18 November 2009

Green Muslims


With roughly one-fifth of the world population being adherents to the faith of Islam, I thought it apt to highlight how this religion requires Muslims to behave with the environment.

The recorded sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (hadith) caution against the pollution of rivers and seas. He also promoted planting of trees to curb deforestation and a hadith records that he kept an area a forest by saying: “Whoever cuts a tree here should plant a new tree instead.” The Prophet was a man of the earth, totally against any form of wastage, over-consumption or cruelty. He expressed love for the earth and all its inhabitants – even the mountains. He said of the Mount Uhud near the city of Madina: “This is a mount which likes us; we also love it.”

The Muslim festival of Eid will be celebrated next Friday, 27 November. It involves commemorating the willingness of the Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son, by slaughtering an animal. The actual purpose of the sacrifice is to create piety, devotion, obedience and submission to God. There are strict laws over the treatment of animals used for food from their rearing and breeding; the pre-slaughter; and handling during and after slaughter.

There is no suggestion in the Quran or in any other of the Islamic sources that eating meat is good for physical or spiritual health. Islam's approach to the eating of meat is neutral. While it has left the choice to the individual, the Quran does urge those that do choose to eat meat, to do so in moderation.

As a Muslim, I often need to explain why I promote the curbing of meat consumption. Here are some good reasons:

1. Environment - eating vegetarian is better for the environment. Too much meat consumption = too many farting cows = too much gasses being released into the environment.

2. Faith – as described above, the Prophet was an avid environmentalist and would probably not be pleased that tracks of forests are being cleared to make way for cattle grazing ground. Also, during his time people ate meat quite rarely, and were discouraged from gorging on it.

3. Suffering – unless you’re eating an animal that was humanely slaughtered by your father during Eid, there’s a good chance that your fried chicken was battery reared in terrible conditions.

4. Health – eating locally produced vegetables will leave you feeling healthier and happier. You’ll sleep better, wont need as much sleep and can lead a healthier lifestyle.

5. Change – having survived on a meat intensive diet for most of my adult life, switching to vegetables meant more creativity and excitement in my diet. Limited options of healthy vegetarian ‘fast food’ also means cooking myself more often.

1 comment:

Ashraf Patel said...

Bilal.
Excellent talk. Green is the way to go. For too long the color in green in the Islamic world was ideological or nationalist symbols. We need a new green revolution in the muslim world- one based on global environmental and social justice!
let the debate continue.

Ashraf Patel