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Islamic practices a fabric of life: Case of Bann Samor-eak

Nattawat Phaophoo, Ph.D. Candidate: National Institute of Development Administration This study proposes to examine, the quality of life of people in Samor-eak Village or Bann Samor-eak, in Chachoengsao province, a neighboring city of Bangkok, in order to find out the way of life and their quality of life. This community is 100% Islam. This study uses primary and secondary data. The former study was conducted by group discussions, informal interview, observation and in-depth interview. Comparison of empirical data with secondary data of basic minimum need data was done in 2009 and data of quality of life was done in 2004-2005, and inductive analysis was used. Quran as the hand book for Muslim life. In fact, of more than 6,000 verses in the Holy Qur'an.(Hasan, 1991) Muslims believe that, in order to guide mankind to the Right Religion, Allaah has completed His Divine Favor upon mankind by making Islam the Perfect Religion. "Those who believe and work righteousness, joy is for them and a blissful place of (final) return." [Quran 13:29] Allaah has sent to His Messenger, Prophet Muhammad for our Divine Guidance is the perfection of Islam. Some of his message are: Prohibition for Fighting/Murder and Other Crimes, Peace and Reconciliation, Respect and Kindness to Womem, Kindness to the Family, Parents, Relatives, Orphans, the Poor, the Needy and the Weak, Respect to Non-Muslims etc. The conclusion from empirical data showed that Islamic practices play an important role in and effective tool for development of quality of life for the Bann Samor-eak community, because It strength community network by improving trust and rule in the community. Socio-economic, political and technology did

not contribute much about subjective quality of life but they play an important role in physical quality of life. Quran guides Muslim to a well-balanced life, one that makes us happy and contented in
this world and in the life hereafter. Keywords: Quality of life, Web of life, Islamic practice, Wellbeing Introduction: Don Chimphli is the sub district (Tambon) of Amphoe Bang Nam Priao, a district of Chachoengsao Province in Thailand. (Wikimedia Foundation Inc., 2010) Bann Samor-eak is one of the villages in Don Chimphli, whose population is 100% Thai-Muslim. Bann Samor-eak is over 100 years old. The livelihood of this area is mainly peasants.(ThaiMallPlaza.com, 2010) Bann Samor-eak received an uneven development in the past as other peasants have.(Feeny, 1979; Ingram, 1971; Krongkaew, 1985; Parnwell, 1996) Part of developing the community is the problem of debt burden because of the green revolution, a social problem because of unbalanced income and materialism. Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) was established to facilitate Thai farmers since 1966 but it becomes the main creditor for Thai farmers. (Siamwalla, et al., 1990) Peasants in Bann Samor-eak community are also in a serious debt due to past uneven development. In 2001 Mr. Tofa Hayeemad, the leader of Bann Samor-eak community, asked the members to join force and fight for the debt burden. Mr. Tofa and another 50 members went through a debt restructuring process with BAAC, and solved the problem within 3 years. Bann Samor-eak community has become sustainable and has a better quality of life because of Islamic practices, that synergy all members like a social fabric. They have a lot of communality actions that function as a web of life. (Daniere, Takahashi, & Naranong, 2002; Girling, 1986)

