The four pathways of soul to societal transformation as elucidated above, is a gradual process leading to societal regeneration in a society’s particular context. Particularly, in the context of Soulidarity impulse which emanates from the Islamic mystical philosophy and the Prophetic tradition.
In the context of creating a soulidarity economy, the 4 T’s process emulates the soul to societal journey of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In Islamic context, after believing in the unity/Oneness of God (Tauhid), the next stage is to love the Prophet with all one’s heart and emulate his way of life (the Sunnah). The Prophet was created as the perfect human prototype – an insan-e-kamil – a perfect man. The Holy Prophet is the supreme example of a perfect man, and anybody following his path of life is sure to achieve the highest ideal which life is capable of bestowing upon a man.
Stage 1: Relation with Self - Khuluq
Why start from the soul/self?
Through a series of stages and subjective experiences, this process of absorption develops until complete annihilation of the self (fana) takes place and the person becomes al-insan-ul-kamil, the "perfect man". It is the disintegration of a person's narrow self-concept, social self- and limited intellect (feeling like a drop of water aware of being part of the ocean).
Know thyself is the most repeated mantra when it comes to transformation. Without knowing one’s own nature and human limitations, I believe, we cannot work out the deeper and more complex nature of how consciousness and cognition work.
Khuluq (nature): The words khalq (creation) and khuluq (nature) are derived from the same root word. Khalq relates to the external form or appearance, the visible, material, and experienced dimension of existence; khuluq is concerned with the spiritual dimension, meaning, or content. An individual cannot be judged or known by his or her outer appearance, for one’s real identity lies in one’s character, temperament, and natural disposition which has to be perfected through meditative time spent in solitude, and by reflecting on the deeper mysteries of life.
Transmutation: Starting from his meditative years before the revelation the Prophet used to spend time in seclusion in a cave. It was during his time spent in the cave Hira, where the first revelation appeared. He used to spend his time contemplating turning inward.
Concentration: At this stage, the seed of intention is sown, spiralling straight from the source to the heart – the seat of spiritual heart. It is the stage of ‘emptying’ one’s self/ego annihilation as shown in figure 1 above.
Stage 2: Union with God - Hijrah
This is the state where the person becomes extinct in the will of God (total submission). At this stage, the self now being disciplined, and ego mastered, is taking a pilgrimium from the self. Often this migration is a physical migration, to go through the hardships of the path.
Hijra (migration): According to the Muslim tradition, the Prophet was guided through divine direction to emigrate to Medina – also known as the model city – from Mecca, in order to avoid prosecution. He left Mecca, his birthplace, with his companions, with no possessions but with faith (yaqeen) and trust in Allah as the Sustainer and protector.
Transmigration: Humans are eternal travellers. pilgrimage is a sacred rite that belongs to all faith-traditions since it speaks to our inner state of perpetual journeying and reminds us that no matter who, what or where we are, we are all travelling from earth to the other-worldly, celestial spheres. Pilgrimage encourages us to question our sense of belonging. It teaches us to reconnect with the sacred centre of our beings in order to rebalance and recalibrate ourselves according to the real objective of our existence. It is not simply emigration, but it is the quest for Truth that is at the basis of this journey.
Taking this inner as well as outer journey, strengthens our faith in an other-worldly force, guiding and sustaining us, on the journey from the known (comfort of our homes) to the unknown (outside of our comfort zone). It teaches detachment and renews one’s faith.
Concentration: Everything in this universe is marked by a sense of restlessness - the stars, the stones, the trees, man, all are in motion. Love is the beginning of this journey and beauty its quest. Those who live by this rule are the ones who succeed; those who are indifferent remain at a loss.
Stage 3: Subsistence in God-realisation - Miraj
Emancipation from falsehood
At this stage, the person comes back to his existence, yet free from the false concept of self/identity. What really happens is the person's awareness of the Supreme Being increases so much so that he/she forgets his/her own self and is totally in awe of the magnificence – of being part of a source outside their human comprehension.
