22 Jul 2012

Follow WIN's 'Ramadan Bites' on Facebook

Ramadan Kareem!
Ramadan is an ideal time to reflect on our own internal state, as well as that of the world. 
As we enter Ramadan, at WIN, using facebook (yes, we know it's evil!) we will meditate on WIN's core strands (Earth & Comunity, Deep Democracy, Climate Justice, Whole Economics) to share reflections drawn out from each. 
We hope this exercise will offer something for us all, whatever form our relationship with Ramadan takes. We also hope you might share something of yourself as feels right for you.
To follow WIN on Facebook>> click here  

19 Jul 2012

Moving And Shifting This Ramadan

I am not fasting this Ramadan. Over the past few years I have often not fasted, due to the blessings of babies. Consequently, in my endeavours to move closer to Allah during this month, I have retained, rather than given up, my dependence upon food and plentiful drink during daylight.

I used to practice a Lenten fast, for which I did not abstain from eating and drinking from dawn til dusk, but rather I temporarily gave up particular consumer practices over a six week period. For my last Lenten fast, I chose to give up a few key things that I felt mastered how I planned and enjoyed my daily structure. Having let go of them, I shifted easily into devoting more time, thought and love to activity which nurtured my sense of spiritual well being and my sense of being able to be useful for good in this world.

For me, it has been easier to make shifts in my living habits and patterns when I've given up tangible things. So this year for Ramadan, I want to use Ramadan as a focal period for giving up consumer things that consume me spiritually and are destructive to myself and others, and for moving towards my true needs for spiritual wellness and for being constructive to a better world. My intention is to be guided by the transformative approach behind Wisdom in Nature's, Fast for the Planet.

I have chosen to focus upon two movements from the concept of Fast for the Planet: 'to move away from our collective submission to consumerism'; and 'to move towards simplicity, sharing, and community building.' So, if Allah wills it so, I'll keep you up to date with how I act upon these intentions.

Wishing you the blessings of Ramadan,

12 Jul 2012

Willowbrook Farm Open Day Barbecue Iftar: Sat 28th July 2012

WIN is delighted to highlight this Ramadan event at Willowbrook Organic Farm (see below). We've thoroughly enjoyed supporting the farm and organising outings to Willowbrook over the years. WIN Reps are also intending to participate in the gathering below - we hope to also have copies of our popular Islam & Climate booklet on hand for anyone interested at the gathering (Suggested donation £1.50 ea to help cover costs). With the climate already changing before our eyes, it is vital that we reflect on the state of things, and how we can actualise our responsibility in a constructive and enjoyable way.
Ramadan is an ideal time to reflect on our own internal state as well as the state of the world. This booklet offers insights and direction towards a more wholesome way of living and connecting with our fellow beings, on this beautiful planet. The images and text creatively articulate a message that can easily be understood and shared with others. We hope to have plenty of copies for those who would like to do this. The booklet is also available on pdf via our website.

The event notice now follows>> 

Willowbrook Farm Open Day Barbecue Iftar

Date: Sat 28th July 2012
Time: from around 6pm
Venue:  Willowbrook Farm, Hampton Gay, Oxfordshire , OX5 2QQ
Willowbrook Farm is an organic farm in Oxfordshire run by a Muslim family. 

Bookings are open to attend a Ramadan open day barbecue iftar at the farm. 

If you are interested in attending please email Willowbrook farm directly for details. Please book early so they can confirm numbers.

7.15   pm    Welcome to farm and guided tour taking in the vegetable garden, poultry, geese, turkeys and sheep and woodland.
7.45   pm    Free time to wander around farm.
8.15   pm    Open air music by the Birmingham based band "Silk Road"
9.00   pm    Break fast and open air maghreb prayers
9.30   pm    Iftaar with additional spiritual music by Adam Radwan
10.30 pm    Close

The cost for the entire programme including food is:

Children aged 1-3 Free
Children aged 4-10 £12
Adults £20

Camping: This is an option as long as it is self-contained. Please contact/email the farm directly if you need more info.

More info/bookings: willowbrookorganicfarm AT  ;

10 Jul 2012

Beyond Expectation: Participating in a Radical Food Movement Event (Food Sovereignty)

Greater than Expectations

This was not my first event on food justice - I had been to dozens. Yet, this one Sunday in July, coming out of Chingford station, walking through woodland that happened to be slippery, slopey and still, I weaved my way to Organiclea, a workers food growing cooperative on the edge of London, to attend a food justice event that went far beyond expectation. Organised by the food sovereignty movement, the gathering exuded warmth, embraced a participative ethos that helped draw out inspiration and wisdom, and produced many moments of humour - it felt a bit like coming 'home'. 

The event was attended by around 100 people - drawing fresh-faced participants, with gentle natures, and who seemed to have vision along with a maturity that enabled them to be good listeners. Whether I expected it, or not (as was the case!), this was a special gathering.

Introducing Food Sovereignty..

Image via:
The aim of this event was to further develop the Food Sovereignty Movement - For those who are new to the term (and I too am learning), "food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems". The movement emerged through mobilisations of small-scale farmers around the world and its ethos can be captured in six pillars: It..

  • focuses on food for people
  • values food providers
  • localises food systems
  • puts control locally
  • builds knowledge and skills
  • & works with nature

(Conveniently(!), these pillars have a strong resonance with several of WIN's s core strands: in particular with earth & community, a deep democracy, climate justice, and engaged surrender.)

Beyond theory: Embodying the pillars

Although the above pillars theoretically articulate a set of principles, it was uplifting to experientially know that this event was an embodiment of them. Much of the delicious food we were served was produced locally and in season, there were plenty of opportunities to share ideas and knowledge, the event was facilitated with awareness and humour, and we were in a food growing project managed through cooperative principles.    

Ideas from small groups

To give an example of one of the sessions on the first day,through sub groups we considered, 'What needed to change?'

After a storming of ideas, a range of discussion and a gathering of the threads that were emerging, our group of around six came up with three key strands: as to 'what needs to change':
1) TIME: the fact that the dominant economic system has a monopoly on people's time;
2)  LAND: The dominant structures restrict (through costs and policies) peoples access to land - in our small group discussion, we also touched on the fact that so much of income can go into paying for a roof over our heads (which feeds into point 1); and
3) VISION: We need more people to have the vision to create an alternative reality: more sharing of skills, knowledge and stories.

This was a two day event and due to pre-existing commitments I attended the first day only - on the second, there were sessions on co-developing actions and strategies.

Leaving Affected..

Through the day, I met some people whom I already knew - people from Brighton, from Earth Activist Training & permaculture, and anti-GM Food campaigning; I heard stories of how people had left the usual 9-5 treadmill, had lessened their expenditures (I spoke with two people who lived on a boat and one in a truck), and had stepped into a place of greater freedom and possibility; I felt affected by the presence of such wonderful people; I prayed zuhr (Islamic midday body-prayer) in a massive greenhouse between rows of edibles, and I left feeling exhilarated, inspired, and looking forward to sharing my experience with and beyond WIN, and excited as to what comes next for myself and grassroots activism, as the juice of this movement expands and spills into the wider consciousness and strands of activism in the UK, Europe and the world.

© Muzammal Hussain