Every year more than 1.6 billion people around the world celebrate the amazing holy month of Ramadan, (learn how to green your holy month) fasting from dawn to dusk, abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations. Only those who are sick, elderly or on a journey, or women who are pregnant, menstruating or nursing are permitted to break the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year. If they are physically unable to do this, then they must feed a needy person for every day missed.
A few years ago I wrote an Arabic article called “adaat wa ibadaat” which means literally in English “habits and rituals.” It focused on our daily habits of consumption and lifestyle during the month of Ramadan, taking its main message from the noble Qur’an: “Eat and drink but waste not by excess, for God loves not the wasters”.
“And be not excessive! Indeed, He does not like those who commit excess.”
Our Al Ihsan charity program usually provides more than 60,000 “ifttar” breakfast meals and distributes raw food to more than 6,000 families and children of all nationalities in the UAE (see attached pictures) every day for the whole month of Ramadan.
There are more than 30 charities within the UAE that are doing something similar, some even bigger than Al Ihsan. During my research throughout the years, I have tried to find the statistics of waste generation in our particular region during the holy month, but found no actual figures.
Last year, it was mentioned in the local newspaper that 500 tonnes of food is thrown away each year in the UAE, but I am not quite convinced about this.
In reality: the majority of people give charity and food to less fortunate people, labourers or workers, friends and families. Of course, we see that some people make mistakes, but we can show ourselves how to avoid what’s wrong and follow what’s right!
We can think before we act, live in moderation, and eat better local food (dates and water or yogurt).
Auditing our daily habits, we could make small calculations that will result in huge differences to avoid excess waste. Here are a few examples:
- We can check our shopping during Ramadan (shall we go before fasting or after?);
- We can decide how many hours we need to cook and whether we going to share some food with others;
- And we can watch how much we are really consuming and how much we are wasting.
Education, awareness and attitude toward consumption can help us to make a smaller impact on the environment; it is the blessing or “barakah” of Ramadan to be thankful and appreciative of the real wealth in our lives. God has given us as “amanah” to be more conscious of the environment, and to take responsibility for others who need to be more compassionate towards other living creatures and use resources more wisely.
Past Columns from the Green Sheikh: