Category Archives: Earth Care

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

Why I Don’t Want To Be Green

TEENS ON GREEN DEEN

WHY I DON’T WANT TO BE GREEN

‘I yawned out loud as I lifted the curtains and stepped onto my balcony. My eyes were still feeling heavy and itchy: the result of having overworked myself the day before.

‘It was 8:30 am and I had just forced myself out of bed, and while I was still contemplating whether or not to return to sleep the voice of my next door neighbour suddenly cleared my eyes and drove away the drowsiness. I looked straight into her compound and saw her waving at me while she carefully lined up her baby’s cloth nappies. Her husband was also busy, tending their gardens while her four year old son busied himself by building sand castles right inside the garden. We exchanged pleasantries and then I began to wonder what two contrasting lifestyles we have.

‘The close relationship they have, their small house, the big gardens, the water hoses running around their compound and Oh my God! She uses cloth nappies? These are not my things. Being “GREEN” is what she called it on certain occasions when we’ve really had the time to talk deeply. Even though it appears beautiful to me, I just can’t bring myself to be like that. I don’t even want to think about it.’

Does this experience sound familiar to you? I will definitely get a, “YES” from most of you who are still having a hard time accepting Mother Earth’s engagement proposal. These are not words from my life, actually. Above is an excerpt from a Young Adult fiction I’m working on at present.

Pure natural ingredients, check; fair trade, check; no animal testing, check; does not contain parabens; check; does not contain phthalates, check; recyclable plastic, check.

I had the opportunity of having a close chat with a group of teenage girls, my kid sister being one of them, on what exactly was drawing them back from professing their total love for nature. Some of their responses in anonymity were quite overwhelming. But there was one thing in common for them all. Living green was going to prevent them from being funky and glam …

“I mean how would it feel to sit in the dining hall with my classmates and nibble at every grain of food left on my plate? It feels great to be in tune with nature but not in a strange way,” said Fadilah (15), who initially admitted that a green lifestyle was great but embracing it in public could be a choking and heart wrecking experience.

While some of the girls confessed how much they loved pets and detested ill – treatment of animals, they all felt it impossible to embrace a totally green lifestyle. Dammy (16) said “It’s fun actually when you own a pet and it becomes part and parcel of you. But then, I love shopping. I could be a product junkie when it comes to my looks and it’s fun for me too. But don’t you think that being too careful about what to – and what not to – buy can rip away all the fun?”

They all had me list out all the essential features of an eco-friendly beauty product and after the analysis, another girl, Eeman (14) made a funny remark: “So, to be a perfect eco-beauty shopper, I have to make a long list of what I’m trying to avoid. Pure natural ingredients, check; fair trade, check; no animal testing, check; does not contain parabens; check; does not contain phthalates, check; recyclable plastic, check and the list goes on and on without an end. May I give you my honest opinion? We can’t possibly get a product that meets all these requirements and even if there was [one], I can’t possibly spend all the time in the world product hunting.”

The other girls let out long laughter while concluding that it should be the responsibility of producers to ensure that their products are eco-compliant instead of consumers taking the pain.

Most importantly, all the girls think that being green is a bar to a life of comfort. “I hate cooking,” said Yusra (15), “so the idea of growing my own food or buying raw food to begin the whole process of preparation and preservation on my own is out of the question right now. I mean, can’t I just settle for ready-made instant food fixes that can be stored for long [periods] instead of going through that long process?”

The girl’s problems with living green began to make a whole lot of sense to me when most of them said that they were aspiring to pursue careers that required a lot of their time and effort and could not, as a result, make out the time to live green.

We talked on and on, touching various areas such as transportation, gardening, household waste, exercises, clothing, and many more, and the whole argument seemed like it wasn’t going to end. But in the end, I couldn’t possibly have let them go without having them make a little green resolution. Most of them resolved to limit the amount of food and water they waste while only one of them resolved to try out cycling as a means of green exercise and transportation.

