As we go through the remaining days of Ramadan, we should reflect on the things that we have and how we use them. We are at a critical point in our global history where the environment is being damaged and what is happening may well be irreversible, affecting our children, their children and many generations to come.
God reminds us in the Qur’an that the earth is like a mosque, that we can pray any where; we are constantly reminded in it’s verses to look at the signs that we see when we reflect on the sky, the earth, the trees, the ocean and we are told to travel through the earth and observe and reflect on those civilizations that preceded us. Sometimes, we are so arrogant that we believe our civilization is the greatest one yet, there were so many others in the past that accomplished great things, some greater than we can achieve today.
The challenge for us in the next few days as we think about our behaviour in the next few days and the changes we need to make is to remember that our actions have an impact on those around us and the effects of what we do can last beyond our own lifetime into that of our children and their children. Quite simply put, “What will your legacy be for our children and theirs?” is it one that you will be proud of? for which you will be rewarded by God.
We are reminded in the Qur’an that we are ambassadors of God. So what does that mean? Keeping this in mind alongside a saying attributed to Chief Seattle, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” we must critically reflect on what we do.
This Ramadan, do we get food served to us on volumes of Styrofoam that will only add to landfills and cause future problems? Do we leave our cars idling even though we know that the carbon emissions are causing the polar ice caps to melt? Are we adequately reusing and recycling so that we are not creating volumes of garbage that will affect later generations? Are we calling for fair and accountable international policy as countries like Brazil consider destroying more of the Amazon Forest in order to pay of debts and meet their society’s needs? Do we leave water running when we make wudu or brush our teeth when people around the world are dying because they don’t have access to drinking water? Are we wasting food when people are dying because of lack of food?
We may try to fool ourselves into thinking that our actions don’t have that much of an impact, but it really does and we will be held accountable for it by God and by our children. In the world today, there is the emergence of a new class of refugees termed, “environmental refugees”. People who will no longer be able to live where they used to because of environmental changes. This group is expected to grow steadily in the coming years in part because of our behaviour and our support for over-consumption.
The prophet peace be upon him once moved where he set up camp and lit their fire because he didn’t want to disturb an ant nest. Something we may consider insignificant.
We must think globally and act locally. We can make simple changes to our lives to help save energy and cut down on wasting resources. Let us remember that God will not change our conditions until we first change what is in our own hearts. We have to follow this with our actions and then pray for the best outcome. Ramadan is a time for reflection and positive change- what will you do?