A few years ago, Sister Jann McClary and her husband Tariq moved from the Washington DC metropolitan area establish a new home in the mountains of Colorado, building it from the ground up as part of their plan to become free of from the spiritually and physically stress of modern urban life. Sister Jann is documenting her experiences for the Muslim Link. See her earlier installments at www.muslimlinkpaper.com by searching for “Running for the Hills”. Make sure you select “Exact Phrase” in the search options. – TML
What is most precious to you? Allah Subhanahu wa ta'alaa and then Rasulullah Sallallahu 'alyhi wa sallam? Good answer. They should be. Then who? Your mother? Excellent, you're on the right track. Okay, then what else? Your parents? Your spouse? Children? Wealth? Health? That all makes sense because Allah Subhanahu wa ta'alaa mentions them all many times in different surahs: Al Kahf, Al Baqarah, An-Nisa, and Al Isra to name a few. But none of these things can keep you alive except one thing that Alla azza wa jal created, and from which He made every living thing: water. If you had nothing at all to eat, you could still survive for about 3 to 5 days on just water alone.
Which brings me to the point of water in the southwest United States. All of you reading this have lovely, shiny faucets which you turn on with firm yaqeen that H20 will come out, assuming you've paid your bill. But think about this. “Say: Tell me! If your water were to be sunk away, who then can supply you with flowing water? (Surah Al Mulk: 30)
In Colorado most of our water is sourced through the Arkansas River, which is a tributary of the mighty Mississippi River. The Arkansas River originates in Leadville, CO and flows through Kansas, Oklahoma and then Arkansas. Because the southwest has geographically been mostly arid or semi-arid, water rights in Colorado are unique compared to other parts of the country. There's this thing called the
“prior appropriation doctrine” which basically says that whoever made use of a water source first has the first right to it, and that person's or entity's rights to a cup of agua must be satisfied before anyone else can grab a sip. Add to that the fact that back in 1948 Colorado and Kansas made some wacky pact that, in a nutshell, said 40% of the water flowing down the Arkansas River belongs to Kansas. Yeah. Kansas. Heck, up until about 5 years ago Coloradoans legally couldn't even bypass the whole Kansas- water thing and catch rainwater from their own roofs.
Back in1901 Kansas had a hissy fit about Colorado using Arkansas River water on land that wasn't along the river's banks. So they got into it and Colorado goes, “Oh please! We have first dibs to divert it wherever we want.” And Kansas says, “Really?”, and kept filing all these lawsuits for decades. So they took it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the justices are sitting there all sweaty and annoyed in their black robes listening to Kansas whining and dying, 'til they're like “Ohmygodstopalready! You haven't proved you're being dissed so get over it!” So Colorado was told to play nice with Kansas, and share with Oklahoma and Arkansas, too, and they all signed the Kansas-Oklahoma-Colorado River Basin Compact in 1965. Fairly happy ending.
So, how do Coloradoans grab their share before it flows into Kansas? Three ways, actually. First, if you live within the city limits you just turn on that shiny faucet and out splashes Allah's bounty. Then, if you happen to have, oh say, $8,000 under your mattress and suitable land outside the city limits, you can have your very own well dug. Mind you, not every piece of country land has water running under it. The only way you're gonna know for sure is to cough up another $1,000 or so to have a well engineer bring out his fancy gadgets and maps to tell you if there's a fair-to-middlin', strong indication, good, or just flat out no-chance of water. Basically, it's about a $10,000 gamble because no water, no refund.
Lastly, you could do what we and most of our neighbors do: u-haul. As in you haul your own water. No, not with a moving van, silly. See, just about everybody out here (except us, for now) owns some type of 4x4 truck. Dodge, Chevy, Ford. Basic cowboy wheels. And in the back of that truck is a 300- or 400-gallon tank for water. You take your truck down to the water station in town, hook it up to the heavy-duty hose and fill 'er up for 1¢ per gallon. Yes, you read that right. A penny a gallon. Alhamdulillah, what a ni'mah.
Four hundred gallons of life-saving liquid for four bucks. Then you take your honky- tonky cowboy truck and haul your water home to fill up an even bigger cistern on your property. That cistern waters your garden, your critters, your kids and whatever else you have that needs a drink. A few weeks or months later, depending on how you conserve, you go haul water again. We got our 1,600-gallon cistern a few months ago and we intend to hook it up to the cabin with a gravity-fed plumbing system, insha Allah.
There is a fourth way to snatch your sip from Kansas and it's rain catchment. You basically direct water from the roof of your building into rain gutters and then into storage barrels. Serious low tech, but a great backup...as long as it rains. Here's where Kansas has no control because as much as they might have griped to the Supreme Court, “Allah is He Who sends the winds, so that they raise clouds, and spread them along the sky as He wills, and then break them into fragments, until you see rain drops come forth from their midst! Then when He has made them fall on whom of His slaves as He wills, lo, they rejoice! (Surah Ar-Rūm: 48). That's the ultimate appropriation doctrine.