the straight path and guide us to using the Earth and not abusing our Earth. Ameen
Let’s take a look at some statistics:

Decomposition RatesPaper2-4 Weeks
Leaves1-3 Months
Orange Peels6 Months
Milk Carton5 years
Plastic Bag10-20 Years
Plastic Container50-80 Years
Aluminum Can80 Years
Tin Can100 Years
Plastic Soda Bottle450 Years
Glass Bottle500 Years
Styrofoam Never 

About 220 million tons of old computers and other tech hardware are trashed in the United States each year (Environmental Protection Agency, 2001).
Fifty percent of computers being recycled are in good working order. They are discarded to make way for the latest technology (Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, 2001)

Five hundred million computers in the world contain 6.32 billion pounds of plastics, 1.58 billion pounds of lead, and 632,000 pounds of mercury (The Basel Action Network, 2002).

The average lifespan of a computer has shrunk from four or five years to two years (National Safety Council, 1999).

About 70 percent of heavy metals found in U.S. landfills comes from discarded electronics such as circuit boards, wires, steel casings and other parts (The Basel Action Network, 2002).

Americans are buying more computers than people in any other nations. Currently more than 50 percent of U.S. households own computers, and therefore, generate the most e-waste (The Basel Action Network, 2002).

And in case you didnt know...
You can Cut down your shower time and help with using less water - install a low flow shower head!

Use Flourecent light bulbs, sure they may be expensive but can save you at least half on your electric bill by the end of the year!

Don't forget to unplug! By shutting down your laptop/computer, and unplugging unnecessary electronics from the outlet, you save electricity and save up on your electric bill!

Try to purchase items with minimal packaging (as much as possible.)

Numbers: 2,4, or 5 on the bottom of plastic bottles are safer because they wont release harmful chemicals into your water over time.

Paper Litter: The receipts from ATM transactions have caused so much litter, just one roll which is 2 billion feet long, is long enough to circle the equator more than 15 times! Among other receipts, if you dont need it, dont get it!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Muslims Going Green: Article

Muslims going GREEN
By Anayat Durrani, Contributing Writer
TORRANCE, Calif. – Every morning, Wasi Ahmed Yousaf, 37, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., puts on his sneakers and helmet and commutes to work on his bicycle.

Yousaf ditched his car two months ago in favor of a more eco-friendly mode of transportation.

Across the nation, Americans are replacing their gas-guzzling SUVs for fuel-efficient hybrids, recycling, conserving water, saving energy and making other lifestyle changes to help the environment.

Wasi Ahmed Yousaf is a green Muslim.Going green can improve your health and standard of living, save you money and ensure that you are helping reverse rather than contribute to environmental decline," said Zoë Chafe of the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research organization that provides information on how to build a sustainable society..

Environmentally-sustainable living, more popularly known as "going green," means being a conscious consumer in all aspects of daily life, including transportation, energy, food and shelter.

Yousaf, a practicing Muslim, embraced the green lifestyle after watching several solutions-focused messages during the Live Earth series of worldwide concerts on July 7. Live Earth started a multi-year campaign to fight climate change and promote environmentally-sustainable living.

"I realized that global warming, pollution and other environmental issues are something that everyone has to pitch in [and do something about], and it’s a serious issue, but we can still resolve it," Yousaf said.

His choice to ride a bike to work not only serves as his daily exercise, but also cuts gasoline and potential parking bills, and contributes to reducing smog and exhaust fumes in his city.

He now only fills up gas once a month and, as a result, saves $50-60 a month.

LINE is a UK based environmental organization run by Muslims.
Yousaf has also made many other changes in his life.

This includes no longer using those little, white, seemingly harmless Styrofoam cups to drink coffee or water at work.

"Styrofoam is one of those materials that doesn’t get decomposed even if you leave it in the ground for 50 years," Yousaf said. "It is a non-biodegradable product.

So, why are we simply wasting it? I stopped wasting it and took a ceramic cup from home."

He’s also stopped drinking bottled water. Bottled water wastes fossil fuels and water in production and transport, and when bottled water is used, its disposal becomes a major source of waste, according to Food and Water Watch.

The group said it requires more than 47 million gallons of oil to produce plastic water bottles for Americans each year.

Instead, Yousaf has switched to Nalgene bottles, and even his kids are using them. Nalgene bottles are inexpensive and can be used over and over, and are recyclable. Yousaf has also switched to energy-efficient light bulbs and is more energy conscious in general. For example, he won’t do half loads of laundry or run a half-filled dishwasher. And standing by the faucet as the water runs in the sink or taking long showers is a no-no in the Yousaf household.

