Archive for the ‘Wisdom in Nature’ Category

Wisdom in Nature – Action: Projects

April 3, 2010
We are involved in the following ongoing projects and campaigns:
 
RESOURCE CYCLE: Giving & Receiving with Human-ness
Where? This takes place usually at open forums.
What & How!?
We offer a couple of minutes for participants to announce (up to 3) items they don’t need, and would like to give away for free with no strings attached. If anyone else in the forum might have use for that item, the two can make arrangements for the item to be passed on.

Alternatively, any participant can announce something they don’t have, but would like. If anyone has that item and is willing to pass it on with no strings attached and no charge, that can be arranged too.

Background: The concept arose in August 2007 at a WIN Meeting. Here, there was a clear collective sense that the development of stronger local communities was a fundamental quality we would like to see in the world around us. The concept of Resource Cycle came up as a vehicle through which WIN could contribute to this process whilst helping reduce waste and the ‘consumption’ of new goods. It is also a step towards a more real economy. An additional quality that Resource Cycle offers is the face-to-face interaction that takes place between potential givers and receivers. This offers a more human quality, something that is tending to be eroded in our ‘modern’ world, yet is central to many of LINE’s projects.

 
 
FAST FOR THE PLANET
 
A concept that recognises the essential need for personal, community and economic transformation in engaging with the ecological challenge. It includes the use of fasting and attempts to engage people with their hearts, minds and bodies. Initiated by WIN in 2007/2008, Fast for the Planet allows for two kinds of movements. A movement towards, and a movement away from. This will now be explained:

Moving away from: Through Fast for the Planet, we are expressing an intention to move away from our collective submission to:

i) corporate domination; ii) consumerism; iii) the dominant, interest-based and fictitious monetary-system; and of course, iv) our dependence on fossil fuels.

Moving towards: Simultaneously we are strengthening an intention that moves us towards:

i) activating more of our inner resources and human potential; ii) towards simplicity, sharing and community building; iii) towards economic systems that are nurturing to life, soul and community; iv) towards non-polluting energy, and sustainable use of the earth’s resources.

More info:
Website: www.fastfortheplanet.net
Blog: www.fastfortheplanet.blogspot.com

 
 
Available for venues/events:

CLIMATE CHANGE & ISLAM: A VISUAL JOURNEY

 
WIN has produced an exhibition comprising a selection of high quality photographs which capture the changing climate in different parts of the globe, including in a number of predominately Muslim countries. There are also visual ideas on climate change solutions, and an exploration of what Islam says about the pressing challenge that is with us. Already displayed at the Mile End Fair, the London Muslim Centre and at a large gathering in Trafalgar Square, this production can be exhibited at a variety of events, with WIN representatives at hand to talk about the issues raised.  

If you would like to discuss having this exhibition displayed at your event/venue such as a mosque or community event, for example, then please feel free contact us. 

Please note, that there may be a small charge to cover expenses, and appropriate display boards will need to be provided.

 
 
Campaign against Climate Change (CCC)
Campaigning for an effective international agreement to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. CCC are particularly skilled at organising and mobilising for mass demonstrations.

This piece is taken from the website of Wisdom in nature.

See on-line at: http://www.wisdominnature.org.uk/Action/projects.htm

Wisdom in Nature – History of Wisdom In Nature and Islamic Environmentalism in the UK

April 3, 2010

by Muzammal Hussain, Founder of WIN

.
Before the Paradigm Shift

In the 1990’s, there were very few people who were actively promoting awareness of environmental ethics amongst Muslim communities in the UK. There was the occasional public talk at which after a bit of listening, the nodding of heads, questions and answers and momentary inspiration, the audience would return home and re-immerse themselves into their normal routine. Of course, whilst seeds would have been sown, the dispersed and rare nature of enthusiastic environmentalists in Muslim communities meant that any progress would confine itself to a small sphere of possibilities. For real progress to be made, it was clear that the paradigm in which Islamic environmentalism existed in the UK would need to transform.