It was fun talking to the girls as I learnt a lot from the various perspectives they had while respecting their decisions and praying for them to see things differently in order to embrace the green lifestyle someday in future. I have learnt that seeing things from the perspective of others will pave a way for offering solutions to dilemmas faced by them. Insha’Allah, in the next issues of YMM, we shall address some of these issues collectively.

“So remind, [O Muhammad]; you are only a reminder.

You are not over them a controller.”

The Fur’an, Surah Al-Ghaashiya (Chapter of the overwhelming) 88:21-22

Wardah Abbas is the Earth Care writer for Young Muslimah Magazine, she writes for SISTERS Magazine, and she celebrates Islam and highlights issues affecting women on her blog.

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Open Sesame: The Magic Code

The very first time I came across sesame oil on a shelf in a grocery store, I remembered the magic words, “OPEN SESAME” which I first heard in ‘Ali Baba and the forty thieves’ as a TV animation I saw as a kid. So, I immediately became eager to discover the magic I could perform with it and now, here I am, unlocking all the secret codes to the benefits of this wonderful natural oil.

From achieving glowing, soft, and supple skin to brilliant, shiny, silky hair, sesame oil does wonders that most expensive beauty products are yet to achieve. And I am so excited to share this secret with you.

Sesame oil is extracted from the flower sesamum while the seeds on the pods are edible. It is mainly used in many Asian delicacies. However, the cosmetic secrets of this oil have not been unlocked by many of us. Just like a lot of natural beauty products, sesame oil is very affordable and has a very long shelf life, which means it can be stored for a long period of time.

Before I get started, let me state here that sesame oil has a very nutty fragrance but you need not be bothered, there are various ways of getting rid of it if you can’t put up with it. Here are the secrets to unlocking the magical doors of the sesame oil.

 

  • FACIAL SKIN

 

When I was going to resume studies at the Law School in Yola, Nigeria, everyone thought that I was going to return home with severely sun burnt skin. Yola is the sunniest city in Nigeria with very intense heat. However, it turned out that I returned home with a bright glowing face. The secret amongst secrets was sesame oil.

If you work or live in a continuously sunlight-exposed environment, you will need to apply sunscreen almost every day, and what better way to do this than the green way? Sesame oil will not only act as a sunscreen but will also protect you against oxidation and free radicals. It also slows down the skin aging process as it contains an antioxidant called sesamol which effectively prevents the appearances of wrinkles and fine lines. To achieve this, you need to use only 100% pure sesame oil.

For more advantages and to eliminate the nutty smell, mix it with other essential oils such as clove, rosemary, sweet orange, or lavender. The appropriate proportion is three drops of any of these essential oils per teaspoon of sesame oil. Simply apply the solution all over the face or body but be careful not to swallow or allow direct contact with eyes.

 

  • BODY MOISTURISER

 

Sesame oil acts as both moisturiser and emollient for full-body skincare and it reduces bacterial infections. It contains a lot of Vitamin E as well as linoleic acids and palmitic acids which nourish the skin. It is advised to use this oil all over the body every day for maximum results. You can do this by mixing it with a few drops of olive oil, castor oil, or almond oil to eliminate the nutty fragrance.

Choose which method works best for you. Personally, I do what is called ‘layering’. This means I apply sesame oil all over when my skin is slightly wet and leave it for about 2 minutes before applying my body butter. Another wonderful method I enjoy so much is by pouring some drops of it into my bath water. It works excellently for my dry skin as my skin feels soft and slippery after bath.

Apart from moisturising, sesame oil can also be used for detoxification as some toxins are soluble in oil. Warm a little amount of sesame oil and apply it on your skin, leaving it for 20 minutes. Then, wash off the oil with warm water without soap for best results.

 

  • HAIR TREATMENT

 

Naturally, I have a thick curly-coily hair as a dark-skinned person. I used to straighten my hair with relaxers because it was easier to maintain that way and that was how I used to feel beautiful with my hair … until recently, when I decided to go back to my roots – just the way Allah SWT created me and since then, it has been wonderful. I never imagined my natural hair being this beautiful. But let me tell you this: sesame oil is a major part of my hair beauty regimen as it has great penetrating properties and works a lot of wonders.