"I’m trying to teach my kids. I am trying to influence them to take responsibility. The big question is what type of a world are we going to leave for our kids? I want to teach them so they can have an example."

Going Green = Islam

Caring about the environment is a large part of the Islamic faith. Sadullah Khan, director of the Islamic Center of Irvine, said there are more than 500 verses in the Qur’an dealing directly with nature, the environment and natural phenomena.

Many "surahs" or Qur’anic chapters are titled after animals or natural phenomena.

"These references to the natural world around us aim at making us conscious of the Creator of creations, making us cognizant of our inextricable relationship with, and instilling in us a sense of respect for, Allah’s creation, nature," Khan said.

"Do you not observe that God sends down rain from the sky, so that in the morning the earth becomes green?" [Surah 22:63].

The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is reported to have said, "Whoever plants trees, God will give him reward to the extent of their fruit." (Musnad)

"The Prophet is quoted as saying, ‘When doomsday comes, if someone has a plant seed in his hand, he should plant it,’ suggesting that even when all hope is lost for mankind, one should sustain nature’s growth," Khan said. "He believed nature remains a good in itself, even if man does not benefit from it."

Muzammal Hussain, founder of the London Islamic Network for the Environment (LINE), described creation as existing as "one interlocking system, with human beings a part of it." He said the concept of creation reflects the principle of oneness or tawhid, which is at the center of the Islamic faith.

"By ‘going green’ and living in harmony with the wider creation, we are honoring this principle, whereas if we live as though we are separate from the rest of creation, we would be going against what Islam teaches us," Hussain said. "Being ‘green’ is thus at the very heart of Islam. Effort is, however, needed for it to be in the heart of many more Muslims, as well as more Muslim organizations."

Greening American Muslims

Though there are Muslim-run environmental organizations in the UK such as LINE and the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES), the green movement has been slow to form in the American Muslim community.

Dr. Richard Foltz, author of "Islam and Ecology", however, believes there are signs that a rise in green Islamic consciousness is on the horizon.

"The Qur’an is said to prohibit over-consumption and waste, and to call for humans to act as responsible stewards of Allah’s creation," Foltz said. "Many environmentally-sensitive Muslims feel that these teachings are being disregarded today, not just by non-Muslims, but by Muslims as well."

Foltz said the United States is one of the world’s most over-consuming societies, taking in 35 percent of the world’s resources with only 4 percent of the world’s population. These rich nations, including Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Gulf nations, do not distribute their wealth and access to resources equitably, he said.

"Muslims who see in Islamic teaching a call for social justice are highly critical of these realities. For those sensitive to such issues, environmental degradation and social justice are inextricably linked, since the poor are more immediately and dramatically affected by environmental degradation than are the rich," Foltz said. "Unfortunately, thus far, the number of American Muslims who have made this link remains low, but it is growing."

It is easy being green

Yousaf believes every little step counts. He also recycles soda cans and tries to reduce waste in general.

Paper or plastic? Yousaf carries his own canvas bag for his grocery shopping. For produce, he steers clear of supermarkets.

"I routinely go to the Farmer’s Market," Yousaf said. "I’m getting produce fresh from the field, and, somehow, I feel satisfied helping those smaller guys who are not chain stores."

By choosing local and organic products, World Watch’s spokesperson Chafe said, fewer chemicals and pesticides will be consumed and kept from entering the ecosystems, local economies will be supported, and the carbon emissions associated with the transport of food minimized.

Hussain cites the Prophet as an example to follow. The Prophet did not eat much meat, which is contrary to today’s Muslims.

Daily consumption of meat "encourages intensive and cruel factory farming to meet the high demand," he said.

He advised that Muslims not eat meat daily and opt for local and organic food, which is better for the environment. Hussain also emphasized going outside of the consumer-culture.

"This places pressure on the Earth’s resources and contributes to waste and pollution," Hussain said. "We can be more creative with what we already have and appreciate that, ultimately, happiness comes not by buying what advertisers throw at us, but through finding stillness. Finding God in each moment."

Chafe said "going green" can take many forms, and each person should consider what is appropriate for his or her life and interests.

"The great news is that these decisions often have positive impacts that ripple far wider than our immediate communities and local environment," Chafe said.

For Yousaf, living green has not required making drastic changes to his lifestyle. He now feels healthier and has a more positive outlook because he knows that for every small change he has made, he is contributing to the greater good of saving the planet.

"I believe this is exactly what my religion wants me to do, to take care of everybody, myself, my surroundings. This world, that Allah created so beautiful, how can we mess it up?"

