SISTERS Magazine: Saving Water- An Islamic Duty of Care

Really excited about the latest issue of SISTERS magazine as it’s all about saving water and being environmentally friendly from an Islamic perspective. It also features my article on the front cover which is lovely too! SISTERS are currently running a very special three issues for a £1 offer so if you’re curious- now is the time to get yourself a subscription.

Saving Water An Islamic duty of care

Arwa Aburawa looks at the very stuff of life – water – and why Muslims should be working to preserve every drop.
Imagine waking up to find that water, which normally flows freely out of your tap, had become a scarce and precious commodity. That it had become too important to use to flush the toilet or to flow down the drain as you brush your teeth- too precious to waste on that daily morning shower. Would you see water differently? Would you be using it more sparingly and showing more concern about waste? Of course you would, it would only be natural and yet a famous hadith reported by Ibn Majah states that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) told us to not to waste water even if it is abundant. But sadly, when it is abundant we take advantage of it, we forget its vital importance to our health and survival and, ultimately, we waste it.

Water, Wudhu and Wellbeing

As the sustainer of life, water plays an important role in all cultures and faiths across the world. In Islam, however, it is held up as a sign of God’s existence and one of his greatest creations. We are reminded in the Qur’an, “We made from water every living thing,” (Al- Anbiyaa:30) and “Who has created the heavens and the earth, and Who sends you down water from the sky?”(Al -Naml:60) . The word water or Ma’ is mentioned in the Qur’an sixty times and paradise is repeatedly described as a lush garden with flowing rivers. Through our daily prayers and the purification of wudhu, water is also aligned to one of the core tenants of Islam.

Islam and Water Rights

As well as the Qur’an, there are numerous ahadith illustrating the importance of preserving water. The Prophet Muhammad r is said to have used just half a liter to make wudhu and informed his companions that denying a thirsty person water is one of the most dishonourable acts that someone can commit. What’s more, according to Shariah law every human being has the right to water and many Islamic scholars state that preventing the pollution of water is itself an act of worship as it protects Allah I’s creations and signs of his existence. With all this in mind, we as Muslims should be stepping up and taking our duties to reduce our water consumption more seriously.

Get Water Aware and Start Saving

Now, most people don’t go out of their way to waste water. It occurs unconsciously because we don’t make an active effort to be more aware of our actions and how they lead to waste. We run a bath instead of having a quick shower, we leave the tap running as we do the dishes and we don’t collect rainwater to water our plants. Consequently, the first step to reducing our water usage is to become aware of it in the first place. For one day track all the water that you use from the moment you wash your face in the morning to the moment you brush your teeth before going to bed. You’ll not only be surprised at how heavily our lives depend on water but you will also get to know the areas where you waste the most water.

  1. Add a water hippo (or any other harmless heavy object you can find!) to the water tank of your toilet to reduce the amount of water used to flush it.
  2. Make sure you use an efficient dishwasher and only run it when it’s full otherwise you risk wasting energy and water.
  3. Keep showers short and baths to a minimum.
  4. Pre-soak clothes so you can use a short cycle and cold water to wash them.
  5. Never clean your car at the car wash – hand washing saves you money and water.
  6. Making paper and tissue is very water intensive so use towels instead of tissues when you can and cut down the amount of paper you use.
  7. Collect rainwater to water your plants and wash things like your bins, windows and car.
  8. Fix leaky taps and encourage your local mosque to ask people to use as little water as possible when making wudhu.
  9. Support water charities which help others struggling with water shortages affecting their quality of life.
  10. Share these water-saving tips with your friends and family!

Some may state that as water is readily available in the country they live, there is no need to be scrimping and saving. However, not only is it Islamically good practice to save water, the reality is that global warming is increasing water scarcity across the world so we need to avoid aggravating the situation by wasting water carelessly.

Water Scarcity and Global Warming

The closest I have ever been to experiencing water scarcity was during a homecoming holiday to Jordan in the increasingly water-short Middle East. Our neighbourhood got just a couple of hours every other day to fill up their water tanks from the main government water supply. The supply was so little that some neighbours were now using motors to draw off more water which was leaving others – such as ourselves – worse off. For the next couple of weeks we had to make do with the squat toilet (which uses less water than the normal sit-down style), we used and re-used water and soon our water-saving habits became second nature.

Now, I’m not saying that we should all go back to the squat toilet but we should realise that an endless supply of clean water is a rare luxury and our entrenched habits can change if we force ourselves to re-examine the way we use water.

Arwa Aburawa is a freelance journalist based in the UK who writes on the Middle East, the environment and various social issues. Arwa is also the eco-Islam affairs editor at Green Prophet, the leading news site on environmental issues in the Middle East.

:: Originally published at SISTERS Magazine.

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