Ecology and Community

S 35. 1  Praise be to Allah, the Bringer into Being of the heavens and earth, He who made the angels messengers, with wings – two, three or four.  

S 2. 22  It is He who made the earth a couch for you, and the sky a dome. He sends down water from the sky and by it brings forth fruits for your provision.  

It’s clear that from the ancient times there have been reflections, observations and actions which can be considered ecological, although the word ecology was non-existent as the term; it was first used by mid XIX century. 

This word, so commonly used nowadays gives us the idea of interaction and balance with the environment. What is not so well known is a source, much more ancient, respectable and worthy of being followed, which is the last revelation; of course I’m talking about the Qur’an. In the Qur’an, Allah, swta, tells us to look at His creation so we can read the signs and learn about His Unity: 

S 35. 13 He makes night merge into day, and makes day merge into night, and He has made the sun and moon subservient, each one running until a specified time. That is Allah, your Lord. The Kingdom is His. Those you call on besides Him have no power over even the smallest speck. 

His perfection:

S 67. 3  He who created the seven heavens in layers. You will not find any flaw in the creation of the All-Merciful. Look again – do you see any gaps? 

His balance:

S 35. 41 Allah keeps a firm hold on the heavens and earth, preventing them from vanishing away. And if they vanished, no one could then keep hold on them.

S 36. 40 It is not for the sun to overtake the moon nor for the night to outstrip the day; each one is swimming in a sphere. 

His constant action:

S 55. 29  Everyone in the heavens and earth requests His aid. Every day He is engaged in some affair. 

But let us read His signs in creation; if we are in the middle of nature, in a forest for example, it could happen that we cannot perceive the harmony, but this is just due to a lack of perspective, as if we were an ant walking on a Persian carpet. Let us look for instance at the petals of the flowers: 

There are flowers with 2 petals 

With 3 petals 

With 5 petals  

With 8 

With 13 etc. 

As we look closely into the sequence, we see it’s a succession, called the Fibonacci succession, in honour of Leonardo da Pisa, an Italian mathematician of the XIII century, who documented it and introduced it in Europe, although it was already known in India. It is in fact an infinite sequence of numbers obtained by adding the two previous ones; if we start with 0 and follow with 1, adding these two numbers we obtain 1 again. Now we add 1 to 1 and get 2. The next one is 1+2, so we get 3 and so on and so forth. Most flowers have these numbers of petals. This sequence is related with the number PHI, so called on behalf of Phidias, the architect of the Parthenon. It is also called The Divine Proportion or the Golden Ratio. It’s a number with infinite decimals: 1,6180…

This golden ratio is present in many ancient buildings. It appears many times within the proportions of the Cheops pyramid and in the Parthenon. It also appears in the façade of the Palacio de Comares in the Alhambra Palace. It was described, studied and formulated by Euclid (300 years before Christ) in the figure of the regular rectangle, which, if it had the adequate proportions, was considered a golden rectangle. From it we can build up the golden spiral. All of those figures and proportions with the number PHI, as with some other geometrical patterns arefound in nature in plants and fruits; in the disposition and number of flower petals, in the arrangement of the leaves around the stem, in the geometric configuration of the seeds in sunflowers, and in fruits like the pineapple or the pinecone, in the proportions between the wideness of the trunk and the main branches, or between the main branches and the secondary ones, where the thickness is equivalent to PHI, or in the shells of some molluscs; in the proportions of the human body, in the wavelengths, in the mathematical relation of musical scales, in the orbits of the planets or the shape of the galaxies. In the human body it is present not only in its shape but also in the arrangement of the muscles, nerves, arteries and veins and in the molecular structure of the DNA. All of them share the same mathematical proportions, the same geometrical system with the golden number or divine proportion. The molecules which give us form are the very same as we find in nature, we are made up of the same material, in fact we can say, we are cosmos. And because of that, we can acknowledge it.  

This video by the graphic designer Cristobal Vila, illustrates very well the perfect design of creation and its application to architecture. 

What can be the response in us other than that of certainty, admiration, gratitude and submission to the trust that the harmony and the evident divine purpose are present inside and outside ourselves in the whole of creation? It’s the same feeling and trust we, as mothers, can experience as we take care of our newborns, who are totally in a state of trust and absolute certainty; they are the expression of purity, certainty and submission to the Creator, the original nature, called in Arabic, fitra. This instant knowledge is imprinted in every living creature, without need for reasoning. It takes a long time to explain, but one can experience its certainty in an instant. It is the certainty of unity and perfection present in all of creation. 

