In March I attended a Green Deen Retreat organized by the Rabbani Project. The retreat brought together women from all walks of life to connect with Allah through nature. The focus of our spiritual weekend away in the beautiful countryside of Kent was to take some time out from our hectic lifestyles and retune our mind, body and soul with the Earth.
If you consider yourself a Green Muslim this is the retreat for you!
Our programme for the weekend was jam-packed, but I felt there was a great blessing in the time we had together. Not a second was wasted. The retreat was designed for Muslims who try to adhere to a green lifestyle in some form or another. What was great is many of us practised being green in different ways. To bring the group together and have discussions on what motivates us to live green lifestyles, and how we find this a spiritual duty as Muslims was fascinating and so inspiring. Much of our learning and discussions were based on the book ‘Green Deen’ authored by Ibrahim Abdul-Matin. Through our sessions, the Quran was continuously a reference point. I had no idea there were so many references to nature in the Quran! (Here are just a few: 28:77 2:60 30:41 33:72 6:165 …..)
The focus on prayer throughout the weekend was tremendously beneficial for me. We would wake up for Tahajudd, pray Fajr in a congregation and engage in dhikr, recite Quran and perform our morning adkhar. This part of the day energized my soul and gave me the spiritual energy to give myself fully to every activity that lay ahead.
After morning prayers we would take silent meditation walks. The mindfulness I achieved in the silent parts of the retreat was far beyond what I expected. It reminded me of a famous quote of Luqman Alayhis Sallam, who once advised his son, ‘O my Son, I have never regretted because of keeping silent. If words are silver, silence is golden.’ We so rarely practise silence and actually listen to the sound of nature. I was able to rebalance my senses in the calm morning walks we took. Nowadays our senses are constantly overstimulated. Quietening everything and just being present in nature did wonders for me – The colour green in particular was so soothing on the eyes.
Again, reminders from the Quran came to mind, ‘And the Earth, We spread it out, and cast therein firmly set mountains and We have made to grow therein of all beautiful kinds; to give sight and as a reminder to every servant who turns to Allah.” [50:7-8].
‘The green Deen retreat was phenomenal. It was spiritually awakening. Not only did I learn so much and appreciate the sanctity of being a steward of the earth. But I also met some amazing people from different walks of life who had so much to bring, and I learnt so much from. The retreat made the link between nature and the divine stronger for me and made me see our creator in so many different ways.’ Anika
One of the sessions we had was a tea workshop led by Rabiah Mali. Rabiah is an herbalist and taught us the healing properties of teas and herbs, and different ways we can connect with the self through tea drinking. We were taught that there is Shifa in tea, and that teas are used in herbal medicine to cure many ailments or alleviate certain emotions you may be feeling. This workshop honestly blew my mind. I have always been a caffeine addict; I literally could not function without a series of caffeine boosts throughout my day. O how things change! I have fallen in love with herbal teas since the workshop and now use them to seek Shifa from different physical and emotional states that I may be going through.
We strove to bring Allah into every moment we shared together. Our meals were no exception. Breaking bread with the group was so spiritually uplifting, as we would recite Al Fatihah, say grace (Muslim version) and share from the same plate. The food prepared was meals low in sugar, ethically sourced and vegetarian, made by the sacred hands of the organizers themselves. It was a great reminder that Allah is in every moment.
A FEMININE SPACE
The retreat was held for sisters, and in this, I found the greatest blessing. There have not been many moments in my spiritual journey which has been female inspired. At times I have felt like a Muslimah in a man’s world. The books I have read, the lectures I have attended, the talks I have listened too – all men. Although very grateful for the teaching I have received, the best person who can relate to me is a woman. The fact is, Muslim women want more feminine spaces– to gather, to sing, and praise Allah. Spaces that are free from judgement and safe to express our femininity. Not to mention speak openly about ‘taboo’ topics such as female health, menstruation and the womb. Topics that are so important for our womanhood, but not given enough attention in the community. I am so grateful for Rabbani project for creating such spaces and facilitating women in every way they can.
‘Nature has always been my friend, my healer, my guide. The loneliness of my secret love pushed me to seek out spiritual communities who shared my love. I got used to being the only Muslim at Buddhist retreats walking mindfully in silence in the unspoilt beauty of nature. With every step taken off the beaten, I longed to meet people from my own faith who could appreciate the ayahs of God in every falling leaf and stream of dappling light filtered through branches at the rising of the dawn. Rabbani project is a diamond hidden in the rocks, waiting to be discovered by those ready to hear the message.’ Saiqa
We all seek Allah through different paths. Some find Allah in the Mosque… some in the Textbook… I find Allah in nature, and now I have a network of like-minded women who I can share my journey with. Before we parted from one another we took oaths on how we would spread the message of Green Deen into our communities. Writing this article was one of mine…
“And Devote thyself single-mindedly to the faith, and thus follow the nature designed by Allah, the nature according to which He has fashioned mankind; there is no altering the creation of Allah.” [30:30]
Author: Nafisah Kara
You can check out more of Nafisah's work at the Islamic History Project