By Marwa Hamid
February 03, 2017
Asmaa and Max are the eco-friendly Muslim
couple behind the website 'Greenkum'. In this article, they shared their
thoughts on Islam, the environment and animal welfare.
During my masters’ studies, one of my
Professors who was giving us a lecture on the topic of Urban Environments and
Sustainability told the class that she admires the importance that Muslims put
on their surrounding environments. She said, 'go to Delhi and you will be
enchanted by the beautiful gardens that surround houses and palaces. The
Muslims who like to surround themselves with gardens do so so that they can
remind themselves of the heavens'
I am lucky that my academic interests are
in an environmental setting and the more I learn about our environment the more
I admire the glorious abilities of Allah Subhanah wa tala’a. However,
regardless of the emphasis that Islam puts on conservation and the environment,
many of us contribute to a high carbon footprint and that effects our
environment in a very negative way. Why have we gone so far? Is it possible for
us to enjoy our so-called modern lifestyles yet still care for our environment?
We spoke to Asmaa and Musa Max, a German
blogging couple who shared with us their experience living a more
environmentally conscious life...
Tell Us A Bit About Yourselves And How
Did You Become More Aware Of Environmental Issues?
We are Asmaa, 27, and Max Musa, 28, a
German married couple, best friends and the founders of the environmental blog
Greenukum. Our blog is a showcase of our journey to become more conscious in
hope to create an awareness for “green” topics like sustainability,
environmentalism and animal protection, Eco-travelling, and so on.
So, How Did We Become Aware Of
Asmaa: As long as I can remember, I have
been a huge animal and nature lover. My passion for environmental issues in
addition to other things was inspired by my cats and by Hima, a Muslim
organisation for environmental protection in Germany. On the other hand, I am
working on my PhD in animal ethics in Islam and the more I do research in the
field of nature and animals in Islam, the more I realised the importance of
Max Musa: I grew up in a vegetarian family
that loves fellow creatures. Besides that, I worked for a big organic
supermarket chain and had a lot of training and seminars on “green-topics”.
Therefore, I tried to implement my knowledge in my daily life and realised more
and more that the “modern” western lifestyle and the comfort that goes with it
can have a negative impact on the environment. So I became more and more
What Does Greenukum Mean?
The name Greenukum is a compound word
consisting of the word green and ukum. Green a colour that is most commonly
associated with the environment, life, hope and spirituality and is also
considered the traditional colour of Islam. Ukum is an Arabic
(possessive pronoun) suffix and stands for “your/yours” (pl.): Thus, Greenukum
implies that it is YOUR nature, YOUR environment, YOUR life, YOUR
spirituality... You have to take care of it!
For reasons mentioned above, we created Greenukum to inspire!
What Inspired You To Start Your Blog And
What Has Your Blogging Experience Been Like?
After our marriage, we decided to do our
best to life a conscious lifestyle. We read a lot and watched several
documentaries to learn more about it. So we become aware of our impact on the
world and our function as Khalifa, stewards, on the earth.
To get more motivation we tried to find
some personal blogs to follow and we came across many eco-bloggers. However, we
were very disappointed by not finding any German Muslim blogger whom we could
follow and identify with. That was the reason that motivated us to start our own
blog, knowing that we are not perfect either we are 100% conscious since it was
the beginning of our journey. We both had many discussions before deciding to
do this step. Nevertheless, the desire to inspire and mobilise other people for
such issues and to share our experiences in our very own way was great, so we
did it in the end. Alhamdulillah.
What Kind Of Responses Have You Had In
Regards To Your Blog From The Muslim And Wider Community?
Since we started our blog, the feedback we
received from Muslims and people of other faiths all over the world was
surprising. Our Instagram posts seem to be motivating especially to young
Muslims. We assume that it is much easier to implement sustainable ideas into
your own life when you find people you can identify with. It makes a difference
if you are only reading something in an impersonal newsletter text or in a
personal blog. Moreover, it makes a difference if you are getting the feeling
that the author is real and not perfect: That is why we are trying to show our
successes as well as our failures on the road.
The many messages we get from people who
get inspired by our posts give us strength. It is also great to know that the
great majority of Muslims also confirm that part of our Deen (Religion) is to
take care of everything that lives with us or next to us. After a short
introduction phase, we started receiving almost monthly invitations and many
What Core Teachings Does Islam Offer Us
In Terms Of Better Caring For The Environment?
