Ramadan 2019 : The rise of the ‘green’ iftar


This year has seen the continuation of the trend towards ‘green’ Iftars, the breaking of the fast in a manner that it is environmentally friendly and ethically sound.

Guides are available that provide advice to help Muslim families to prepare food in ways which are both health and eco-friendly. Muslim charities Islamic Relief and Human Appeal both provide tips for an ethical Ramadan on their website, which include buying organic food products, reducing carbon footprint by buying seasonal produce and eating less in general, by practicing moderation as encouraged within the religion.  There are also a number of websites devoted to environmental issues from an Islamic perspective, for example Birmingham-based Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES) has a Muslim Green Guide to Reducing Climate Change.

Rumi’s Cave, a popular community hub and events space in London, is hosting a “A Green Deen Ethical Iftar’ this year, a plastic free and vegetarian meal, while also encouraging guests to bring their own crockery and their own Tupperware for the leftovers. They explain that by contributing to the environmental crisis, it contradicts the responsibility Muslims have towards the earth and that the usual increase in wastage during Ramadan has a “detrimental impact on our spiritual experience of this blessed month”. The event follows a similar successful iftar last year, where guests were served soup made of foraged nettles growing wild in the area and home-grown vegetable stew. As the Organisers of this event had hoped last year, mosques around the country have made an effort this year to follow a similar code. York Mosque has announced a no single-use plastics policy by distributing reusable plastic bottles and other measures:

The Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham has also announced a plastic ban this Ramadan; selling subsidised reusable bottles to the congregation and installing water fountains to act as filling stations. Other mosques have taken similar measures and the Muslim Council of Britain in a statement has encouraged further mosques to do the same, with Secretary General Harun Khan reminding the devout that “As Muslims fast in Ramadan to be closer to God, it is important be mindful of His creation and care for the environment when we are facing global warming.”  This principle of Stewardship [Khalifa] which God has given to humankind comes up frequently in the setting up of these initiatives.

William Barylo, writing in The Conversation, describes this push as part of a growing envirionantalism of Muslims, who took part in the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations in London and the new eco-Mosque in Cambridge, and as a welcome counter narrative to the consumerist, neoliberal culture that can engulf the spirit of Ramadan, with big charities chasing donations, and social media influencers using the opportunity to sell products ‘for’ Ramadan and the Eid festival.

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