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Top Ten Reasons To Eat Organic

Top 10 Reasons to Support Organic in the 21st Century
Source: Alan Greene, MD (Organic Trade Association), Bob Scowcroft (Organic Farming Research Foundation), Sylvia Tawse (Fresh Ideas Group)

1. Reduce The Toxic Load: Keep Chemicals Out of the Air, Water, Soil and our Bodies
Buying organic food promotes a less toxic environment for all living things. With only 0.5 percent of crop and pasture land in organic, according to USDA that leaves 99.5 percent of farm acres in the U.S. at risk of exposure to noxious agricultural chemicals.

Our bodies are the environment so supporting organic agriculture doesn’t just benefit your family, it helps all families live less toxically.

2. Reduce if Not Eliminate Off Farm Pollution
Industrial agriculture doesn’t singularly pollute farmland and farm workers; it also wreaks havoc on the environment downstream. Pesticide drift affects non-farm communities with odorless and invisible poisons. Synthetic fertilizer drifting downstream is the main culprit for dead zones in delicate ocean environments, such as the Gulf of Mexico, where its dead zone is now larger than 22,000 square kilometers, an area larger than New Jersey, according to Science magazine, August, 2002.

3. Protect Future Generations

Before a mother first nurses her newborn, the toxic risk from pesticides has already begun. Studies show that infants are exposed to hundreds of harmful chemicals in utero. In fact, our nation is now reaping the results of four generations of exposure to agricultural and industrial chemicals, whose safety was deemed on adult tolerance levels, not on children’s. According to the National Academy of Science, “neurologic and behavioral effects may result from low-level exposure to pesticides.” Numerous studies show that pesticides can adversely affect the nervous system, increase the risk of cancer, and decrease fertility.

4. Build Healthy Soil

Mono-cropping and chemical fertilizer dependency has taken a toll with a loss of top soil estimated at a cost of $40 billion per year in the U.S., according to David Pimental of Cornell University. Add to this an equally disturbing loss of micro nutrients and minerals in fruits and vegetables. Feeding the soil with organic matter instead of ammonia and other synthetic fertilizers has proven to increase nutrients in produce, with higher levels of vitamins and minerals found in organic food, according to the 2005 study, “Elevating Antioxidant levels in food through organic farming and food processing,” Organic Center State of Science Review (1.05)

5. Taste Better and Truer Flavor
Scientists now know what we eaters have known all along: organic food often tastes better. It makes sense that strawberries taste yummier when raised in harmony with nature, but researchers at Washington State University just proved this as fact in lab taste trials where the organic berries were consistently judged as sweeter. Plus, new research verifies that some organic produce is often lower in nitrates and higher in antioxidants than conventional food. Let the organic feasting begin!

6. Assist Family Farmers of all Sizes
According to Organic Farming Research Foundation, as of 2006 there are approximately 10,000 certified organic producers in the U.S. compared to 2500 to 3,000 tracked in 1994. Measured against the two million farms estimated in the U.S. today, organic is still tiny. Family farms that are certified organic farms have a double economic benefit: they are profitable and they farm in harmony with their surrounding environment. Whether the farm is a 4-acre orchard or a 4,000-acre wheat farm, organic is a beneficial practice that is genuinely family-friendly.

7. Avoid Hasty and Poor Science in Your Food

Cloned food. GMOs and rBGH. Oh my! Interesting how swiftly these food technologies were rushed to market, when organic fought for 13 years to become federal law. Eleven years ago, genetically modified food was not part of our food supply; today an astounding 30 percent of our cropland is planted in GMOs. Organic is the only de facto seal of reassurance against these and other modern, lab-produced additions to our food supply, and the only food term with built in inspections and federal regulatory teeth.

8. Eating with a Sense of Place
Whether it is local fruit, imported coffee or artisan cheese, organic can demonstrate a reverence for the land and its people. No matter the zip code, organic has proven to use less energy (on average, about 30 percent less), is beneficial to soil, water and local habitat, and is safer for the people who harvest our food. Eat more seasonably by supporting your local farmers market while also supporting a global organic economy year round. It will make your taste buds happy.

9. Promote Biodiversity
Visit an organic farm and you’ll notice something: a buzz of animal, bird and insect activity. These organic oases are thriving, diverse habitats. Native plants, birds and hawks return usually after the first season of organic practices; beneficial insects allow for a greater balance, and indigenous animals find these farms a safe haven. As best said by Aldo Leopold, “A good farm must be one where the native flora and fauna have lost acreage without losing their existence.” An organic farm is the equivalent of reforestation. Industrial farms are the equivalent of clear cutting of native habitat with a focus on high farm yields.

