“Permaculture made total common sense to me. It also fitted with my life ethics a a Muslim,” says permaculture teacher Nadia Lawton in an interview on permaculture and Islam with the Green Prophet. She explains that her work with husband Geoff Lawton—whose video on a 2000-year-old food forest in Morocco took my breath away—is growing into much bigger things.
Arid Desert Becomes Fertile Soil
Having turned arid, slaty desert into fertile soil in Jordan (see also the Permaculture Research Institute's update on the Jordan Valley Permaculture Project), they are now focusing on opening a 1 hectare permaculture school farm and a 16 hectare farm permaculture college to further their work. She's convinced that permaculture could be a perfect antidote to the food crises facing the Middle East.
But it's not just the practical aspects of Lawton's work that are interesting here. Because she is also looking at how to integrate her islamic culture and tradition with the teachings of earth care, people care and fair shares that permaculture has espoused. They are translating core permaculture teaching materials into Arabic, and they are incorporating Islamic texts and teachings that help to illustrate their lessons.
As an atheist-ish Westerner, I have been vocal about the idea that environmentalism is not a religion. But it undeniably has an important moral and ethical dimension. And that's why, as the crises we face on this planet continue, it's important to find the points where these intersect with the existing moral frameworks that shape how a majority of the world thinks. You have to make messages culturally relevant (and resonant) to the audiences you want to reach.
Make It Relevant
From a Christian focus on stewardship over the environment via Buddhism's focus on the interconnectedness of everything to Islam's message that we are trustees, not owners, Mat has explored many of these intersects already. But it's good to see work going on that explores not just the principles of a religiously-motivated environmentalism, but what that actually means in practice.
Because living your beliefs has always been what true faith should be about, right?