The Arabic term Al Masha refers to undivided common land among farmers in use in West Asia before, during, and after the ottoman empire. Al Masha was more than collective ownership, it was a socio-political practice, a lifestyle, and a mechanism to access land for landless people. In fact, the central aspect of Al Masha is the periodic redistribution of lots among the villagers. A third category between the public and private, it can only exist if people use it, it comes to existence with collective use, and the moment people stop cultivating it ceases to exist. Today we may ask: is it possible to reactivate the cultivation of the shared land, expanding the meaning of cultivation to other human and more than human activities that imply a common taking care of our living planet? And instead of thinking of al Masha as a sphere of practices emerging from the public sphere historically dominated by men, is it possible to rethink Al Masha as a space of action generated from feminist practices of care emerging from the private sphere?
During the process of modernization, Al Masha has been marginalized: it was considered unproductive, inefficient, and corrupt. Founded on local trust and reciprocity, kinship and friendship, Al Masha was threatening the centralized and abstract constitution of the nation-state. Today, due to the economic, environmental, and humanitarian catastrophe created by the modernist fundamentalism of endless exploitation, progress, and salvation, the Al Masha as rural commons have regained interest, challenging the stereotypical image of the rural as being trapped between conservative politics and traditionalism.