Eid Al-Fitr is an important religious holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, and is celebrated by Muslims all over the world.
On this festive occasion, people usually buy new clothes, cook traditional food, greet and visit their families and neighbors, offer gifts and money to their younger relatives, go on picnics to public parks and beaches, arrange big parties and huge feasts, and so on.
Unfortunately, Eid celebrations these days are often extravagant and cause pollution and harm to the environment. For instance, the community spaces, including parks and other places, are always left with a lot of litter and tons of waste after the celebrations. Many people also buy a lot of new clothes that they really do not need.
A quick look at some of the recent Eid holidays in the region reveals some interesting facts: In Cairo Zoo alone, authorities lifted 50 tons of garbage after Eid Al-Fitr in 2015! In Amman, sanitation workers collected over 15,000 tons of household waste during the Eid Al-Fitr holiday in 2014, according to the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM).
So, Eid al-Fitr, in many ways, is becoming an occasion of over-consumption that creates pollution and waste problems. Now is the occasion therefore to seize the opportunity and adopt exemplary behavior in relation to the environment and hope that this responsible pro-environmental lifestyle will be observed during Eid and continue all year Islam advises balance and moderation in all matters.
Extravagance is the opposite of moderation and results in crossing the proper limits of consumption of resources. The Qur'an warns believers against extravagance in eating and drinking. Allah the Exalted says: "O Children of Adam! wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: Eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters.." (Qur'an, 7:31)
Thus, a true Muslim should do his best to celebrate and at the same time reduce his environmental footprint by consuming less, recycling, and avoiding overconsumption.
A Muslim must not be extravagant in consumption, whether of food, cloth or natural resources. As cited in the Quran: "Eat and drink of that which Allah has provided and do not act corruptly, making mischief on the earth." (Qur'an, 2:60)
The idea of “footprint” is already rooted in Islamic culture and values, and there are many examples and verses in the Qur’an and Sunnah that urge Muslims to reduce their footprint and ask them to live lightly on earth. The Qur’an describes believers of Allah as those who “walk on the Earth in humility.” (Qur'an, 25:63)
Governments and local authorities also can play a key role in encouraging people toward environment-friendly behavior during Eid.
Among the ideas that can be implemented is to encourage the use of public transportation to reduce traffic pollution. The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) introduced a plan to reduce traffic congestion and reduce pollution during the Eid Al-Fitr holiday in 2015
By offering 10 buses forfree transit from the Dubai Mall to the Dubai World Trade Center.
In 2014, the Abu Dhabi Police warned the public against using or buying fireworks. According to Col. Humaid Saeed Al-Afreet, head of firearms and explosives, “Fireworks can potentially cause physical damage as well as environment pollution.”
Islam emphasizes a peaceful equal society. Extravagance goes against this principle of equality. If a Muslim wastes some resources by extravagance, he is directly wasting the right of others, of those who could have been satisfied by the wasted things, besides those of the future generation as well.
While planning for the upcoming Eid Al-Fitra celebrations, it is imperative that we think twice before buying food, clothing and other items in excess keeping in mind the need to protect the environment. As people go to community parks and other holiday destinations during Eid, we must strictly avoid throwing trash around. Let us strive to celebrate Eid in an eco-friendly way by shifting towards a greener lifestyle and striving to incorporate sustainable practices.
Wish you all an eco-friendly Eid Al-Fitr!
The writer is the Sustainability Research Program Manager at the Gulf Research Center.
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