Editor’s note: the following is the fifth lesson in His Holiness Younus AlGohar’s course on Self-Awareness, Level 2: Emotional Intelligence.
When a singer is singing a sad song, he has to feel the pain the words delivered in the song. Happy or humourous songs also have to be sung with emotions; they call it the feeling. In a similar way, when we listen to the news like Sky News, BBC News, CNN etc., we see emotions are involved in the way the newscaster delivers the news. If the news is sad, we see emotions of sadness and sorrow emanating from his face and if it’s good news, he will smile. Now, a doctor’s job is really difficult because every patient that comes to see him brings bad news. The doctor has to be in the same mood, or at least the same emotional state (even if it is fake, he has to show that emotionally he is aware of the situation), and this is emotional intelligence.
What are moral etiquettes? If somebody tells us, ‘my mother died five years ago’, in that moment if we skip saying ‘I am really sorry’, people will be really offended. We need to be aware of these things and have some moral etiquettes, some emotional intelligence and its awareness.
Emotions play a pivotal role in our life. For example, if you see a child who needs milk but his/her parents are unable to provide milk, it will remind you of your own child. When you think about your own child, your emotions will be charged up. In that emotional state, you start to help the child that doesn’t belong to you.
We’re only concerned about ourselves. This should not be the case with a spiritual person. We must observe all spiritual, social and moral etiquettes, so that we do not cause any harm, physical or emotional, to any individual in this world. If somebody looks a bit sad or emotionally down, you should respect his emotional state. Change the way you speak to him every day, be a little more polite with him. This is emotional intelligence.
Emotions push you to do good things, however, at the same time, these emotions can backfire.
For example, some Muslims blew up a bomb and many people died. Later on, a Muslim guy is seen showing his anger to somebody in a neighbourhood, somebody watching him may be reminded of the Muslim terrorists, and his emotions will reach their peak. Maybe in that emotional state, that man [watching] can cause any amount of harm to that Muslim guy who is shouting and abusing others. This is how people become outrageous sometimes. Backlashes and hate crimes are the prime examples.
A Kurdish boy was really beaten the hell out of him by eight people. He didn’t do anything wrong, he was just Muslim but this happened because so many Muslim terrorists are causing a lot of distress and have become a threat to the national security of many countries of the world. This has become a very sensitive matter and it can happen anytime, anywhere and it is all to do with emotions.
Not every Muslim is a terrorist. Sikhs – because they grow beards and wear turbans like Muslims – are easily recognisable to Muslims; they can identify them as Sikhs because their turban is different and by the length of their beard, etc. But after 9/11 in Arizona, the Americans who were naive to Islam or Sikhism, when they spotted somebody with a turban and a big beard, they thought the Sikh man was Muslim and killed him. This is an emotional intelligence crisis.
To help stop terrorism, it is not just about deradicalisation, you also have to take care of the emotional intelligence of people so that people do not become outrageous and are able to control their own emotions.
One important thing in the study of emotional intelligence is moral values and ethical codes.
Morality in this world has different shapes, forms and sources. Some people find moral values from their society. In our society, certain things are allowed and some things are not allowed. For example, in a British town, the societal values will definitely differ from a Pakistani town.
Sometimes the society is deeply and vehemently affected by the religion of the land and its code of conduct; its ethical code and moral values come from the religion. In Pakistan, a woman and a man cannot have a sexual relationship without marriage but in a British town, with consent, adults can enter into a sexual relationship and can even live together. Society here will allow it because it is not against the moral values of British society.
Moral values differ from society to society, because each society has a different source for its moral values. However, sometimes your moral values come neither from any religion nor the society. Sometimes you are the boss and make your own rules. I have heard people saying, ‘In my family, nobody can do this. This is against our family law and tradition.’ Therefore, there is not just one single source of morality.
In order to have precise understanding and awareness of emotional intelligence, we need to first see what moral values we have adopted. Only after determining the source of our moral values can we detect the awareness of emotional intelligence.
You need to find the source. What is it that dictates your emotions? What is it that brings rage and fury in your emotional state? It is your belief system.
