book_launch_poster

If you’re in Singapore on the 8 February 2014, do come for the Launch of Faith & Nature: An Eco-Guide to Greening Faith Communities. This eco-guide is a must have to equip faith and community organisations with the necessary tools on how to operationalise environmental ethics and principles. The event will also have an inter-faith panel discussion on how various faith communities can do their part in increasing environmental awareness and action. Best part, the book is freely available to all  🙂

Interested participants are kindly requested to register as shown in the poster above.

For more information and to download your free copy of the Eco-Guide, please click here.

Good news and opportunities should always be shared. Like this one.

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Call for Applications for the Islamic Development Bank Group’s Young Professionals Program (YPP)

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group which based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia is pleased to announce the recruitment for it’s  Young Professionals Program. The Young Professionals Program (YPP) is the strategic talent pipeline for professional careers in the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group. The Program is designed for outstanding young graduates who can significantly help the IDB Group to carry out its mission and attain its objectives. Details of the YP Program are attached.

IDB representatives will be in Singapore on 4 March 2013 to conduct a career presentation to registered participants and interview pre-selected candidates. If you are interested, kindly do the following:

a) Those who meet the YP Program requirements are advised to apply online through: www.isdbcareers.com
You shall be contacted if you are selected for preliminary interview scheduled on 4 March 2013

b) The career presentation is open to all but space is limited. Please register your participation to: ypp@isdb.org. Walk-ins are subject to place availability.
Details of presentation are as follows:

Date 4 March 2013
Time 10.45 am
Venue 5th Floor,Muis Academy, Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis)
Singapore Islamic Hub, 273 Braddell Road, Singapore 579702

In addition, the Bank will also participate in the Career & Education Fair 2013 at Marina Bay Sands on 2 – 3 March 2013. You are welcome to visit the Booth 100C for a career discussion.

The logic that some people have just baffles me sometimes.

Take for example, the point made by Genting Group chairman, Mr Lim Kok Thay, regarding a question on the use of wild-caught dolphins for entertainment needs at the Marine Life Park in the newly opened Resorts World Singapore (RWS). In defending RWS’ position on the use of these dolphins, Mr Lim noted that these bottlenose dolphins are “definitely not on the endangered list“.

Well, that’s a relief, but we certainly wouldn’t want to be contributing to their extinction either. Just because an animal isn’t an endangered species, doesn’t give us the right to exploit and cause harm to them. What kind of hypocritical message would be we sending out to the public and especially children, where the supposed concern for dolphin conservation is done by kidnapping dolphins from their natural habitat?

Further analysis of the issue has demonstrated that it is not just dolphins that are being exploited, but also communities. The video below sheds some light on how communities in the Solomon Islands have been affected by the lucrative business of catching wild dolphins.

The controversy over the wild-caught dolphins in RWS has been ongoing for several years now, with the latest incident being the death of one of the dolphins, Wen Wen.  ACRES has been working tirelessly in its “Save the World’s Saddest Dolphins“, which has included a candle vigil for Wen Wen and also contributed to efforts to accuse RWS of violating Philippines law. Even so, much more pressure needs to be put on RWS to genuinely respect the rights of animals and communties, over the love for profit.

If you would like to support the cause, do write in to RWS here.

Me: “I’m having a Green Iftar on National Day, and you’re welcome to come. We’ll be breaking our fast with all things vegetarian.”

Cousin:”Huh?! Where’s the meat? No meat, sure pengsan (faint), lah!”

Well,  no we didn’t pengsan.

I’m glad that I finally got a chance to do a little green iftar with a few environmentalists on Singapore’s 47th Birthday. While it was just a small group of girls (the boys couldn’t make it!), it was perfect way of testing out a new initiative with some heart-to-heart conversations on various topics related to the environment, as well as our faiths and cultures.

But… Why a Green Iftar?

1) Less consumption, more health

Simply put: To walk the sustainability talk.

Similar to other efforts by Green Muslims worldwide, we incoporated sustainable practices in our iftar. In a bid to reduce waste and carbon footprint, no disposable utensils were used during the event, and guests were encouraged to bring spare tupperwares to take home any leftovers. We even opted for using the fans instead of the air-con!