It helps to promote hair growth, deep conditions, treats premature greying, dryness, dandruff, head lice and hair loss, as well as giving your hair a shiny look. I use sesame oil for my hair in various ways. Most times, I only massage a few drops into my hair to add shine to it. When pre-pooing, I mix it with olive oil and palm-kernel oil in the ratio 3:1:1 and deeply massage it into my hair, leaving it for about 30 minutes before shampooing. When conditioning, I add a tablespoonful of it to hair mayonnaise and a capful of Apple cider vinegar. Then I apply it all over my hair and cover it with a plastic cap and a hot towel, leaving it for about 30 minutes before rinsing off. Sometimes, I use it for overnight deep conditioning with my natural hair smoothie and wash it off in the morning.

I advise you use sesame oil with other natural ingredients that work well for you. Explore and discover. A little trial and error may be fun too. That’s what being green is all about.

BONUS: Sesame oil can be used for massage therapy as it helps to repair damaged skin cells and improves blood circulation. Mix sesame oil with other types of vegetable oils for a soothing experience.

I wish you a fun-filled beauty adventure with this wonderful DIY secret. Expect more green secrets to come in the next issues of YMM insha’Allah.

“And have you seen that [seed] which you sow?

Is it you who makes it grow, or are We the grower?”

The Qur’an, Surah Al-Waaqi’ah (Chapter of the inevitable) 56:64-65

Wardah Abbas is the Earth Care writer for Young Muslimah Magazine, she writes for SISTERS Magazine, and she celebrates Islam and highlights issues affecting women on her blog.

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Did I Make A Green Mark?

There are times in my life when I sit to review most of my activities within a certain period just to be sure that I’m actually still on the right track and moving forward.

One of these times is now. I have asked questions based on my spirituality, my academics, my health, and one question I can’t seem to leave out this time is whether or not I’ve made a green mark within the last few months.

This is because being green is not just about how it has benefitted you but how much impact it has made on others. I can’t count the number of my recent green activities right now but I remember a few remarkable ones which I hope actually made a lot of impact on the people around me, as well as in my environment, and on my deen. From the joint green iftar I organised in the Muslim Students’ Society to the long lasting green therapies I offered to my non-Muslim colleagues, I may not have an option but to admit that I have achieved something.

No matter how little the impact may have been, the fact that I feel I have been able to incorporate permaculture’s core ethics of people care and fair share is what keeps me going. The experiences are so fulfilling.

During this period, I may have indirectly taught a lot of my colleagues what it means to be eco-conscious.

So it was the times I brought together the Muslim students to foster brotherhood and unity amongst us. These times were moments of inspiration for us and the non-Muslims on campus too. The iftar gathering was colourful and fun-filled. The pre-Maghrib meal was like a fruit picnic with each and every one of us bringing various fruits to the masjid to share with our brothers and sisters. We all observed Maghrib in the masjid after which we trekked down to our temporary dining hall to take our main iftar. It brought us together so much.

We had our meals on reusable ceramic plates and we also used non-disposable cutleries. We tried as much as possible to ensure a zero-waste policy but there were down moments when I had to pack all the leftovers together and plead with some of us to use it as our suhoor. We ensured that there were no litters around and at the end of the period, most of us had gotten used to some of the ethics we learnt jointly at the iftar gatherings.

You never can tell what action of yours can trigger the change in others.

At the ‘Eid party, which we organised for all students including the non-Muslims, I had to take time to explain to my non-Muslim colleagues why we weren’t going to use disposable wares and they agreed with me after having analysed how much it would save us and our environment if we all ditched disposable culture. All we had for the period were just freshly cooked foods, fruits, and fruit drinks, and it cost us less since we were all involved in it together.

Much later, after Ramadan, there were times I walked into the restaurant to find that some of my colleagues were clearing their dishes to a no-grain level. I just smiled inside of me. After all, the whole efforts were worth the while. You never can tell what action of yours can trigger the change in others.

The best way to teach others is by personal practical example.

