Zak tells us about his own project as part of the Global Generation alumni programme. He came up with the 'Garden Revival' project idea through exploring the link between his faith and environmental responsibility.
I say "Our" Garden Revival project because it’s never a single person that makes things happen; I was merely an initiator and facilitator of what happened and, God willing, what will come to happen...
As a former Generator (i.e. participant of the Global Generation youth programme), I have learned that great things happen when people come together, and, rather than directly learning about gardening, my experience has been very gradual and more about a shift in consciousness. But perhaps my more reflective experience was that I was able to find parallels between my faith and the environment. Everywhere you look, there are signs, and everything I’ve done with Global Generation reminded me of Islam. Living lightly... a connection and responsibility towards our planet.
Despite finding out about all the signs in Islam, I didn’t always see it practiced amongst my community, which I found rather sad since it’s an essential element of our faith to “…walk upon the earth gently,” (Quran 25:63). Partnering up with another charity called MADE, I decided to create my own version of the Skip Garden deeply rooted in an Islamic context. My aim for this project is to revive our ethical and environmental traditions within my own community and build a wider community engagement allowing for cohesion and collaboration with other groups so we may get to know each other.
Through the project, we are aiming to build a garden at Regents Park Mosque that will allow us to re-connect with our natural world, along with reviving the rich traditions of what Islam teaches: being a steward of the earth.
So far we have run two sessions together. Our introduction workshop received a warm welcome by the participants - including young people from Global Generation's youth programmes - as they really wanted to improve the mosque space and doing it together made them really feel part of the mosque community. Along with planting seeds and getting our hands dirty we also explored the themes of taking care of the environment in the Quran and how everything is perfectly interconnected through the Oneness of God.
Our second workshop focused on how to use a garden space as a space for reflection and introspection through silence and reflective writing.
In the near future we hope to keep exploring new spaces and themes that help us get closer to our innate nature and develop a better connection with the environment.