Welcome to our Muslim GreenWorship Resource!
This resource is intended to assist mosques and individuals seeking to "green" their worship practices. To that end, the primary purpose of this site is to provide a "one stop shop" for a variety of GreenWorship materials and resources, especially resources for observing holidays and other practices in a more environmentally-conscious manner. To access these listings, please follow one of the links below:
However, we also realize that even with access to a variety of ideas for greening holidays and observances, there are many other ways that environmental emphases can be highlighted from or incorporated into worship within the Mosque. With that in mind, we have also provided a list of seven "tips" below for greening communal prayer and worship.
Muslim GreenWorship Tips
By Saffet Abid Catovic and Faraz Khan, with assistance from Fletcher Harper
More and more masjids (mosques) are integrating respect of Creation and Creation-oriented themes into their religious services. This is vitally important. As A. K. M. Mohiuddin writes in The Natural World and the Muslims, “Respect, love and concern for the environment are an essential part of a Muslim's piety and worship.” Here are our recommendations on how to do this well.
- Tip #1: Conserve Water During Wudu (Ritual Ablution)
- Tip #2: Practice Tayammum – or “Dry Wudu” - Periodically
- Tip #3: Encourage Salat Outdoors
- Tip #4: Remember the Tradition of Islamic Gardens - Beautify the Masjid
- Tip #5: Green Your Ramadan
- Tip #6: Encourage khutbat ul-jum'a (Friday sermons) on the Environment
- Tip #7: Worship Outdoors
Holy Qur’an 6:141
Muslims make use of water for wudu every time they prepare for salat (prayer) – whether at home or at the masjid. Usually, we do not think to conserve water, but instead take it for granted. If one considers the following facts, it becomes increasingly clear that this is not acceptable. According to the United Nations:
- Only 1% of the world's water is usable for humans. 97% is salt water, and 2% is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps. The 1% of the world's water supply is a precious commodity necessary for our survival.
- 2.4 billion people - just under half the world's population - have no adequate water supply for daily needs. Many of these people are Muslims.
- Pollution makes a large amount of freshwater dangerous or undrinkable. 2.2 million people die each year from diseases caused by contaminated drinking water and poor sanitation.
Islam teaches that we are to use water sparingly as we conduct our wudu. Consider the following teachings. (Note that a sa’a – the measurement referred to below - is four madd (handfuls) of water from a moderate sized man’s hand.)
- The Prophet (PBUH) routinely made wudu with less than one half a liter of water. Anas said, "The Prophet, upon whom be peace, used to perform ghusl (the complete bathing) with a sa'a of water. He also used to make ablution with one madd of water." (Related by al-Bukhari)
- 'Ubaidullah ibn Abu Yazid narrated that a man asked Ibn 'Abbas, "How much water is sufficient for wudu?" He answered, "One madd." "And how much is sufficient for ghusl?" He said, "One sa'a." The man said, "That is not sufficient for me." "Ibn 'Abbas said, "No? It was sufficient for one better than you, the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace." (Related by Ahmad, al-Bazaar and at-Tabarani in al-Kabeer.)
- Masakh - the wiping of parts of the body that is part of wudu - is properly understood as referring to the act of wiping not washing. While describing the ablution of the Prophet (PBUH), Ibn 'Umar said, "He wiped his head and ears with one wipe." (Related by Ahmad and Abu Dawud.) In another narration it states, "He wiped the inner portion of his ears with his index finger, and the outer portion with his thumb." In addition, the permissibility of wiping over one’s socks (providing they are of a certain thickness and material) as a muqeem (resident – non-traveler) for a period of up to 24 hours and for a musafir (traveler) for a period of up to 48 hours is well established in the Sunnah (Traditions) of the Prophet (PBUH).
We encourage you to post signs at your facility utilizing the passages listed above – or others. And, we encourage you to invite leaders of your masjid to practice wudu with a reduced amount of water. When leaders practice a new behavior, members of an institution will follow.
Finally, please see our Web-Based Resources page for more information on the greening of wudu.
Holy Qur’an 4:43
A number of sources within Islam teach that earth itself may be used as a purifying agent in place of water.
