Thursday, January 18, 2007

Spiritual Intelligence (Spirituality)

Category: SOUND

(disclaimer: these things are notoriously hard to relate. one thing might make no sense, but one other thing might strike a chord and reveal the entire concept clearly, so its best when relating to offer a variety of approaches. sorry if i can't do that properly here, feel free to ask questions and i'll see if i can't help)

-Spiritual Intelligence

There's IQ, EQ (emotional intelligence), even social intelligence now. But what about Spiritual Intelligence?

First lets mention normal knowledge. There are three sources of knowing:

divine revelation,
rational investigation,
unveiling (percieving through your soul, the Self and all that, knowing from your heart, 'imagination' if you will)

Divine Revelation is the best according to Islamic principle, but we need the other two in order to understand it.

Now, Spiritual Intelligence comprises three things:

1) experience
2) reflection on that experience
3) right practice based on divinely revealed guidelines and inner knowing

The completion of one 'cycle' through these steps results in an increase of spiritually aware perception and even a spiritual knowledge, which then is compounded through the next cycles.


It is best to understand this in the literal form. When we say 'life experience' we mean literally having gone through life a bit. Observation is not experience to us. But when you think about this from a spiritual perspective, it can be misleading. It holds true, an observation is not experience, but in the spiritual realm, even the act of reading a book can be a spiritual experience. It's your soul that's doing the experiencing, not your body or life. However, that's a really esoteric interpretation that doesn't really matter initially. For all intents and purposes, this basically means just any experience you go through. People think of big experiences first, and that's fine.


To truly roll the experience around in your head and understand what happened, and why it happened, and that what happened happened and couldn't have happened any other way. Remove the 'if' and the 'doubt'. You might only remove them from your mind and not your 'heart' because you might still be feeling the 'if's and the 'doubt's.

Right Practice:

This is the important part. Think about it. Just as you experience something for the first step, how do you suppose you would act on or upon your own soul freely? You can't put yourself into experiences because you know you're manufacturing them and it's not the same. This is where right actions and practice come in. The 'Right' implies divinely revealed to Prophet Muhammad(saw). So this is a pretty comprehensive step then. You have to investigate what is truly right, and then act upon it. Approach it as... it doesn't matter if you THINK it's right, it HAS to be right. Even if God is Merciful and may forgive you for mistakes, if you count on that, you forfeit it. So don't count on it. Don't be lazy. Learn the Deen. The basics must be upheld. The basics that everyone already knows. Ritual prayer, fasting, charity, and pilgrimmage (Hajj). And of course, Shahadah, which implies also Aqeedah (doctrine). Your doctrine must be right. The stuff from our world, our existence, can ONLY be translated to our soul in the language of Truth. Anything that is not 'True' will not escape the boundaries of this transient existence and won't make it to your soul. Too much 'untruth' will leave the soul neglected (for which you will be called out eventually). The reason it HAS to be 'right', is because your reflection may be WRONG. But as long as a heartfelt (or brainfelt) attempt at reflection was undertaken, the right practice part will seal the deal. Over time your reflection ability is honed.

These simple principles can be elaborated on in impossibly many different ways. I like the works of Ibn Arabi, who though famous for his really esoteric insights (this dude helped invent the idea of the 'Perfect Man', and fleshed out the ideas of people with 'saint-like' powers, even some principles that we only see today in quantum physics, and a lot of the philosophy that we only saw in Western civilization with Nietzsche and the like so he got into some pretty crazy stuff), wrote perfectly fine and understandable insight on the more 'generally agreed upon' things. Rumi and the other Sufis wrote the same, but Ibn Arabi's language conveys spiritual ideas without having to worry about his language or poetry first. That's why he is so popular in the West for spirituality (whereas Rumi is more reknown in literary circles). Most books on him are written by non-Muslims (mostly Europeans) who incredibly seem to have no problem talking about the Qur'an and Sunnah with such insight that most normal Muslims can't even muster.

I'll use the example of spiritual journeying. Mostly ripping out paragraphs he wrote with some slight interpretations. This stuff can be found on any website or most of the books devoted to him. This is really just the tip of the iceberg.

-Spiritual Journeying

The Hajj aside, the Qur'an uses four words for travel that can be understood in a context of spiritual journey. I once said that you could (and probably would need to) write a book about each single word in there. I wasn't too far off.

