During the Holy month of Ramadan, followers have the opportunity to reflect on and reduce their consumption patterns with the “buy-nothing” challenge
Despite many people’s initial impressions, Islam’s holy month of fasting known as Ramadan isn’t all about food and drink. It is a time for Muslims to reflect, to re-asses their faith and also a chance to detox their increasingly cluttered lives.
Living with less during Ramadan means that you are more likely to notice waste, constant spending, unthinking consumption, and harmful eating habits that are damaging this sacred planet. However, as Green Prophet recently reported, a huge amount of food waste occurs during this month. So, in the true spirit of Ramadan comes the ‘Buy-Nothing-Ramadan’ pledge.
Launched in 2007 by Sanjana Ahmad, the ‘Buy-nothing-Ramadan’ or ‘Ramadan Compact’ pledge encourages those taking part to give up spending for the entire month of Ramadan. Sanjana Ahmad, who is a member of the DC Green Muslim, explains, “as a Muslim with ‘environmentalist’ tendencies, I believe that this sort of consumption is not just inequitable but largely unsustainable. I also believe that we can make a difference through our individual decisions.”
For many Muslims, Ramadan is a fresh start and chance to learn to be content (happy even) with less and so it’s the perfect time to take up this buy-nothing challenge!
Modelled on the Compact movement first started in the San Francisco area where members agreed to go a year without buying anything, the initiative aims to simplify participants’ lives. ‘Buy less, waste less and live more’ is the ethic at the heart of the movement which also encourages members to support local businesses and farms.
The Ramadan Compact site explains that the month of Ramadan is the perfect time to take up this challenge: “take the barakah (blessing) of Ramadan to be thankful for the blessings in our lives, be more mindful of our actions and their environmental impact, and reduce material consumption.”
Whilst participants are encouraged to include personal aims in their Ramadan Compact – such as unplugging from TV or reducing vehicle trips- there are three central rules:
1. Don’t buy any new products. Exceptions include food and drink, medicine, personal items such as socks and underwear, services, charitable contributions, and gifts (in moderation!)
2. For everything else, borrow or buy used/second-hand.
3. Take the time you would spend shopping in other productive ways (read Qur’an, spend time with your family, volunteer for a local community organization, etc).
As Sanjana adds: ‘use Ramadan as a time to be more mindful of not only your eating habits, but of your overall consumption.’ In fact, a young Egyptian named Menna Awad is using Ramadan not to be mindful of her eating habits but to change them completely. She had decided to go vegetarian on the very first day of Ramadan and reported her initial fears on Bikya Masr.
“I thought it would be rather difficult not to eat animal meat, especially during Ramadan. However, despite my fears, I am very glad to report that it was the exact opposite.” She added, “I’ve always wanted to be a vegetarian, and I think it’s going to stick this time.”
We all in live increasingly busy, consumer-obsessed lives so whether you are a Muslim taking part in Ramadan or not, why not take up the ‘buy-nothing’ challenge for a month? Like the other participants, you might just find that your life is better with less.
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