Those who are religious, are very difficult and it is very difficult for them to be emotionally intelligent. They are swimming in the ocean of their religion; their mind is messed up. It’s not possible for somebody to be religious and rational at the same time. Religions will always make you irrational.
For example, Muslims in Luton, are carrying banners and saying, ‘we will impose Sharia.’ They’re looking at white women and saying, ‘your dress is not according to Islam.’ She doesn’t practise Islam! Why are you telling her? It is your religion, why are you imposing your religion on others? It simply means your mind is messed up. It is not rationality, is it? But this is the reality. Does a Christian have the same rights in a Muslim country as Muslims have in the west? Muslims are allowed to build their mosques here. Can a Christian man go to Saudi Arabia and do whatever he wants to do according to his religion?
Look at how good this secular system is! You know why they do it? It’s because their mind is not messed up. If people in the west were also very religious, practising Christians, they would behave the same way. But because they are non-practising Christians, their mind is not messed up by the religion hence they behave like human beings. They have generosity, rationality and their own moral codes. Their moral code is: whatever religion somebody practises, they should have the fundamental necessities of life.
Why should we follow a religion when a religion is taking away humanity from human beings? Why do we have this fanatic ideology uprising? Why do we have this extremism spreading like fire? Why is hatred prevailing? Because there is a conflict in morality. The standards you may have, the other person does not have the same standards of moral values.
Your emotional intelligence is directly linked to moral values. Unfortunately, moral values in different societies have different sources therefore what may be a moral act according to you may not be moral to somebody else.
When we talk about morality, our morality is not universal. Our morality is more regional than global. We all have different standards of morality.
Now according to some form of morality, you only hide your private parts. If you are hiding the nipples, your morality is perfect. In most of the secular, moral cultures, women are not allowed to show their nipples, it would be too obscene and immoral. According to liberal Muslims, women can show half their chest. They have accepted it and it has become part of their moral values. Moral values are changing according to secular culture. According to religious culture, moral values are frozen; they have become stagnant. Even the law of the land can shape your moral values. When you are a religious person and your moral values come from religion you do not recognise any other form of morality, which obviously means intolerance is at its peak. You cannot coexist with others in the same society.
Universal morality has to do with tolerance. What you like to do, you should be allowed to do. What others like to do, you shouldn’t be bothered about it.
What is a sin? There are two forms of sins according to a religion. A sin which goes against humanity, you hurt and harm humanity and the other sin which goes against you, which hurts and harms you. Those that hurt and harm you are of less implication. A sin that involves others, causes pain, hurt and harm to others, that is severity. That is to be stopped.
Do not try to impose your beliefs on others. Let everybody live their life the way they want to live it.
When God has emotional intelligence, then why don’t people who follow a religion have it?
The reason is God doesn’t follow the same religion. God’s religion is different. His religion is love. The problem is, he only practises his religion with those that practise his religion: The religion of love.
These religions that have been established by prophets and messengers, the standard of morality these religions render to its followers very much depends on the society at the time these religions were established. What was the standard of religious morality in those times when Prophet Mohammad came to the peninsula of Arab? What was the standard of morality at the time when Jesus came to Jerusalem? You will see a slight improvement in the standard of morality after the religion introduced its moral values. If you want to compare the standards of morality now with the standards back then, you will fall back. The standard of morality in those days was really strict. This was about the religion and followers of the religions.
However in all eras, in all ages, whoever was introduced to the knowledge of spirituality, the knowledge of eminence, their emotional intelligence equalled the intelligence of God. They didn’t pick up their moral values from the religion, they picked it up from spirituality. The standard of spiritual values is vast. They embrace and forgive anyone. Most of the irregular things in this world according to moral values are okay for Sufis. No damage is done. You can do what you want to do as long as you don’t hurt others.
This should be the case with everybody today. Allow everybody to do what they want to do. There is a voice within everybody that guides them and tells them not to do wrong, no matter what religion they practise. Even atheists who don’t practise any religion or believe in God, do not want to sleep with their sisters or mothers. Why don’t they do it? Because these are basic principles and natural human instincts.
Let our moral values derive from basic principles of humanity.