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Farming: An obligation of the society

By Hashim Msusa

Published in Sunday Times

While growing season is registering positive trends in some parts of Malawi, Islam regard farming as an obligation of the society to ascertain ample food supply. Where do you position yourself in this growing season as it picks?

Islam calls for prosperity of the earth. One way of achieving prosperity is by productively cultivating on our land. In essence farming in Islam is a noble exercise. Noble because in it provision of food supply is enhanced. It also benefit other God’s creatures like herbivores which feeds on grass and other plants.

When we talk of farming, we cannot ignore availability of cultivatable land. Islam has given great significance in farming, mainly to sustainable farming. For those who observe closely, the piece of land they cultivate, may look totally different when compared to it the last few years. Non- ethical methods of farming has degraded it.

Islam places the highest emphasis on ethical values in all aspects of human life. In Islam ethics govern all aspects of life. As Ibn al-‘Awwam, one of prolific writers of the Muslim world suggests, “The first consideration in farming is knowledge of the land/soil, and whoever does not have this understanding lacks the basic principles.”

Faith-inspired approach to farming is needed for our ever-growing population. It is our duty to safeguard the blessing of land and not to exploit it. Today, the international community pay attention to conservation of land, climate change mitigation, and protection of natural resources.

Perhaps the words faith-inspired approach to farming may surprise this column’s tribe. Yes, our followers, readers are the tribe of this column. Why faith-inspired approach to farming is needed today? It is needed because morality will establish sanity in utilizing the most scarce resource – the land.

Surprisingly as it may be, everyone admits that there is growth of population, which is a blessing on its own. As such we ought to have moral obligation to protect the earth, which provide farming space. We are stewards appointed by God Almighty to be guardians of the world.

Faith-inspired farming revolves around pleasing God Almighty. We cannot please God if we continue corrupting and misusing the earth in the name of farming. Likewise, the Omnipotent God cannot be pleased if we give farming less attention.

We are obligated to produce for human consumption. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said, “It is not a believer but planted a crop what to eat from the plant as charity for him, and what was stolen from these plants as a charity for him.” This teaching gives farming high status.

As in Malawi farming is the main source of income. It is in fact a primary vehicle for economic growth and poverty reduction. This explains the greater need to explore ways and means of sustainable farming, while upholding the position of morality in our dealing.

So long as human beings still lives, the efforts of farming will remain of paramount importance. Remember the land we cultivate is a blessing from God Almighty. Moral obligation is required in order to carry farming activities productively, and sustainably mainly with conservation approach of the land.

Historically, the approach of Islam towards the use and developing the earth resources was put thus by the fourth Caliph, Ali Ibn Abi Talib (May God be pleased with him) to a man who had developed and reclaimed abandoned land as he advised, “Partake of it gladly so long as you are a benefactor, not despoiler; a cultivator, not a destroyer.” Who are we in our cultivation of land?