Islamic Farming was developed by ARC in collaboration with Global One 2015, an international Muslim NGO. It was launched in Nairobi in March 2014 and has spread to Muslim communities across sub-Saharan Africa.
The Islamic Farming curriculum is the first conservation agriculture toolkit developed especially for Muslims. It starts with an overview of Islamic theology and agricultural history, before introducing a unique six-step approach to climate-smart agricultural methodology.
'We have realised the potential within our Holy Qur’an and teachings of our Holy Prophet on how we should do our agriculture – not only as a spiritual calling but also as a form of worship.'
Abdalla Mohamed Kamwana, deputy chair, Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims.
'This wonderful [Islamic Farming] toolkit should always be on our mind when we think about agriculture, knowing that we have to increase food production by 60-100% by 2050 and that about one billion people are chronically hungry. Building resilient livelihoods will only happen when Muslim leaders take the lead on feeding the world.'
Sir Gordon Conway, former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government; Professor of International Development, Imperial College; Director of Agriculture for Impact.
Islamic Farming has six practical steps, each beginning with the letter 'P'. The first is Plan and explains how important it is to plan the farming calendar and activities, encouraging farmers to keep a record book, something many of them have not done before.
The second step emphasises how important it is to adequately Prepare, with specific reference to digging planting holes (instead of ploughing) before the first rains.
Thirdly, the manual explores different crops to Plant with emphasis on non-GM seeds and crop rotation. This is followed by how to Provide for those crops with organic inputs such as manure and compost.
Muslim farmers are also taught how to Protect their crops, with organic pesticides and the use of mulch. Produce is the sixth and final step, highlighting the importance of celebrating the harvest, collecting seeds for replanting, and some basic marketing wisdom.
The curriculum of Islamic Farming draws on both Islamic scriptures and on the history and heritage of historical Muslim farmers. The theological component of the training emphasises the importance of rizq, or the promises of Allah.
There are five promises: God consciousness, reliance on Allah, prayers, repentance, and charity. While rizq is pre-assigned to each person, Muslims need to work hard as if their rizq depended on it. For farmers, this is about high standards and hard work on their farms.
Islamic Farming also draws on the ancient story of the Prophet Yusuf, an inspiring story of overcoming difficulty and finding divine wisdom in land management and food security.
You can download a PDF version of the Islamic Farming Toolkit from our resources page.
In September 2012, Muslim participants listened with interest to presentations on Christian Farming. They were particularly struck by the way it links a farmer’s faith beliefs to the way he or she cares for the land while improving crop yields and protecting the environment.
At the end they had a question: “What about Muslim farmers? Why isn’t there a faith-based approach to farming for our farmers?” It was a valid question; out of one billion people in sub-Saharan Africa, 234 million are Muslim, and many are small scale farmers.
Work began in December 2012 to develop an Islamic Farming manual and training programme inspired by Islamic teachings and beliefs. The first step was for Global One 2015 to undertake a thorough theological assessment of Islamic scriptures, followed by focus groups and meetings with clerics in Uganda and Kenya.
Agriculture consultant Sam Adams created the 'Six P's' of the practical curriculum and, after field-testing in Kenya, the Toolkit was launched in March 2014.
It also proved an inspiration to Christian farmers who were very struck by the simplicity of the six-step approach. 'It would be great if we could have something like this for our [Christian] farmers,' one told us.
So, just as Farming God's Way inspired Muslim farmers back in 2012, it appears that Islamic Farming is now inspiring Christian farmers.
Islamic history provides a rich inspiration for Muslim farmers today. Islamic Farming draws out four facts that show the valuable wisdom and agricultural inheritance available.
The first fact is the pioneering Islamic rules on land ownership and labour rights, particularly between the eighth and twelfth centuries. These emphasises equity and justice.
Likewise, Muslim farmers of old emphasised an equitable distribution and management of water. Irrigation methods were improved, including the use of qanāts, a type of underground irrigation system.
Thirdly, Islamic Farming shows how ancient Muslim farmers adopted a scientific approach to agriculture, which helped facilitate an Islamic Agricultural Revolution.
The fourth lesson from Islamic agricultural history is the adoption of new crops, facilitated by the Islamic trading system.