1) sara/sayr - God making things move or 'travel'
This is the most general usage. The verses using this root imply the necessity of reflection for have they not "travelled through the Earth?" which is an oft-repeated theme. And observe the patterns of the manifestation of God's Will (punishments in this case) on the people that came before them, which is what you're observing when you travel through the Earth.

Have they not traveled in the Earth, so that they have Hearts
with which they understand or ears with which they hear?!
For it is not the eyes that are blind, but the hearts in the
breasts which are blind!
Surah al-Hajj, 22:46

"Travel through the earth and see what was the end of those before (you): Most of them worshipped others besides Allah."

And here:

"See they not how Allah originates creation, then repeats it: truly that is easy for Allah.
Say: "Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things."

Again, instructing to 'travel' with the goal of seeing/reflection. In this case, like many verses in the Qur'an that have boundless depth and meaning, that also doubles as a travel of its own. A spiritual journey inwards (or rather, upwards) towards the soul and where one can become aware of a Divine 'background noise' of the non-stop manifestations of God's divine attributes or Names. Otherwise known as the nature of reality.


2) safara/safar - travelling towards a particular 'goal'

our conscious goals and intentions

3) salaka/suluk - travelling a path (wrong path)

4) saha/siyaha - 'wandering' and 'solitary devotion'

This is it.

It occurs 3 times in the Qur'an.

"Those that turn (to Allah) in repentance; that serve Him, and praise Him; that wander in devotion to the cause of Allah,: that bow down and prostrate themselves in prayer; that enjoin good and forbid evil; and observe the limit set by Allah;- (These do rejoice). So proclaim the glad tidings to the Believers."

And then specifically to describes the spiritually ideal woman:

"It may be, if he divorced you (all), that Allah will give him in exchange consorts better than you,- who submit (their wills to Allah), who believe, who are devout, who turn to Allah in repentance, who worship (in humility), who travel (for Faith; wander in devotion) and fast,- previously married or virgins."

"So wander in the earth for four months, and know that you all cannot get away from Allah and that Allah will bring disgrace to the unbelievers."

This last one could refer to the specific historical context of the revelation of the verse. But could also suggest an imperative for all human beings. The significance of 4 months could indicate that the first part of the spiritual journey is wandering and is the first stage of three? That discussion's not important here.

The essential principle behind spiritual journeying is in this famous saying:

"...If (My) servant comes close to Me by a hand's breadth, I will approach him by an arm's length; and if he approaches Me by an arm's length, I will come nearer to him by a mile; and if he comes to Me walking, I will come to him running."

Says Ibn Arabi:

"... Now since this proximity (to God) is through traveling and voyaging towards Him, that (comes about) through His Attribute of being The Light (al-nur), so that we might be guided along the path. For as He said (6:97): "He placed the stars for you, so that you might be guided by them in the shadows of the earth"--which is the external journey through the actions of the body--"and of the sea"--which is the inner spiritual journeying through the actions of the soul."

When man begins to understand the world, his first thought will be escape. People will mistakenly at first, associate their desire to be closer to God with a desire to be away from other people. This is because they want to free themselves of the rights that other people have over them, even family. These will start to feel like bonds holding them back.

This means a literal wandering. Famously usually into the wilderness so one can be away from everything.

This eventually is realized to be an illusion. The literal travel itself is an illusion. The real travel is through actions with both the soul and the corporeal form. "There is no power except through God", which emphasizes actions.

Says Ibn Arabi:

"For they are called (by God) to this journeying, and therefore they journey both upard ('uluwwan: or 'on the higher, spiritual planes'), by responding to the Call given through divinely revealed prescription (al-da'wa al-mashru'a, which is the divine command to spiritual responsibility or amr taklifi) and downward, through their responding to the (divine) "existentiating Command" (the amr iradi or takwini). And they do so without knowing (their ultimate destiny and station) until after the divine Will has been fulfilled.

Therefore the traveling of every individual person among the jinn and humans ends up at their station known (by God) (37:164) for which that individual was created--both the blessed and the tormented among them (11:105). But every being except for them is already created in its station (and therefore cannot really be said to "journey" to it)...."

And again, he talks about the solitary wanderers:

"Some of them, or indeed most of them, are unable to keep people from meddling and speaking of what does not concern them. So this burden drove them to avoid people, preferring solitude and isolation from people through spiritual retreats--locking their doors against the intrusion of people. Still others (have sought) isolation through wandering in the mountains and gorges, seashores and canyons. There God relieves and comforts them with His Name the All-Compassionate in various ways of intimate communion with Him that are granted to them by this "Breath of the All-Compassionate" (nafas al-Rahman).

