The famous Urdu poet Ghalib once reportedly said that he was half-Muslim. The context in which Ghalib declared himself as half-Muslim was different one, whereby he said so. I am not a competent authority to declare somebody, Muslim, non-Muslim or half-Muslim. However, on the basis of the saying of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) that “cleanliness is half-faith”, it may be interpreted that those who have cleanliness have half faith or they are half-Muslims. Similarly, the so called Muslims who do not possess cleanliness or are less careful about the cleanliness be it at their home, workplace or overall surroundings are at least not full Muslims without going into the delicate dimensions of the practice of one’s faith. Thus, in today’s world on the basis of the Prophet’s verdict, majority of the population of the Muslims living across the globe appear to be at least not full-Muslims. The reasons are obvious as they live in unhygienic conditions, unaware and insensitive about the environment in which they live. That is why dumping garbage and waste appears to have been part and parcel of their environment, it appears as though it is their second nature.
I witnessed one retired senior bureaucrat (the so-called educated) who was going to offer his prayer in a mosque, in the meanwhile, a man standing near the mosque concerned about the waste that were heaped in the irrigation channel aligned with mosque’s boundary wall, pleaded the bureaucrat to make an announcement in the mosque so that people do not throw their waste in the channel. The bureaucrat retorted to the man that he was getting late to offer his prayer and advised him to give somebody certain amount of money to remove the garbage. He gave an impression that keeping the surrounding of the mosque was somebody else’s duty and that it was not his duty to make an announcement.
It is really shocking that everyone considers keeping our environment is someone else’s duty. As a result the habitats are turning into a place of nightmare. A similar situation I observed during my recent visits of more than 70 schools in a district in Gilgit-Baltistan where nearly all the washrooms were out of order due to lack of awareness about their proper use. When I asked the headteachers, as well as the senior officials, they responded that we do not have people from certain faith in the district, which implied that only producing waste and dirt was their job while removing such mess was not their task. A very sham logic which is not applied at their homes and how can be such foolish logic accepted if we consider the schools and surroundings as ours?
One of the reasons for the apathy towards this important dimension of the environment is no doubt lack of proper education in this regard. Despite, the great importance on the taharat or cleanliness it has been badly ignored by the great majority. The few who are to some extent aware, consider that taharat is needed in certain areas and on certain occasions such as at the mosque during prayers, at home, schools and other places of congregation and special events. Even this practice is exhibited during high govt. officials when President, Prime Minister or other high officials plan to visit certain places, only then those areas are well prepared or cleaned to celebrate the occasions, while beyond these occasions and areas they least bother about it. For these reasons, our surroundings are turning from bad to worse day by day despite the hue and cry on international level. Some people even think that the environmental problems are mostly as a result of manufacturing of different products, especially, those of the developed countries. Such people have some truth in their arguments but they appear to impede the environment friendly attitude and are usually misleading. Does this proposition give a justification to be indifferent about our immediate surroundings? Definitely, this is a very absurd justification for those who claim to be adherent of a faith, which so vehemently declares cleanliness as half of their faith.
At a particular cleanliness walk that was arranged in Gilgit city a couple of years back, where students from schools and colleges also participated and speeches were made to emphasize the importance of cleanliness, none of the participants actually took part in removing the waste that were scattered throughout the city. “We celebrate yaum e safayi or cleanliness days, organise big rallies but we do not give awareness that we have to clean as well on such occasions” observed one lecturer. Teachers lecture about cleanliness but rarely demonstrate to the students. That is why despite such a strong emphasis on cleanliness there is not any effect on the great majority of our people.
To give people awareness, it is important that dust bins must be installed at particular places so that people put the rubbish in those bins. In many cases people despite having the awareness and sensitization about waste management when do not find facilities, such bins installed at public, they throw the waste away. Currently in most parts of Pakistan where such bins have been installed they are very less in numbers, especially in big cities. The few bins which are installed are either out of order or are rarely emptied, that is why people throw the waste recklessly in the public places. Cleaning one’s home and throwing the waste in the streets and open spaces are also frequently observed in small and big cities which turn beautiful places into dreadful and ugly places. It appears that in the majority of the Muslim countries, this fundamental lesson about cleanliness is being ignored by majority of the people. Those who are a bit aware prefer to dump their home waste on empty plots or streets next to their houses and is then burned or spread to wider areas. That is why these countries are tuning into dust bins and it appears that the people are living in the dust bins.
It is high time for the people from different walks of life such as political parties, electronic and print media, schools, colleges and universities, to join hands together to improve our environment. Particularly teachers and students need to be frequently involved and lead projects and activities to improve our environment. In this connection the recent “Clean and Green Peshawar” activity by the volunteers and students was a very good example which can be further emulated. Similarly, the govt. instead of cutting the budget of environment around 60%, needs to increase it to a considerable level and also implement the policies and strategies lying on the shelves of big offices. The govt. also needs to announce special award for localities, villages and cities which will improve waste management. To achieve the above target let’s encourage involvement of volunteers on regular basis. The ministry of environment and NGOs working for improving the environment need to collaborate and share their learning with wider array of society so that high priority is given to the environment. Contributor’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Published by the Frontier Post.