How Ramadan can bring us closer to an eco-friendly lifestyle

Lubna Junaid, Environmental Science student, Suriname
Ramadan 2

The act of fasting in Islam is defined as abstaining from food, drinks and conjugal relations from before the break of dawn until sunset. Islam follows a lunar calendar, which means that each year Ramadan arrives roughly 11 days earlier than the previous year according to the solar calendar.

In Islam, the practice of fasting is not only a physical exercise but also a spiritual one. The ultimate aim is to attain God’s pleasure by regulating one’s life in accordance with His ordinances. In the Holy Quran, Muslims are reminded that fasting is not a new institution or burden; it is a very old institution:

“O ye who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become righteous.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.184)

Unless one converts to Islam at a later age, Muslims begin fasting at the age that is healthy for them – often, this is the age of puberty. Patience is the first test, as Muslims consciously choose to deprive themselves of food. With the blessed month of Ramadan comes a compelling shift towards equality and social compassion.

On the first day, we learn (again) what it feels like to be hungry, but as the days go by, we acquire what it really means to live without food. A little self-deprivation inspires great compassion for the truly hungry people of the world. The social barrier between the rich and the poor disintegrates when the rich endure and feel hunger pains no different from their poorer neighbours. Fasting also teaches moral discipline. The striving for blessings available to us in Ramadan comes from the sincere desire to please our Creator. During the month, with greater intensity, Muslims focus on prayers, reciting and studying the Holy Quran, serving humanity and remembering Allah.

As Muslims around the world fast during Ramadan, many will be doing so in conditions made increasingly harsh by climate change. Across Asia, Africa and the Middle East, millions are performing their fasts despite displacement from extreme weather, water shortages caused by drought and heat waves, and food prices inflated by crop failures. Five of the 10 countries hit hardest by the climate crisis, according to data and rankings from the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (“ND-GAIN Country Index”, and Germanwatch’s Climate Risk Index, have large Muslim populations: Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Niger, Somalia and Sudan. Though the challenges vary according to each country’s geography, many of those hit hardest are in the remote, rural communities of developing countries, where governments have limited resources to tackle the rapid changes. (“10 Of The Countries Most Affected By Climate Change”,

Ramadan offers us a great chance to make a positive change in our attitude towards the environment. Thus, we must seize the opportunity to change our lifestyle to one that is more environmentally friendly. This is particularly important as we learn more about the effects of climate change, dwindling resources and decreasing access to fresh water around the world, which is also a growing concern in many Muslim communities and countries. The responsible attitude of a Muslim during Ramadan is very crucial for the correctness and acceptance of their fast. This is a time for us to be more aware of the universal principles of mercy, compassion and respect for the Earth that our faith teaches. Allah has called us to protect, cherish, care for, and respect the Earth and all of God’s creations within it. This theme was also echoed in the life of our Holy Prophet Muhammadsa.

Basic tips we can follow, especially during Ramadan

1. Plan food intake with proper nutrition, while supporting and utilising local produce and striving to incorporate sustainable practices into daily routines. We should try to follow the Holy Prophet Muhammad’ssa advice that Muslims should only fill one-third of their stomachs with food, with one-third reserved for liquid and the final one-third for air (to enable easy breathing), minimising the amount we consume. (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab al-at‘imah, Hadith 3349)

Food waste is a colossal problem all over the world. According to the Food Waste Index Report 2021, published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), one-third of all food produced is lost or wasted – around 1.3 billion tonnes of food – costing the global economy close to $940 billion each year. Up to 10% of global greenhouse gases come from food that is produced, but not eaten. (“UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2021”,

Muslims are advised to avoid waste, as it suggests a lifestyle of excess and complacency. Planning meals and cooking only as much as is needed is a great way to avoid wasting food. Leftovers can also be efficiently stored in the fridge and used the next day, rather than starting from scratch every evening. Also, keep a close eye on expiry dates to make sure you are using up food before the time has run out. It is also worth finding your nearest food bank to donate any unwanted supplies you may have left.

2. Generate less quantity of waste, while also emphasising reusing and recycling. Minimise or eliminate the use of single-use plastics. Eliminate disposable plates, cutlery, cups, containers etc. If needed, use degradable paper plates and cups for serving food and drinks.

3. Reduce water usage, especially during daily use, e.g. showering, brushing your teeth or during wudu (ablution). Be vigilant that the tap is closed when water is not being used, making conscious efforts to eliminate any dripping and to conserve precious water, which is a recurring theme within Islamic teachings.

It is narrated that the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa once saw a man performing ablution, and he said: “Do not be extravagant, do not be extravagant [in using water].’” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab al-taharah wa sunanuha, Hadith 424) Though Islam teaches the importance of cleanliness, we are also reminded that we should not exceed bounds or wastewater. We are taught to use sufficient amounts and no more.

4. Switch off appliances after use, e.g. lights, ACs, fans, heaters, etc. This should be a habitual practice for us, not just in our own homes, but also at the mosque or Jamaat centre. Be aware of energy consumption, and make efforts to live eco-friendly by dimming the lights and fans when leaving the hall or building.

5. Declutter your living space. During a time when we are cleansing our minds and body, it makes sense to do the same with our homes. In the same way that food waste is excessive, it’s likely that we have material possessions we no longer make beneficial use of and could be put to better use. Ramadan is a month of munificent charity. The Holy Prophetsa was the most generous of men, and he was at his most bountiful during Ramadan (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-manaqaib, Hadith 3554). Following the noble example of Prophet Muhammadsa, we should focus on giving and donating as much as we can.

According to research by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), faith-based organisations can have an immense impact on sustainable development. The director of the UNEP Faith for Earth Initiative, adds that the diversity of faiths, all united in one moral responsibility, can play an enormous role in achieving behavioural change in our production and consumption patterns. There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as defined by the UN, including clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities, zero hunger and quality education. The report also lists examples of how faith-based organisations are helping to achieve these goals. (“Religion plays an ‘enormous’ role in reversing climate change, says UN”,

According to the report, 16 congregations of Dominican Sisters across the United States have provided $46 million in seed capital for an investment fund that focuses on providing access to clean energy in India and sub-Saharan Africa. The project highlights the power and wealth of religions and their contribution to financing sustainable development. Another example hails from Peru, where A Rocha Peru, a Christian faith organisation, has planted 26,000 Huarango trees over three years. These trees are well adapted to surviving the arid climate of southeastern Peru and are important for traditional agriculture to thrive on the Peruvian coast. Various Sikh communities around the world have planted 1 million trees in 1,820 different locations. The project is driven by a group called Ecosikh, whose goal is to increase reforestation and encourage people to reconnect with nature. (“Faith-based organizations can help drive sustainable development, says new report”,

An example from our own community is the wonderful pledge by Lajna Imaillah UK to plant 100,000 trees across the UK to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of our auxiliary organisation. (“Lajna Ima’illah: Sustainability and Justice”, This initiative symbolises growth and care for future generations, which is integral to our principles.

Let us as Muslims, especially Ahmadi Muslims, lead by example and create a better and healthier environment for us and the generations to follow.

Ramadan presents the perfect opportunity to recharge our spiritual batteries for the year. It is a time to seek forgiveness for our misgivings and to reflect upon the signs of creation from Allah. As Muslims, we have a duty as stewards over this planet, and it is our responsibility to ensure that natural resources are used in a sustainable manner. Now is the time for us to encourage ourselves, and those around us, to be the best possible stewards of the earth and to live as individuals who are compassionate and respectful toward the diverse and beautiful aspects of God’s creation.

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