Figure 1. Map location of the studied site Bann Samor-Eak. Amartya Sens (1988: 28-29) notion that peoples well-being is related to the nature of the persons life, also reflects ones standard of living. Gough & McGregor (2007) notion alongside with Sen, that well-being comes with subjective and objective dimensions. Quality of life (QOL) data provide information about the respective status of different social groups. Subjective well-being (SWB) deals with a human being of flesh and blood and who is in her circumstances. This case study was conducted only in the areas of Bann Samor-Eak, one of the Thailands Muslim communities. Islam is the religion that has a Quran as the hand book for Muslim life; not only for their beliefs but also for their practices. The question that arises is, can Islamic practice contribute a major role for improving quality of life? I speak to those who honor the Lord, and pray to him constantly, but cannot see him. Those who cleanse themselves of sin, will be richly rewarded. To God all creatures will return. (Qur'an), Fatir, Surah 35:18b Manee Choothai(2001) conducted research on the Islamic way of life by studying the Holy Quran and Hadith (the prophet Mohammeds preaching). The Holy Quran was revealed from God to Muhammad. The Holy Qur'an is guidance, and often emphasizes the moral significance for all Muslims, that are the truth of the religion. The Holy Quran consists of 114 chapters, each known as a sura. Each sura is formed from several ayat (verses), Holy Qur'anic verses contain right and wrong and the revelation of nature. Muslims have their own philosophy of life. Islam is a religion of a clear set of norms. The permitted acts called Halal and prohibited acts called Haram, is one of the living standard. Self-realization for a place of life is also the aim for Muslims. Not only the norms for the individual, but also social justice must be deployed: morality, fair trade, honesty, diligent work habits, helping the people with less opportunity. The five pillars of Islam and the six pillars of the faith (Iman) are the Islamic practices for Muslim life and business. The four fundamental concepts of the Holy Quran are ilah (Allah), rabb (Lord), ibadat (worship), and deem (religion). Like other parts of the world that face the challenge of globalization, Islamic practices contribute to economic liberalization and world market transformation. Therefore the economic problems could be solved by religious practice. (Osella & Soares, 2010: 181-189) It was shown that the Islamic way of life or practice concerns all of religion and ethics, education, culture, society, politic and government, with a deep faith in Allah and following the Prophet Mohammeds practice. Islam has explained every step of life, one who follows this with deep faith could develop a better quality of life. This article aims at presenting the role of Muslim religion that could improve social quality in rural Thai communities. A case of successful rural communities in an old village near by Bangkok was analyzed with empirical evidences. Data & Methods: Basic minimum need (BMN) data from the Department of Community Development, Ministry of Interior are composed of six dimensions of basic human need with 42 indicators. These data complies with the 10th National Economic and Social Development Plan, 2007-2011. This is the indicator for human development and need in Thailand, and was started in 1982 by The National Economic and

Social Development Board (NESDB). Since then there are still some areas that have not completed this requirement. This data was collected for every household every year, but the most recently completed data is only from 2009. The six dimensions are 1.Health, 2.Housing, 3.Education, 4.Income, 5. Thai values, and 6. Participation. The basic need data is the percentage of accomplishment of the target goal and most of them are 100% required, because it is the basic need. (Community Development Department, 2009) Another important data is Quality of Life Index: QLI. Quality of Life Index was developed by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security: MSDHS, which developed a composite Quality of Life Index since year 2004 through 2007. This index is composed of 10 dimensions: 1.Health, 2.Education, 3.Housing, 4.Environment, 5.Income, 6.Job, 7.Ethic, 8.Family & Safety, 9. Communication & Transportation, and 10. Participation. The index has a range from 0 to 1. The Composite Quality of Life Index: CQLI of Thai people are as follows: 0.5379 in 2004, 0.35 in 2005, 0.82 in 2006, and 0.84 in 2007. (Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, 2005) Table 1 Quality of Life Index (Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, 2005) Index name 1.Health 2.Education 3.Housing 4.Environment 5.Income 6.Employment 7.Ethic 8.Family 9.Safety 10.Transportation & communication 11.Participation Composite Quality of Life Index : CQLI 2005 0.45 0.44 0.52 0.31 0.38 0.4 0.69 0.7 0.48 0.9 0.49 0.35 2006 0.97 0.92 0.58 0.96 0.95 0.78 0.38 0.87 0.57 0.62 0.58 0.82 2007 0.6 0.68 0.94 0.69 0.67 0.86 0.94 0.51 0.97 0.56 0.96 0.84

The CQLI does not reveal much about quality of life, because it composes of many secondary data and compiled to composite index. The QLI of MSDHS was developed with the new index, called the Composite Human Security Index: CHSI, which is closer to the Human Development Index: HDI of the United Nation for Development Program: UNDP. CHSI is also composed of 10 dimensions as is QLI. The major question concerns; housing & local environment, health, income, socio-economics, perceived quality of society, groups & network, trust, collective action, communication, social cohesion & inclusion, empowerment, safety (Grootaert & World Bank, 2004: 25-49), subjective wellbeing, work-life, recreation, living standards and deprivation. Which ones are in the context of the spectrum of Islam? The level of study was divided into three dimensions; personal, family and community. The empirical data came from group discussion which is a qualitative method. The groups members are the member of Bann Samore-Eak community. The details of the participation members are as follows: the appreciate influence control (AIC) was used as a tool to get opinion and perception about their quality of life. Group discussion involved the topic of livelihood in the past, present and future. A part from group discussion was observation, done during the meeting, discussing, going to the mosque, demonstration and field trip. In-depth interview was conducted with the elderly in the village. They were asked about their life in the past, present and what they wanted in the future.