10. Celebrate the Culture of Agriculture
Food is a ‘language’ spoken in every culture. Making this language organic allows for an important cultural revolution whereby diversity and biodiversity are embraced and chemical toxins and environmental harm are radically reduced, if not eliminated. The simple act of saving one heirloom seed from extinction, for example, is an act of biological and cultural conservation. Organic is not necessarily the most efficient farming system in the short run. It is slower, harder, more complex and more labor-intensive. But for the sake of culture everywhere, from permaculture to human culture, organic should be celebrated at every table.


Why Should We Care?

Asalaamuaalaikum waRahmatuh Allahi waBarakatuh,

What is the first thing on people's mind when you mention Environmentalist or Going Green, for most average American's they would usually think "hippie" or "tree-hugger". For some health/environment aware American's Going Green is a great thing. As Muslims we should NOT be apathetic about the environment.

As Muslims, we should be the best environmentalists because it is apart of our deen. There is SO much emphasis on being kind to our Earth in the Quran and the Sunnah. We need to be conserving and preserving our beautiful Earth that Allah swt has so graciously put forth for our use. "And it is He who spread out the earth, and set thereon mountains standing firm and (flowing) rivers; and fruit of every kind He made in pairs, two and two; He draweth the night as a veil over the Day.”Islam and Agriculture
Agriculture is the staple on which society functions on. Unfortunately, now a days many people are cutting down trees without the intention to replant any of it, resulting in an imbalance of natural resources for the entire world, plants AND animals. The Messenger of God (Pbuh), once remarked that even if you knew that the world would end tomorrow, you should plant a tree. Our beloved Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi WaSalaam also said; "If any Muslim plants any plant and a human being or an animal eats of it, he will be rewarded as if he had given that much in charity." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, 8:41) As Muslims we should be against the depletion of rain forests and natural resources, we need to be apart of organizations that help plant new trees and preserve our resources.

Islam and Water Resources

There are many ayah(signs) in the Qur’an that mention the effect of rain water on the growth of vegetation. Allah swt states in Surah Al-Nahl 16: 10-11, “God is one, who sends water down from the sky. For you there is a drink and out of it (grow) shrubs in which you let cattle graze freely. There with for you He makes sown fields, olive, palm trees, and all kinds of fruits grow.” Therfore, the proper use of our water resources is extremely important to uphold our environment for the use of humanity.

(*Tips for water conservation: 1.Recycle dish water to use for your plants, 2. When making wudu SHUT off the water as much as possible, we will be held accountable for the water we waste so don't let it flow when you are not scooping it up for ablution, 3. Use the same method for tip #2. when it comes to washing your hands, brushing your teeth, ect. 4. See for 100 more ways to conserve water!)

Islam and Depletion of resources
Moderation is a distinguishing characteristic of Islam. As Muslims it is discouraged that we attain lavish lifestyles. It is a common observation that lavish living habits can lead to weakness among nations, and can eventually lead to their downfall, look at the example of Muslim Spain (according to some scholars they say that the reason why Islam ceases to be associated with Spain today is because of their abundance of wealth and luxurious living that it was such a fitnah for them and they left Islam behind to practice their many ways of living with grand luxories.

The continuation of luxury is also an appearance of social injustice, when others are unable to afford certain items they are viewed as less than those who are able to afford those items. In Surah Al-Isra 17:16 Allah says: “When we intend to destroy a township, we permit its luxury loving people to commit wickedness therein. Then the word is proved true against it and we then destroy it utterly” (Surah Al-Isra 17:16). Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was the perfect example of living simply. He (Sallallahu Alayhi waSalaam) advised his followers to spend within their means, neither to be too lavish as to make them selves poor nor to hold back their wealth from those who had a right to their resources.

Even if it is a small act, a small simple deed done consistantly is greatly loved by Allah swt. As Muslims we should be on top of all the new ways to conserve and preserve. Muslims need to reuse, recycle, and renew! Plant a tree, don't waste, don't litter, and recycle non-biodegradeable materials. May Allah swt keep us on the straight path and guide us to using the Earth and not abusing our Earth. Ameen

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Start of a New Organization

Asalaamualaikum (Peace and Blessings Be Upon You),
After and a long time contimplating over what can be done by Muslims to help save our beautiful earth that the all mighty God has preserved for us, I have decided to start up a non-profit organization for Muslims and non-Muslims willing to volunteer their time whether at home, in the masjid, at school, at work, or anywhere else! This is NOT just an organization.... this is a MOVEMENT! Remember a small deed done consistently is better than no deed done at all!