There are so many teachings that we can
find in Quran and Sunna, but let us focus on the aspect of being a Khalifa
(steward). God placed human being's as a Khalifa (steward) on earth; He created
us as intelligent creatures, gave us the task to take care and to act righteously
in all of our affairs. Thereby we have to hold nature as a trust (Amanah):
“Then We appointed you viceroys in the earth
after them, that We might see how ye behave”
There are so many verses in Quran that
emphasise our duty to look after the earth and not to over consume its
resources. For example:
“O children of
Adam! … eat and drink: but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the
So we are really wondering, how we can
damage nature, knowing that these are signs of Allah, placed by him on earth to
show us his beauty? Even more: The Quran tells us that everything is praising
"There is not an animal on the earth,
nor a creature flying on two wings, but they are nations like you." (Quran
What Do You Think Is Holding Back
Muslims From Doing More For The Planet (Particularly In The Muslim World)? And
What Can Be Done To Tackle These Constraints?
That is a very complex question and it is
very difficult to answer it briefly. Nevertheless, I remember a statement of
the Iranian-born intellectual Seyyed Hossein Nasr, who has written several
articles about men and nature in Islam. His opinion is that it is because of
two facts: Firstly, we have societies engaged with immediate problems.
Remember, Colonialism and its consequences, Radical Islamists and more. On the
other hand for non-western people, the environmental problem is kind of a
western problem, created by western industrialisation and capitalism that they
did not identify with. Additionally, many environmental discussions do not
reflect on a spiritual side of this issue. We are convinced that you can better
reach people when you confront them with their faith.
Asmaa: I created an experience with my
family and friends: While talking to my grandmother in Morocco about these
issues, I told her that it is our task as Khalifa (steward) on this earth to
protect the earth and I provided her with examples from the life of Prophet
Muhammad (pbuh) It was possible for me to reach her much better.
This is how people work! The religious
values influence the way in which billions of people think and act. Why not
work with them using the potential of religion!
If You Could Get Muslims To Do One Thing
For The Environment, What Would It Be?
At least reduce your meat consumption! It
is not just good for you (many health benefits) but it is also necessary to
protect our planet. By cutting down your meat consumption, you can help tackle
these issues to name just a few:
Reduce Greenhouse Gases
Improve Animal Welfare
Save the Amazon from destruction (massive
cattle is responsible for 75% of deforested areas in the Amazon)
Reduce waste production (did you know that
2000 - 2500 gallons of water go into a SINGLE pound of beef!)
Reduce world hunger (80% of global soy
production is used as livestock feed).
In addition of all that we should also
think about the way we’re treating animals before they are slaughtered and
questioning ourselves if this way is really in accordance with the advice of
the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and if so is it really Halal AND tayyib?
What Would The Daily Life Of A Green
Muslim Be Like? How Would They Live, Socialise, Travel, Etc?
A green Muslim is nothing more than a
Muslim who is aware of his responsibility as a Khalifah on earth. Increasing
awareness about this responsibility means that you are doing the main thing for
the environment. You can also reflect on your daily behaviour while travelling,
socialising, working or shopping – by asking yourself, is it really necessary
and good? Example: Is it necessary to buy your 12th shirt only because it cost
just $5? Is it necessary to take the car for a short distance? or could I go by
foot or with a bicycle? Thus, with a clear understanding of how our choices are
fundamental for us and for all creations around us your awareness will change
and your awareness about your responsibility as a human being will rise.
“Do not mischief
on the earth, after it hath been set in order[…].”
And at the end: Pray. Make Du’a. Connect to
God. Connect to nature. Remember: Paradise is a Garden!
Through the course of his life, the Prophet
(PBUH) who was a shepherd just like other prophets, was concerned with the
environment and its protection and has left behind an 'ecological Sunnah'. The
love the prophet’s (PBUH) had for all living beings and nature was clear in his
verbal teachings as well as his acts concerning their protection.
One of his greatest efforts in this context
was a forest in an area called “Zuraybu’t Taweel,” where he announced: “Whoever
cuts a tree here should plant a new tree instead”. Together with this
regulation, the area shortly turned into a forest. The Prophet also declared an
area of 12-miles in distance from the centre of Medina as Haram (forbidden by
religion) and also prohibited the cutting of trees and the killing of animals
within its borders. 1400 years later, our planet is paying a huge toll due to
the shift in lifestyles, overconsumption and unsustainable practices and we are
desperately in need to implement the Prophets (PBUH) ecological Sunnah so we
can protect our planet and conserve its resources for the next generation.
Special thanks to Asmaa and Musa Max for
taking time, to answer our questions and provide our readers with some tips
from their own experiences.