Personal

Family

Community 3

Figure 2. Major dimensions of quality of life study. Finding: BMN provide household data from the survey of the year 2009, which was composed of six dimensions: health, housing or shelter, education, income, Thai values, and participation. These kinds of data mostly consider physical data for QOL. Bann Samor-eak has significant success in terms of percentage of achievement and compared to Tambon Donchimplee and Chachengsao Province.
11 0 101 100 10 0 99 90 98 97 80 96 70 95 94 60 93 50 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 92 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Target SamorEak Donchimplee Chachoengsao

Figure 2 Comparative BMN in health dimension

Figure 3 Comparative BMN in housing dimension

Health dimension in figure 2 show that Bann Samor-eak has a 100% mark for all item but others get less than Bann Samor-eak. It mean that the members of Bann Samor-eak have a good health care service and have ability to take care their health care. It is the same as in housing dimension which Bann Samor-eak also get 100% mark for all item. Housing dimension show that all household of Bann Samor-eak is suit for living with good sanitation and get a good public service but others do not get. Household has security and cohesion.

105

120

100

100

95 80 90 60 85 40 80 20 Target SamorEak Donchimplee Chachoengsao

75

70 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

0 1 2 3

Figure 4 Comparative BMN in education dimension

Figure 5 Comparative BMN in income dimension

One item of education is missing but most of them are 100% for Bann Samor-eak. This shows that Bann Samoreak has an education in mind and promotes education for their children. Most of the children are educated in school and most of the community members can read and write. The community is provided a useful news or information. Members of Bann Samor-eak have a good job and their incomes are more than 23,000 Baht/year. Not only adequate income but they also have a saving. The figure 4 and 5 show that Bann Samor-eak is far better than the target.

102 100 98 96 94 92 90 88 86 84 1 2 3 4 5 6

102 100 98 96 94 92 90 88 86 84 1 2 3 4 5 Target SamorEak Donchimplee Chachoengsao

Figure 6 Comparative BMN in Thais value dimension

Figure 7 Comparative BMN in participation dimension

Value dimension show that, Bann Samor-eak members are away from alcohol and cigarette. Members behave according to traditional and religious activities. Elderly and Persons with disabilities received care from someone in the household. Participation dimension show households are a member of the group. Households can comments for the benefit of local communities and participate in public activities of the village. People aged 18 years have elected to exercise choice in their community. The figure 6 and 7 also show that Bann Samor-eak is far better than the target.
Note: The vertical axis is items for each dimension (see remark) and horizontal axis is percentage of achievement. Source: Community Development Department

The BMN data show that the achievements of Bann Samor-eak are quite outstanding because there is 100% for almost all items or indicators and over achievement for all targets, but Donchimplee and Chacheongsao are quite below the target. The majority population in Donchimplee and Chacheongsao are Buddhism and minority is Muslim. This means that six dimensions of health, housing or shelter, education, income, Thai value, and participation for Bann Samor-eak meet the basic minimum requirement, which is set by the Department of Community Development, which can assume that Bann Samor-eak has a good QOL according to the standard of Department of Community Development. BMN data is the evidence for household or family quality of life in the quantitative way. The community dimension was a study by observation interview and focus group, which can provide more subjective details. Result from group meetings and brainstorming show those community members of faith that if they are good Muslim at the command of God, his belief in and commitment to God will make their life better. During their pray, their body and mind have been blessed by God to live happily and the remembrance of God, the mind calm down and distracted in life can have peace of mind. Fasting is a practice review of their endurance, strength, and to recognize the well-being. Know how to share them with others and to follow religious principles, result to improve the quality of life. There is a lot of interrelation trust and network in the community such as: 1 Baht saving network, organic fertilizer network, organic supplies network, artificial flower network, tree bank network etc. Most of the networks have their own organization, their own rules, their own procedures, and their own benefits, but have a linkage by personal and activity relationship. Their activities are: meeting, discussion, demonstration, field trips and seminars. We can generate a network structure from their network members by using a social network analysis program.(Borgatti, Jones, & Everett, 1998; Nooy, Mrvar, & Batagelj, 2005)

