Mosques aren’t just a place for worship; they are hubs that kindle the spirit of community. Each day they bring together members of the neighborhood and once a week congregate the larger community. With a mobilization of this level, there is a great opportunity for any community let alone Muslims to foster a sense of cohesion and harmony, address community issues, evoke dynamism and instigate action. Therefore can Mosques against global warming be a good idea?
The Shah Jahan Mosque, built in 1889, was reportedly the first mosque in the United Kingdom; today, the country has more than 1,500.
One of the major issues the whole world is facing today is Climate change. The adverse effects of global warming are not on the distant horizon but are upon us, wreaking havoc everyday.
What is the Islamic perspective of such an issue?
Anas bin Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “If the Hour (the day of Resurrection) is about to be established and one of you was holding a palm shoot, let him take advantage of even one second before the Hour is established to plant it.”Source: Musnad Ahmad 12491
In light of this hadeeth along with many others and through the verses in the Quran (later revealed in this article), it is clear that there is a religious impetus if not an obligation for addressing the issues regarding sustainability.
Mosques Against Global Warming
Listed below are 11 steps for mosques in the western countries that can be taken to show the world the potential of community spirit in general and the Muslim way in particular.
1) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Recycling and compost bins should be present in every mosque. The imam should actively urge all mosque attendants to reduce not just their carbon but their overall ecological footprint. Although mosques are mainly places of worship and do not tend to generate waste, but despite that any waste on site should be dealth with responsibly. Mosque should have a warm and welcoming environment. If however there is a particular time during the day when it is not being used, than it would be better if heating and lighting is switched off.
Eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters (Surat Al-A’raf 7: 31).
Reading this verse one can clearly see that reduction in consumption is not an act of will but a command
2) Spray Taps
It is easy to slide the slope of self deception when one thinks that he is doing a service to himself and his lord but in reality is acting exactly opposite to the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah. It is common to see our fellow brothers waste countless litres of fresh water in their effort to attain ablution when just a glass full of water would suffice.
Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, happened to pass by a Companion, Sa’d, as he was performing ablution (wudhu) next to a river. At this, the Prophet said, “Sa’d what is this wastefulness?”
Sa’d replied: “Can there be an idea of wastefulness (israf) in ablution?”
The Prophet said: “Yes, even if you are by the side of a flowing river.” – Ibn Majah
It is true that fresh water reserves on our planet are diminishing at an unprecedented scale. With the availability of running water in the last century, our habits have taken a turn for the worst. To bring them back within the fold Sunnah (the prophetic way), the first step would be realization of the enormity of the problem on which mosques can play a major role.
Mosques will have to gradually scale down the consumption of water. The first step in this process would be the installation of spray taps in their absolution sections that aerate water to reduce consumption. With this step alone, thousands of litres of fresh water can be saved each year.
3) Energy Savers
Gone are the days of the incandescent lamps and cometh the age of LEDs. While extremely efficient LED lamps may be everlasting but they are very expensive at present. The price of florescent lamps (energy savers) however is relatively low and benefits are comparable.
While mosques should never be dark and dingy places but there is certainly a fair possibility of them being over lit. Usage of day light through windows as much as possible should be ensured because it creates a serene and natural ambiance. Furthermore it doesn’t cost the planet or pocket.
During the night time, for praying and even reading only 20 Lumens per square foot is sufficient. Each energy saver emits 14.5 Lumens per watt. That means a 12 Watt energy saver emits 174 Lumens, enough for 8 square feet.
4) Loft Insulation
Mosque particularly in regions of high latitude (30 degrees and above) or colder climate should invest in loft insulation. Over 30% of the heat loss occurs through the roof alone. Loft insulation not only will prevent the wastage of heat but also reduce the energy bills. It is one of measures with the fastest payback time. In most cases grants are available for loft insulation.
Similarly, “Cavity wall” insulation, where possible, would also act as a barrier to contain heat. Fortunately, most mosques are carpeted, which is advantageous as it prevents heat loss to the floor.
5) Bike Racks
Attendees at the mosque should be encouraged to come on foot. In fact, as understood from the practice of the companions , it is considered more virtuous to walk to the mosque from longer distances. For people living further afield, bicycle use may be encouraged by adding Bike Racks inside the mosque compound.
Very few Muslims in the west would have escaped the appeal by an imam for funds in lieu of car park extension. The approach of the mosque should be the opposite, particularly the ones that are located in densely populated areas .
Storage units for ancillary bike equipment such as helmets and Hi-Vis gear should also be provided to encourage cyclist.
6) Car pooling
Generally speaking it is the senior citizens that attend the mosque most frequently. In many cases , it may be beyond their physical means to walk or cycle to the mosque, particularly in harsh weather conditions and so car pooling is something that can be actively encouraged by the mosque.
In this age of smart phones, each mosque can create an app that allows people with cars to link up with those travelling on the same route. If not a smart phone app than a conventional notice board can do the same trick. Mosques should encourage to people to attend with higher car occupancy. This small step would result in massive Carbon savings.
7) Solar PV panels and Solar Water heaters
In most cases mosque building has ample roof space as they are normally larger than your average size dwelling. Solar PV panels can therefore be used to provide a portion, if not all the electricity used inside a mosque. The cost per watt of Solar panel system is now around $2. This is five times cheaper than it was 8 years ago. There are community grants available in this regards that the mosque should benefit from.
Likewise, hot water in a mosque is used in large amounts. Solar water heaters are an effective way of providing hot water not only for cleaning but also for heating purposes.
8) Wood Stoves
Contrary to the popular belief, out of all renewable appliances, wood stoves are the most efficient. Similarly modern wood chip boilers are sophisticated devices that are able to store large amount of wood pellets safely and allows the ash to be collected and disposed easily. It is able to produce heat at zero cost to the environment (provided that the wood chips are resourced sustainably). If gas or electric heating is already being used inside a mosque than this is one alternative can be explored.
9) Air Heat Exchangers
Good ventilation is necessary particularly in areas where ablution is performed. Ventilating air takes away the moisture from the building which reduces mold formation; however it also escapes with precious heat.
To avoid this problem, Air heat exchangers (not very well known) can be deployed. The device is a static piece of equipment which has proven to be very effective in the buildings where it has been tested. The incoming cold air exchanges heat with the outgoing cold air and thus to net heat loss to the environment is reduced.
10) Anaerobic Digesters
If the mosque halls are being frequently used for social events that generate food/organic waste than anaerobic digesters can be installed on the outer confines. Smaller size anaerobic digesters can be now seen sitting in parks and other public spaces. A digester breaks down organic waste and produces methane which can be stored or used as an energy source for heating on site.
By guiding through the sermons, leaflets and workshops, mosques can be important educators in highlighting one of biggest challenge mankind is facing today. If every mosque seeds environmental consciousness among its attendants than millions of green volunteers can be nurtured. If each attendant becomes a sustainability practitioner than the tide of adverse environmental effects can be shifted sooner rather than later. It should be remembered that the role of the sustainability practitioner doesn’t remain confined to his local mosque but extends to his own home and family.
It can be noticed that most of these steps are for mosques in colder climates however some practices can be employed by mosques in warmer regions.
The planet is suffering with global warming and this can be deemed as another manifestation of “Fasad fil Ard”. We have to lead the way in averting this danger and by going mosque by mosque, “Yes” we can.
Please share this article with your local mosque and community and be the change