Over the years, I began to hear more and more Muslims voice their frustration that they had not come across other Muslims, who like them, were interested in environmentalism. Whenever I came across such people, they were always shocked to hear that as well as myself, I knew others who shared their passion. “I thought I was the only one” became a mantra that I began to hear frequently. The signs were encouraging, and the path seemed obvious: People had to meet up regularly, get to know one another, and thus be empowered to build their own networks within which they could work together and thus engage more creatively and effectively in their local communities. The paradigm shift was now ready to take place.

As one of a few Muslims who would speak on the environment at events and write an occasional letter to MP’s, Ministers and various organisations, it was in recognising the above, coupled with my involvement in local group activism in Brighton, that I then reflected on the possibility of starting local Islamic environmental groups in the UK. I then discussed this with several people, and felt this could really work.

In Autumn 2003 I was invited to speak on GM foods at a conference on ‘Islam and the Environment’ in Reading. After gaining the green light from the organisers, Imaad and IMASE, I used my talk at this delightful event as an opportunity to encourage the more committed audience members to get together with the aim of focussing on starting a local Islamic environmental group in Reading. Afterwards, a small number of people did successfully meet up on one occasion with myself also present. Whilst the potential and enthusiasm seemed strong, the effort within the group was not sustained long enough for the group to properly form at that time. However, several years later, in 2009, the seeds that were sown began to bear fruit as RITE (Reading Islamic Trustees for the Environment) was initiated.

Back to top

.

The Birth of WIN

Several months later in early 2004, I used an Islamic environmental elist I had developed over the years (later called Ecobites) as a vehicle to publicise my intention to form a network in London, which is where I felt there would be greatest potential, even though I was then living in Brighton. The first meeting of just three people took place on January 10th 2004 in my parents home, and with sustained effort the group became established. Eight months later on September 5th 2004, this new group decided on an official name: the London Islamic Network for the Environment, or LINE.

It should be added that whilst I was working with IFEES when I started LINE, LINE has always been autonomous. At the same time, with experience in local group activism lacking within IFEES, the foundation and soul of the group were instead inspired and nurtured by a diverse range of other sources without which I do not feel that the project would have stood much chance of success. For instance, the idea to set up a local environmental group at all was influenced by my experience with the highly competent ‘World Development Movement’ (WDM) in Brighton, an impressive group that I was actively involved with. I also discussed ideas and drew on the experience of other activists mostly from Brighton, in an attempt to consider what might work and what wouldn’t, in the context of a group comprising of mostly Muslims. The lengthy conversations with these and other individuals continue to this day, as part of the ongoing process of drawing on expertise and sharing experiences from a wide range of sources for a constantly evolving network.

For a group to be empowered and established within a grassroots ideological basis, it is necessary for as many voices as possible to be heard within it, the quieter ones as well as the louder ones, and from the beginning, I had always felt it important for the committed members of LINE to also develop their awareness of group processes and thus be in a better position to facilitate the input and integration of these voices. This led me to look at group psychology and development as well as meeting facilitation skills and consensus decision making. I attended workshops and looked into literature on the web, such as on the Seeds for Change website, which offers resources that continue to benefit the group as it evolves. Also particularly useful was the Gaia Education book ‘Beyond You and Me’. As recogniition of the need for a healthy process seeped into the group, in the summer of 2005, we particpated in our first formal group development trainingwhich was organised with ‘Seeds for Change’.

In terms of my personal influences, awareness of social movmements and social change particularly through Mandela’s inspiring autobiography, Gandhi’s ‘The Story of my Experiments with Truth’, and the life of Abdul Ghaffar Khan influenced my early vision, as did Islamic teachings and Islamic history through reflection on their relevance to effective ecolgoical activism and social change now.

Despite the low priority given to the environment amongst Muslims and the low level of experience in local activism amongst many newcomers to the network, LINE nonetheless beat the odds and established itself as a competent, creative and self-aware activist group which has demonstrated that it can deliver.

Whilst LINE was succesful in its aims, we were aware that our emphasis on process, our holistic approach that was wider than the environment and included the social and spiritual, and our inclusion of those who were not Muslim meant that our name was not quite congruent with our focus and means even though these had not changed. We were also finding that in describing our work, we began to use the term ‘ecological’ (which implies interconnectedness and gives value to relationship ) more, and the term ‘environmental’ less. In November 2009, after discussions that included a consensus-decision-making process, we unanimously agreed on a change of name and became Wisdom In Nature . We continue as an Islamic group and hope that our new name captures more of the essence of our work.