This was also the season when my colleagues in the hostel went through terrible hair loss. They had all sorts of products on their cosmetic tables that seemed to aggravate the situation. And it seemed that I was the only one in the chalet who was not going through this. They had to ask me, “How come?” But my answer was obvious from my cosmetic drawer. They knew I was using less chemical products for my hair but it took them a lot of courage to agree to try out my method. And guess what? From the day of their first hair steaming with my natural hair smoothie and shea butter treatment, they experienced a drastic improvement. And you know what? I didn’t need to tell them what to do next. They already had the answers.

Whenever I look back at these moments I realise that, no matter how long it takes, the right thing can one day become acceptable to the same people who rejected it and condemned you for doing it. And the best way to teach others is by personal practical example. And now, you can guarantee that the answer to my question ‘Have I made a green mark?’ will definitely be a, “YES”.

I believe I made a mark before leaving school. What about you? What do you wish to achieve on your journey to being green?

This is an excerpt from a fiction I’m still working on. I know that the process of saying yes does sound familiar to a lot of you who are still finding it hard to accept a marriage proposal from Mother Earth.

“And have you seen the water that you drink?

Is it you who brought it down from the clouds, or is it We who bring it down?

If We willed, We could make it bitter, so why are you not grateful?”

The Qur’an, Surah Al-Waaqi’ah (Chapter of the inevitable) 56:68-70

Wardah Abbas is the Earth Care writer for Young Muslimah Magazine, she writes for SISTERS Magazine, and she celebrates Islam and highlights issues affecting women on her blog.

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Green-Up Your Summer Activities

Summer can be a really perfect time to reconnect with nature. Wardah Abbas provides tips for a fun-filled holiday during this season in the greenest ways

It’s summer! No more School assignments for now, so we’ve got enough time for our premier league on play station.”

I saw the excitement on the face of my fourteen year-old cousin as he accompanied his friends who had come visiting, down the stairs. Having listened attentively to their conversation, I couldn’t help but conclude that as the world grows older, the more technologically advanced we become but unfortunately, it further widens the gap between nature and us.

I remember my days as a kid and also in my early adolescent years when, even though we had no idea of what eco-consciousness meant, our summer activities revolved around nature. We engaged ourselves in summer camps, picnics, sporting activities and lots more. We spent quality time running around at the beach barefoot and care free, building sand castles, catching fire flies and climbing trees. This reminiscence comes with a sweet nostalgia that makes me conscious of the sharp contrast between then and now when teenagers spend more time wrapped up in video games, social networking and computer programs. I must say it’s time for a big change.Wardah Abbas sea

Apart from the fact that when we green up our summer activities, we bring ourselves closer to nature which could earn us rewards from Allah (SWT) with the right intentions, it also boosts our physical and mental wellness. Here are just a few tips for enjoying a green summer:

1. ORGANISE REGULAR ACTIVE OUTINGS

bike-213691_150You can initiate active outings with your family or a group of friends. This could either be a weekend picnic on a beach or in a park or a camping trip. You may also go on sensory walks, horse riding, hiking trips or make neighbourhood bike rides as well as explore some of the wildlife habitats around you. While doing this, you may seize the opportunity to make environmental videos, especially if you’re the type that cannot stand the thought of leaving your gadgets at home. This is a fun activity that puts your creativity, organisation and research skills to test. You may then edit the video and share with your family and friends.

2. ORGANISE NATURE HUNTS earth-158838_150

While you’re out camping with your family and friends either in the woods or in a park, it would be fun to organise a treasure hunt by searching for some rare natural things and exploring more about nature. Prepare a checklist of insects, plants, birds, trees or flowers that you’ve hardly come across to keep you focussed. To make it more competitive, contribute to buying a gift for whoever amongst you wins the treasure hunt. Before you set out on this adventure, be sure to pack along sun glasses, water bottles, bug spray, video cameras as well as a small first-aid kit. Trust me, this can really make your summer more memorable than you’ve ever imagined.

