Lead By Example

Our team member, Zaynab Marchant, interviewed brother Shuja Rizvi, who is a prominent laminate reciter, social worker, and pilgrimage group leader, from Karachi, Pakistan. We are honored to have him as a passionate volunteer at The Green Pilgrim.

Q1: As a ziarat group leader, why did you feel that it is important to have an eco-friendly pilgrimage? 

Shuja Rizvi: The awareness video touched my heart, and made me ask, ‘What is my responsibility?’. When you go to Imam Hussain (as) you must purify your heart and pledge to improve yourself. If you return without any self-improvement, you wasted your time. Other people are talking about a plastic-free lifestyle, but this is specifically about Karbala. What do we do when we go to Karbala? This is a crucial matter. 

Q2: How did you start your journey towards being a green pilgrim and a guide?

Shuja Rizvi: In my opinion, a great man is someone who not only grows himself but tries to nurture others too. Therefore, I decided that I will talk about this to the extent that I can, and I will try my best to eliminate plastic use reduced, and use alternates. 

Q3: Do you think removing plastic from our pilgrimage is doable?

Shuja Rizvi: The issue is that there is so much plastic in Iraq, that you may be able to control yourself and your group, but how would you reduce the plastic consumption by locals? However, it’s wrong to think that if we can’t change others, we shouldn’t change ourselves either. We need to fulfill our responsibility. We must at least try, Allah may make it successful. We shouldn’t give up. 

Q4: What has your overall experience been? Was it easy to convince people? 

Shuja Rizvi: Someone said to Imam Jafar (as), “I’m going for tableegh, please give me some advice.” Imam replied, “Try so that you don’t have to say anything.” More than preaching, the main thing is to apply it yourself. Although, we try to educate people and provide alternates, mostly they forget to carry the bottles we give them. Collectively we need to make an effort to cut plastic use out of our lives. This is because it is extremely harmful, and it doesn’t disappear– it takes some 16 generations to decompose. The main thing, therefore, is to lead by action. 

” The Prophet (s) ‘s task was not easy to make-believe in a God that is not visible. He achieved this by leading by example and becoming Sadiq and Ameen by being trustworthy for 40 years, after which people believed him. ” – Shuja Rizvi