Many Muslims do not avail themselves of this practice, even when they find themselves outdoors and without easy access to water. We recommend that you remind members of your masjid about the ritual of tayammum, or "dry wudu" - the use of dust in the performance of ritual purification before prayer in the absence of water.
Tayammum literally means "aim, purpose." In Islamic law, it refers to "aiming for or seeking soil to wipe one's face and hands with the intention of preparing oneself to pray."
Many Muslims are not familiar with the Islamic sources related to tayammum.
- The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) had remarked that “…the ard (Earth) was made a masjid and a means of taharah (purification)…” (Sahih Muslim) With these words the Prophet (PBUH) emphasizes the sacred nature of earth or soil, not only as a pure entity but also as a purifying agent.
- The Qur'an says, "…And if you are ill, or on a journey, or one of you comes from relieving himself, or you have touched women, and you do not find water, then go to high clean soil and rub your face and hands (therewith). Lo, Allah is Benign, Forgiving." (Holy Qur’an 4:43).
- From the sunnah we have the hadith related by Abu Umamah in which the Prophet (PBUH) said, "All of the earth has been made for me and my nation a pure place of prayer. Whenever a person from my nation wants to pray, he has something with which to purify himself, that is, the Earth." (Related by Ahmad.)
Related by Ahmed
Salat (prayer) is one of the pillars of Islam - Muslims are required to perform salat five times a day. Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) has told us the whole earth has been made a masjid (mosque) for us. We could understand this as meaning that just as the masjid is sacred to the Muslim, so also is the Earth; there is no difference.
Salat – praying - outdoors exposes and reconnects the believer to nature and to Allah.
Many Muslims are not aware that outdoors is the preferred location (for the performance of the prayers of the two Shariah-sanctioned Islamic Holidays – Eid’Ul’Fitr and Eid’Ul’Adha. An Eid gah (example pictured) is an open-air mosque where prayers are to be performed on these holidays.
The importance of the outdoors as a place for Salat is reinforced by the design of the Kabbah (the House of Abraham) and the Baytul Ateeq (the Ancient House) in the Haram Sherif (Sacred precincts) whose qiblah (direction) Muslims face daily in prayer. The Kabbah is an outdoor roofless sanctuary in which humans and other creatures join together in a universal congregation of prayer and worship. It is sacred ground to which the Hajj (the Great Pilgrimage) and Umrah (the lesser pilgrimage) are made. It is also notable that during these pilgrimages, no plant or animal can be needlessly killed – for to do so would violate the sanctity of the Kabbah and integrity of the pilgrimage itself.
Weather permitting, we recommend that your masjid encourage people to carry out their salat outdoors at times and to consider reviving the Prophet’s Sunnah to pray the Eid Prayers outdoors. Few acts can impact our salat in such a positive way.
Holy Qur'an 9:72
There is a proud tradition of gardens within Islam, which served as places of reflection and rest. With this tradition in mind, we encourage masjids to beautify their facilities, featuring the Earth’s presence in several ways.
Plants or other natural elements such as fountains or running water, flowers, bushes or plants, leaves or cuttings from local trees can be placed at the entrance to the masjid where they are visible to all. Just like Islamic gardens of old, these elements can beautify the masjid and deepen worshipers’ relationship with Allah’s Earth.
Worship leaders can also use natural products, or services shaped by human effort – to strengthen people’s bond with Creation. For example, masjids can make certain that any handouts provided after salat are printed only on recycled paper, reduce their energy use during worship through energy-efficient lighting (or turning lights off), controlling the thermostat and reducing the opening and closing of doors, or purchasing renewable energy credits to offset carbon emissions from energy used during worship services.
Technology makes it possible to increase worshipers’ sense of nature’s presence through images. In other religious traditions, worshiping communities are using PowerPoint slides with photographs of nature alongside the words of prayer or verses from sacred texts. Perhaps there is a place in our Islamic Centers’ facilities (outside the musallas – dedicated prayer space) for such images alongside ayat (verses) from the Qur’an.
Finally, the imam can integrate an increased amount of collective silence into all prayers – particularly jumm’ah prayers (Friday prayers). Through silence, people become more aware of surrounding sounds, natural and man-made. They have their senses sharpened, and can develop a stronger relationship with their surroundings and with Allah. In 30-60 seconds of silence, worshipers can experience a bird’s call, a dog’s bark, the rumble of traffic, the sound of a breeze. Many people commented that silence increases their awareness of their neighborhood and deepens their spirituality.