Many thanks must go to all the sources mentioned above, for their invaluable support which helped WIN to become established in the solid form that it now takes as well as early members who helped support the group to get off the ground. Also, people of other faiths and beliefs gradually began to join in our forums, some of whom have now become regular, and too, have given valuable support and encouragement.

The journey for WIN has been challenging but fun, and truly rewarding. Its success has shown what is possible, and shortly after it’s formation, it inspired effort from other individuals to also get together to form other local Islamic environmental networks in their own areas in the UK.

Back to top

.

UK-Wide Groups

There had been a couple of attempts at starting an Islamic environmental group in Birmingham that didn’t quite take off. On the 11th June 2004, I introduced the idea to an audience at an event organised by the Birmingham City Circle. People were clearly interested but a meeting was yet to happen.

Next year, Fazlun Khalid, the director of IFEES and well known for his writings and Islamic environmental ethics workshops was now based back in Birmingham following some time abroad. Having heard about LINE, he was keen to try to set up a similar group in Birmingham. He thus organised a meeting which took place on Sunday 20th Feb 2005 at which I also presented my experience in setting up LINE. A number of keen people attended this event including a couple from the Birmingham City Circle meeting, and the possibility of a Midlands Islamic environmental group opened up. The efforts that followed were spear-headed by Rianne ten Veen who thus initiated MINE.

That Birmingham meeting was also attended by Nadeem Shah, who reported back to his home town, Sheffield, and with the leadership of Kate Fryer, a Sheffield Islamic environmental group, called ShINE, began.

Simultaneously, around the same period, a small number of individuals were also looking at the possibility of a group in Wales and had been communicating this to me via my elist, Ecobites. Masood Yousef took the idea forward with the support of Omer Williams and on June 5th 2005, WELCOME was initiated.

I had the honour of being invited to speak at the launch of both WELCOME and ShINE and was encouraged to see many enthusiastic people wanting to come together to take things forward.

Later, RITE formed in Reading in 2009, initated by Summreen Sheikh.

Of course, whilst enthusiasm is often there at the start, the development of a strong group also depends on a number of other ingredients such as the following through of mundane tasks, having the tools to work through challenges that come up, open and sincere communication, as well as consistency. The ongoing development of one’s own inner state and inner resources is also crucial as a means to remain centred and to prevent burn-out. It is my prayer that these networks can develop and become strong. The potential exists for amazing things to happen. Given the scale of the ecological challenge, the alternative is far too painful to even contemplate.

This piece is taken from the website of Wisdom in Nature.

See on-line at: http://www.wisdominnature.org.uk/About%20Us/About_Us_docs/history.htm

Wisdom in Nature – Who Are We

April 3, 2010

WIN Official Positions

Representatives:

Elizabeth Chawdhary
Muzammal Hussain
Shumaisa Khan
Wasi Daniju

In addition: Support to Chair: Shumaisa Khan ; Chair: Muzammal Hussain

These are responsible positions that are assumed on a voluntary basis

Back to top

.

Set up a Islamic Ecological Community Group

WIN is the first such group in the UK, and was established through the hard work of a small number of committed individuals. Having pioneered local Islamic ecological activism in the UK and developed a thorough grounding in group processes in a range of settings, WIN thus has considerable experience and expertise that we also offer to support newer groups. If you would like some general advice, or would like to draw on our more in depth experience and support, then please contact us. Workshops are also offered.

Back to top

.

FAQ’s

Is WIN a subsidiary of any other group or organisation?

WIN is an autonomous group. This is supported by the fact that our day-to-day work is funded entirely by donations from individuals, allowing us to be independent of corporations and government.

Coupled with openness, this independence allows WIN to work as a team with other networks, both inside and outside Muslim communities, whilst retaining a fluid and creative nature.

Is WIN affiliated to any political party?

