Monday, December 8, 2008

Niyyah of Space (Soliloquy from Green Dinner # 6)

The following are concluding remarks from the Green Dinner #6. So happy you all could join us.

Summary of evening:

The spatial experience allowed us to see that our spaces affect us and we have control over it. In the personal space portion of the program, we had you take a survey to see how your favorite spaces make you feel and the word that come up the most was reflective…so we learned that our spaces give us an opportunity to look within and reflect on our surroundings. Then we expanded to community level, discussing how there are some spaces that negatively affect our communities and need our help. That’s where you heard about the Green Muslims helping out at Marvin Gaye park.

So the big words of this evening are…intentions, reflection and connection to your environment.

For a moment, let’s think about the way DC was built. It was intentionally planned to emulate a European city design. Grand Boulevards, huge vistas like standing at the capitol and see the Washington monument in the far distance, these were are all intentional designs to make an announcement to the rest of the world that the US had arrived. The Roman style architecture of the buildings show a sense of power and government, making common people feel small in comparison. When you in fly into DC, nothing is taller than the monument and that is because there is a height restriction that doesn’t allow buildings to be taller, again, DC was meant to elicit a sense of history, tradition and power. So something as simple as DC’s built environment has so many intentions behind it, it wasn’t haphazardly constructed, there was a vision, whether or not you agree with it, there was an intention. So let’s reflect on that intention so we feel more connected to our environment.

As Muslims, we are expected to constantly reflect, praying 5 times a day …what we provided you today was another process to reflect and help you achieve a greater level of spiritual awareness. Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasir is a leading thinker in defining the relationship between the natural world and Islam. The theme in his writings is about man’s total disharmony with his environment. He sees the crisis as an externalization of an inner malaise that cannot be solved without internal reflection leading to a spiritual revival. The human destiny, Nasr says, entails fulfilling the role of God’s appointed protector of the natural world, thus bearing witness to the truth that the whole of nature speaks of God.

This can be transferred to living green, specifically by checking our intentions on why we are try to live a more green life… for example, why do you recycle a bottle? Is it for the 5 cents or is it because you recognize that this bottle will sit in some land fill for years because it doesn’t decompose. Why do you conserve water? Is it because you are concerned about limited clean water supply for future generations? Or are you trying to lower your water bill? Or is it both? Which is a valid point.

All I am saying here is that let’s reflect on our intentions…there are so many formulas out there on how to lower your carbon footprint…you can google it. You’ll find lists after lists telling you what you should be doing to live more green and sometimes it can be overwhelming…I am not going to provide you with another list. I am not going tell you what you should be doing. What I hope you walk away with today is recognizing the importance of our spaces, being more sensitive to how they affect us, being present in the moment so that we are position to see God work in our lives and finally, to look within and find ways to be better protectors of this earth in whatever capacity works for us. This process of self-reflection will hopefully motivate you to individual action… collectively this individual action means more than any list I could give you on living green. Your actions will come from a genuine place. And finally when we reflect on our spaces, hopefully we can become empowered to take ownership of our surroundings and shape our spaces in a way that best fit us and protect our planet.

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