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.