3. ORGANISE FUN-FILLED OUTDOOR GAMES WITH YOUR NEIGHBOURS

Wardash Abbas ballIn case you do not get the opportunity to go on weekend camping or any other summer holiday activity of your choice, you still have outdoors as an option. Look out for a spacious field in your neighbourhood and invite your neighbours on a weekend for outdoor games organised by you. Try out activities such as skipping, table-tennis, freeze tags or shadow tags, base balls or kick balls, hide and seek, four square, kite flying and lots more. You may also inculcate environmental quizzes into this activity to add an intellectual flavour to it. Make a video of this and get it across to your neighbours. This will sure make you feel like a kid once again and you are not just going to enjoy it, it will also help strengthen the relationship between you and your neighbours.

4. CREATE A NATURE FOCUSSED BOOK CLUB

Wardah Abbas bookYou may take advantage of the summer to encourage a love for reading and nature amongst your family or friends by organising a nature focussed book club. Visit your local library to find books on renewable energy, climate change, wildlife and a host of other topics. Hold weekly meetings outdoors in a park or in a garden and spend time discussing what you have read and how to inculcate the ideas into your lifestyles. If possible, consider taking field trips to natural sites that you came across in the books. This would boost your environmental consciousness and mental health as well as create a stronger bond between you and your family or friends.

Wardah Abbas footprints sandSummer comes only once in a year, so don’t lose out on the fun by staying indoors on the couch, playing video games, or sitting in front of your computer screen all through. Set out, run around, have fun and fall head over heels in love with nature. The experience can keep you motivated for the rest of the year.

And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and to Allah is the destination.

The Qur’an, Surah An-Noor (Chapter of the light) 24:42

Wardah Abbas is a twenty something year old Eco-Muslimah who is quick to express her feelings. She gives priority to creating a friendly environment and likes to enjoy herself to the fullest. When Wardah is not writing, volunteering at an event or hanging out with friends, she can be found in front of the mirror trying out new make-up techniques. Find her blogging on therosespen.wordpress.com


Wardah A beauty

Secrets of a Green Beautician: ACV

Wardah Abbas has been having fun ever since she launched her appearance into the green world. She loves beautiful things and beautiful people too

ACV’S BEAUTY MAGIC WAND

As much as I have always wanted to look extraordinary on my own part, it had always been trial and error with body lotions, body scrubs, cleansers, hair shampoos and conditioners, facial masks, body oils and a host of other skin beauty products. Until I discovered that I can achieve the best results if I do it the green way. And guess what, it has been fantastic. Realising that it will be selfish of me to keep these secrets to myself, I have decided to share them with you – and in this issue, I’m starting with apple cider vinegar.

Wardah A bathtubApple cider vinegar is my latest green beauty obsession. I have multiple jars of it all around the house so that it’s always within my reach whenever I need it. The wonderful thing about it is that it is very affordable; it serves so many functions and comes in handy even in unimaginable circumstances. Before I get started, let me emphasise that in order to gain the full benefits of this therapy, you need to get Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar as opposed to clear vinegar which has been processed. Here are the magical beauty transformations you can get from apple cider vinegar (ACV):

1. FACIAL SKIN

Wardah A womanAs a dark skinned person, my facial skin gets most sensitive during the hot weather. The more I get exposed to the sun, the darker my skin gets. So, ACV is just perfect for this. Apply a few drops of ACV to a cotton ball and rub on your therapy zone which can be any part of your body. Wash it off after thirty minutes. This prevents breakouts, minimizes blemishes and even tones your skin, giving it a brighter colour. ACV also helps to moisturize your skin especially for those of us who have dry, flaky skin.

For those of us who have oily skin, this is a great solution against acne. ACV kills bacteria and balances skin’s pH level as well because it absorbs excessive oil from the skin which is a leading cause of acne. Mix a cap of vinegar to ¼ glass of water, apply directly to your face with clean cotton pad and leave it there for about fifteen minutes, and then rinse. Repeat this two times a day. For excessive cases of acne, you can leave it overnight without rinsing.

Many of us get exposed to direct sunlight which causes skin redness for fair skinned people and blackness for dark skinned people. In this situation, ACV comes in to do a magical rescue by relieving the pain of a sun burn and minimizing peeling. Do this by applying a wash cloth soaked in a mixture of ACV and water to the burned area.

