By DC EcoWomen Board Member Lina Khan
As the month of Ramadan begins this week for Muslims, many of us are preparing both physically and mentally for fasting. Muslims believe that during this month in the 600s C.E., the holy text of the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Even before the text was revealed, he often spent time in meditation and reflection. In the present day, Muslims do the same during Ramadan, and fast from food, drink, and other physical needs during the daylight hours.
Since Ramadan is a time for inner reflection and self-improvement, its personal impact is unique to the individual. But on a broader level, fasting during Ramadan is intended to help one learn self-control and let her/his spiritual nature grow stronger. From the thirst and hunger, fasting is also meant to foster empathy for those who don’t get enough to eat, and Ramadan is a critical time for giving to charity.
For me, personally, Ramadan is a chance to try not to get so wrapped up in work and the daily grind, and to improve on my weaknesses (such as…my temper) and become a more calm and self-aware person. This is challenging every year, but I like to think I’m veerry slooowly getting better at it. This year, fasting will be particularly trying with the heat, so I’ll get good practice at bettering my temperament hopefully.
Recently I learned about another goal during Ramadan, which is to strive to make Ramadan, and other facets of our spiritual lives, more ‘green’. Speaking logistically, Ramadan entails a pre-sunrise meal (suhr) and post-sunset meal (iftar). And speaking from experience, this is the most enjoyable in the company of others. People often turn iftars into potlucks after work, and there can be a fair amount of plastic ware and containers that get thrown away afterwards.
A sunset meal: veggie pot pie with homemade biscuits
A few years ago, I attended a ‘Zero Trash Iftar’ hosted by Green Muslims, an organization based in the DC area that seeks to build environmental leadership, awareness, and action within Muslim communities in America. At the iftar, everyone brought their dishes in re-usable containers, and their own eating utensils and reusable napkins (and so begins the revival of handkerchiefs! Maybe). I met cool people and it felt good to break my fast on wholesome food and consciously avoid piling up on trash. I’ve since learned more about the eco-conscious movement taking root within the American Muslim community, and wanted to share some other actions I’d like to take toward the green Ramadan goal.
Here are some suggestions from a green multifaith webinar:
When washing up for the 5 daily prayers, or even when having a shower, try to limit how much water is used.
Switch from plastic water bottles and Styrofoam to reusable water bottles and containers—speaking for myself, this can be tough when getting leftovers from a restaurant, so I’d need to devise a plan.
After a long day of fasting, try not to take more food than one can comfortably digest, to avoid wasting food. Also, try consuming more fruits and vegetables than meat. Since I have been eating vegetarian for awhile now, I hope to keep that up.
I’ve concluded that these actions will entail, for myself, going for more homemade meals for suhr and iftar. So, I’m hoping to implement some of my trial dishes this Ramadan and that these will keep me full and healthy this month.
Steel cut oats with maple syrup and pecans