This is thekind of optimism with which we should face the acts of corruption and destruction we are witnessing in the planet, always keeping in mind that everything in creation has a Divine Purpose. We need to read those signs in the knowledge that the Absolute Power belongs to Allah, so we do not give reality to what, in fact, does not have reality in itself.  Only Allah is the Real. What are the consequences of destruction and corruption? We take the answer from nature, as creation is in constant change.

Everything follows a magnificent pattern of programmed regeneration, which never stops and constantly restores the balance. We have a good example in the Chernobyl accident. 

In April 2009 the Magazine Science published the research: “How plants survived in Chernobyl” in which they explained that the radiation had a certain effect on the plants around the nuclear plant – the worst nuclear accident in history when the reactor exploded in 1986. A scientific team discovered a change in the proteins of the soya seeds that grew near the Ukrainian city, which explained how the plants survived even with exposure to radiation. This and other changes drove scientists to think that the plants seemed to be protecting themselves from the radiation of lower intensity by modifying within themselves some proteins and other substances, although they were unable to discover the explanation for these changes and left them for further investigation. 

Jordi Pigem (a Catalan philosopher and writer) mentioned that after each one of the great extinctions that took place on the earth, the diversity of the living beings has grown exponentially. “Like a tree which regains vitality after pruning, like a forest which regains strength after a fire. He also said: 

“As every great cultural tradition has understood, human existence is not an accident on earth, the human being is a part of the biosphere. The biosphere is richer due to the human presence.» 

The human being cannot destroy the original nature. 

S 30. 30 So set your face firmly towards the Deen, as a pure natural believer, Allah’s natural pattern on which he made mankind. There is no changing Allah’s creation.

S 45. 22  Allah created the heavens and earth with truth

We can also read many warnings in the Qur’an:

S 45. 21  Or do those who perpetrate evil deeds suppose that we will make them like those who have iman and do right actions, so that their lives and deaths will be the same? How bad their judgement is. 

As I said before, nature and the cosmos are not created and completed, but in constant movement and change, in a process in which every being is interacting with itself and its surroundings. 

There are many aspects of this interaction; they vary according to their impelling force. Also the Qur’an insists by warning us to act with mercy and love, and these elements are currently not present in the human laws that govern. 

We all know the circumstances in which we live now. Nevertheless, these political, social and sanitary actions, which are against our nature our fitra are partial; they are fractioned by their ownstructured nature. They cannot compete with the perfection and regenerating capacity of nature, as they do not have the Divine holistic perspective because they are not based on tawhid; that is to say, in the Unity of Allah as the creational force. This may seem very theoretical, but it is not; in fact this provides us with all kinds of advantages. The human being has, as do plants, the capacity to regenerate himself, surpass and avoid the attacks on his health. Our immune system detects and rejects any intrusion and in case this intrusion has success, it can be reverted; even in genetical predispositions, balance can be restored, with Allah’s permission. 

The permission of Allah is important, because it is equivalent to taking into account that both health and illness are part of the action of Allah. Let’s not fall into the dualism of thinking that only health is good and disease is bad; let’s not forget Unity. Diseases can be a state, perhaps the only way in which we are able to recognize a sign, something we need to understand. 

The human body has the capacity to generate new healthy cells; this is, in fact, one of its functions. What we need is a strong intention to regenerate our health. And we do it through the dhikr of Allah, remembrance of Allah with presence and full awareness. This is nowadays called positive thinking. It starts unfolding itself every time we express gratitude to Allah sincerely as we praise Allah or call on His Names, His Greatness and His Power. It also works as we sing in praise, as music is a powerful tool to get in touch with the music of the creation, as the whole cosmos is vibration. This power enables us to change, to generate new specialized cells in our body tissues and in our DNA. There are many investigators confirming this: Masaru Emoto, author and therapist in Japan, Bruce H. Lipton, cellular biologist in United States and many more. And I need to include in

this list Ian Dallas (Shaykh Dr Abdalqadir As Sufi) for his indications in his work Oedipus and Dionysius in which he describes the means to consciously erase conflicts inherited from previous generations. 

Having this perspective of our biological capacity to generate health we should choose the type of medicine that helps us cure our sicknesses or keeps us in balance, our health. It should be a kind of medicine which is, as much as possible, in accordance with our being as a whole, and respects the intrinsic drive in our bodies to generate health. 