As a remedy for age spots, ACV contains sulphur that fights the effects of ageing. Just dab a cotton pad soaked in ACV to the age spot and leave overnight without rinsing until the next morning. If this causes you to feel a stinging sensation, dilute with water.

Lastly, the next time you get ready to slip into a warm bath, add one to two capfuls of ACV. It draws toxins out of the body and leaves behind toned and moisturised skin.

2. HAIR RINSE

Wardah A woman whiteMy hair catches the attention of a lot of my girlfriends and they just can’t stop asking me what my secret is. The truth is I have a lot of green hair secrets and ACV is just one of them. ACV balances hair’s pH level, removes build ups from conditioners, strengthens the hair shaft and leaves you with soft shiny strands. The acetic acid present in ACV also helps to eliminate dandruff in the air. Use ACV on your hair by diluting a cup of ACV in five cups of warm water and pour over your hair after shampooing. Leave it for about forty-five seconds before rinsing your hair with cold water to seal the hair shaft and create more shine.

3. TEETH WHITENER

A great smile is an asset for every woman and this is enhanced when you have healthy gums and shiny white teeth. As a lover of chocolates and sweets, I don’t part with my ACV when it comes to my oral therapy. ACV helps to remove stains, whiten teeth and kill bacteria in your mouth and gums. Do this by gargling with a mixture of ACV and water in the morning before brushing your mouth. Then brush as usual after you gargle.

BONUS: ACV is also very effective as an antiperspirant as it absorbs and neutralizes odours. Most commercial deodourants and underarm sprays block your ability to sweat which is dangerous to your health because sweat is one of your body’s natural means of detoxification. Rub in a bit of ACV under your arms. The smell of vinegar dissipates once it dries.

I really hope that you have benefited from this green and wonderful DIY beauty therapy. Expect more green secrets to come in the next issues of YMM Insha’Allah.

‘A’isha, the wife of Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him), reported Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying: Kindness is not to be found in anything but that it adds to its beautyand it is not withdrawn from anything but it makes it defective.

(Sahih Muslim, Book 32, Hadith 6274)

Wardah Abbas is the Earth Care writer for Young Muslimah Magazine, she writes for SISTERS Magazine, and she celebrates Islam and highlights issues affecting women on her blog: http://therosespen.wordpress.com/

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The Eco-Queen’s Diaries: How I Got My ‘Eco-Weirdo’ Title

HOW I GOT MY “ECO–WEIRDO” TITLE

When Wardah Abbas looks back at some of the things that have happened on her journey into being green, she can’t help but let out a giggle while she forges ahead. The distance that has brought her here was not covered without encountering some ups and downs, highs and lows, and whatnot

Right now, as I stare at the keyboard in front of me, I remember how many of my colleagues at school looked at me askance with their lips curved downwards and called me an eco-weirdo with a spark of eco-madness. I guess you want to know what I did to earn that title. Trust me, it never bugged me. Instead, I called myself an eco-queen.


Wardah A laurelAs a matter of fact, I guess it is part of me to always want to totally embrace any way of life I adopt for myself. This explains my lifestyle. Knowing fully well what being totally green entails, I gave myself up for it. In all aspects of my life, I strive to be green. Water usage, food preservation, waste management, healthy lifestyle, fashion and beauty, and what have you.

So, it didn’t surprise me that the many times in a restaurant when I ate a plate of food without leaving a grain left, I attracted people’s attention to myself. Or that the many times I went shopping with my sister queens and I rejected their purchase suggestions because I was carefully looking out for eco-friendly substitutes, I got loud sighs as reactions. The many times I sat in the shade at the school to relax with a pack of chocolates and found myself handpicking the dirt and food wraps that littered the ground, I always had someone ask me if I had just been employed as a gardener.

