What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence can be defined as the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.
Emotional Intelligence [EI] can be divided into 5 components
- Self- awareness
- Managing Emotions
- Self Motivation
- Recognizing Emotions of Others
- Managing Relationships
All aspects of EI have become popular recently and its awareness has helped in the progression of further research. However, Islam has always recognized every aspect of our being whether it’s physical, mental or spiritual and Allah swt has guided us, through the Quran and our beloved Prophet Muhammadﷺ, how to conduct each of these elements to their full potential.
Emotional intelligence is a broad subject but even if we take a look at the 5 main components of EI and we can see how Islam has already acknowledged and taught us about them and their importance.
Self-awareness is being mindful or conscious of your personality, beliefs, strengths, weaknesses, emotions etc.
In Surah-Al-Hashr, ayah 19, Allah swt says:
“And be not like those who forgot Allah , so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient.”
The above ayah shows us the importance of knowing ourselves and its link with knowing our Creator, The Almighty.
When you become aware of yourself, you are more attentive to your emotions, and hence your actions; this makes it easier to control our emotions and not let them overpower us.
“And of the people is he who worships Allah on an edge. If he is touched by good, he is reassured by it; but if he is struck by trial, he turns on his face [to the other direction]. He has lost [this] world and the Hereafter. That is what is the manifest loss.”[Quran 22:11]
Turning the face to the other direction also implies that feeling hopeless, depressed or even angry about any situation that may not be going according to our will displeases Allah swt. Because if we let these feelings manifest in our actions, we harm ourselves and can also harm others. Of course, we must also not suppress our emotions and bottle them up inside, this is also discouraged, the best way is to first, recognize your emotions which comes from a sufficient level of self-awareness.
2. Managing Emotions:
Once you have learned to recognize your emotions, you must now learn how to control them. As mentioned before, letting your emotions take care of you can have disastrous consequences which can potentially ruin our chances of success in both this life and the hereafter. May Allah swt protect us.
Let’s take an example, since it is Ramadan and almost everyone fasts. We know that fasting is not only restricted to food and drinks but also to controlling our emotions, our actions and having patience.
When we’re fasting for long hours, sometimes the hunger gets to us and we begin to get cranky or impatient. The smallest thing irritates us and without even thinking, we hurt people around us with our words. This greatly displeases Allah swt especially in such a blessed month, while you’re fasting.
Ramadan is also a perfect opportunity to practice managing emotions. Once you have recognized an emotion and understood where it’s coming from, you can observe and if possible, try to change the situation that triggered the emotion. Let’s say you have prepared Iftaar for your loved ones today, you stood for hours in the kitchen, in the heat cutting, measuring, boiling ingredients and preparing. When the time for Iftaar is near, your younger sibling accidently drops one of the dishes and there is food everywhere.
Now, it is understandable that one might get upset seeing all their hard work in the kitchen end up on the floor instead of stomachs. But before you yell at your sibling, see if you can change the situation. If it’s possible to put the food back in the dish, then do it. Can you quickly make some more with some help? If yes, then do it.
If that is not possible, then try to change your thoughts. Yes, your sibling was holding the dish and instead of walking carefully, they dropped it running carefully, but they didn’t do it on purpose. They were fasting as well and they just wanted to help you.
Focus on the other food that is still good to eat, you can still have that there is still plenty to eat Alhumdolillah, think of the families that may not even have enough for one person.
Self-motivation is one of the keys to success both in this world and the next. We often find it difficult to motivate ourselves in many matters. There are distractions everywhere and it is how Shaytaan works.
When we hear the Adhan, five times a day, we are reminded
“Come to prayer,
Come to success”
As Muslims, we know our destination is Jannah. If we obtain Jannah, we are truly successful. Shaytaan distracts us, we think of doing this and that, the prayer is put off for later. Not just in prayer, but in any good that we may intend to do, Shaytaan will whisper and try to make us go astray.
We must remember our goal; remind ourselves of the end result and the rewards we will get. If you have achieved a goal, enjoy it. Thank Allah and remember the feeling. Let it motivate you to do better and discipline yourself.
Recognizing the emotions of others.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]
The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever wishes to be kept away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise should have death overtake him while he believes in Allah and the Last Day and should treat people the way he wants them to treat him.” [Sahîh Muslim]
The above Hadith teach us that we must put ourselves in others shoes, that we must observe and learn how to recognize someone’s emotions and act accordingly.
When we begin to realize what someone else may be going through and think from their perspective, we are most likely to be more kind and considerate towards them and this is what Islam teaches us, to be kind and gentle towards the people we meet.
Also from a psychological perspective, empathy helps build trust and understanding in relationships, fosters positivity etc.
Narrated by Jubair bin Mut’im:
He heard the Prophet ﷺ saying, “The person who severs the bond of kinship will not enter Paradise” [Sahih al –Bukhari]
Such is the importance of maintaining good relationships with the important people in our lives. Being able to manage relationships with people requires one to have a good grasp on the other components of EI as well. People who maintain a healthy relationship with others tend to be happier and often secure a good support system.
Managing relationships require one to have a good grasp on the other 4 components of EI. Being aware of our own emotions as well as others’, being able to understand and handle them can often prevent unwanted problems from arising and can cultivate a good relationship.
This was my take on Islam and Emotional Intelligence, I hope you all find it beneficial :).
I would also like to wish all of my Sisters and Brothers a very very Happy Eid in advance!
May Allah swt forgive us for all our wrongdoings, accept our fasts and our ibaadah and may Hee grant us the wisdom and strength to treat ourselves and others justly and continue to bless us. Aameen
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Konrath, Sarah and Delphine Grynberg. The Positive [And Negative] Psychology Of Empathy. 1st ed. Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2013. Web. 29 June 2016.
Tahir, Mohammad Awais. “EQ And Islam”. Islam & Psychology. N.p., 2009. Web. 29 June 2016.
“The Benefits Of Empathy | To Be, And To Be Happier. =)”. Happinesscounseling.com. N.p., 2013. Web. 29 June 2016.