In medieval times, an ‘Arab Green Revolution’ brought about a new agricultural model fusing Roman, Greek, Persian and other elements, which became prevalent in much of the Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin. Al-Andalus played a pivotal role in this process, producing texts by trailblazers like the agronomist Ibn Baṣṣāl of Toledo, and Ibn al-Bayṭār of Malaga, a pharmacist and botanist who developed an empirical system of describing plants. These texts would become canons of agriculture in the Arab world for hundreds of years, and profoundly influence Western sciences.
We are keen to recover this knowledge and apply it in combination with contemporary methods, in search of an optimum sustainable agriculture for our times. As Muslims, the connection between faith and working the land is very close; the Qur’an reminds us repeatedly of Creation as a source of wonder, full of signs of the Creator. The word in Arabic for peasant farming, ‘filāḥa’, is related to the word ‘falāḥ’, or success – mentioned in the Islamic call to prayer.
We could call this beautiful synthesis of science and faith a traditional Islamic spiritual ecology. At Azahara our aim is not only to research and revive a useful, productive form of agriculture, but also to create opportunities for reflection and remembrance in the beauty of nature, and inspire our visitors to take this holistic vision into their daily lives.
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