Design is a Process
Take a look at all of the infrastructure and technology around you that you use every day. At some point, somebody, somewhere sat down and designed it. In most cases they probably did not think at all about possible social and ecological consequences when they did so. Permaculture Design informs that process. The potential now exists for countless new and innovative ways to re-design our infrastructure, the technology we use and the processes that connect them.
The question arises: Why does Murujan focus on Muslims? This article aims to address at least part of the answer to that very complicated question. In addition to the way that Murujan runs courses and events to accommodate needs of Muslim participants, we also adhere to the idea that many of the solutions that can address the social and ecological challenges humanity is now facing will be community-oriented. True communities need a cohesive set of values and standards of conduct to be functional. Muslims conveniently possess such community bonds that still manage to persist even while modern society has eroded and marginalized most traditional communities and cultures around the world.
Permaculture Design can be used by Muslims to reinforce and revitalize in ever more practical ways the way our communities are structured. Murujan will continue to raise and promote awareness of Permaculture Design and how it can specifically assist the Muslim communities in striving towards the purpose we believe humanity itself is designed for.
Permaculture Design Course in Malaysia 2014
Participants learn about Permaculture Design from Rhamis Kent in Malaysia in January 2014.
The Stage is Set
We can safely say that humanity has collectively submitted to the idea that the highest aims are material wealth and technological advancement.
This philosophy of economic materialism is what shapes the infrastructure and technology of our societies and such infrastructure and technology set the boundaries within which we must operate.
Furthermore, the means or methodology for developing technology has been firmly established as competitive and adversarial.
With the undercurrent of economic materialism guiding the activity of humanity, the results are imbalance and chaos between people and the environment as well as between people themselves. The consequences can be easily seen through the increasing number of warnings the natural world and the direction of society is revealing to us.
We Muslims must confront the fact that many of us are participating in this mindless pursuit of materialism with little or no resistance.
We attempt to drown out the glaring contradiction with our oft-repeated rhetoric of advocating a pure wholesome way of life, but our actual lifestyles easily betray the sad truth.
Most Muslims clearly know that economic materialism is not the proper philosophy to guide human activity as we constantly denounce it and quite vocally so. The problem is that despite our knowledge and our vocal opposition, we are nonetheless conducting our daily lives using the technical solutions developed through the very same philosophy we denounce!
We do not need to devise a new philosophy as we already have it in Islam, but rather we need to use a different methodology for developing technology and improving our daily lives. We need a methodology that is not based on the destructive philosophy of economic materialism. Regardless of how high our iman can reach, if the system upon which our lives depend is corrupted, it makes it that much harder to fulfil our duties as Muslims so it becomes incumbent on us to become independent of such technology and infrastructure if possible.
Enter Permaculture Design
The term Permaculture in its broadest sense describes what may be divided into three distinct components:
1) An ethical component
2) A methodological component
3) And a technical component which is the resultant body of accumulated solutions and knowledge derived from the other two components.
The ethical component is simple and often referred to by the three-part phrase of “earth care”, “people care” and “fair share.” The Permaculture Design methodology component is the robust set of design concepts and techniques which are derived from observing nature, traditional and modern methods used together in a comprehensive and holistic way. The technical component comprising the set of solutions that have emerged from the adherence to ethical component and the methodology of design are vast and growing exponentially. A more comprehensive description of Permaculture may be found here.
The conventional technology and life systems that dominate the world currently may also be divided along a similar framework.
This chart summarizes a comparison of different potential ways of organizing technical advance:
By using a set of methodologies that have their roots in the philosophy of economic materialism which clearly contradict the the deep principles of Islam, the infrastructure necessary for a society that excels at worshipping Allah will never be realized beyond a superficial depth.
Because the Permaculture methodology is rooted in an ethic that is not essentially in conflict with the principles of Islam, it can be used to create technical solutions that truly work for Muslims. We simply need to supplement the existing ethical component of Permaculture or just swap it out with the Islamic framework of ethics and then use the Permaculture Design methodology to create solutions tailored for Muslims. We can also take advantage of the existing body of solutions and knowledge since they were derived from the ethical framework and simply adopt them completely or alter them as necessary.
