Grassroots Windsor group calls on Canadian Muslims to think green this Ramadan

As Muslims across Canada continue to fast during the holy month of Ramadan, a new grassroots community group is calling on Muslims of all branches, schools and sects to think about the ways practising their faith affects the environment. 

Green Ummah was co-founded by students from the University of Windsor — including law student Aadil Nathani

Aadil Nathani, a third-year law student at the University of Windsor, is one of the co-founders of the Green Ummah group. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

As Muslims across Canada continue to fast during the holy month of Ramadan, a new grassroots community group in Windsor is calling on all Muslims to keep the environment top of mind when practising their faith. 

Dubbed "Green Ummah," the group was in part founded by students at the University of Windsor, and derives its name from the Arabic word for community.

"Green is self-explanatory," said Aadil Nathani, a third-year law student at the University of Windsor, and one of Green Ummah's founders, adding that Ummah is a term used to refer to the Muslim community. 

According to Nathani, the group's goal is to address "what we see as a holistic, intersectional approach that's needed to tackle something like climate change."

"And each community will deal with it differently," he said. 

For example, Nathani pointed out that Muslims can easily reduce their environmental impact by limiting the amount of water consumed during the Wudhu purification process prior to praying five times each day.

"The tap is typically running for about two minutes while you're doing wudhu, so we've encouraged people during the first week of our Ramadan challenge to conserve water during the time they're doing their wudhu," he said. "Instead of having the tap on full-blast, just have it run on half the blast of water that you can have."

Throughout Ramadan, Nathani said his organization has four overall goals, including conserving water, reducing food waste, and reducing energy consumption and one's overall carbon footprint. 

"Then for the last week of Ramadan, we're getting into a project where we want folks to start engaging with nature a little bit more," Nathani said. 

"We want them to start getting out to the parks — once the parks get open obviously — while practising social distancing."

In addition to encouraging environmentally friendly thinking throughout Ramadan, Nathani said Green Ummah is also advocating for green gifts during the Eid celebrations that mark the end of Ramadan.

"Come the end of Ramadan, you have Eid, which is the celebration of Ramadan," he said. "It's customary to give out gifts to the young ones and to family members and loved ones."

Nathani said his group is partnering with local gardening stores to "provide discounts on seeds and garden kits to keep you busy throughout the summer."

He added that Green Ummah hoped to have more direct contact with mosques during Ramadan, but physical distancing rules brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have it difficult to do so. 

... There is also an Islamic responsibility that we're trying to hone in on and touch ...- Aadil Nathan, Co-Founder, Green Ummah

"There's a large Muslim population in Ontario and in Canada — about one million Muslims in Canada," he said. "So we have a huge potential for impact here, if each person starts thinking in a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way."

Nathani added that Imam Youseh Wahb with the Windsor Islamic Association is one of Green Ummah's founding members.

"As well as a human responsibility, there is also an Islamic responsibility that we're really trying to hone in on and touch, so that we can reach all of the different generations and start getting entire homes to be more sustainable and think more environmentally friendly," Nathani said. 

LISTEN | Aadil Nathani talks about being an environmentally friendly Muslim with Windsor Morning host Tony Doucette:

Early responses to the initiative have been promising, Nathani said, with some local schoolteachers even asking if they can share some of Green Ummah's material with their classes.

"It gets us thinking about directions that we can go in the future," Nathani said. "One of which is to hopefully work with schools and Islamic schools, on creating greener curriculums for them."

With files from Windsor Morning