So he causes them to hear the spiritual invocations (dhikr) of the rocks and stones, the murmurs of the rippling waters, the whistling of the stormy winds, the conversations of the birds, the praises and glorifications of each community among the creatures, and their greetings and conversations among them. Thus these wanderers do find companionship with (those creatures), instead of their (original) loneliness, and they return to community and other creatures."

He even went on to warn those starting off to avoid even the company of wild animals if God should make them talk to you, and stick to focusing on dhikr in their hearts.

A person has to understand God's rahma (Loving Compassion), not through taqlid (outward belief), but through dhawq (tasting). "Painfully and slowly acquired through life's revealing trials and situations of spiritual testing."

The Revealed Pathway

The Pathway meaning that which helps draw and guide along the believer during the beginning of the quest. It could be literally a path, a path of events, or even a person (i.e, spiritual guide).

"Every soul desires the pilgrimage to God, which is seeing and reflecting on the inner awareness of God that comes from direct witnessing (shuhud). But can the murid, the spiritual seeker, set out on that Pilgrimage by himself? Or can he only set out with the aid of a guide (murshid), which is either a comprehensive intelligence... or knowledge of the revealed Pathway (shar', in its root sense)? The right answer is that this seeker must be either "desired and pulled" (directly by God: murad majdhub), in which case it is the divine Grace and providential Caring ('inaya) that accompanies the seeker, so that he does not need a human guide--which is extraordinarily rare. Or if the seeker is not drawn directly by God, then he must necessarily set out with the help of a guide, which is either his intellect or the revealed Pathway."

He (Ibn Arabi) says that even the most perfect human intellect can only lead a person initially to the first stage which is to recognize the shar', or the Pathway. This recognition is spiritual and an inner confirmation of the truth of it. The shar' leads them then to a confirmation of ithbat al-Haqq, the Truly Real, or basically a broader spiritual awakening.

This is also notable because these passages came out of the chapter where he was addressing the legal question of a woman 'pilgrim' needs a male guardian or family companion. This is notable because nearly all of his writing is in this form. It starts with a discussion of Islamic fiqh (law), in which he was very well versed (probably the level of a major Mufti today), and all of his answers end with spirituality. This principle, this idea of a spiritual side to the Shariah has been lost. It's the reason why Islamic Law or fiqh was so important back in the day. The law is from God, so in it, there is divine wisdom and room to explore. It was the inspiration for spirituality and all the progress in academic/scientific research/exploration by the Muslims of the day. Simply the law. And as he later goes on to say, what motivates the pilgrim to start the journey also affects upon him spiritually until he awakens in the divine Presence. Meaning the loss of Islamic scholarship, especially with regards to fiqh, is not unrelated to the sad spiritual state of the Ummah as a whole. Shariah is a joke nowadays. I'm almost embarassed that we use the same word to describe it today as what it really was back in the time of men like Ibn Arabi.

In another case, when confronting the legal issue of shortening prayers when travelling, he comes up with some stuff about all beings and entities "coming back to God". He mentions that a traveller who is in a state of sin can only be classified as disobedient if he had faith to disobey. And by having this faith, he is in fact, obedient. Ya, that's hard to wrap your head around, but it basically says if you recognize truth it's made easier for you to not slip out of it. A Mercy from God.

Spiritual Knowing

Ibn Arabi does not say that one must become a religious scholar well-versed in fiqh in order to undertake this spiritual journey or to understand the true nature of the Deen, or to 'know' the Deen. Not at all.

"The only thing really required is to "act in accordance with the real meaning and intention of the revelations, which is a 'knowing' of an entirely different order."

For instance, a quote by an older Sufi that has the potential to be misinterpreted goes: "this knowing of ours is limited by the Book and the Sunna!" (al-Junayd). How Ibn Arabi interprets it is that "this saying means that (spiritual knowing) is the result of the divinely prescribed action--by which Junayd meant to distinguish it from what is arrived at by those who rely on their intellects."

I cannot emphasize the importance of that enough. In that is the key to many, many, things. "Inspired knowing flowing directly from the spiritually appropriate actions." Do you know what this is? This is the end of doubt and confusion, the kind that we suffer from deep within.

