“Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, and the ships which sail through the sea with that which is of use to mankind, and the water (rain) which Allah sends down from the sky and makes the earth alive therewith after its death, and the moving (living) creatures of all kinds that He has scattered therein, and in the veering of winds and clouds which are held between the sky and the earth, are indeed Ayat (proofs, evidences, signs, etc.) for people of understanding.” (Al-Baqarah 2:164)
Allah’s (swt) created world, in which He has placed the humankind, is full of His signs. One of the signs of Allah (swt) is the change that naturally occurs in the world: the succession of seasons, the rhythm of night and day, and the death of plants followed by their revival. The laws of nature and the interdependency of ecosystems are His other signs – we, as Muslims, should strive to understand them and live in harmony with all of Allah’s (swt) creation. After all, living green is part of our Deen. Here are a few tips on how to make your lifestyle more eco-friendly.
Adjust your habits in accordance with the change of seasons: Alhumdulillah, the five daily calls for prayers establish the best rhythm for our days. As their timings change throughout the year, we should also try to adjust our lifestyles to the change. Staying awake after Fajr throughout the year would mean that we can make the most of the natural sunlight, and save on electrical lights. If we learn to accept that summers are hot and winters are cold, we can stop trying to control our environment by excessive use of air-conditioning and heating systems. It’s healthier and more eco-friendly to use fans instead of ACs in summers, and to dress warmly in winter instead of overheating houses. Technical inventions are there to make our lives easier and more comfortable. However, for us Muslims, earthly pleasures should not be priorities; rather we should use modern conveniences in moderation, bearing in mind the burden that their use puts on the planet.
Choose nature-friendly entertainment: To appreciate Allah’s (swt) signs and His blessings on the Earth, we should try to discover more of the beauty of nature. Allah’s Messenger (sa) has described the good things on Earth as ‘wealth sweet and green’, and green is also the colour associated with Paradise. Instead of letting your family spend a day in front of the TV, computer or a video game, go out and discover the natural beauty around you. And once you will learn to appreciate it, you will be more likely to protect it – both on the basic level by not spoiling the landscape with litter, and in bigger ways by embracing a more environment-friendly approach to life.
Walk more, drive less: Technical inventions have made our lives easier but have they changed it for the better? Mass transport using fossil fuels seriously affects the planet, damaging the atmosphere and using up natural fuel resources. The modern habit of driving everywhere along with the design of cities which forces people to use motor transport, also puts more strain on our health – as we walk less and do altogether less physical exercise, we are more likely to develop certain illnesses, such as heart disease, which significantly impact our quality of life. We cannot give up cars and other means of transport completely, and we know that without them travelling great distances would be impossible for most of us. However, we should reduce the negative impact on the planet by choosing to walk instead of drive whenever possible, share our car with more passengers and opt for more eco-friendly fuel solutions, such as CNG installations.
De-clutter and simplify: The more material wealth we possess, the more time and energy we waste taking care of it. At some point, having more things, even useful ones, could make our life more complicated, instead of easier. The solution is to simplify and de-clutter our lives; get rid of all unnecessary things and organize our housework in a more energy-efficient way. Do you know how much water gets wasted if you keep the tap running while brushing your teeth? And how much water could you save if you washed your fruit and vegetables in a bowl, instead of in running water? Turn the temperature on your water-boiler thermostat down, and you’ll save both energy and money. Let the natural sunlight in instead of turning on the electric bulb. There are many such ways to make your household more energy-efficient!
Grow a garden, plant a tree: The Prophet (sa) famously said: “There is none amongst the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, but is regarded as a charitable gift for him.” (Bukhari) He also forbade cutting the trees of Makkah, as the city has been established as a sanctuary on the earth. (Bukhari) Trees play a vital part in producing oxygen and reducing carbon dioxide levels. The uncontrollable devastation of rainforests and the Russian taiga has been identified as one of the driving forces behind climate change and an increase in extreme weather conditions. So plant trees. It is such an easy way to gain great reward from Allah (swt)! Green-up your surroundings – try to find a patch of land to grow a garden on or make a herb or vegetable garden on your roof or terrace! Growing your own coriander and tomatoes will not only provide you with fresh produce, but also let you and your family appreciate the blessing of fruit and vegetables. Save trees from being cut by reducing your use of paper and wood, by buying wooden furniture from companies that are known for responsible use of forests, and by campaigning for more green belts and parks in your city.
Be the change you want to happen: We would all like to live in a better, greener and cleaner world; however, sometimes we tend to think that others are responsible for all the bad that is happening. “It’s the big companies, the governments, the system…” In reality, we are all responsible for our bit, and if we want the change to happen, we should start with ourselves. Living a greener life may sometimes require more effort, more work, and less comfort, but it should reward us with a clearer conscience, healthier lives and, Insha’Allah, reward from our Lord (swt).