No. Whilst WIN believes that just like any relationship learning can take place both ways, thus WIN also believes that politicians can learn from us, and we can learn from them. Simultaneously, we are not affiliated to any political party. This does not however prevent any WIN member from also being a member of a political party of their own choosing, if they so wish. This however is neither formally encouraged nor discouraged.

What kind of organisations does WIN work with?

WIN has built links and has worked with numerous organisations in a variety of ways. These include, (in alphabetical order): BTCV, Campaign against Climate Change, Climate Camp, The Corner House, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Hilfield Project, Rising Tide, St Ethelburga’s Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, Tawhid Mosque, WELCOME & WDM (World Development Movement).

Why an ‘Islamic’ ecological group?

Islamic teachings offer profound principles that work in a holistic system which recognises the interactions between the diverse areas of life and society such as economics, health, peace and conflict for example and within which environmental care is also integrated. It also emphasises amongst a number of factors, the importance of spiritual development, on the journey through which our relationship with the world is affected, allowing us to recognise with increasing clarity that ultimately everything comes from one source, and is connected. The development of this experience presents a profound basis to ecological activism.

In this, as well as other regards, there are some similarities between Islamic ecological activism and other ideologies, and the beauty of these meeting points amongst ideologies is that they allow different groups to work together. Hence, being an Islamic group does not negate the probability of working with others that are not labelled Islamic. Indeed often there are far more similarities than differences. In addition an Islamic basis to ecological activism also touches people of the Islamic faith in an intimate way and offers them a realisation of the depth to their faith that they may not have had. This encourages motivation and opens up a greater human potential to meet the huge scale of the ecological challenge that humanity collectively faces.

Is there a formal membership structure to WIN?

Yes and No. There is a loose group of regular, committed volunteers who decide on key issues related to the running of the group, whilst taking into account the views of the wider network. This usually takes place at review meetings. Within this group is a Chair and Support to Chair, whose role is fundamentally to ensure the group stays within its own ethos.

Essentially anyone who regularly attends WIN forums and who believes and works within its ethos, Muslim or of another belief, can consider themselves to be an informal member of the group. On the other hand, attending review meetings requires a particularly strong commitment to WIN and resonance with its ethos. It also requires a certain amount of time for the review meetings. Please discuss with the Chair, if you are interested in attending.

Do I have to pay to participate in the group?

No. A sincere commitment to the processes and aims of the group is perhaps most important. An understanding of these can be achieved through this website, and experientially, through participating in the group’s activities.

I don’t have time to attend forums and events. Can I still help?

Quite possibly. Get in touch with us and we can have a chat. If you would like to help financially, you may like to visit our donate page. We also suggest joining the WINnotices elist, if you haven’t already done so.

How can I find out more?

Please explore this website or feel free to contact us directly.

This piece is taken from the website of Wisdom in Nature.

See on-line at: http://www.wisdominnature.org.uk/About%20Us/who_are_we.htm#LINE_official_positions

Wisdom in Nature – Introductory Guiding Principles: Spring 2008

April 3, 2010
1) NAME OF GROUP

LINE: .The London Islamic Network for the Environment.

 

 

 

 

2) PRINCIPLES & VALUES

A) Relationship with Islam/Faith

i. We strive for an approach that is centred in the

extend outwardly with inclusiveness to those of other faiths and beliefs.

ii. We do not represent and we do not have a monopoly on religion. Instead we represent a range of viewpoints, which will converge in some areas, to then be held with lesser or greater firmness.

iii. We are not a sect of Islam and are open to people of all faiths, sects and beliefs who are able to engage

within our ethos.

iv. Our approach is which we do not have full knowledge.