We know the ones who attack us have many means of doing so; they persistently spread messages of fear, hate and falsehood, all of them in contradiction, aimed at our conscious and our unconscious. But as believers who follow the signs of Allah we have the shield and the means to purify and balance it. Let’s not give them a reality; let’s not give them existence. Only Allah is the Real. 

We must not lower our guard; let us use our intellects. There are sequences called “silent ones” in the human genome which seemednot to have any meaning or function, while they indeed do have them. (Phillip A Sharp, 1993). They are like the silences in the discourse, they work as switches; they are indeed the instructions to generate and use information. This DNA sequence has a speech structure; it reacts to language with no need to codify it. As far as we know, the human genetical code and the human language are the only two information systems sharing the same characteristics. And why am I mentioning this? Because I want to empathize that language is a powerful tool to do good and wrong, and that’s why we need to be careful when we use it, and keep it clean. With words we can heal, protect, transmit, be truthful, active, and produce beauty, harmony and peace. Those people who are attacking us, have substituted some words for others, or even changed the meaning of words already considered official truth. Epidemic and Pandemic have new definitions since 2002, or to say gender instead of sex. We need to be careful with the language and how we transmit it to the children, as they need to name things by their names in order not to have any doubt of their own identity. And also to the youth, so they are able to recognize themselves and be truthful to their nature. Only if we act carefully and are conscious of the power in language, which is a gift granted by Allah, are we going to be protected and able to detect falsehood and lies, and will we be able to act positively and generate harmony and optimism. 

S 4. 1  Oh mankind! Have taqwa of your Lord who created you from a single self and created its mate from it and then disseminated many men and women from the two of them. 

Every creature acts with its whole being according to its own capacities, strength and faculties. We are not less than that; our nature is active and social. We cannot be alone; we are born, we grow up and we die in interaction with others, with our environment with our whole being. And what distinguishes us from other living entities is precisely the awareness that enables us to take decisions, and the intellect that allows us to know and come to conclusions. This fact places us in a position of responsibility on a social and ecological level, as it is mentioned in the Qur’an. 

S 2. 30  When your Lord said to the angels, “I am putting a khalif on the earth.”   

The human being has a responsibility towards the creation; he is its guardian, its khalif. It is an amana that encompasses both a privilege and a duty to preserve and protect nature, the cosmos. And it does not place him in a position of superiority, of domination but of service, this is what we understand by the word khalif or representative. We are not here to exploit and get the maximum profit of it, but to explore it and make use of what nature offers us with respect and justice. We cannot lose our connection with Allah, but on the contrary, we should be aware of the fact that all created beings worship Allah without questioning, in a perfect way, but the human being is the one who can go astray, is the one who needs to make the effort to remember. Let’s be grateful for the gift of salah, the obligatory prayer for the Muslims, which connects us with the Real and with the cycles of nature. The prayer brings us into the present. The teachings of Islam also tell us how to behave with nature, without extravagance, whims and squandering. Searching for harmony, the middle way and compassion with all the creatures. 

In the Qur’an as well as the hadith we have clear indications about the rights of the earth, the plants and the animals, many of them even regulated by the shar’iah

The Prophet Mohammed, saws, instructed us about the way we should treat animals, forbidding us to hurt them, curse them, use them as a target, scare them or torture them as they are slaughtered. 

He also told us not to waste unnecessary water when doing wudu

“If the Hour arrives and any of you has a palm tree in his hand to plant, and can still manage to plant it before the Hour arrives, he should plant it and he will get the reward for it.” 

There are also rules for war, which force us to protect houses, cattle and fields. 

As Islam spread, there were protected areas, called hima, restricted and protected areas, permanent or temporary, in which hunting or cutting trees was prohibited in order to preserve the wellbeing and survival of communities. 

S 6.  38  There is no creature crawling on the earth or flying creature, flying on its wings, who are not communities, just like yourselves. 

I will give an example from nature which is really beautiful. We know now that trees also form communities absolutely interconnected in which there are ranks according to seniority, they interact – there’s already talk about vegetal behaviour – to help the saplings or in a situation of scarcity of their own species. They take aid from other species. Through the roots and the help of a net of fungus they transfer nutrients to the one in need. Also some have the capacity to defend themselves from the mammals through gas signals and certain substances generated in the sap. These facts are a fountain of knowledge to drink from.  

It is not natural to live in isolation. Everything we mentioned, our fitr, our conscience, our responsibilities, can only be undertaken in community, we are born, we grow and die in community. 

