At the islet of Combes, Muslims and new spiritual people brought together by ecology

At the islet of Combes, Muslims and new spiritual people brought together by ecology

The sun sets on the fruit trees, the nursery and the aromatic herb plantations of the islet of Combes. In this month of July, this eco-place located in Creusot (Saône-et-Loire), and run by Muslims, organized training in permaculture.

After the non-violent communication workshop, Jean-Philippe Cieslak, co-founder of the place, slips that he is going to pray, and some follow him. In the prayer room, he then begins a short topo on the link to the nature of the Prophet Mohammed. Then follows a short spontaneous discussion on the nature of God. “I believe that it is an energy of love that is present everywhere”, says Emmanuelle, 64, non-Muslim. “For me, God is really a different being, cautiously replies a young veiled girl. There is God, and we humans are his creation. »

“Spirituality is an inner ecology”

The islet of Combes is an agroecological center, member of the Oasis cooperative, which offers training in ecology, in particular in permaculture. In 2015, it was thought by its Muslim founders as a place of ecological awareness for their co-religionists. But the team wanted the place to be a ” meeting place “, and therefore that it is not only intended for Muslims.

“We wanted that around the common values ​​of ecology and respect for nature, we could welcome everyone”, insists Jean-Philippe Cieslak. The ecological vocation, as well as the displayed Muslim faith of the team, makes the islet of Combes a special place, where Muslims sensitive to ecology meet ecologists often challenged by alternative spiritualities.

Alexandre Guarneri, who leads the bread and non-violent communication workshops of the session, is representative of these “new spirituals” that one can meet at the islet of Combes. This 37-year-old former salesperson operated a ” lifestyle change “ a few years ago, feeling that his profession “didn’t make sense”. In 2015, he sold his two apartments, left for Australia for a year, then walked three months on the way to Compostela.

After learning how to make bread from itinerant bakers, he became a baker and trainer in permaculture. As he gets closer to nature, his spirituality grows: “I became aware of all the living things that surrounded me. It brings us back to something bigger than ourselves. » For him, ecology has a spiritual dimension, or rather, “spirituality is an inner ecology”he said.

Referring more to spirituality in terms of “inner feeling” how many dogmas, Alexandre describes it as “a state of peace, acceptance, caring and love”to which it approaches through “meditation, service to others, music and connection to nature”.

At the nursery on the islet of Combes, Joachim, 40, takes care of dozens of shoots of fig trees, hazelnut trees and goji berries. Converted to Islam, he describes himself as a Muslim ” particular ” who reads the Torah, the Gospel and the Koran. Seasonal worker, lifeguard in summer and mountain rescuer in winter, he has developed a sensitivity to nature, deploring all the plastic dumped in the oceans. At the islet of Combes, he found a ” alignment “ between ecology and its religious openness. “I like the fact that this place is open to Muslims of all persuasions, but also to non-Muslims,” he explains.

“It is richer to be together”

Carole, 52, one of the session participants, is intrigued by the fact that Joachim is a convert. “It’s very strong, such a call”, insists the one who admits never having had the opportunity to exchange with a veiled woman before this training. If she says she has faith, she believes that “some things in the religion of men distort the spiritual message”. In fact, she rejected the Catholic Church, in which she was raised.

Today, Carole, like many “new spirituals”, browses from one tradition to another. A miraculous medal hangs around his neck. “I adore Jesus and Our Lady”, she said smiling, even if she likes to assimilate Marie to “mother earth. » Having become a reiki practitioner, she evokes both the week she spent in silence with the Jesuits and the mantras – songs that “purify the soul” – that she likes to sing to recharge her batteries.

This spiritual diversity challenges Fahima, a 32-year-old nurse, local volunteer and practicing Muslim, who developed her sensitivity to nature in associative nurseries or at the Transition Campus. It is marked by the different spiritual paths: “We can draw a lot of wisdom from it for ourselves. » Jean-Philippe Cieslak also claims his roots in Islam and this diversity. “I believe it is a divine will that cultures and religions are differenthe believes, quoting a verse from the Koran (s 49; v 13): “We have made you into peoples and tribes so that you may know one another. ». He explains: “For me it’s important to get to know each other and to learn from each other. »


Islam and ecology

In an interview, Éric Geoffroy, Islamologist, explained the links between the Koran and nature. “Islam (…) contains a teaching on respect for the environment, on the “cosmism” of Islam, that is to say the fact that the human being is inserted into a network within the living. Unfortunately, many among Muslims no longer remember it. (…) In the Koran, we also see that all the kingdoms: the animal, the mineral, the vegetable, praise God. If all creatures praise God, it means that all creatures have a conscience. (…) Tawheed, the oneness principle of God, also implies the interdependence of all kingdoms. »


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