The title may sound a little disconnected to some but since Islam is a way of life and a complete solution for all our problems, even a technical subject like energy conservation is intimately connected with Islamic values and recommendations. Islamic values such as invoking a blessing in early morning, saving water even at a running stream, the prohibition of extravagance, and the discouragement of sleeping late comes as a big boon to energy conservation, energy efficiency, energy security and climate change.
According to energy researchers, saving 1 unit of energy is equivalent to producing 1.5 to 2 units of energy. This is because a large amount of energy is wasted in conversion of raw or primary energy to more convenient forms of energy, its transportation (transmission), and consumption (distribution) of energy.
Energy conservation simply means using less energy to perform the same task – that is, eliminating energy waste. Energy conservation brings a variety of benefits: reducing greenhouse gas emissions to check climate change and global warming, reducing demand for energy imports thus helping energy security, and lowering our costs on all household and economy-wide levels of consumption. This is especially very crucial for India where energy importation makes up a whopping 50% of our total primary energy and even 80% in some forms of energy such as natural gas. In 2017, according to the BP statistical review 2018, India’s net imports were nearly 198.8 million tons of crude oil and its products, 25.7 Mtoe of LNG and 129.8 Mtoe coal, totalling to 354.3 Mtoe of primary energy, which is equal to 47% of our total primary energy consumption.
There are broadly two ways of energy saving or improving energy efficiency: firstly by retro-fitting of more efficient equipments like LED instead of CFL or fluorescent tubes, higher star rating motors, drives, air-conditioners, refrigerators and other electrical equipment; and secondly by changing the behaviour pattern of users that includes day light saving, planned efforts to save energy, adopting habits that help in the conservation of energy, and launching awareness campaigns such as ‘Energy Conservation Day’ and ‘Earth Day’ etc.
Day light saving is shifting human activity from late midnight to early morning by a window of around 3-5 hours per day and thus saving a significant amount of energy on the illumination load, which is generally 20% of the total electrical load.
According to the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE – the government body to plan and regulate energy conservation or energy efficiency), India has saved around Rs 50,000 crore in the last 3 years. Most of it is due to retrofitting and replacement of more energy efficient equipments and processes, but energy saving due to behavioural shift and adopting energy saving habits are still far from being effective.
The issue with any behavioural shift is that it is closely connected with the thinking of people and the concepts they hold. For people living under the Capitalist ideology, concepts like freedom, ‘benefit and harm’ are the criteria for action, and individualism and self gratification are the purposes of life overwhelmingly present among the masses. With such concepts predominant, civil welfare, accountability towards society and altruism are found rarely among the masses. Thus when it comes to personal energy saving in their homes, people are active in taking energy conservation steps but when it comes to electricity in public places, like offices, schools, colleges, on municipal loads, railway, transportation, etc., most of the people see it as ‘none of their business.’
Over the last 2-3 decades, the normal human activity cycle has shifted by about 4 hours towards the night, as people now generally sleep after midnight and wake up by 8-9AM. The natural cycle that the human has been following since its life on earth has been sleeping early and getting awake by 4-5AM. The Sunlight, which is the source of illumination from dawn to dusk, has been sufficient for millennia and is still sufficient. This 4 hour shift has only come to the world due to the advent of electricity —and since capitalists have deliberately shifted human activities to late nights so as to create a niche for primetime entertainment, in turn steering the need of the masses with the help of advertorials and parasitic soaps.
Since the early 1990s lifestyle in this regard has changed dramatically. It started with TVs airing feature films on Sunday’s thus making people stay awake late night to view it, then came prime time of TV soaps and other programs during cable days and the prime time shifted from 8PM-9PM to 9PM-10PM and then 9PM-12PM for maximizing eyeballs, and thus seducing masses with their designs. The mobile and internet has further added fuel to fire and now standard waking up time especially among youth has become mid day (dhuhr) and sleeping time has become early morning (fajr). They have been successful in shifting human behaviour to such an extent that now if anyone wishes to sleep directly after Isha it won’t be possible unless a special audio proof room is designed for sleeping.
Unfortunately those who are campaigning for energy conservation, for climate change and global warming solutions are just limiting their plea to switching off the light for an hour once in a year in the name of ‘Earth Day’, or issuing an advisory, or just running some advertisements on radio, TV and the newspapers. The effect of such campaigns is nothing more than some selfies, tweets and some news coverage. This day light saving is merely limited to theory or only limited to a one-hour shift of time zones in a few countries. But the approach to change of lifestyle is simply out of their radar range since it goes against their capitalist value system.
This lifestyle is not only against energy conservation but also against human physiology, mental health and the spirituality of the human being as designed by Allah ﷻ. There is no wonder that a group of diseases have now been attributed to this life style change called ‘Lifestyle Disease’ such as hypertension, insomnia, depression, backache, amnesia, pessimism and others.
According to Islamic traditions, Rasulullah (ﷺ) said,
“O Allah, bless my nation in their early mornings.” (Sunan ibn Majah)
Also talking was discouraged after Isha prayer unless there would be something of overwhelming importance.
The Quran also mentions the natural activity cycle as,
“And We have made (the night) for your sleep as a mean for rest, and have made day to seek your provisions.” [Surah Al-Naba’, 78:9-11]
Thus, Islamic teaching inherently fits with the demand of day light saving to improve energy efficiency. The lifestyle of going to the office, school, public transport, day to day chores, study, entertainment and all other activities can easily be brought to early morning, thus saving a huge amount energy that would otherwise be wasted in infrastructure that provides nightlife culture. Not only Islam but most religions encourages people to wake up early and sleep early. The famous proverb ‘Early to bedand early to rise make man healthy, wealthy, and wise’ heralds the same lifestyle that goes along with energy conservation.
Energy conservation by shifting this lifestyle of ‘early to bed and early to rise’ or ‘day light saving’ can significantly reduce the energy load if the masses would sleep early, thus putting the brakes on all human activity, which in turn can reduce the need to illuminate the night. This however is only possible when people follow Islamic recommendations that will be not only good for their health but also for energy conservation.
Regarding the saving of resources,
” The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) passed by Sa’d while he was performing ablution. The Prophet said, “What is this extravagance?” Sa’d said, “Is there extravagance with water in ablution?” The Prophet said, “Yes, even if you were on the banks of a flowing river.”” (Sunan Ibn Majah 425)
This signals about the attitude of a believer that even in the atmosphere of abundance, the saving of resources should be a habit.
Allah (ﷻ) said,
O Children of Adam… Eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for God loves not the wasters.” [Surah Al-A’râf, 7:31]
The saving of resources is also important because all the resources on earth have limits so that whenever some people exploit in excess, other people will definitely get scarcity. In the present capitalist world this is exactly the problem. The political elite, along with business tycoons in consultation, plan policies that would benefit rich people so that they would become even richer. No wonder the gap between rich and poor is ever more widening.
Likewise, accountability is a core Islamic concept, the belief that every individual has to be accountable for his own life, resources, time and money. This makes one conscious about being efficient not just in electricity, but for all the resources a believer uses.
This change of lifestyle is not only important for energy conservation, but it is a crucial need of our time, as more and more people are falling ill to lifestyle diseases. Thus, we can conclude that Islam is not just a big aid to the campaign for energy conservation but it is also a cure for lifestyle diseases.