To make our iftar more personal and meaningful, each person was to bring a vegetarian dish to share. It was wonderful to have home-made nutritious dishes (some of which took quite a bit of effort) and just gain a greater appreciation for vegetarian food.

From vegetarian bee hoon and pasta to baked tomatoes stuff with quinoa and capsicum, wonderful salads and dips (including home grown ingredients like mint and bluepea) topped off with pound cake, homebaked cookies, fruits, juices and lemongrass tea. It was all deeeeelish!!! 😀

Healthy vegetarian iftar FTW!

2) Green Chit-Chat

One of the main aims of the green iftar was also for environmentalists to have a chance to get together and share their thoughts and experiences on various issues related to the environment. Topics of discussion included challenges in engaging sections of society to be more environmentally conscious, encouraging environmental conscious behaviour via highlighting the significant benefits to one’s health, ways of improving the connections between various stakeholders, the humane treatment of animals as part of food choices, the importance of environmental issues in intercultural exchange, and various tools/methods to enhance the sharing of experiences.

3) Enhancing inter-faith dialogue

What I found to be the best aspect of the green iftar, was the ability to use an environmental initiative for the benefit of other social and cultural exchanges. While my initial thoughts of invitees were to be Muslims, I chose to extend the invitation to non-Muslims as well. No man is an island, and the environmental movement is clearly a reflection of that. In addition to non-Muslim guests gaining greater insight to Islam and the diversity amongst Muslims, the green chit-chat was certainly enhanced with a discussion on the cultural aspects and values associated with the environment based on our own ethnic backgrounds. Common threads such as food and water have played significant roles in bringing communities together as well as a means of understanding and appreciating how nature works.

It was agreed that such spaces for sharing such environmental as well as cultural values and practices would be a way of transcending differences and a means of facilitating greater collaboration. With events such as  Diwali, Eid al Adha and Navratri coming up in the next few month, it would be a chance to have yet another similar gathering. Yay! 😀

Resources on the environment, faith and communities.

OK… Then what?

While the Green Iftar was a lovely experience, there are perhaps two factors that make it difficult to translate environmental (or any other) activities into something bigger. One comment was that the energy and enthusiasm created in environmental events tends to die off after a while, for the fact that people are sucked back into their “normal” life. Another comment was because society prefers to remain passive and would only latch on to an initiative if there’s a “leader” spearheading it. While this may be to extent true, I’d like to have some hope that there are some people in society that care enough and are willing to experiment on their own.

Leading people is good, but empowering people to be leaders in their own right would be so much better. Moreover, for initiatives that encourage personal behavioural change, you are ultimately your own leader. Taking the effort to have a green iftar with one’s own family and friends outside environmental circles, for instance, will be a challenge but is ultimately the best chance of avoiding being ‘sucked’ back into the normality of careless consumption.

10-day Ramadan Challenge for fellow Muslim brothers and sisters:-

As we commit to more intensive spiritual reflection and rituals in commemoration of Lailatul Qadr in the last 10 days of Ramadan, let’s also make a conscious effort to reinforce one of the main reasons of why we are fasting. To put ourselves in the position of those who have so much less than us. To put ourselves in the position of those that can’t afford meat, let alone enjoy a decent meal.

Several Muslims have demonstrated that it is possible to adopt healthier and greener iftars, if we put our minds to it. Do try to take the effort to reduce your meat intake during this tail end of Ramadan, which just means making a conscious decision of what you want to eat. Encourage family members, such as mothers, to cook vegetarian recipes that are nutritious but also filling. For Muslims in Southeast Asia, think sayur asam rebus, sambal tempeh/telur, kacang pool, or even a banana shake! It would also be much easier to have vegetarian meals at this point, given the fact that many of us would already naturally have a smaller appetite after fasting for the past 20 days. If you must, then limit white meat intake to a couple of days a week.  More importantly, do share the experience and beauty of Ramadan to your non-Muslim friends.

