Islam and Water: a Guest Column by Huda Alkaff
Huda Alkaff is the Founder and Director of Wisconsin Green Muslims. An ecologist and environmental educator, Huda has received the 2015 Obama's White House Champions of Change for Faith Climate Justice Leaders recognition and the 2016 Sierra Club Great Waters Group Environmental Hero of the Year. In 2017, she was recognized nationally by Environment America as one of the Voices for 100% Renewable Energy, and in 2018, she received the Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education Eco-Justice Award and the RE-AMP Network Superstar award. She generously shared her time in writing this column as a response to questions about Islam, Wisconsin Green Muslims, and the group’s work to protect water and the environment.
I greet you with the Islamic greeting Assalamu Alaikum / Peace be with you all.
Wisconsin Green Muslims is a state-wide grassroots environmental justice group formed in 2005, connecting faith, environmental justice, sustainability, and healing through education and service. It intends to educate the Muslim community and the general public about Islamic environmental teachings, to apply these teachings in daily life, and to form coalitions with others working toward a just, healthy, peaceful, and sustainable future.
Our work is guided and inspired by the sacred teachings from the Qur’an – the Holy Book for Muslims – and the Hadith – reports on the sayings and traditions of Prophet Muhammad – God’s Peace and Blessings be upon him.
For 15 years, Wisconsin Green Muslims has worked on environmental justice issues as it relates to climate change, clean air and pure water, healthy food, solar energy and energy efficiency, waste reduction, and transportation equity.
With the sighting of the new crescent moon, the celebration of the Islamic Hajj (pilgrimage) season, and Eid-ul-Adha (festival of the sacrifice) holiday, it is always a new universal awakening opportunity and beginning to connect with the movement of the moon in its phases (new moon through full moon to new crescent) and the concept of Hijra – migration from the bad to the good, and toward better conditions for all humanity.
In Islam, there are clear teachings and signs about the important, beautiful, and intricate balance of creation. God repeatedly tells us to maintain that balance and not to upset the order in creation. In the Qur’an (15:19), God says, “And the earth We have spread out; set thereon mountains firm and immovable; and produced therein all kinds of things in due balance.”
Muslims are advised to be moderate in every aspect of life. In the Qur’an (7:31), “O Children of Adam … eat and drink: but waste not by excess, for God loveth not the wasters.” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) forbade a person to waste water even in washing for prayer on the bank of an abundantly flowing river.
At the time of darkness of environmental and climate injustices to the most vulnerable, current and future generations at home and around the world, it is important for us to do everything we can. Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is reported to have said: If doomsday is about to take place while anyone of you has a tree sapling in your hand, which you can cultivate, then cultivate it for you will be rewarded. This active message of hope inspires me, as I consider Wisconsin Green Muslims to be my tree sapling that is full of possibilities and challenges.
An important water story in Islam is the story of mother Hajjar, wife of Prophet Ibrahim and mother of Prophet Ismail, to emphasize the important role that Muslim women play in Islam. Millions of people every year are making the Hajj to Makkah and following in the footsteps of mother Hajjar, as they perform their Hajj, moving from one hill to the other, as she did searching for water for her thirsty baby son. She had complete trust in God. She is a true example of a brave and pious woman who knew that she had not been abandoned in the desert and that she had a role to play in God’s great design. She discovered Zam Zam water, the holy water that keeps on giving life till today.
The story of mother Hajjar is an inspiration. It is a story of faith in action. It highlights the importance of water for humanity’s existence, and it shows how the actions of a woman have been embedded into one of the pillars of Islam.
Currently, Wisconsin Green Muslims has two interfaith initiatives: “Wisconsin Faith and Solar” and “Faithful Rainwater Harvesting, or FaRaH, which means joy.” These initiatives connect faith communities with the unifying powers of sunlight and rainwater, as sacred trusts and gifts, while providing valuable peer-learning and education, assessments, and collaborative benefits to advance equitable solar and solutions to flooding, so that together we increase our understanding, appreciation and care of our common home. Water is the commons. No one owns it, and all should – responsibly – have access to it.
Wisconsin Green Muslims is working in collaboration with other partners on educating the community and on finding equitable local solutions to the lead problem in our homes, plastic in our lives, and other environmental and climate justice issues impacting our water, including the Great Lakes.
Water is life. It is a sacred gift and trust. Water is a teacher, connector, healer, blessing, purifying and sustaining force. We love water. We thank and respect water. We ALL are water.