In the first of a series of reflections upon process-centred ecological and community activism for SISTERS Magazine, Elizabeth reflected upon relationship-building with Suratul Fatiha
Have We not made the earth (as a place) to draw together? (The Qur'an 77:25)
Suratul Fatiha And Facilitating The Creation Of A Group Mind
Usually when you meet with other people, do you feel aware of the diverse interconnections between individuals and groups that Allah SWT has created within His interconnected ecology? Is space made for creativity and compassion to flourish?
When WIN come together for meetings and workshops, we open and close our gatherings with recitation of Suratul Fatiha followed by space for du'a, dhikr, reflection and focusing during a few moments of silence.
Allah the Exalted had said: I have divided the prayer into two halves between me and my servant, and my servant will receive what he asks. When the servant says: Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the universe, Allah the Most High says: my servant has praised me. And when he (the servant) says: The Most Compassionate, the Merciful, Allah the Most High says: my servant has lauded me. (Excerpt about Suratul Fatiha from Muslim Book 4, Hadith 775)
When we pray to Allah SWT with Suratul Fatiha, we have a dialogue with Allah SWT which facilitates a deep connection between Him and our self, one of surrender to Him SWT.
And when he (the worshipper) says: Thee do we worship and of Thee do we ask help, He (Allah) says: This is between me and my servant, and my servant will receive what he asks for.
(Another excerpt about the special dialogue with Allah SWT that Suratul Fatiha facilitates, as reported in Muslim Book 4, Hadith 775)
When we pray in congregation we make a relationship between ourselves and Allah SWT on a personal and a community level. And the connection feels more powerful, don't you find?
Alhamdulillah, at WIN we have found that by beginning and ending group meetings with reciting Suratul Fatiha, we integrate a group surrender to Allah SWT, and we become mindful of interacting with each other with the gifts of compassion and mercy from The Most Compassionate, the Merciful, with whom we have connected.
We also use facilitation tools like adhering to 'ground rules' that include listening with compassion to each other to maintain a trusting environment. In this environment we feel at ease to offer all ideas without fear of judgement by others. The sharing and bouncing of ideas leads to developing a sense of group mind from which ideas emerge that are better for our purpose than any of the individual ones we had. This creativity could not be achieved without taking care to design and sustain both the group's relationship of group surrender to Allah SWT and the relationships between ourselves through using facilitation tools.
By putting in place processes that make more and more space for compassionate relationships, aren't we slowly bringing about the transformation of the social and wider ecology as well insha Allah?
Suggested introductory reading about permaculture:
'The Permaculture Way' by Graham Bell
'Permaculture: A Beginners Guide' by Graham Burnett
This article was published in SISTERS Magazine in April 2013 http://www.sisters-magazine.com