I love the green experience. It has made me a better person and a better Muslim too

I remember a day I had to hold on to some biscuit wraps till I got to a hostel because I couldn’t get a waste bin on the way. My room mate asked me if I had suddenly gone nuts. My friends also discovered that I insisted on using my own plates and cutleries because I did not want to use the disposables which were used to serve our meals at restaurants and they just couldn’t comprehend the whole thing even after I had explained it to them. So, they embarked on a journey to honour me with a ‘befitting’ title.

I have decided to share my eco-experiences because I know that it may not be that easy for some of us to adapt quickly to the changes the world needs, more so that some people may make fun of us and cause us to change our minds. It’s first about loving what we do. I called myself an eco-queen because I love the green experience. It has made me a better person and a better Muslim too. So, I don’t really care about the stumbling blocks any more.

Wardah A natural decorationI am not saying that fun moments you will very much cherish won’t come your way. Of course, eco-living is fun-filled. But I want to just make you bear in mind that you will come across people who will criticise your new lifestyle. And isn’t that always expected especially when you are doing the right thing? Bear in mind that there is strength in standing out from the crowd for what is right. So, if tomorrow, someone decides to call you an eco-miser, don’t hesitate to change it to a more positive name that will boost your confidence.

If trying to build myself a mini garden in my backyard when everyone else concrete over their own, and trying to eat fresh raw foods and meats while everyone else prefers the processed ones, makes me stand out as an eco-weirdo, then I gladly embrace the title. So, the bottom line is that even in the down moments, there is fun and I won’t hesitate to share every bit of it with you in this series In the subsequent issues of YMM. In the end, I’m proud to be an eco-weirdo because I’m weird for what is right and that is what makes me an eco-queen.

Indeed, this Qur’an guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward.

The Qur’an, Surah Al-’Israa’ (Chapter of the night journey) 17:9

Wardah Abbas is the Earth Care writer for Young Muslimah Magazine, she writes for SISTERS Magazine, and she celebrates Islam and highlights issues affecting women on her blog: http://therosespen.wordpress.com/

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Marching Into Green Consciousness

Wardah Abbas invites us to something that adds more value to our lives – joining the green bandwagon

Staring at the keyboard for what seemed like a very long time, my mind travelled into my past in order to locate the starting point of a journey that has brought me here, to where I invite you to travel.

Joining the green bandwagon did not start in a day. I remember the days when I couldn’t stand the horror of seeing victims of environmental disasters on BBC news, and the times when the CNN cover stories about environmental refugees struck an arrow in my heart. The sad tales of earthquakes, wildfires, floods, hurricanes and cyclones around the world drove me into eco-consciousness and I discovered that the problems we had with our earth came directly from us.

Allah did not create us in isolation. It is natural that our existence on the surface of this earth depends on the good condition of the earth itself. Allah has made us the captains of the earth. By our very position, the power to steer the affairs of the earth lies in our hands.

Abu Sa’id Khudri reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: “The world is sweet and green (alluring) and verily Allah is going to install you as vicegerent in it in order to see how you act.”

Muslim, Book 36, Hadith Number 6606

Isn’t it so sad that, even though our earth has served us diligently, we have done nothing but trample upon it for hundreds of years, building nothing more than a parasitic relationship with it? This reminds me of an adage my dad echoes all the time: The tapeworm is happy with the great suffering it has caused the dog, little does it know that it’s life comes to an end the moment the dog dies.

We have hurt our environment so much and now we are facing the consequences. We have expanded the earth by the reclamation of swampy areas around oceans and seas; we have wiped out trees in the forests in order to build more industries; we have diverted chemical and toxic wastes into the rivers and atmosphere; we have turned vast lands into waste-dumping grounds; we have wasted resources without consideration for sustainable development and we continue to do other vain acts. Acts which not only bring unprecedented hardship to us but also constitute the breach of an important amanah (trust) bestowed on us by our Creator, which we are surely going to account for on the day of Qiyamah (Judgement).

Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness].