Miraj (ascension): The significance of Miraj – a heavenly ascension – in Islamic tradition refers to Prophet Muhammad’s nocturnal journey to heavens where he is met with all the previous prophets and incidents taken place in the history of the universe as well as he reaches the most proximate point for a human to enter God-consciousness. In Islamic traditions, it is referred to as a miraculous journey as it is at point the human consciousness is ascended and reaches the integrality of human and universal consciousness. It was at this point as well when the Prophet was bestowed with a comprehensive mandate and directives for humans to live in a state of divine perfection or at least have an understanding of their purpose of creation.
Transcendental: Transcendence is the quality of being able to go beyond normal limits or boundaries. The Arabic term Aql, is loosely translated as intellect – the reasoning faculty. Whereas, from a mystical perspective, Marifah (gnosis), on the contrary, is assigned to familiarity with true realisation, in the language of scholars, it means Ilm (knowledge). This knowledge is not dependent on reasoning, rather it is a trait of someone who knows the truth in God’s Attributes and Names and then bears witness to this divine perception in all his actions.
It is believed when one reaches the stage of direct knowledge, God inspires his/her thoughts and protects their inmost being from fabricating any thought but the truth.(3) This stage of direct knowledge / wisdom emancipates one from any falsehood and rising to a state of upward ascent and out of one’s own self-entrapment.
Concentration: According to Islamic mystic traditions, the purification of heart is directly related to gaining the direct knowledge of Truth. Consequently, the heart (qalb) is considered to be the domain/seat of spiritual intelligence. The direct or intuitive knowledge is acquired by leaning inward with total submission and not by intellectualisation.
Stage 4: Everlasting afflux - Mawakhat
Perpetuating transformative effect
This is the state where man comes back to his existence and God appoints him to guide the humans. This is a state in which the individual is part of the world, but unconcerned about his or her rewards or position in it. The seeds of intentions, sown at the first stage of our 4T’s journey, are now ready to germinate at this stage.
Mawakhat (brotherhood/soulidarity): The next phase after the hijra (migration), was the stage of settling in a new environment with no possessions or source of subsistence. In Medina the migrants, the companions who accompanied the Prophet, were embraced with the utmost sincerity and love. Yet, the working conditions and environment was new for the migrants coming from a rugged mountainous range. Therefore, the Prophet gathered the Ansar (natives) and the migrants together five months after migrating to Medina. He appointed ninety Muslims, the forty-five of whom were from the Ansar and the other forty-five from the migrants, as brothers.(4)
This foundation of brotherhood established by the Prophet was based on mutual economic and psychological support and the principle of being inheritors to each other, which in turn aimed to provide migrants with support to get over the sorrow and misery they felt because of homesickness.
According to this foundation of brotherhood established, leaders of each family in Medina would provide a Muslim family from Mecca with accommodation and share their belongings with them, and they would work together. Thus, a new socio-economic technology was formed without any nuances of legal formalities. This brotherhood outpaced the biological brotherhood – one based on faith, trust and soulidarity for brotherly subsistence.
Transformation: “Every journey begins with the first step of articulating the intention, then becoming the intention.” Bryant McGill
Although, there is a lot of emphasis on ‘pure intention’ (neeyah) in the Quran, only intention is not enough without a confirmative action for the welfare of the individual, community, and society at large.
The final stage in this process of soul to societal transformation, is inspired by the genealogy of Prophetic tradition which started from revelation and arrives at the state of inner and outer transformation by taking practical steps for societal transposition – a model of self to society self-sufficiency.
Concentration: The Perfect Man, therefore, is a man of this world, and belonged to all mankind, and lived in all time and clime, as he is an immortal being. He is a world-reality, above and beyond the limitations of time and space. He cannot be imprisoned by the boundaries of race, politics, or geography. Mohammed Iqbal writes in The Secret of the Self; a Perfect Man is not fettered by destiny. It is he who governs it. (5)
God is omnipotent and the creator of the universe, but if the universe does not suit man’s desire and purposes, it can be shattered and rebuilt in his own fashion. Man, himself can demand from God his fate, because fates are innumerable, and he is free to make choice. A man can elevate himself even to that lofty height where God will consult his will before assigning him his destiny. Thus, man is the possessor of tremendous power and immense potentialities and is bestowed with the duty of viceregency of the earth.