Emotional Intelligence in the Quran – Surah Kahf

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Emotional intelligence involves listening to someone, and really hearing them. That entails listening without passing judgement, and without having to be right. It also means listening and just hearing, not responding or trying to provide solutions. If we are trying to learn from someone, it also means having a degree of trust in our teacher. That can involve being open to accept a new frame of reference or a different point of view.

Sometimes one of the hardest things we can do as human beings, is to separate ourselves from our own biases in order to be receptive to an elevation in our state of being, a maturing of our consciousness.

In Surah Kahf, Musa seeks out Khidr in order to learn from him. He had asked God to show him someone with more knowledge and wisdom than himself, so that he could learn and mature his own spirit. This also highlights the fact that we should try to surround ourselves with good company. If we are surrounded by those who are better than us, we tend to improve, and if we surround ourselves with poor company, that company can bring us down to their level. We tend to become like the company we keep.

Once he finds him, Musa attempts to attach himself to Khidr in order to learn from his example. But each time Khidr does something rather profound, Musa is reactive. The essence of patience is to separate ourselves from the impulse to immediate reaction, to wait and process before jumping to a conclusion. Each time, Musa reacts strongly to what he observes, passing judgement based on his own perspectives, biases, and frame of reference. He did however have the emotional maturity to realize immediately that he had acted so, and he apologized and swore to be more patient in the future. The really difficult thing to master, is to recognize the initial reaction in yourself, and catch a hold of that impulse and still it before allowing it to manifest in your behavior.

Khidr was not an unwilling teacher, though he may have been reluctant, as he warned Musa from the beginning that he would not have the patience to bear with his company. In the end, though, he doesn’t tell Musa he’s stupid, and he doesn’t get angry. Instead he takes the time to explain the meaning behind his actions. But ultimately, he takes leave of Musa’s company.

Another part of emotional intelligence, is to make the sometimes hard decisions, to ultimately improve our environment in the pursuit of our own spiritual excellence. Seeking out good company, and leaving old acquaintances behind is not always easy, but it can be necessary in order for us to gain the clarity needed in our spiritual and emotional journey.

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