Still can’t get over just having veggies for iftar and sahur? Well think about it, at least you know it’s been worth it while you’re busy stuffing yourself on Eid! 😉

It’s halfway through Ramadan already and many of us are wishing time didn’t pass so fast. This blessed month is indeed an opportune time for spiritual cleansing, charity and quality family time. That said, how many of us have actually used Ramadan as a time to reflect on our consumption patterns.  While we have controlled our appetites during daylight hours, how many of us have actively made healthier eating options come sunset? Ramadan is clearly the best time to make these changes slowly. Here are some thoughts:-

1) Get them tupperwares ready!

What is perhaps even harder than the actual fast itself, is avoiding a binge fest after breaking the fast. We’ve all had the “oh-I-want-this-and-oh-yummy-I-want-that” feeling in the last few hours before maghrib (Warning: Ramadan bazaaars!). The tendency of having more food than can actually be consumed still happens, especially during family and communal iftars. And that is, in some ways, understandable. Everyone brings something to share with everyone else, but sometimes, it just ends up being too much.  That said, we can avoid it and minimise wastage simply by (1) planning how much food is needed given the amount of people expected to turn up, and knowing who’s bringing what; and (2) taking home leftovers for sahur or the next day’s iftar.

Several folks have sought to encourage these practices. From the US ,where Green Muslims in DC have had their first “Leftar”, to greenies in Malaysia encouraging people to BYO bag and food containers to the various pasar Ramadans to reduce the use of diposables.   In Singapore, a bunch of Project ME-ers are also planning to have a little Green Iftar (test run!) very soon. Stay tuned for more news on that.

2) Making those vitamins and minerals count.

Various health experts have noted the benefits of eating your fruits before rather than after your meal, particularly for so that the vitamins and minerals from the fresh fruits are absorbed by our bodies at an optimal rate. Current sunnah (Prophetic practices) on breaking your fast can already facilitate this. In one of the many articles available on how to control our appetites in Ramadan, one of main tips has been to open the fast with something small (dates or water), take a little time-out to do maghrib prayers, and then back to the dinner table and go slow with the rest of the food.  Hence, adding some fruits to go with the dates and water when breaking your fast just makes sense.

So while its really tempting to grab a pakora at the sound of the azan, try a slice of papaya, pear, plum or pineapple instead.

3) Just do it!

People tend to disregard the significance of making baby steps in affecting change. Change starts with oneself, and the little steps will have a personal impact, granted we put in the effort to do so, InshaAllah. Here’s a little snippet of my recent sahur and iftar meals. Aside from the greens and fruits, I had a easy-peasy DIY date smoothie (you can opt for a naughtier option  with ice-cream or whole cream) and got some bubur masjid (a.k.a. porridge from one of the local mosques) from a colleague (Thanks Pak Karim!).

Glad to say, I’ve survived the day, and the breaking of fast with fruits was refreshing and detoxifying 🙂

Anti-Clockwise: Cherries, Dates and Kiwi for iftar, DIY Date shake for sahur, greens and porridge for both iftar and sahur. Yum!

“Nothing is worse than a person who fills his stomach. It should be enough for the son of Adam to have a few bites to satisfy his hunger. If he wishes more, it should be: one-third for his food, one-third for his liquids, and one-third for his breath.”

— Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) via Tirmidhi.

Enough said. Salam Ramadan!

A big shout out to Arwa Aburawa and others from The Green Prophet for interviewing me on my thoughts on the environmental challenges in Southeast Asia and the role that women play in it. What an honour it is to be featured along side other awesome green Muslims like Ibrahim Abdul Matin, Kristiane Backer and the ever-so adorable Jeddawis from Naqaa Enterprise.

It’s also great how some of us green Muslims have progressively connected with one another – both online and offline – and sometimes in instances we least expect! The first of these instances was when I met Nadia Janjua, one of the founders of DC Green Muslims, while participating in the 6th World Islamic Economic Forum in Kuala Lumpur in 2010. That was cool 🙂

This is only the beginning and I look forward to a day when all us Green Muslims worldwide get to meet up for some great chats of cups of tea and vegetarian potluck, InshaAllah 🙂

To read the interview, please click here.