What is the Role of Spiritual Intelligence in time of Political Crisis?
The Egyptians are a very spiritual people, this I can say because of my first hand experience as a student at the prestigious oldest Muslim university in the world - Al Azhar. The Egyptians are frugal, austere and morally well developed and spiritually intelligent, their melodious reading of the Quran is matchless, their Islamic scholarship is second to none and their strong broad shoulders big enough to carry any weight history puts on them! This is what gives me hope and I am optimistic that they will be able to pull out of this crisis successfully, without sounding patronizing I wish to declare that the Egyptians as a great people have enough moral and spiritual capital to face the political and economic deficit, Insha Allah.
What is spiritual intelligence?
Spiritual intelligence is the knowledge and the understanding required to be Godly; compassionate, generous, loving, creative, just, patient, grateful, bold and audacious, as well as acquiring these wonderful qualities it is the science that explains man’s relationship with the Divine, the motivation to love and obey Him so that one lives in conformity to the Divine will, that creates a sense of God-consciousness where one lives in the Divine presence, feeling His presence and even seeing Him as one worships Him. The Islamic teachings provide a clear methodology to develop spiritual intelligence, the approaches to growing closer to God, with the purpose of achieving the Lord’s pleasure, paradise and eventually the beatific vision in the hereafter.
Here is how I think Egyptians are spiritually intelligent;
1. Spirituality is a journey to deeper layers of meaning and purpose of life and is a peculiar dimension bestowed upon man by God that makes him more than just a biological creature dependent on the material things. The constant remembrance of the Divine and being prayerful are good signs of spirituality.
2. Man is dependent on God, as the German philosopher Immanuel Kant said - man needs to believe in a creator in order to function properly. A pop singer described the need for God thus; “I’ve got an emptiness deep inside” people often say “a deep deep void”, or “a chunk is missing from my soul”. Egyptians seldom talk of this vacuum in their life.
3. The centrality of human need for positive relationships with himself, family and the Creator isThese [the stresses of the current crisis ] are spiritual consequences and only spirituality can come to the beleaguered Egyptian’s rescue - perhaps that is what Kant meant when he said “man needs God” the very crux of spirituality; the Egyptians have strong family values and love God.
4. This definition tells us how to express our relationship with God, the different modes of prayer, singing and reciting litanies, night vigils, fasting and giving. This is a common feature of many Egyptians lifestyle.
5. Spirituality provides the inner strength to cope with life’s problems and adversities as it reveals that the inner is intimately related to the outer, the inner is reflected in the outer, the spiritual world is attached to the physical world. Perhaps this explains Islam’s abhorrence for monasticism, detaching oneself from the worldly relations, since the spiritual can’t be detached from the worldly. For the believer spirituality is therefore a vital channel allowing the Divine Grace to act on us and through us to transform the society around us.
The relationship between spirituality and current political crisis
Religious teachings emphasise that the secret of happy living lies not in the quantity of material possessions or the system of governance but within us, very close to us in our grasp, simply in our hearts. Ghazzali (d.1111) a medieval Muslim philosopher, pointed out that “the heart cannot accept the Divine grace if the laws of God are not obeyed in ones outward conduct. Only after outward obedience can one proceed to remove the devastating diseases of the heart. Moral diseases like arrogance, greed, jealousy and anger must be replaced by virtues such as repentance, humility, sincerity, and the remembrance of death, that can prepare the heart for Divine Grace. As a consequence of being purged of evil traits and embellished by virtues of compassion, forgiveness and patience one is able to face the trials and tribulations of life, one is able to competently deal with the adversities and afflictions of the world.
I am neither an economist nor a politician who fully understands the significance of the Egyptian/Arab reawakening, but I can clearly foresee the stresses of the current crisis showing their signs in various ways; political unrest, increased unemployment, strife and settling old scores, all these factors could have serious social consequences; psychological and health issues, anxiety, financial insecurities, possibly causing family breakdowns, community unrest and increase in crime rates. These are spiritual consequences and only spirituality can come to the beleaguered Egyptian’s rescue - perhaps that is what Kant meant when he said “man needs God”. In his state of misery, self-incrimination, and sense of worthlessness, man loses the sight of the bigger picture, his world closes on him, almost consuming him; this state leads him to self-pity and depression. God comes to save us here, comfort us, relieve us of our miseries! The denial of God is the distractedness of the human mind, the unwillingness and failure to pay attention to God. In brief, spirituality provides the essential moorings that will stop Egyptians from drifting in the darkness of sea, in the darkness of political crisis, which creates doubts, fears and a sense of hopelessness.
Musharraf Hussain, winner of an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2008, is the Chief Executive of the Karimia Institute in Nottingham, England, and the Chief Editor of The Invitation, a Muslim community magazine. He received his BSc and Ph.D. from Aston University (U.K.), his B.A. from Al-Azhar University (Cairo, Egypt), his M.A. from Darul uloom Muhammadia Ghausia (Pakistan), and his Honorary Doctorate from Staffordshire University (U.K.)