Welcome to the EcoMasjid website


WHAT?

This website is dedicated to raising awareness of environmental issues and ethics of meat production among the Muslims of Urbana Champaign.

WHY?

Our Creator, Allah, the One God of everythere that is, has created humans as stewards on Earth. So, we have been given a trust that is the Earth around us. We will be accountable on the Day of Judgement for how we took care of this trust.

WHO?

The responsibility falls on the shoulders of all humans on this Earth. However, we Muslims, who recognize the Oneness of Allah and his Ownership over the Earth are especially responsible for taking care of our Creator's creations.

WHERE?

Everywhere. All of Earth is Allah's creation. We should be moderate in our consumption of natural resources no matter where we are. However, there is a special onus on those of us who are living in Western (industrialized) world, in particular US. The mode of life in US is totally steeped in the habits of mass consumption and mass wastage. We have to be on guard as to minimize the amount to which our lives become that way. And the next step is to take the message to other peoples in US. A Muslim should implement first and then advise others. Let's make US (as the part of the world where we find ourselves right now) a better place in terms of care of Allah's creation.

WHEN?

All the time. We consume every moment of our life. So, we have to be thinking and on guard every moment of our life as well. We should start curbing our habits as soon as we can and better them gradually. Here are some special times to think about our consumption patterns: shopping, eating and drinking, cooking for a large group, organizing dinners and iftars in masjid, taking out garbage, using water, etc.

HOW?

How, indeed! This is a question on which we all will have to work on individually and communally. The first step is to think. I am buying x many of these ... do I really need that many. I have been regularly letting left-overs rot in my fridge and then throwing them out. Should I be cooking lesser amounts? I just dump all trash from my house in the garbage dump for convenience. Shouldn't I take a few minutes to put cans in cans tote, paper in paper tote, etc? I always buy the cheapest-priced product and buy a lot of it. Shouldn't I look into what makes this product so cheap compared to others? I regularly buy packaged vegetables instead of bulk because I don't like to get my hands "dirty" handling fruits and vegetables ... but what about the packaging? Am I paying for it? Where does it go? What happens of it? I leave the water running when I brush my teeth. Shouldn't I bother to turn off the tap while doing that? I regularly hop into my car and drive to friend's house or masjid just a few blocks away ... maybe I should walk sometimes.

These are the kinds of questions we need to start asking ourselves. After we have asked the questions, the next step is to inform ourselves. What happens to garbage? If it goes into landfills, how does that affect the surrounding communities, etc.

After learning about things, then we try to act. We can start with baby steps as does any baby when learning to walk. Starting today I will sort my trash into recyclables and try to put correct stuff into correct bins. Starting today I will try to minimize how much disposable items I use in my house, etc.

The above is by no means intended to be some magical bullet solution. We all should think and inform ourselves and encourage each other in kicking our wasteful habits.





PROJECTS

2005 Projects

Our first project has been to organize the "Food for Thought" iftar meal on 21 October (17 Ramadhan). We have highlighted the following two concerns:

1. Styrofoam garbage: During iftar meals and other dinners at masjid, we have been using a great amount of styrofoam plates and cups. After we eat, take out the garbage and fill up our masjid dump bin. What happens to it from there? Styrofoam is neither re-cyclable (in most places) and neither biodegradable. What should we do to cut down our dependence on this. In poorer countries, iftars are also held at masjids, but they use real dishes and then wash afterwards. So, a whole bunch of community members lent their dishes for us to use on this particular iftar.

2. Source of our meat: Some of us don't care where we buy our meat as long as we can get it cheap and get a lot of it. Some of us, go a step further, and try to buy zabiha meat. But for most of us the concern stops there. Allah has given us the right to eat meat but under certain conditions and regulations. One main condition is not to be inhumane and cruel to the animals. Even during time of slaughter, the Islamic rules stress humaneness and kindness to the animals.

So, what about how the animals were treated before the slaughter? The sad reality is that "modern" meat raising practices (employed by the big companies, for example) are cruel and barbaric. Should we care about that? As Muslims, who want to imbue our lives with the noble ethics of our religion, should we ignore these things? The answer is of course, no. So, what are the alternatives? Alhamdulillah, there are still farms who practice good practices of raising animals. Maybe we cut down on our consumption, just a little. There are many things we can do and look into, but the first step is to realize what's happening and not pretend we don't know it. We, the EcoMasjid group, are not asking anybody to change their habits without thinking. We are asking that we all think and pay attention to these things. So, to highlight this concern, during our iftar we served no meat.

2006 Projects

Paper plates vs foam plates. Cutting down on soda intake. Details coming soon.

Recylcing Container for CIMIC from Urbana City.

2007 Projects

Getting 100 real plates and not using throw-away plates.

Cutting down food wastage. Telling organizers to make smaller servings.

Another recycling container.

Almost eliminating soda consumption during iftars.

Daily food wastage graph.

Details coming soon. In the meanwhile, here is a picture of uneaten food from people's plates on one evening. Here is another picture

Numbers: throwaway plates saved, food taken to shelters, money saved, etc.

Comments from people.

2008 Projects

Saving and re-using Eid decorations.

Proper disposal of computer equipment: about 3 desktops of defunct masjid computer equipment was taken to a business that does proper disposal and recycling of computer parts. In the past, this used to be just thrown in the masjid trash bin.

Getting people who sometimes clean the masjid to clean with regards to the environment. This entails not using too many chemical products, not wasting too many tissues and paper towels, etc.

Pictures of things people throw away freely at masjid: unused tissues, unused paper, slighlty broken furniture, etc.

LINKS

Here we have collected a small preliminary list of links that can help us get informed about what is happening. Do check the movie "The Meatrix".

By linking to these websites, we don't imply that we agree with everything that is written on the following websites. Read but think!





If you have any ideas, issues, comments, websites to which you think we should link, etc. please drop us a line at nsheikh ATSIGN illinoisalumni PERIOD org.