May 26, 2014

Environmental Issues Series: Water Conservation - Importance and Islamic Perspective - Part 2

by Tara Alomari

Why should Muslims care Part 1 | Why should Muslims care Part 2 | Water Conservation Part 1 | Animal Rights Part 1 | Animal Rights Part 2


Water is absolutely essential for life and is one of the greatest blessings of Allah mentioned in the Qur’an. Unfortunately, we humans have not done well to conserve it, and the implications of our actions can be seen all over the world today. It is imperative on us to follow the Sunnah of water conservation in all our actions so that we may be responsible stewards of creation. In this final part of the series, we look at water conservation from an Islamic perspective

Water conservation is a Sunnah

If you live in a relatively water-rich part of the world like large parts of North and South America, Europe, or South Asia, you may be thinking “Yep, plenty of water around here. No need to conserve water for me.” In reality, if you wish to follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, sal Allahu aleyhi wa sallam, then beware that the Prophet, sal Allahu aleyhi wa sallam, said: “Do not waste water, even if you perform your wudu next to a flowing river”.

In fact, Wudu is one of the first ways in which we can both revive a forgotten sunnah and conserve water. The Prophet Muhammad, sal Allahu aleyhi wa sallam, used to perform his wudu out of a small jug, which, although sources vary, was likely around 1-2 liters. Allowing for the larger amount, this comes up to a total daily water use of approximately 10 liters, or 3,600 liters a year. If you currently make wudu with the tap running, and you are fairly fast, you likely use about 8 liters each time. [i] That’s 40 liters per day and 14,400 liters per year, or four times the amount of the Prophet’s sunnah.

Following this sunnah is actually incredibly easy to do. Select any small jug or mug and keep it in next to your sink at all times. Fill it up and pour out the water, or dip your hands in, as needed to complete your wudu. You can even select something pretty that will add a decorative touch to your bathroom. Pro tip: if you have water left over in the jug, do not leave it standing for more than a full 24 hours. Periodically rinse it out and let it sit dry (in the night for example) so that it doesn’t develop a layer of slime at the bottom.

Activism is also a sunnah

As can be clearly seen, the problems of water scarcity, desertification, and rural poverty are global problems requiring a lot more than individuals in developed countries turning off the tap. Lobbying your government to build sustainable water infrastructure (and use aid dollars to support that of others), as well as supporting sustainable water development projects with your Zakat and Sadaqa are also important. If we are to “man up” to our role as khalifas of creation, and if we, as Muslims, are to be leaders of economic justice and universal human dignity, then we have to be at the forefront of such initiatives, working with Muslim and non-Muslim alike to create a sustainable future for us all. 

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below!

[i] This is based on the estimate that an open tap gives about 8-12 liters per minute


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