Ziraat: a turning point in agriculture

At the end of his life Hazrat Inayat Khan founded Ziraat, a special Order as part of the Sufi Movement. Many years this initiative remained secret, just known to very few chosen people. It was in the seventies that Pir Vilayat made available the Ziraat Papers to a wider public.


Till today we discuss and wonder, what the real sense of Ziraat may be. The lectures that were handed down are compressed. Basically they are a ceremony for initiation.


Why was the foundation of this Order for Murshid, as Hazrat Inayat Khan was called by his disciples, necessary? There was already his Sufi Order of the West as training school for those who want to go deeper into the Message.

How can we understand the meaning of Ziraat? Knowing, that it is not to me to fathom really in its full scope, what Ziraat is, I will try to give some answers to this question

United Nature: Agriculture

For me Ziraat is nothing less than the vision of a new or renewed world culture.  We find here a mission statement for the times to come. Mushid´s heritage is the vision of a future, in which the growing of cereals will stand in the center of human activities.


At the first view this makes a strange impression. We live in a worldwide culture in which nearly all activities have the purpose to free humans from the work on the land. Culture happens in the cities. Freedom from the ties of a live on the land, freedom from the daily necessities in the existence of a farmer, that´s how we could summarize our striving since many thousands of years.


Originally though the word culture has its roots in the latin “agri cultura”, the cultivation of the fields. Human culture was born in the moment, that we started to nourish ourselves from nature not just as hunters and collectors but in conscious collaboration with nature grew our crops.


Today we humans are at the ridge of a new cultural revolution. Similar to the revolution in the neolithicum the focus of human activity will be the growing of food. The idealized profession the vocation of the farmer. At least to me the Ziraat vision seems to point in that direction.


The farmer as the herald of culture:  that would be a strange turn in history. Today a farmer would not be considered as the center of the cultural world. To be a farmer today is not considered as an honor. On the contrary: a farmer is in the common assessment underdeveloped, he has no education, no manners.


The ideal to become a farmer only lives in very few young people. On many farms the succession is in danger. Young people don´t want to follow in the footsteps of the parents and continue the farm. Economically for this tendency there is an overwhelming urge: the farms have to become bigger to be able to nourish a family. That´s why since 50 years the large scale decline in the number of farmers is increasing in giant steps. 9 of 10 farmers in Europe have given up their farms in the period.



The farmers that survived leave more and more aspects of the work to hired companies. It is no longer worthwhile to buy the machines for every single step in the working of the earth. The harvest is done by monstrous machines, which for a single farmer are not affordable. Drying, cleaning und storing of cereals are done by specialized companies.  


Modern Agriculture is stamped by an ever progressing dissociation from the natural circumstances:

  • It is long ago that the farm has emancipated itself from any dependency of energy from its own harvest. Where in the past horses supplied the energy for the machines and the land the energy for the horses nowadays the energy comes from petrol.
  • In the past the soil was nourished by dung, which originated from the farm. Today the fertilizer is produced in the fabric with the use of gigantic amounts of energy from oil, gas or atomic power.
  • Whereas in the past seed originated from the farm itself or from the surroundings and in this way was adapted to the climatologic circumstances, today the seed is genetically manipulated to fit to any climate.
  • The working hours lost their boundaries. Modern machines are no longer dependent on daylight. Satellites take over the work of the drivers. Day and night lose their significance.
  • The seasons lose their specific meaning as well. The farmer does not have to wait till autumn makes the leaves of the potato dry. Chemistry does the same.
  • Chemistry takes over the role of the plow.
  • That because of this gigantic appliance of machines and chemistry the soils are heavily destroyed, appears as secondary. Agriculture has emancipated itself from the soil.
  • Worldwide the loss of fertile soil is breathtaking. Building activities and the construction of highways are often taking place on what used to be the best arable ground.
  • The importance of ecological sound surroundings for a healthy agriculture is lost. There is no longer any need for birds to combat lice and other insects.


We human beings in the western world emancipated ourselves during the 20 century nearly completely from the soil. In other parts of the world this development is being catched up in an incredible speed. As agriculture lost its roots in the soil, so mankind lost its roots in agriculture. This is the result of many centuries of efforts and creativity. The goal to free ourselves from the squeezes of nature has propelled us.


Where will mankind stand when this process comes to an end? We can just guess. In our days it becomes clear that we have overdone and that nature revolts through climate change. Mankind as a whole doesn´t turn its direction though.


Murshid warned against this development in the beginnings of the 20th century. In his view the dharma of the dominating culture is in decline and a new age with different paradigms will come.