The Earthquake ( Chapter 99)
When the earth is shaken with her shaking,
and the earth yield's up her burdens,
and humanity says, "What ails her?'
That Day she shall convey her chronicles;
for thy Lord inspired her.
That Day humankind shall issue forth upon diverse paths to witness their deeds.
So whosoever does a mote's weight of good shall see it.
And whosoever does a mote's weight of evil shall see it.
Here, the Qur'an speaks about the Day of Judgement and Accountability, detailing the Earth herself as an ultra high resolution, female, divinely inspired, live, witness of human deeds. Personally this is an epic chapter to me. Muslims prostrate their heads upon her surface more than 40 times every day, in recognition of the vertical relationship between humanity and The Most High. In another sense, it is an expression of solidarity and horizontal relations with the rest of creation.
12 June 2016 was "Sacred Earth Day of Prayer and Action for People and the Planet", a mobilisation of more-than-material ecological remembrance and embodiment #sacredearth2016. A coalition of religious formations, catalysed mainly by OurVoices, the idea is to compel power holders to commit to deeper global climate safety by building a practical and moral movement. Over one hundred official events were scheduled all over the world which makes my heart smile.
Sacred Earth Day marked 6 months since the UN Climate Change talks in Paris, and arguably more inspiringly Yeb Sano and company's People's Pilgrimage. It has been about a year since the Roman Catholic Pope Francis published his AWESOME treatise on Socio-Climatic Justice, and the moving Multifaith Convergence on Rome organised by the Greenfaith team that connected Christianities, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, Buddhist and Muslim environmentally curious, conscious and activisty types.
Yes, developmentia, coloniality and NGOisation are real, but that cannot overwhelm the sincerity and beauty of bringing action-orientated spirituality's together in convergence for climate justice.
As it is the month of Qur'anic revelation, Ramadan, there is another ocean of meaning through which Muslims and friends can access the Sacred Earth, without intermediaries or gatekeepers, calendars or colanders. All over the globe we attempt to organise our individual, and communal lives to attain greater piety through acts of devotion, particularly fasting. Though the daylight food cessation element gets a lot of the airplay, it is the spiritual struggle, of attaining excellence in behaviour and journeying through the Qur'an, that is the fundamental purpose of this month.
O you who believe!
Fasting is prescribed for you,
as it was prescribed for those before you,
That you may learn piety. (Chapter 2 Verse 183)
Islamic scholars have written about this month's movement for centuries, here's Maulana Rumi on the spiritual richness and empowerment of fasting.
There’s hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness.
We are lutes, no more, no less.
If the soundbox is stuffed full of anything, no music.
If the brain and belly are burning clean with fasting,
every moment a new song comes out of the fire.
The fog clears, and new energy makes you
run up the steps in front of you.
Be emptier and cry like reed instruments cry.
Emptier, write secrets with the reed pen.
When you’re full of food and drink,
Satan sits where your spirit should,
an ugly metal statue in place of the Kaaba.
When you fast,
good habits gather like friends who want to help.
Fasting is Solomon’s ring.
Don’t give in to some illusion and lose your power,
but even if you have, if you’ve lost all will and control,
they come back when you fast, like soldiers appearing
out of the ground, pennants flying above them.
A table descends to your tents, Jesus’ table.
Expect to see it, when you fast, this table
spread with other food, better than the broth of cabbages.
By Jelaluddin Rumi
This year the poet Daniel Hayy-Moore returned to his Lord, his work is published in books and featured in text and spoken form on www.ecstaticexchange.com and Ramadan is a major theme and inspiration for his poetry.
First Night of Ramadan
A single stone is thrown in
and the canyon resounds with the
hallelujahs of angels
A single breath contains the
known and unknown universes
Back behind edgeless
space are motions that
vibrate the heart
Back behind ancient mountains and
a shadow gives way to Light that has a
door in it to
let us through
We take no step that
doesn’t bring us nearer
One sip and the oceans disappear
One glance and the skies
bend closer to hear our
One heart-wrench elegant elevation
and we’re on a
plateau tossing a stone in the dark
that never stops echoing
Being the wordsThe social sphere is an integral to enabling and sustaining transformations, and thats what the relatively small official Muslim participation in Sacred Earth 2016 is getting at. For example, yesterday in Zinj, Bahrain, women gathered to launch their own Sacred Earth initiative and toolkit to drive ecoakhlaq ( practical ecological ethics) back into local Ramadan practices of consumption and waste reduction. Meanwhile, Indonesians have been organising large Zero Waste Green Iftars sunset breakfasts), which sounds like a lot of washing up. Back in the UK of A and the NGO MADE have a short blog post that touches on coffee, vegetarianism, drinking tap water, gardening and eating greens.
Its hardly the green and golden age of eco Islam out there, for all number of unsatisfying reasons. However a lot of people have their ears open and dialogue is widening. There are some real jewels if you spend some time panning, for example a series of 20+ programmes from Iqraa TV channel called Repairing the Earth by Rhamis Kent.
Fasting not Feasting was a series of practical reminders, like Flashmob Iftars and Tarawih prayers with Trees, that continues to run through Ramadan life, pushing a socio-ecological solidarity and counter-consumer culture. Its 2010 website is still online and hosts resources that you might find a use for in family and community life.
- A simple 2 page tool about the Spirit of Fasting and the Environment.
- Ramadan Khutba Sheet for Friday congregational prayers
- A selection of healthy recipes from around the Ummah
- A short story for kids
- Chatterbox templates for older and younger children
- A word search activity for kids
- Some advice to Mosques and institutions
- and a trippy video i can't embed.
But, by connecting the spheres with decolonial tunnelling, accepting that climate change is fundamentally a problem of coloniality, I believe we can maintain integrity between our teachings, historical communities and futures. Just like they do in the People's Republic of Duriana.
Save the Dates
There are a few advanced notice events worth considering for the diary, thanks to various Muslim Scounts groups there is an action-packed 'Iftar under the Stars' in Luton next Saturday ( 18th) and in Chingford a week after that( 25th). A few weeks after Eid sees the return of the Willowbrook Arts and Music Festival (23/24th July).
Wandering through your Beautiful Names, I call on You Al Mani', The Preventer of Harm, to make the pathways to protecting people easy for us, whether that is indigenous delta engineering in Bangladesh, social protection policies or the realisation of the rights of migrants and refugees. I call on You Al Matin, The Powerful, to empower the oppressed to voice and make their way in this world. I call on You Al Jabbar, The Compeller, to open the hearts and minds of climate tyrants, witting or unwitting, to realising a decolonial climate justice. Oh Al Musawwir, The Shaper of Beauty, assemble the courageous into an excellent movement, across your creation to restore balance, dignity and justice. Oh Ar Rashid, The Righteous Teacher, teach us how to speak with animals and plants, give our sciences life not neoliberal death.