Figure 8: Social network of Bann Samor-Eak Using a program Pajek 1.01 Copyright (c) 1996 by, Vladimir Batagelj and Andrej Mrvar, analysis was made of the social network of Bann Samor-Eak. This program generates social structure according to Graph theory. From the figure 8, the blue points of the vertices are the core or key persons in the networks and most of them are in the center of the network. The red points are the second core group, and then the green points and yellow point are the periphery. This network is composed of 175 lines, which means their bonding. There are 106 vertices or nodes, which represent members of the network. The density of the network without loop is 0.03145. The core groups of the network are group of community member, group of multi-purpose chemical, group of herbal, group of Mareeyam Yamai and group of artificial flower.

Figure 9: The strength of group in social network of Bann Samor-Eak

From figure 9 reveal the strength of some group in the network of Bann Samor-eak. The highest strength is the group of mosque, then community member, tree bank group, women villages development group, and villages fund, represent by bigger point in the figure. A part from their network structure, their activities is also network bonding. There are a lot of Islamic activities, which all have in common, such as visiting sick relatives, marriage celebrations, funerals and Fridays pray. There are also non-formal meetings for discussing some community problem and find out solutions among them. Friendship and kinship are easy to find among the members, which is considered a web of life. It is considered one of the main concepts of Islamic brotherhood. These are the empirical evidences for a strong connection among members of this Muslim community, which shows their unity. Bann Samor-eak was justified by Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) to be a model for sustainable community, because there is no non-performing loan (NPL) in this community and their entire membership has a good livelihood. There is empirical evidence from the interviews with the elderly members, which showed that their lives changed from previous times. Infrastructures are the most developed in the village. Roads were not existing 20 years back. The boat was the common vehicle along with the canal. This is the reason that most of the old houses faced the canal, but the new ones faced the road. Communication with outsiders was considered very difficult in former times. Now they can use mobile phones anywhere, anytime. Electricity was not available in former times, but now all houses have this power supply. Health care is one of the most valuable resources to the community. They have a community hospital with volunteers from their members to handle healthcare for all households. Because of their Home ward strategy, they believe health care should be provided at home, not the hospital. Livelihood is also affected by the main stream development. They can cultivate rice two or three times a year, as never before, because of technology such as irrigation, new seeding, chemical fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides and tractors. Buffalo were gone a long time ago; its hard to tell when it happened. Apart from buffalo, a native species of rice was gone too. The most renowned Thai rice; Hom Mali Rice (Jasmine Rice), was first bred in Chachoengsao, but now they grow high yield species. The empirical evidence shows the conflict between social cohesion and socio-economics, because in the former time socio-economics is not good as now but there is rich friendship and cohesion among the member. Not only cohesion but also seniority has been changed. According to the interviews reveal that Muslim make a better life. The Muslims, like food, affect their lives. Do not eat the food of choice but need to have to eat according to Qur'an. The Five Pillars of Islam are still strong in Bann Samor-Eak. Zakat (alms giving), one of the pillars(Candland, 2000), is like a social safety net and is still effective in their lives. Now, with the cooperation of BAAC, Bann Samor-eak can produce their own rice for Zakat. This is also a fabric of Muslim life. There are a lot of practices, which show that the five pillars of Islam and the sixth pillars of the faith are embedded in the Islamic life in Bann Samor-Eak. Conclusion: Bann Samor-eak is one of the Muslim communities which can meet the Minimum Basic Need criterion, in six dimensions of health, housing or shelter, education, income, Thai values, and participation. Not only they meet basic needs, but they also have a good quality of life in the three dimensions of personal, family and community. Islamic practice is the fabric that links up the members in the community like a web of life, with friendship and kinship, the media for subjective well-being and happy life. Findings indicate that Islamic practice is an effective tool of development quality of life through their connection in the network. Moreover, it enhances interactions among community members to synergize community strength and stand against globalization threat. Discussion: There is a lack of updated data and standards for Thailand. More substantial policy-making is needed, which has objective perspective for peoples well-being. Some data need to be consistently acquired and kept. The future research should adopt participation action research in the study, because some information needs some contribution from emic person and action under go by community members should reveal a better result.

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