Nowadays the need for communities is becoming more urgent, as the social trend is to divide and isolate us. There are many non-Muslim communities establishing projects in which they invest together, buy properties sharing the costs to pay the electricity bills, to produce ecological food, to distribute them, etc. All of this is good and can even serve us as a model, but in order to be a successful community, what is necessary is a great dose of trust and precise common coordinates to guide it, and this can only be provided by Allah, swta, and this connection among all the members of the community. The best example is the Community of Medina al Munawara, created around the prophet, saws. Allah tested this community with all the events one can think of that could be confronted by a community; having mentioned this as a model, I want to talk about the community I belong to, which is far wider than those present in this hall. 

The first thing one experiences within the community is one’s own ego, its rebellion. Later we experience the egos of the others. This should not be an obstacle, if we persevere, we can achieve common projects successfully. Every action undertaken in community is an act of remembrance of Allah and a way to taste and transmit the natural original way, the fitra we talked about before. And this places us immediately in confrontation with the society in which we live and its laws. This confrontation is what gives us the strength, vitality, tenacity, enthusiasm and dedication to keep us going, to exist as a cohesive group. Always in this community, since we have managed to act as a body, it becomes like a vessel with a precise goal, navigating under the mercy of Allah. Ibn Khaldun – a historian, sociologist, philosopher, and statesman of Andalusian origin – describes this cohesion as Assabiyya, and considers it as a cohesive social order inside a historical cycle. But to go back to my community, so I can speak out of my own experience… My experience in the community is that there is no need to live in a specific territory, it is not a group of people living in the countryside, although there would be nothing against this. What keeps it alive is the cohesion between the individuals, despite distance and time, and is what gives it the strength and the opportunity to attain power. This cohesion is manifested in the behaviour amongst us, the best adab towards our fellows and the value we attach to others, sincerely appreciating the best of each one of them, the different qualities and skills of each one; also respecting the level of commitment each one wants to bring to the community. In my experience this is possible with the remembrance of Allah, the element which enables us to unify our hearts. 

Taking into consideration the ‘here and now’, it is clear for all of us,whatever ourbeliefsmay be, the need to trust our relatives, our advisers, friends, doctors, teachers, suppliers, the list can be as long as we wish. This is a community. A long time ago I realized, Alhamdulillah that it is impossible to live without it. I have managed to be where I am now, thanks to Allah Who inspired the community. Within it I have managed to give birth, raise and educate my children, healthy and with good values. I wish this to go on, not just so that it does not perish, but so that it grows, gets bigger and follows its natural cycle, which is to empower itself. Otherwise how are we going to be able to inspire our children and our closest ones in love, gratitude, mercy and drive to improve themselves if it is not in community?  

I really believe that everyone, no matter what his or her beliefs, is in need of it like we need the air we breathe. 

Wherever we may be and whoever we may be, we need a community wecan trust fully and which allows us to connect with our true original nature, a model in which we can see and experience the original nature in its multiple forms. Only this way will we be able to be true human beings and preserve this path of knowledge. 

This is not an easy task, life is not; it requires effort and will. We need to get rid of many of our personal habits and useless luggage. And as I said before, once functioning, it will be tested again and again with every kind of test and conflict. There are many lessons to be learnt on the way and many we may not understand, as its results may seem to be hidden, preserved for the future. We cannot give up, as there will always be a positive outcome, in every attempt the reward and certainty is bigger and affects more people. 

And I mean the community projects I personally participated in with some of you present here. At the time we were developing them, they were social experiments from which we learnt a lot, but then the need was not so urgent as it is now. Everything now is pushing us to look for solutions and all of the solutions are pointing to communities. It does not mean we all should go to live in the countryside, maybe just some of us. I mean we need to create spaces where we can enjoy easy access and self-sufficiency in terms of food, available also to the ones who don’t live there. The communities should make an effort to be well communicated, invest in common assets, means and efforts. It’s not going to be very far away that we will face the elimination of money for the transactions. Am I giving you an urgent call? No. All of us here have been trained along the years to be aware of the needs and look for solutions. Therefore, we need to keep on training and putting things into practice, making those solutions real. Am I provoking confrontations? No. Everyone has his place and task and knows it. 

We already have the indications, indeed, for now we don’t have any new ones. The most important one, and the one we need to nurture, is the invisible spiritual nexus that keeps the community together through the time and places with the remembrance of the Creator: the Assabiyya, the magnet which keeps us connected. 

We need to create arenas and situations in which the diversity of all the human capacities have a space to live in a natural, healthy, sustainable and safe way, protecting our environment and transmitting freely this consciousness. 

S 2 156  “We belong to Allah and to Him we will return.”