Linebacker, radio talk show personality, blogger, community leader, and now published author, Ibrahim Abdul Matin breaks down exactly what Islam teaches us about the environment. Green Deen is the first book of its kind that shows how the tenants of Islam support environmentalism. More importantly, it’s bridging the gap between the environmental movement and the religious community. elan sat down with Ibrahim to discuss his new book.
What does “Green Deen” mean literally and what is the book about in a nutshell?
“GREEN” has come to be a catchall phrase for all things environmental and sustainable. DEEN is the Arabic word for religion, way of life, or path. So “Green Deen” literally means, environmental path; green way, or any other combination of the definitions.
The book, Green Deen illustrates how the power of religion can be used to involve people of faith in the environmental movement. The book examines Islamic principles and how they can be applied to water, waste, energy, and food – the four things that any society needs to manage for survival. I also share my story as a Black Muslim Environmentalist and share stories of Muslim Americans across the country – all of us are inspired by Islam to live an Earth conscious life.
What does being a Green Muslim mean to you?
It means leaving the Earth better than you found it.
You mention how important it is to pray in order to be a Green Muslim. Why do they go hand in hand?
I believe that the way we treat the planet is a reflection of the way we treat ourselves. These days, it would seem we treat ourselves without much regard. We need to reflect on our own self worth and understand our value as humans on this Earth. Prayer can help that. The Quran says, “There are signs for those who reflect…” Those signs are the ayats (verses) of the Quran that we recite in prayer. If we reflect, signs will be made clear to us.
Also, we Muslims pray a lot. We pray at times of the day that compel us to be mindful of the movement of the planet. The more we pray, the more we become attuned with the Earth.
What is one thing you learned about Islam and environmentalism that left a huge impact on you?
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, taught us that we should conserve water even if we live by a river. That is profound – having plenty does not give us license to be wasteful.
What are three things Muslims can do everyday to help the environment?
1. Don’t waste any food. If you buy groceries, don’t let anything spoil.
2. Don’t buy water in plastic bottles. Bring a reusable bottle with you wherever you go and refill it throughout the day.
3. If you can, pray outside at least once a day
How long did it take for you to write the book?
A little over a year. The process was intense. Research, first draft, editing, second draft, and on and on. Thankfully, my publisher (Berrett-Koehler) and editing team of Mary Anne Stewart and Dave Peattie (Book Matters) were awesome.
What’s something fun that you did in terms of “research” for the book?
I went out to an Amish farm with Yasir Sayeed, the founder of Green Zabiha.com and slaughtered some Thanksgiving turkeys – one of which made it to my family’s table for turkey day!
Who is your favorite environmentalist?
My father. Learn why by reading the introduction of the book!
What are your predictions for the “Green Deen Movement?”
Ramadan Iftars will never be the same. People will bring their own plates, cups, bowls, silverware. The use of Styrofoam and paper products will stop and the amount of waste we create will come close to nothing. Also, Muslims will be the leaders in fighting mountain top coal removal. I describe energy from coal as “energy from hell,” because it comes from extracting something from the Earth – taking and not giving back. Finally, I believe Muslims will become focused on ensuring access to clean water – for everyone on the planet. It will be our main cause over any other political issues. Someday, we’ll be known as, “oh, yea, Muslims – they fight for clean water.”
You can preorder the Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About The Environment here.
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