The Qur’an, Surah Ar-Rum (Chapter of the Romans) 30:41

Realising this marked the starting point of my journey to being green. I was guilty of some of these acts and I felt bad at being a contributor to the problems we have caused ourselves. So I decided to make a U-turn, and, trust me, there is nothing like developing a special love for the environment which itself is a creature of Allah. Bringing out the green ‘You’ may seem uneasy in the beginning, especially if you find it a bit difficult to adapt to changes. But since, as Muslimahs, we are all focussing on pleasing Allah in every way possible, we should try to march into the green world, and we can make it as easy and interesting as we want it to be. Here are a few things to bear in mind on your way to becoming green:

BE EXPRESSIVE IN YOUR LOVE FOR ALLAH

Let us reflect on the blessings of our environment. Allah has created everything for us: a vast variety of foods, fruits and flowers; lovely creatures and landscapes in which we take pleasure; and all other things from the sun to water, from the air we breathe to the vitamins we need. If truly we love Allah and hold Him in awe, then shouldn’t we let that love out in the way we handle His creatures?

Think about someone you love: probably your Mother. Think about what happens when she gives you a gift. The most likely thing is that you hold the gift very dear and handle it with great care and value. Now ask yourself what just happened. The answer is not far away: the love you have for your mother who is the source of the gift has made you place value on the gift which you now love very much. This is just how it works. Our environment is Allah’s gift to us so let us express the love we have for our Creator by loving our environment and handling it with great care.

SEE THE NATURAL WORLD AS A LIFE-SUPPORT SYSTEM

The mere fact that we cannot thrive without our environment is enough to bring out the green-consciousness in us. What can we ever do in life without air? Block the air-ways in your body to see what will happen to you. Moreover, imagine a day without water. The realisation that our environment serves as a life-support system for us is enough to inspire us to hold it very dear. By bearing in mind that when we destroy our environment, we destroy ourselves, and that when the environment is not at peace, we are not at peace, we find ways of attaching an immeasurable value and importance to our environment.

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I was guilty of some of these acts and I felt bad at being a contributor to the problems we have caused ourselves. So I decided to make a U-turn, and, trust me, there is nothing like developing a special love for the environment which itself is a creature of Allah.

BEWARE OF THE DOUBLE P – C – F

The acronym “double P – C – F” stands for “PROXIMITY WITHOUT PRESENCE”, “CONTIGUITY WITHOUT CONTACT” and “FAMILIARITY WITHOUT FEELINGS”. Your environment is very near to you but you don’t feel its presence and neither do you have close contact with it. You’re very familiar with it but you have developed no feelings for it. It is worth taking note of this.

If you are setting out on a journey to being green for the sake of Allah, then you do not only need to feel the environment around you, but also be in close contact with it and love it all the same. One of the many ways of doing this is by planting trees around you, especially where you live, or caring for plants in your room. Maybe you’ll love an orchard, a vegetable garden, or a pot-herbary. You can also develop eco-love by rearing pets such as parrots, cats, pigeons, chicks and other animals which are halal for us to keep. You may also beautify your surroundings with flowers such as the rose and the lily and build a water fountain. Doing one, two or even all of these things may help you fall head-over-heels in love with nature.

Is it the gentle, fresh breeze coming from the orchard, or the rhythmic sounds of the birds and chicks at dawn, the sweet scents coming from the flower garden or the splash of water from the fountain? These are beautiful gifts that Allah has blessed us with; we shouldn’t deprive ourselves of them.

The need to revive our eco-consciousness is more important than ever, not only to sustain our existence, but also to fulfil an important aspect of the deen (religious path) to obtain the pleasure of our Creator.

Take your first step and travel on this beautiful path with me.

Guide us to the straight path – the path of those upon whom You have bestowed favour, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.

The Qur’an, Surah Al-Faatihah (Chapter of the Opener) 1:6–7

Wardah Abbas is a twenty something year-old Eco-Muslimah who is quick to express her feelings. She gives priority to creating a friendly environment and likes to enjoy herself to the fullest. When Wardah is not writing, volunteering at an event,or hanging out with friends, she can be found in front of the mirror trying out new make-up techniques. Wardah Abbas is the Earth Care staff writer for YMM so you can look forward to more articles from her inshaAllah. Find her blogging at: http://therosespen.wordpress.com/