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4 Green Mosques

Ibrahim Abdul-Matin Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The mosque is the center of religious and community life for Muslims. Around the globe, the mosque is primarily where people go to pray, but mosques also serve other functions as well. They are used as community centers where Muslims get married, gather after the sun sets in the holy month of Ramadan to end the daily fasting with a communal meal, and hold classes for youth—what some might call “Sunday school.” Given the centrality of the mosque in Muslim life, it is the perfect place to start promoting a Green Deen.

Remember, living a Green Deen means opening your heart to the possibility of understanding the Oneness of God and His creation (tawhid); seeing the signs of God (ayat) everywhere; being a steward of the Earth (khalifah); honoring the trust we have from God to be a protector of the planet (amana); moving toward justice (adl); and living in balance with nature (mizan).

A Green Deen starts with the greening of your local mosque. Mosques are buildings, and buildings are where we use the most energy and emit the most greenhouse gases. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, buildings use 39 percent of the energy and 74 percent of the electricity consumed each year in the United States.1 In New York City alone, buildings are responsible for nearly 80 percent of the city’s “carbon footprint,” or its total amount of greenhouse gas emissions.2

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9 Water — Essential for Survival

Ibrahim Abdul-Matin Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

What we know from our Deen, the path or the way of Islam, is that we are not the owners of anything in the universe. This includes a molecule made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom: water. The Earth is 70 percent water.1 The somber trust that we have with our Creator (amana) to be stewards (khalifah) of the Earth means that we will be held accountable for our actions. These actions include those related to water.2 If the Earth is a mosque, then 70 percent of our mosque is water. Our mosque is oceans, streams, rivers, lakes, springs, and wells. It is our right to benefit from water; indeed, we need it for sheer survival. However, we negate that right if we contaminate, poison, or withhold water from plants, animals, and our fellow humans—all of whom also need water for survival.

This chapter advances two main points regarding the distribution of water. First, water should be a community-shared resource. Second, water should be managed by governments who operate justly. The equitable sharing and just managing of water is central to a Green Deen, the path and religion that espouses the Oneness of God and His creation; it is the most basic way to support Oneness (tawhid), justice (adl), and balance (mizan) in this world. We all come from water, we all need water to survive, and we all are responsible for keeping water safe for everyone.

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6 Energy from Heaven

Ibrahim Abdul-Matin Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Energy from heaven comes from above. It is not extracted from the Earth, and it is renewable. On September 27, 2008, over fifty thousand Americans in seven hundred communities across the fifty United States stood up and said, “America is ready to build the new economy. We’re ready to save people and the planet. We’re ready for green jobs now!” One of those seven hundred communities was the Anacostia community outside of Washington, DC. At the Anacostia Green Jobs Now rally, Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, noticed he was speaking on the lawn of a church and said, “We need to get our energy from heaven, wind, solar, and waves, instead of from hell—the stuff in the ground like coal, oil, and gas.”1

Extraction causes imbalance, whereas energy from above is like a gift from heaven. In this chapter, we discuss how a Green Deen affirms that Islam is a path that opens your heart to the Oneness of God and His creation (tawhid), a path that calls humans to see the signs of God (ayat), to be stewards of the earth (khalifah), and to honor the trust we have with God to be protectors of the planet (amana). A Green Deen acknowledges that God created everything in perfect balance (mizan), that humans are made to perfectly coexist on the Earth, and that disturbing this balance is the fundamental form of injustice (zulm). Our Green Deen is Islam, the religion of 1.4 billion people around the world, and it requires bringing the world into a state of balance in respect to how we consume and manage energy.

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12 Feeding Your Family

Ibrahim Abdul-Matin Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

This chapter is about choices we can make to live a Green Deen by bringing the best possible food to our table. It’s not easy being parents. We must make many important decisions that affect our family—for instance, where to live and where to send our children to school. Another important decision involves food. Finding healthy, affordable, and convenient food is a challenge for many families. Finding and preparing food that is also consistent with living a Green Deen is an even greater challenge, but there are Muslims who have met this challenge head-on. In this chapter, I’ll show you how they’ve done it.

First, before getting to stories of Muslims who are living a Green Deen in relation to food, I need to give you some background on what is wrong with most of the food that is easily available to us, especially with regard to meat. Today, most of the meat sold in supermarkets and served in restaurants, especially fast-food restaurants, is raised in what are called factory “farms,” also known as concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. Here huge numbers of animals are crowded together in inhumane conditions, pumped with pharmaceuticals to promote growth as rapidly as possible, and slaughtered on assembly “killing lines”—all for the sake of producing as much meat as quickly as possible, with as much profit as possible. When food production is strictly a business with the sole purpose of making profit, it will never provide high-quality food that is also mindful of the planet.

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13 Urban and Suburban Food Gardens

Ibrahim Abdul-Matin Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Growing your own food—whether you live in an urban, a suburban, or a rural area—can be a liberating process. When you grow your own food, the connections you make to the planet are tangible. During World Wars I and II, Americans were encouraged to start small gardens called “Victory Gardens.” These gardens were designed to help provide food for citizens during the war since many agricultural workers had been drafted.1 We can adapt this approach to fit our present times, when people are looking for healthy organic food at low cost.

Some of the best spaces for growing food happen to be in the suburbs. Take, for example, a family in Brookfield, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. It’s a nice town with nice people. Some of these nice people are the Ashrafs—the family of my wife, Fatima. They fit the profile the Pew and Gallup polls use to characterize the Muslim American community—well educated, middle-class, and mainstream. They also maintain a Green Deen, living as stewards (khalifah) of the Earth and cultivating the land available to them by keeping a backyard garden.

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