Before I end off here (this could go on for literally volumes... for such a small collection of words (the Qur'an and Sunnah), these men wrote libraries of insight and experience), he also mentioned that this 'spiritual knowing' defeats doubt and defeats 'chance'. Spiritual knowing implies Spiritual which implies your Spirit. Your soul. Your soul is not of this world, though it is inexorably attached to your corporeal form. It is exposed to the divine Spirit and can be influenced by It. Meaning insights and knowledge can be picked up at ever-increasing paces once the 'Soul' is awakened, and these come to people in the here and now suddenly as insights or through whatever means. God could reveal even to people, the sins they commit, before they commit them. He describes a possible exchange between Allah(swa) and Iblis (Shaitan) whereby Allah(swa) asks him why he refused to bow down. Iblis 'says' because Allah(swa) did not really want him to. Then Allah(swa) 'asks' when was this, before or after you refused? And Iblis says after. And Allah(swa) says that He only punished him because of that. This is a kind of a muse from Ibn Arabi in order to illustrate this principle that he experienced.


The world or existence flows from one state to another non-stop, as our existence 'ascends' towards God. And God 'descends' towards our existence in the form of the states which are the 'descending' self-expressions of God. The world is lost and regained at every moment as God self-manifests Himself (His divine attributes or Names) in the form of the Divine archetypes (potentialities for the essences of all things, fixed before time). Imagine it like a kaleidoscope-kind of effect. These archetypes or 'potential states of things' manifest themselves first as infinite possibilities in our existence, which then become actual creation (al-khalq-ul-jadid), which then breaks into the next cycle.

Qadar is God's predestination for things. The time for when things occur, or creation exists or becomes it's archetypal state as described above.

According to the book Sufism and Taoism, by Toshihiko Izutsu (California 1983):

"... Ibn Arabi remarks that 'the mystery of qadar is one of the highest knowledges, which God grants only to (a small number of) men who are privileged with a perfect mystical intuition'. If a man happens to obain the true knowldege of qadar, the knowledge surely brings him a perfect peace of mind and an intolerable pain at the same time.

The unusual peace of mind arises from the consciousness that everything in the world occurs as it has been determined from eternity. ... Instead of struggling in vain for obtaining what is not in his capacity, he will be happy ...

He must be tormented, on the other hand, by an intense pain at the sight of all the so-called 'injustices', 'evils', and 'sufferings' that reign rampant around him, being keenly conscious that it is not in his 'preparedness' to remove them from the world. ...".

So, from the Divine to us it's 'wujudiya', or an ontological cycle of Divine self-manifestations:

God (Ultimate Unity, ahadiya) -> His Oneness (wahidya, His Divine Names or Attributes) -> fixed archetypes (thabita) ->

[ (all possible things (mumkinat) correlates with all the universes in the Multiverse or the worlds of the Many-Worlds idea in quantum mechanics/physics... basically the infinite, and the border of our reality...) -> in this mess, God's qada or judgements, corresponding to the fixed archetypes are 'made', which corresponds to a quantum decoherence of a superposition of possibilities or which world of the many-worlds comes about (multiple states existing at once resolving itself into one state) -> qadar (the outcome of the judgement, the new creation) ]

<-> al-khalq-ul-jadid (the new existence created at the occurrence of any event, a.k.a. branching of the Worlds from the Many-Worlds theory... the constantly moving/shifting reality which we inhabit)

FOOTNOTE #2 (Misc quotes)

"a spiritual 'knower' ... (arif) ... Perfect man ... can, if he likes, affect any object by ... concentrating all his spiritual energy upon it; he can even bring into existence a thing which is not actually existent ... This extraordinary power is known as himmah, meaning a concentrated spiritual energy ... [an] object ... created by himmah continues to exist only so long as the himmah maintains it ... In brief, a 'knower' is ... endowed with the power of taskhir ...[Ibn Arabi says]... A true "knowledge" does not allow himmah to be freely exercised. And the higher the knowledge, the less possibility there is for a free exercise of himmah ...
... even the most perfect of all Apostles (akmal al-rusul), Muhammad(saw), did not exercise himmah ... For, being the highest 'knower', he knew better than anybody else that 'miracles' were, in truth, ineffective ..."

"I shall answer your question, O noble friend and intimate companion,
concerning the Journey to the Lord of Power (may He be exalted) and
the arrival in His presence and the return, through Him, from Him
to His Creation, without separation."

FOOTNOTE #3 (love and Satan-consciousness)

I'm throwing this in, because it is related fundamentally to everything else which is related to everything else. And I'm saying this, because if it appears that it is not, you aren't getting it quite yet. This is something everyone can easily understand talking about.