This is not to suggest that all modern technology derived from economic materialism and its associated methodologies is intrinsically evil, but rather that the overall impact of these technologies and especially the way in which they are produced and used is clearly detrimental at a macro-level. The simple suggestion of this article is not self-righteous zealotry demanding a return to the pre-industrial era but rather should be taken as sincere advice for us to begin making a transition in a reasonable and wise manner to a lifestyle that is moulded with infrastructure and technology that does not cause chaos and imbalance.
Surah arRahman Verse Seven (55:7) English: Sahih International
Imam Dawood Yasin of Zaytuna College describes Permaculture as a balanced Methodology:
Islam and Permaculture are about restoring and maintaining balance, both inwardly and outwardly. The elements in the natural world were created in balance, which represent outward harmony and unison. Similarly, in the Islamic tradition we find the concept that the inherent state of humans is that of balance and unison. Unfortunately, we are constantly witnessing detrimental practices when the human spirit is devoid of harmony and unison. Therefore, the relationship between Islam and Permaculture is symbiotic. Our conscious decision as Muslims is to heal and repair our souls, which represents the required foundation upon which Permaculture and earth repair work will flourish.
Muslims using Permaculture Design
It is not surprising that Muslims are attracted to Permaculture Design. The methodology and resulting solutions are superior to the materialist approach and obviously in line with Islam. A number of Muslims are already involved in Islam and we can only expect this to increase.
Learn more about these individuals who promote Permaculture Design:
The things that we have to do are simple, and not complicated.
We don’t need to develop an “Islamic” constitution or define the ideal “Islamic” state or race to acquire nuclear weapons and other similar insanity.
Instead, we need to change things we do in our everyday lives.
We need to start ensuring that food we eat is grown by ourselves or people who we know and trust to not use chemicals, fertilizers and other harmful practices.
We need to ensure that the water cycle is kept uncontaminated and accessible to as many people as possible with least cost.
We need to stop buying useless and pointless technology that poisons our minds as well as our bodies.
We need to stop becoming indentured servants for 30 years to live a home that is neither suitable nor sustainable for human families to live in.
We need to be involved in the design and development of the neighborhoods, villages and cities we live in.
We need to stop believing in and using fiat currency and other forms of representative money.
We need to start understanding and confiding in value based money that creates real incentive to produce when used as a medium of exchange.
We need to develop alternative community based economies linked by traditional international mediums of exchange like gold and silver.
We need to start holding ourselves accountable and stop attempting to outsource our responsibilities.
When we do those things, we will have earned the right to fight and defend ourselves and we would have achieved the power to not have to ask the United Nations for the permission or assistance to do so.
Summary & Action Plan
The Design Methodology of Permaculture should be adopted by Muslims at a theoretical and practical level as opposed to the prevailing methodologies based on economic materialism. The use of Permaculture Design can especially be useful in the “developing” areas of the world but can and should be used everywhere.
The Design Methodology of Permaculture can be easily adapted to provide technical solutions as the three core ethics it was based on already exist within and are completely compatible with Islam.
The Design Methodology of Permaculture enables the development of technology and processes that allow Muslims to live a lifestyle in accordance with the ethics and justice demanded in Islam.
We correctly do not tolerate desecration of the Qur’an or insults to the Prophet, (S.A.W.), but yet we not only tolerate, but we are actively participating in the desecration, pollution and corruption of the natural world that Allah has created for our benefit. A robust methodology exists that we can make use of to remove ourselves from the participation in this project of madness and so there is no excuse to continue following methods that lead to lifestyles that conflict with core Islamic values.
A suggested strategy that the author invites the readers to join is two-pronged:
1. The existence of Permaculture Design and its compatibility with Islam must be communicated to Muslims so that more and more of us are aware that such a methodology exists.
2. Muslims must adopt technical solutions developed through Permaculture Design and using the methodology also innovate new solutions especially where solutions specifically tailored for Muslim communities can be developed.
While it may be unrealistic to expect all of humanity or even all Muslims to adopt the technical solutions derived from Permaculture Design in their daily lives, it is very feasible and expedient to join with like-minded individuals and form resilient local communities that are independent but not isolated.
These communities can share the knowledge and demonstrate the solutions to the greater population of Muslims and other fellow human beings thus embodying the full portrait of those who do good deeds on the Earth.