The Human Cohesion Project — 3 Apr 2022
This Ramadan, one of the things I am attempting to fast from is the structural violence within. There is a lot in my conditioning and education (both inherited and chosen) that leads me to hold polarities within. For example, I have a huge preference for reflective, quiet spaces and an aversion to small talk. When I design facilitation processes at work, this preference is clearly reflected as a bias and I struggle with colleagues who prefer more gregarious ways of work. Having a preference in itself is not bad, but letting preferences lead the way turns it into a bias and polarises the environment. So, I am stepping in with curiosity around this: what would it be like to stay away from this preference, as consciously as I can?
The Quran speaks of the term ‘jihad’ in several places as the process of striving for a certain aim, particularly an ethical one. Working on taming our own personality preferences and thus, our ego structures, is certainly a core human ethic. Prophet Mohammed is said to have quoted (by the Islamic scholar Ibn Nuhaas): “The best jihad is the one in which your horse is slain and your blood is spilled.”
Several mythologies and religions around the world use the metaphor of the animal/vehicle and rider/driver as a literary device to convey the idea of the ego and the higher self or soul. One interpretation of the Prophet’s words is therefore that it is a worthy jihad when our ego is slain and we sacrifice — make sacred — parts of ourselves in the process (the metaphor of blood). Of course, one can always get another horse; the ego rebuilds after each metaphorical death. However, in the process, the rider becomes more and more sacred, closer to their highest potential, with every jihad.
Ramadan Kareem. May we connect with our true jihad.
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