As the days creep into weeks and months, it seems that an entire year has passed and Ramadan has come knocking on our doors again. I say it every year, but every year I literally can’t believe its Ramadan again. Where does the time go? Anyway, in an effort to help fellow Muslims build some green momentum leading up to the holy month of fasting, I am going to look at the top seven things every green mosque should have. Whether it’s an edible garden, a green bank account or a water policy, I have come up with a list of things your local mosque could be doing to reduce its carbon footprint and tread more softly on this old planet of ours.
I also want to point out that building green mosques is only part of the solution. As the common wisdom now goes, a green building turns brown very quickly if the people using the building don’t change their behaviours. So, here are 7 things mosques can do without having to re-build and redesign their place of worship!
1 – An Inclusive Green Message: Most mosques in the UK and the Middle East are melting pots of all sorts of cultures, so speaking to people about environmental issues means taking a multilingual and multigenerational approach. Make sure that you address people in the language that they feel most comfortable with (that could mean booking a multilingual speaker to address the issues) and ensure that posters appeal to the older generation as well as youths by relating to issues that are most pertinent to them.
2 – A Water Management Policy: Instilling a culture of water saving is not only following the sunnah but it’s also a great way to get people thinking about the other resources and energy that they use and maybe waste. Put up signs asking people to limit their water usage, ask that leaky taps are fixed straight away and link all this to hadiths that the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said that water should be used with care even if it is in abundance.
3 – Harness Green Energy: Once you have got the congregation saving water, the next step is to get them thinking about the energy that the use and where it actually comes from. First encourage a reduction in the usage by promoting the ‘switch-off when not use’ policy and think about switching to a green energy provider. You can then move onto installing solar panels as mosques have done in places such as Turkey and the UK, or even making the most of wind as an eco-Mosque in Germany has done.
4 – Green Events and Activities: Learning to care more about the environment can be a daunting task for green newbies. So why not try to give those new to the cause a chance to attend ‘taster events’ by hosting swap shops, eco-iftars, recycling lessons, promoting fair-trade and even speaking to those attending educational classes at the mosque for five minutes. This can be a short and sweet way to introduce them to the issue and get them thinking about things such as why the mosque is following certain policies and what they can do in their everyday lives to be more green.
5 – Green Transport: Getting from A to B is a big part of life and so you can’t really think about ‘going green’ without tackling transport. Whether that means walking more, leaving your car or diversifying the way you get to the mosque is entirely up to you. However, a green mosque should be encouraging its congregation to get to the mosque using eco-friendly means through bike sheds or helping locals share cars by promoting prayer-time carpools.
6 – An Edible Garden: I was lucky enough to visit a small town in the UK which has edible gardens in the streets, at the rail station, at schools and at the doctors clinic. It got me thinking that why don’t mosques have edible gardens? A lot of the time, mosque will host iftars (the breaking of fast meal) so growing some of the vegetables or herbs locally is a perfectly good way to source the produce and also add a little colour to what can be very urban buildings. If your feeling particularly adventurous, you could even host a beehive like two mosques in London are doing.
7 – A (green?) Islamic Bank Account: Although it may seem like a done deal, most mosques don’t actually bank with Islamic banks. This is a real shame as Islamic banks usually avoid investment in the arms industry, tobacco, alcohol and are also slowly learning to care about their environmental footprint. So whilst they may not be the greenest banks around yet, I think that with a little bit of support and a lot nudging, they could become a lot greener.
To find out more about green mosques see: