Muslim women push Chicago community to join green Ramadan: 'We are the caretakers of the Earth'

Adriana Pérez, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Religious News

Ali said that patience, or perseverance, constitutes a big concept in Islam.

“It means enduring, and it also means doing your best, the best that you can given your circumstances,” she said. “So this concept of having tolerance for a little bit of discomfort because it’s for the greater good — that is, to me, the definition of what we call Sabr.”

Now in their second year advocating for a green Ramadan, Ali and Bawamia have done away with styrofoam dinnerware and are selling stainless steel water bottles, which they encourage guests to refill from water fountains in the building.

“Unfortunately, as you leave, you might still see plastic water bottles,” Bawamia told mosque attendees. “Overall, it’s a work in progress. It’s difficult for a whole community to change. But just as we have all gotten used to carrying our phones everywhere, we can remember to bring our reusable (bottles) too.”

The mosque’s board, she said, has acknowledged the Green Team as a permanent committee since last year — a big step toward more sustainable practices within the faith community.


As Ramadan comes to a close, Bawamia and Ali hope to carry on these initiatives of restraint and moderation, making their faith community friendlier to the environment. In years past, the women secured support from an imam, or mosque leader, to switch the lightbulbs in all the fixtures — even the elaborate chandeliers — to energy-efficient ones. The water fountains installed in the mosques are another of their proud accomplishments.

In asking their fellow Muslims to join them in this journey, Ali said, they are asking them to nourish their mind, body, soul and the Earth, “because we can’t do anything outside that context.”

“Observe how the buzzing bees are moving, and notice how much water you use when you turn on a faucet,” Bawamia said. “Let’s be more mindful. At times, when the world’s problems are so big, we can focus on the small actions that make an impact.”


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