The month of September traditionally for South Africans, symbolizes ‘environmental awareness’. In this month, we also welcome a new season – Spring. Spring is known for being a time of ‘new beginnings’ where new buds are sprouting, mildew covers the green blankets of grass and the birds and bees are known for setting the scene.
“And it is He who sends the winds as good tidings before His mercy until, when they have carried heavy rainclouds, We drive them to a dead land and We send down rain therein and bring forth thereby [some] of all the fruits. Thus will We bring forth the dead; perhaps you may be reminded.” (Quran 7:57)
“It is Allah who sends the winds, and they stir the clouds and spread them in the sky however He wills, and He makes them fragments so you see the rain emerge from within them. And when He causes it to fall upon whom He wills of His servants, immediately they rejoice.” (Quran 30:48)
National Arbor Week, will also take place this week. Set by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), Arbor Week will run from the 1st to 7th September, this year.National Arbor Week is an opportune time to call on all South Africans to plant indigenous trees as a practical and symbolic gesture of sustainable environmental management. This means that we should get out our spades, carve out holes in the ground, seed the hole and cover it with dirt. Seeds are inexpensive and can even be a fun activity for the family. Alternatively, one can plant already grown trees, which can be purchased at nurseries, where one is spoilt for choice with fruit trees such as peach or plum.
This is also a time to create recyclable living. Take interest in different efforts one can conserve our environment; which ranges from the air to the soil.
Recycling is a great effort. One can start by separating waste materials in our homes, which entails providing waste bins in the home for plastics, glass and paper. Any effort one can make will contribute to a healthy environment.
Communities all around South Africa are encouraged to partake in this environmental effort, in order to emphasise the importance of our environment and ’greening’ our communities. On their website, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, write, ‘’greening refers to an integrated approach to the planting, care and management of all vegetation in urban and rural areas, to secure multiple benefits for communities. Greening in the South African context takes place in towns, townships and informal settlements specifically because in the past the latter mentioned areas were disadvantaged in terms of planning for parks as well as tree planting in streets and open spaces.’’
Muslims are not exempt from healthy environmental practices. Our bad and irresponsible habits are destroying our planet. Fatima Ragie, co-founder and current national coordinator of Green Deen South Africa, says, ‘’We have forgotten what responsibility Allah SWT has entrusted with alongside giving us the ability to be so intelligent, also powerful, when it comes to our world. In modern years, it is fascinating what we have been able to make – materials and objects that surpass the “natural” limits. Often these materials and objects will not decompose in a very, very long time, from plastics and glass to cellphones and fridges. A lot of our waste releases hazardous and toxic chemicals. These materials pose continuous hazard to the animals and plant life (e.g. turtles eating plastics and dying, animals getting stuck in metal rings and growing up deformed, plant not coping with the pollution), as well as directly impacts on ecosystem health including the poisoning of our water.’’
In the Holy Quran, Allah speaks vividly about our environment:
“Do you not see that Allah sends down rain from the sky and makes it flow as springs [and rivers] in the earth; then He produces thereby crops of varying colours; then they dry and you see them turned yellow; then He makes them [scattered] debris. Indeed in that is a reminder for those of understanding.” (Qur’an, 39:21)
“And He has cast into the earth firmly set mountains, lest it shift with you, and [made] rivers and roads, that you may be guided,” (Qur’an, 16:15)
“He released the two seas, meeting [side by side]; Between them is a barrier [so] neither of them transgresses.” (55:19-20)
“It is He who shows you lightening, [causing] fear and aspiration, and generates the heavy clouds.” (13:12)
Green Deen South Africa is currently a volunteer based organisation aiming to create environmental consciousness and conscientiousness in our South African Muslim community by fostering a culture of active participation in socio-ecological issues. This initiative brings to the forefront the relationship between Islam and the environment and seeks to be the voice of the Muslim community when it comes to environmental issues.
It is therefore a gift, and a responsibility for us, as not only Muslims –but rather as humans to maintain healthy environments. Simple aspects, such as littering should be avoided.At a tender age children should be able to understand the concept of protecting our surroundings and environment. To enforce this lifestyle we all need to take responsibility in taking care of our surroundings.
Many of our unhealthy habits, collectively contribute to the depletion of our ozone layer. That effectively amounts to the depletion of our healthy atmosphere that is created to protect human, animal and plant life. These atmospheres act as a filter for the sun’s harmful Ultra Violet (UV) Rays. This radiation can cause various skin diseases and mutations to life on earth. By reducing our wastes into the atmosphere we can achieve a better climate. Reducing harmful human wastes into the atmosphere is a responsibility of every being. The environment is dependent on our practices.
However, environmental events may take place only with the will of Allah. An interesting discovery made in recent years where scientists, describe the switching of our magnetic poles, technically allowing the sun to rise in the west and set in the east. According to the Quraan , which was revealed almost 1400 years ago, this phenomenon herald the onset of the day of Judgement.
Kelly Dickerson of LiveScience writes, ‘’data collected by the European Space Agency’s Swarm satellite array reveals the Earth’s magnetic field has recently been weakening at a rate of around five per cent per decade. The field does change all the time, but a rate of five per cent century is more normal, leading some to speculate a pole reversal may be imminent.’’
Although, we as humans, cannot control environmental events as such, we should remember that our responsibility is not to contribute to the decline of the environment. We should practice healthy living in our daily lives and not be the reason of an unhealthy environment. Whilst events may occur irrespective, we should not be the reason for the destruction of our environment.