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WIN's Introductory Guiding Principles
|Latest version (Summer 2010)
|Previous Intro Guiding Principles Spring 2008 version
Muzammal is one of the pioneers of grassroot ecological action amongst Muslims in the UK. He spent much of his childhood in the Midlands, building camp fires in the garden and climbing trees in woods. He developed an interest in holistic healthcare and human potential and began to explore transcendental meditation, acupressure massage and is an accredited therapist in a mind-body healing approach called 'The Journey'. Muzammal is also a medical doctor and has worked in psychiatry while also engaging in community organising activities.
While at university in 1996, Muzammal became concerned when GM foods were being imported into the UK unlabelled. This catapulted him to exploring Islamic ecology and ‘interconnectedness’. As his practise in ecological thinking grew, he began to be invited to deliver educational activities in this field. Some examples of his work include:
- Interviewed by: BBC News 24; The Guardian; Islam Channel; Sunrise Radio; BBC Southern Counties Radio; BBC Asian Network; Radio Ramadan; East London Advertiser; Emel Magazine.
- Co-designer and tutor of probably the first Islam & Permaculture Introductory Course anywhere in the world.
- Advising groups, such as Friends of the Earth and Sustrans on their initiatives, as well as London Sustainability Exchange (LSx) on a project to raise awareness on climate change amongst South Asians in London.
- Delivering Islam and ecology talks and workshops in mosques, universities (e.g. Cambridge , Edinburgh, Essex, Michigan), Islamic conferences, Transition Town initiatives and national marches.
- Establishing the UK's first local Islamic ecology group, LINE (London Islamic Network for the Environment), in 2004, and helping coordinate many of its diverse projects and actions. LINE later evolved into Wisdom In Nature.
- Mobilising UK Muslims for land-based ecology proejects as well as campaign actions.
- Initiating Fast for the Planet,an inclusive concept involving collective fasting for personal, community and economic transformation.
- Building strong links between the wider UK-wide ecology movement and Muslim communities. He was also invited to work with the Islamic Foundation for Ecology & Environmental Sciences, where he developed much of their grassroot activity, and has worked in the lively Brighton World Development Movement (WDM).
Muzammal has an MA in Environment, Development & Policy - his final dissertation focussing on Islam & Climate Change - and has also completed a full Permaculture Design Course (PDC) as part of Earth Activist Training (EAT).
Muzammal is now completing a 2 year Diploma in Applied Permaculture. He is also part of a UK wide network of facilitators, and as well as continuing to teach workshops & courses on Islamic ecology and Permaculture, Muzammal is also able to support groups towards more richness and coherence, through facilitation support.
Listen to Muzammal's interview on Radio Tahrir in USA, about the origin of Wisdom In Nature, and more..
Shumaisa grew up in the New Jersey and during her childhood went on trips to national parks and local farms, and every few years went to Pakistan. These experiences instilled in her an appreciation of the wider world and planted the seeds for her interests in ecology, social justice and human rights. During young adulthood, she started listening to Democracy Now , on WBAI, a listener-sponsored radio station in New York; listening to this regularly during her formative years also influenced her perspectives on democracy. Later, she volunteered at WBAI, helping to produce reports for Free Speech Radio News. In the US, Shumaisa had also been very involved in challenging the media on coverage of news related to the Middle East, and in challenging government efforts to erode civil liberties post-9/11.
Having long been a volunteer, member, and supporter of food coops both in the US and then in the UK, she did her dissertation on food sovereignty praxis among community food initiatives in London. In keeping with her passion for healing the earth and its communities, Shumaisa has completed a full Permaculture Design Course (PDC), and she looks forward to sharing this method of designing resilient social and ecological systems with others.
[Currently on Sabbatical]
Elizabeth grew up in rural Mid-Wales, often climbing her favourite tree, walking and thinking about writing. Before heading away to university in London, she worked for a few months on an organic beef farm in NSW Australia, during which she enjoyed long, slow days observing the land and reflecting on the movements of nature around her as relaying important spiritual messages.
In London she studied Applied Drama where she became very interested in process and began developing her writing through devising performance art and poetry. Soon afterwards she trained in Forum Theatre/ Theatre of the Oppressed with Cardboard Citizens which she has used to facilitate children to experiment with solutions to their social issues and to facilitate adults to debate overcoming oppressions. After volunteering at Spitalfields City Farm she began looking to engage in environmental volunteering. She was drawn to support the work of WIN in particular because of its emphasis on process, for example, group facilitation to allow diverse voices within deep discussions and space for grounding, and engaged surrender to the Divine, through reciting Suratul Fatiha and through silence.
In recent years she has dedicated most of her time to home educating her young children and writing children’s stories and nursery rhymes, especially to nurture bonding between parents and children, to facilitate informal learning, and to celebrate harmonies between religious beliefs. She has revisited Mid-Wales many times and often found herself reflecting upon various social and ecological dynamics amidst the beautiful valleys she loves.
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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.
If you are interested in starting a regional WIN group, please click here.
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Is WIN a subsidiary of any other group or organisation?
WIN is an autonomous group, and our mindfulness of our funding sources supports us in being 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): Campaign against Climate Change, The City Circle, Climate Camp, The Corner House, TCV (The Conservation Volunteers), Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Hilfield Project, Inclusive Mosque Initiative, Islamic Unity Society, Rising Tide, Seeds for Change, St Ethelburga's, Student Islamic societies, Transition Initiatives (e.g. Tooting), & WDM (World Development Movement). A fuller list is here.
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 for action to help restore wholeness and balance to the natural order.
In this, as well as other regards, there are some similarities between 'Islamic' ecological and community action, 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 action 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 scale of the challenge that humanity collectively faces.
We have also expanded our work to include permaculture, an approach that draws on the wisdom, principles and patterns in nature, to design and regenerate human systems to help build sustainable life-supporting projects.
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.
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 Support Group, if you are interested in attending.
Please note that we are in process of initiating a more formal entry framework for new volunteers. The volunteer page has the latest information.
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.
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