 

 

essence and unifying principles of Islam, allowing us toall Muslims, nor the Islamic perspective (nor do we represent all environmentalists),non-prescriptive. We recognise that each individual has choice, and is on a life path of

B) Transformational Activism (Individual, Group, & Societal)

a) Decision-making & Dialogue

i. We view activism, and we recognise the value in allowing insights to emerge through them.Deep Dialogue and Reflection/Contemplation (Tafakkur) as important processes that inform our prescriptiveiii. Whilst technology has value, in an increasingly technology-driven age, we are mindful that

 

 

 

ii. We recognise the importance of creating space, both psychological and in time, to share and understand perspectives. This encourages a deeper dialogue through which the appreciation of others is enhanced, a 

approach becomes less likely, and transformation becomes possible.face-to-face

dialogue offers a quality and presence that can be missing through remote means.

iv. We aim to be 

transparent whilst allowing space for growth.

b) Development & Transformation

 

i. We look transformation is a crucial contribution to societal transformation ~ developing ourselves such that the consciousness and processes within the group mirror that of the world we wish to live in.within as well as outside of the group, understanding that our personal and collectivespirituality/inner work, and our personal spiritual/inner development.facilitating, conflict resolution and developing mindfulness.means is a fundamental contribution to the end we seek.

c) Egoism & Image

 

ii. We recognise the importance of

iii. We reflect on the natural world (which includes the human), and our place in it.

iv. We take opportunities to develop skills that will help the group to develop, for example skills in

dialogue

v. We recognise that our  

i. We recognise the existence of

than attempts to push with a constricted world-view.

ii. Whilst through a collective identity we believe in the possibility of better fulfilling a higher purpose, we

consider our

iii. We focus on

not arise. We are also conscious of the importance of the truth being asserted.

iv. We value

 

 

egoism and take precautions to ensure that ego serves higher values, ratherpurpose to ultimately be of greater value than our identity.substance in our work, which we value more than an image or impression that may or mayquality over quantity.

 

2

3) PURPOSE & METHODS

 

A) Our group purpose is to facilitate:

natural world, of which we are a part, thus honouring the principle of Oneness

process of community building and nurturing the social ecology.

 

B) In order to achieve this purpose we utilise the following methods:

 

a) Development of Knowledge

 

. In recognising the interconnectedness of the world, we strive to develop our own understanding of human

and societal spheres of knowledge, as well as the .environmental.. We recognise that economics, peace,

conflict, human ecology and social movements are realities that are interwoven with the struggle for

environmental justice. We also aim to develop our understanding of Islamic perspectives on these areas, as

well as perspectives from other traditions that may not be labelled .Islamic. (where doing so supports the

purpose of the group). Simultaneously, we allow space for our own insights to form.

ii. We also assume the role of a catalyst in order to stimulate questioning, reflection, dialogue and

understanding of the above within wider society.

The vehicles that we might use include talks, workshops, the arts and various forms of media, as appropriate.

 

 

the transformation of society to live justly in harmony with the diverse(Tawhid). Integral to this is the i

 

b) Connecting with Nature

 

We consider sensing, connecting with, and reflecting on the natural world as a potential vehicle for spiritual

development, as well as a means to develop a deeper understanding of ecology. Hence outings in which we

explore or work in nature form a component of our activism. We may also encourage such activities to be

initiated in communities, where this is appropriate.

 

c) Deep Dialogue

 

Whilst communication enables us to understand one another, other factors are relevant to its

 

 

quality: the state

we are in, the quality of

fundamentally affect the extent to which both the process and eventual outcome are infused with

Hence we aim to create conditions inwardly and outwardly that are conducive to such dialogue

process is

 

 

 

facilitation (which we regard as a collective responsibility) and the setting, canwholeness.. Integral to this listening with compassion, as well as reflection and taking precaution against the influence of

egoism

 

 

 

.

 

d) Networking

 

We network with a diverse range of groups and individuals (both inside and outside Muslim communities),

whilst also recognising that the quality of relationship is more important than quantity of contacts.

 

e) Campaigning/Outward Activism

In asserting justice, there are likely to be times when we exert direct pressure outwardly. Our work may

include taking campaigns, where appropriate, to businesses, political structures and other institutions, for

example. In so doing, we are simultaneously mindful of our principles and values, in particular recognising

that the

earlier).

 

 

means we use is a fundamental contribution to the end we seek (see Transformational Activism

This piece is taken from the website of Wisdom in Nature.

See on-line at: http://www.wisdominnature.org.uk/About%20Us/About_Us_docs/Intro_Guid_Principles_Spring2008.pdf