Ebrahim Moosa – Radio Islam International | 16 Jumadal Ukhra 1438/15 March 2017
It’s official. Water restrictions have officially been lifted in Gauteng.
“The Department of Water and Sanitation did gazette the lifting of the water restrictions in Gauteng on 13 March and based on that gazette, therefore, the water restrictions in Gauteng are officially lifted,” announced Water and Sanitation department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau on Tuesday.
For many South Africans, this ends a cycle of despair that saw reservoirs dip low, dam levels plummeting, riverbeds becoming exposed, livestock perishing and food prices rocketing.
The angst was great and the concern genuine for all those bleak months wherein a dry future stared us in the face.
Water conservation and responsible behaviour were the buzzwords; we beseeched Allah in earnest, Salatul Istisqaa was organised and ‘Save Water’ notices appeared in our wudhu khanas and on mosque boards.
But now that the announcements have been made, changes have been gazetted and the dams are full, what should our approach be to these new realities?
“People think that tests only come in the form of hardships,” reminds Yasmin Mogahed. “Allah also tests us with ease. It’s often in the test of ease that we fall most”.
It is instinctive to turn to Allah when we are in a tough corner, but it is all too easy to forget and disobey Him when conditions turn easy.
Allah SWT recurrently warns us about this type of ingratitude in the Qur’aan. In Surah Yunus, He SWT invokes the imagery of those caught up in treacherously rough seas, invoking Allah with utmost sincerity: “If You (Allah) deliver us from this, we shall truly, be of the grateful.” However, when saved, the subjects rapidly revert to rebellion.
If fact, says Allah SWT, on removal of the harm, the human continues as if he had never invoked Allah SWT for help in the first place. The change in conditions precipitates a smugness and obstinacy:
“If We let him taste good after evil has touched him, he is sure to say: “Ills have departed from me.” Surely, he is exultant, and boastful”.
The remainder of the ayah proceeds to expound that this attitude is the hallmark of all except the patient and righteous:
“Except those who show patience and do righteous good deeds: those, theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward”.
At this hour, when the blessings are flowing(literally), we need to stand counted amongst the latter category. For, if we fail that test of ease by being negligent with this precious resource, we risk not being granted respite the next time the clouds disappear (Allah Forbid).
This quest should be given significant impetus by the knowledge that South Africa is the 30th driest country in the world. Our water infrastructure remains vulnerable, and several parts of our country remain actively engulfed in acute drought conditions.
Cape Town, for instance, has been declared a water disaster area with just about 113 days of usable water left in the city. Feeder dams there have dropped to 30% capacity, but with the last 10% of dam water being mostly unusable, dam levels effectively stand at a paltry 20%.
It was the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah SAW to use one mudd of water(approx. 775ml) for wudhu and five mudds(just over 3 litres) for ghusl. This was his consistent practice regardless of whether rains were abundant or not.
On one level, saving water may be seen as a demand of active citizenry; but for a Muslim this is foremost a precept enshrined in our way of life.
The Messenger of Allah SAW instructed us to be frugal with water, even if we happened to be on the banks of a running stream. In our context, we should be galvanised to be thrifty in our usage even when at the behest of the sluice gates of a cascading dam.
Because, now is the time to save water.