Most Muslims know what ‘deen’ is – religion, faith, way or path. Deen is the Arabic word. Islam is a deen. Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and other faiths are deens.
What many Muslims may not know is that their religion encourages them to live a Green Deen. Catchy name, right? It’s quite brilliant and author Ibrahim Abdul-Matin in his new book, Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet, has presented to Muslims and anyone interested in what Islam has to say about the environment what a green deen is. It fosters awareness of one’s environment and surroundings in order to become a God-conscious and conscientious human being of one’s actions on the planet and thus, towards other fellow earthlings.
Abdul-Matin’s passion for being an environmentally-conscious Muslim and person of this planet is from his father telling him the hadith of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, “The Earth is a mosque.” Hence, everything in it is sacred. Abdul-Matin went on several nature ventures with his father throughout his childhood and when prayer time arrived, his father would take the time to pray by finding an appropriate area and brush it free of twigs and leaves. Abdul-Matin explains how this connection to nature was instilled onto him during his youth, and has remained and continues to propel him to be better person via his actions on this planet.
Divided into four parts, “waste, watts (energy), water, and food,” Abdul-Matin’s book provides great examples of what Muslims are currently doing to be more green, while also offering ample solutions of how to build or modify mosques that are more earth-friendly. An interesting preexisting model is the holy mosques of Mecca and Medina. Both recycle wastewater called gray water which is treated and used for wudu’ or ablution before prayers. The Saudi Arabian government issued a fatwa that this method of water recycling is encouraged.
What is most remarkable about the book and a great motivator for readers, is six Islamic principles Abdul-Matin elaborates on that align Islam and the environment so closely. They are: 1. Understanding the Oneness of God and His creation (tawhid) 2. Seeing signs of God (ayat) everywhere 3. Being a steward (khalifah) of the Earth 4. Honoring the covenant, or trust, we have with God (amana) to be protectors of the planet 5. Moving toward justice (adl) and 6. Living in balance with nature (mizan).
Abdul-Matin constantly draws upon these concepts and reminds the reader of them when talking about a Green Deen. An example is water. Allah (swt) reminds us in the Qur’an, “We made from water every living thing.” (21: 30). Being a Muslim means taking wudu’ and let’s be honest, how many of us put the sink on full blast, wasting gallons of water and being passive in our ritual ablution before facing our Lord? Well, you can change that. If we keep the six principles in mind with water usage, we can be better stewards, khalifah of this Earth.
Unfortunately, many water sources are filled with toxins. Large corporations dump their chemicals into our water. Thankfully, there are people whose lives are occupied with cleaning up these messes, which contaminate water. The author introduces his sister, Tauhirah, as an example of a Muslim trying to instill the six Islamic principles into her work. Her company cleans up these messes and Tauhirah sees firsthand how the signs, ayat, of God in nature are polluted by human action and neglect, writes Abdul-Matin. The delicate balance, mizan, is in peril and it is Tauhirah’s job to work for justice, adl, every day to improve ecological struggle. She is a khalifah who, as Abdul-Matin explains, takes the trust, amana, she has with God seriously and wholeheartedly.
Alhamdulillah, there are other great examples of Muslims working for a greener planet such as Tauhirah in all four areas: waste, watts, water and food.
Abdul-Matin’s passion and enthusiasm is clear in this eye-opening book which should be a must for all Muslims and all people who want to better their home, Earth. The author is a policy advisor in the New York City Mayor’s Office and works on issues of long-term planning and sustainability.
The green phase that has been going on lately is something Muslims should not take lightheartedly; rather, it should not be a phase, but become a lifestyle. Abdul-Matin provides a plethora of ways to live this lifestyle, which is essential to Islam. It is unfortunate that Muslims forget this, do not care to recycle or at least use less, and actually contribute to the degradation of our planet. It doesn’t matter your faith to be a greener person, but Muslims should step up to the plate. We have the tools, Alhamdulillah. Let’s green deen-ify our life! Of course, we must first pray sincerely to Allah (swt) to give us the energy and care to take of this planet, which our Creator has blessed us with us. Ameen for a Green Deen!
University of Florida
Muslim Youth For Truth Co-Founder
For more information about this book, please visit www.greendeenbook.com.