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Amaar has a visitor he knows from law school, Ali, who also became an Imam. Quickly the town starts to like him more than Amaar. In the middle of a drought, Rayyan tries to get the mosque to save water and go green, much to the dismay of Baber who likes to use a lot of water for washing. In a side-plot the mosque gets bad publicity from the lack of a wheelchair ramp and Yasir’s suboptimal effort in installing one.

Best quote:

Baber: Finally a real Imam with a beard!
Amaar: Everybody reads from the same Qur’an.
Baber: Yes, but his is not the pocket book edition.

In the episode it looks like Islam has nothing to say about saving the environment. I don’t know whether that is accurate or it’s just the people of Mercy mosque who don’t seem to care so much about the environment. If you look at some Jewish communities, you could get the same impression. Kashrut is much easier when you use disposable plates. It is much easier to leave the lights on in the synagogue over Shabat that to figure out when they can be turned off without inconveniencing anybody. And if you have ever seen an Israeli clean, you wouldn’t think Israel lies in a desert region.

But what does Judaism actually have to say about the environment? Well, in Bereshit/Genesis G-d gives the earth with all the plants and animals to the humans (Genesis 1:29-30). While some read this as humans being allowed to do anything they want with and to the earth, others read the same verses as us being responsible for the earth and all that’s living on it. A principle often applied to protecting the environment is Bal tashchit, the prohibition of destruction without a purpose. Related is also the concept of tza’ar ba’alei chayim, not causing unnecessary pain to animals. So, there are enouth sources to be found that support caring for the environment, especially in a modern context where we know that all life on earth is connected in a complicated network of dependencies and that what has been lost can never be replaced.

Read more about Nature & the Environment at MyJewishLearning.

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