Thursday, August 11, 2011

TAG: Brunswick Sentinel on Green Muslims of New Jersey

Green Muslims promoting environmentally friendly Ramadan
Staff Writer

SOUTH BRUNSWICK — The Green Muslims of New Jersey (GMNJ) held their kickoff event July 24 to promote an environmentally conscious Ramadan this year. The Green Ramadan Initiative (GRI) was held at the Islamic Society of Central Jersey and focused on teaching concerned Muslims the importance of “going green.” Ramadan requires 30 days of fasting from dawn to dusk, and during that period, Muslims make frequent trips to their Islamic center to worship and break fast in the evening. Local mosques provide attendees with food and water.

“It’s a lot of hustle, and people come in hundreds to the mosque,” Faraz Khan, Green Muslims member, said. “You need to cater to their needs, so there is a lot of waste.”
Khan, along with Saffet Catovic, Shajia Khan and South Brunswick resident Arif Patel, formed GMNJ in attempts to educate Muslims about environmental stewardship and conservation and implement changes to reduce waste production.

At the GRI kickoff event, people were asked to sign a Green Ramadan Pledge, promising to follow any of 10 action items. The items fell under the categories of water, waste, food and energy. For example, the pledge suggests reducing shower time by 20 percent, replacing plastic water bottles with a reusable water bottle, planting a garden, and making an effort to carpool.

There was also an educational program featuring interactive activities, videos and short lectures about the role of environmentalism in Islam. The children’s program taught the importance of taking care of the planet and how to implement ideas at home. Khan said this educational approach is part of GMNJ’s central aim to increase awareness of environmental issues. The organization encourages area imams to regularly mention environmental concerns and greener living in their sermons.

“On a macro level, it’s about looking at the bigger picture and raising awareness of global warming at the pulpit,” Khan said. “On a micro level, it’s about being practical about what you can do as a mosque attendee.”
The organization partnered with the social activities committee at the ISCJ to reduce the meat provided during Iftar, the fast-breaking evening meal, by 50 percent. Also, students at Noor-Ul-Iman School in Monmouth Junction created posters with facts about going green and the GRI that were posted online for other mosques to adopt, Khan said.
The organization believes environmentalism coincides with the practices and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, who, Khan said, only used what was necessary. GMNJ members echo these sentiments on their Facebook page.
“My love for nature expanded as I grew older and learned how Islam encourages to live in harmony with creation, how the Prophet Muhammad lived so modestly and treated creatures with as much kindness as with humans,” Rozana Rahman, GMNJ member, said.
According to Khan, about 20 people meet every month to discuss green issues, and members involved with GMNJ are from New Brunswick Islamic Center, Islamic Society of Central Jersey, Noor-Ul- Iman School, Islamic Circle of Passaic County, National Islamic Association Inc., Newark, and Islamic Circle of Mercer County.

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