There is a chance that people might assume that all those who are productive will be efficient as well. But the fact is productivity and efficiency are 2 different concepts. We all know that productivity is about quantity of things produced in a certain amount of time. But efficiency is the ability to produce utilizing the minimum resources possible. It could be time, energy, raw materials or any such inputs that might require for production.
While we strive to produce great things we often ignore the amount of consumption which goes into production. Maybe sometimes if we measure intake our net outcome might be having a negative impact to overall system. In short, if we are serious about a positive impact to the system while focusing on productivity we should have an eye on the efficiency side by focusing on how much resources we consume. This could be by thinking about various aspects like reducing resources, reusing them, recycling them and by other many preventive actions to avoid wastage.
For a Muslim, this is a command from his Lord as well,
“Do not be extravagant, for Allah does not love the wasteful” [6:141, 7:31]
I have been traveling to many Muslim majority countries and one thing that really touched me was the amount of waste our community is producing. This is something that needs to be fixed before we can talk about efficiency. This photo was taken after a small team lunch session at our customers place. Amount of food, tissues, bottles, disposables that were wasted shows that we are least bothered about such warnings. Even during Hajj you can see huge quantities of waste outside many tents and food (often offered free) scattered all over the streets which will make us think that the majority among us didn’t get the real spirit and soul of the rituals and religion.
Following are some initial thoughts that might help each of us to realize how easy it is to improve efficiency.
This is the only religion which has gone into such a detail where we are asked to lick our fingers and wipe our plates with hand to ensure that single grain or drop is not wasted.
Anas ibn Maalik narrated that when the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ate, he would lick his three fingers. Anas said: “And he said, ‘If any one of you drops a piece of food, let him remove any dirt from it and eat it, and not leave it for the Shaytaan.’ And he commanded us to clean the plate, and said, ‘For you do not know where in your food the blessing is.’” (Narrated by Muslim, 2034)/p>
We are advised to reuse the fallen food or food touched by insects after removing the effected part. Also, there are enough of viral movies showing the poverty on other side of the world which reminds us whatever we wasted could have been a life saving meal. Even with all these warnings such habits are becoming an integral part of society instead of reacting against it.
Let’s think together about how we can help:
- Reducing the quantity and increasing the quality of food should be the goal at all times of all Muslims.
- Order less quantity than you think you need. This will not only save you money, but it will add blessings (barakah), much more taste and better health. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has said, “The food of two is sufficient for three and the food of three is sufficient for four.” [Bukhari]
- Pack your excess food at home
- Distribute it to poor and needy in a very decent manner before it is too late
We are warned that even if we are taking ablution at the banks of river we are not supposed to use excess water.
Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol 1, Pg No: 34 and in Musnad Imam Ahmed: Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to Sa’ad when he passed by him while he was busy doing wudu, “What is this wastage, O Sa’ad?” In which he replied, “Is there wastage in wudu?” The Prophet answered, “Yes, even if you were at a flowing river.”
Today if we go to Masjids we can see the amount of water used for ablution is without any concern. Also, you can see loads of water used for washing vehicles, utensils, in bathtubs, pools and jacuzzis.
How we can help?
- Open the tap to minimum required flow.
- Take ablution or any other activity as fast as possible and avoid talking or other distractions while gardening. washing car or other activities which consume lots of water
- Keep in mind that cleanliness does not depend on the quantity of water we use
As you know here in majority Muslim countries it’s not fresh water which is abundant, instead we have cheaper source of a highly sought after energy source, oil. By which we get lots of related energy for various other purposes. So we typically overlook the impact caused by excess usage of energy.
How we can help?
- It’s a bit of an irony where we try to add more and more comfort to our life by utilizing energy and then we go to Gym and again we consume energy to burn our energy. Instead we can avoid gym and instead walk more, use stairs, wash own cloths and help our ladies at home in many activities
- Avoid using machines for all jobs even if you can afford it and take care for optimum usage like wash in full loads and avoid using driers during dry climate.
- Plan your house with as much of natural light and air
- With heating or cooling make sure doors and windows are closed. Also, keep air condition and refrigerator at its maximum and heaters at its minimum temperatures
- We can support bike trends happening in many parts of the world by participating. The ebike will definitely be the most popular way to commute in 2023.
- Of course switch off devices when not in use even for short periods of time
- Buy fuel efficient vehicles, avoid harsh driving as it can consume a lot more fuel and car pool
This is a very recent and quickly growing trend in our community. The main reason is such disposable items are often available for free in most of the offices and other public locations. The varieties of disposables are increasing, soon we will have disposable dresses and not sure whether we will soon have disposable relationships too.
How we can help?
- Pull minimum necessary facial tissues, carry bags even if it’s FREE
- No need to be thrown just because it is of lower cost and made of thin plastic. We can wash and reuse and doesn’t decrease our dignity in the eyes of our Creator
- Try and use traditional towels and plates which we can be used after washing.
Since many of these cost us less as individual items we tend to use carelessly. So be cautious in their usage keeping in mind that even a drop of water is answerable to Allah (glorified and exalted be He).
How we can help?
- Avoid frequent super market visits where bulk purchasing is more of show off than actual necessity
- Support poor old grocery shops and help them to earn a decent living. In fact this will also help to increase our savings even by staying away from tempting “Offers”
- We shouldn’t worry about things like the amount of clothes in our closets or the amount of jewelry in our safes and aim to increase these materials, but for keep them at a minimum instead
- Read the stories of Prophet’s companion and their life style and keep in mind we are praying for same paradise but without compromising anything
For most of above tips the greatest hindrance would be our social status and pride. Rich and abundance should not be a license to spend or consume more. A productive Muslim will definitely have better reasons for spending his money and resources which will help his life in the hereafter. If our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) could treat poverty as his pride, why can’t we take small steps towards this?
Finally, whatever minor steps we take more than any other rational arguments we should ensure our Intention is straight. Everything we do should be nothing other than to please our Lord Almighty, Because He warned us
“Squander not in the manner of a spendthrift. For wasters are the brothers of the Satan, and the Satan is to his Lord ungrateful” [17:26-27]
These are from my initial wish list which I keep as my personal goals. We should keep in mind ideal goals that are much tougher and still long way to go. If we have a whole community supporting the same cause our situation as an Ummah will become much easier, InshaAllah.
What do you do to reduce waste in your home, community? Please share your ideas in the comments section below so we can learn from and improve each other!
About the author
Bijith Ahmed is from India. He holds B Tech Degree and has worked for nearly 10 years as a software professional and then started his own software company in Bangalore along with his friends. He is also on the management team of 2 local schools, a local library and co-founder of an Interest free micro-finance institution and working on an online platform (laariba.org) for connecting donors with poor people.