Holy Qur’an 2: 185
Ramadan – the holiest time of year for Muslims – represents an important opportunity to deepen awareness of the beauty of the Earth and, by extension, the Earth’s Creator - Allah. Ramadan also provides us with opportunities to reduce our impact on the environment.
We suggest the following steps to “green” your Ramadan:
- Encourage more outdoor salat. As suggested in the tip above, Ramadan is an excellent time to pray outdoors, and to gain a greater appreciation of the beauty of the night sky, and the wonder of the heavens which Allah created.
- Reduce waste at your Iftars (meals at which a fast is broken). Iftars during Ramadan are an important time of joyful celebration. However, too often our Iftars involve the unnecessary waste of food or other resources. Reduce the amount of food, plates and plastic flatware that you use during Ramadan. Avoid using Styrofoam – which is extremely harmful to the environment and never decays. Bring your own cutlery and plates and re-usable water bottles.
Read what the Qur’an teaches about nature, its care and respect. There is a selection of passages in the Muslim GreenWorship Qur'an ayat (verses) and Books section of the GreenWorship site.
page for more information on the greening of Ramadan.
Holy Qur’an 24:41
Imams have an important opportunity to speak on ayat (verses of the Holy Qur’an) about the Earth during their khutba (sermon) during jumm’ah prayers. Over 700 ayat have direct references to the environment and nature, and imams have an important chance to speak about Creation as an amanah (trust) - and Muslims’ obligation to care for it and conserve it. Many people have never heard an imam speak in this way, and it can be a life-changing experience to hear such a khutba.
Holy Qur’an 22:18
Worshiping collectively outdoors connects people with Allah in powerful ways. In recent decades, many masjids have stopped worshiping outdoors because, understandably, they associate worshiping indoors with comfort and protection from inclement weather. By worshiping only indoors, however, a richness of worship and a connection with Allah’s other creatures is lost. Remember – the Prophet (PBUH) and his (companions) regularly prayed outdoors. His masjid consisted of an earthen floor and thatched roof. This simple practice can offer people a new and profound way to connect with the Prophet (PBUH), his Sahabah and their experience of worship.
Here are our recommendations about worshiping outdoors:
- Be comfortable. Worship outside when the weather is mild. While some people may be willing to pray outdoors in cold or wet weather, we recommend that you schedule worship outdoors for times when the weather is likely to be pleasant.
- Be safe. Make sure that place of prayer is dry with secure footing and a safe place for people to prostrate themselves. For people to offer worship deeply, they need to feel safe.
- Use silence. Especially outdoors, periods of silence and silent meditation can be powerful ways to help people re-connect with Allah. In 30 seconds of silence outdoors, people will hear a range of sounds they don’t normally notice – wind, birds, and a range of other sounds. Silence can help people relax, and serves as a reminder of Allah’s Mercy.
- Worship at different times of day. Try over the course of a year, to conduct worship periodically outdoors at all five prescribed times for salat. Different times of day evoke different moods, and different ways to experience Allah’s natural wonders. Don’t worry if only a few people take part if you pray outdoors for Fajr (prayer before dawn) or Isha’a (evening prayer) – the experience will be memorable.
- Read, study and reflect on ayat (verses) from the Holy Qur’an that are related to the Earth. You’ll find a list of passages listed on our GreenWorship site here.
- Enjoy each other’s company. When you’ve finished worshiping outside, make it easy for people to stay outside to talk and socialize.
We encourage imams and Muslim teachers to incorporate the material and suggestions in this resource into worship, religious classes, weekend school and full-time Islamic schools where religious instruction is imparted to the children and youth of the community. These teachings can inculcate in current and future generations a respect for the Allah’s Creation and a desire to care for and preserve it.
In conclusion, we recognize that Allah knows best in relation to all these recommendations.
A Call for GreenWorship Submissions...
We are always looking for more materials to add to this resource! If you have developed GreenWorship materials for use in your mosque or home (such as prayers, readings, sermons, etc.) and would like to have them considered for inclusion on this site, please email a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org.