I'll forego with an intellectual definition of it (though it exists). Love and Will are divine things that we have lousy images of. God's Love, and God's Will > *.

Love and will move together and not against one another. You can't love against will, because your will will refuse to fight it. Love makes your will betray you. If you can will against love, then that's a strike on that love's 'trueness' although that only ultimately applies when talking about love for God. Love for worldy things takes priority, will motivated by God that strikes against your love for um... junk food... is fine. Will motivated even by a parent that might strike against your love for a person is also 'fine'. (That makes the parents and the whole context of their decision a factor too).

Ok, so. Love is almost like surrendering will. When Sufis say they LOVE God, they are basically saying they are Muslims (who submit their wills), but they are so God-conscious they had no choice but to submit their wills which makes it essentially... "surrendering" your will. This is suggesting that God took away their Free Will (freedom to err) like as some sort of personal help to them. Thus, they call God their 'Beloved' and other things, and this usage becomes applicable because they are still talking on a basic doctrinal sense (i.e, submitting of the will).

The 'little love' is made of the same stuff, and modelled on the same structure. You all know how it is, when you 'love' something, you have trouble pulling away. Your willpower's sapped, etc. etc. But here's where it can help to understand the little love in order to master the larger, and vice-versa. For instance, take negative emotions like anger, bitterness, whatever. And say these things are pulling you away from a 'pure' feeling of love. Now this is common here as basically self-defense. Looking out for #1. If someone is slighted, they'll get angry. But really, where is this emotion from? It sure as hell isn't from love. Love for self? That's useless. Pure love, all of it, comes from God and back to Him. Basically, you can think of it as a doubt or whisper from... ya. None other than the devil (Satan).

This might be weird. But think about it. There are 3 entities you MUST be conscious of. Your Self, God, and Satan. Satan can get into your head. From my quotes:

With intelligence comes the need for not just responsibility [as a power], but also personal vigilance [as a vulnerability]. Vigilance against the exploitation of Satan, whose whispers are in the language of logic and rationalization.

"Satan circulates in the human mind as blood circulates in it"

You have to 'clean' out your feelings in order to get a good look at what it (love) really is. Then you can apply it better and focus in on it better, especially when it comes to God. Anger, for instance, is a selfish act. Not selfless. Selfless = spiritual growth. Selfish = nothing, maybe even stunting your spiritual growth. And there is no limit to these within the context of divinely revealed prescription. When you get angry, your brain's doing it for YOU. When you recognize this, you should learn to drop the emotion suddenly because hey... that's not from anything good, not from you. Other things like bitterness, doubt, confusion, whatever are also similar.

So that's unadulterated love. But how does love get going and keep going? Like I said earlier, love takes over and employs will in its service. A spiritually conscious will can be the most powerful progenitor of a purified love. Your character is the shadow of your soul in your corporeal form. Character is sticking to worthy decisions even after the emotions of making them have passed. Basically, it's Free Will. By using all the spiritual intelligence stuff above, your Will is empowered and enlightened and can be a powerful tool to sustain Love. Really, unless you have control of your soul, you don't know how to love. And if you don't know how to love, you just can't do it right. Loving then, becomes an unconscious action of a conscious Soul. Ugh, I don't want to reduce this into the 'little' love again (anything not for God), but take an Islamic marriage (an ideal marriage in an ideal society in an ideal time). The bride and groom have had zero contact. Sure, they can choose to fuck it up (even unconsciously choose, if they were corrupted by a society). But they won't. You can go through the scenario in your head and figure out how the emotions play out and how Will is a factor. That 'but they won't' holds in it, the secret of Qadar (predestination) and how it plays out with Free Will. It also holds in it, the power of the arif, the perfect man, or 'super'man (Prophet Muhammad(saw) being the highest station). The same Ibn Sina who wrote the first medical textbook used for centuries in the Islamic and Western world believed in saints with the same conviction. These 'phenomena' would natural precipitate out of the correct atmosphere, of which Shariah/Fiqh/etc. was a huge part (basically the Sunnah).

As Allama Iqbal used to philosophize... change who you are, and your destiny (the written 'unchangeable' thing) also changes. Because it never really 'changed' at all. It was always the destiny for THAT person. (This also means time is removed as a factor, since you need 'time' for something to actually change and God is timeless).

To summarize this entire thing into ONE line... meaning if you took this ONE line, you could then deduce EVERYTHING above and much more... turn your hearts towards the Qur'an and Sunnah.

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