This article was originally sent to the Wardah Newsletter.
We all have biases in the way we interpret information. We are less critical of arguments that we sense to be in keeping with our belief system (or the belief system of our group) and quick to condemn arguments that are otherwise.
Take for example a football game. We overestimate the fouls the opposing team commits while explaining away or excusing the fouls our team makes – and the referee is never fair in the eyes of fans.
Moreover, how we feel about information determines how receptive or critical we are of it. Our emotions can, and often do, shape our beliefs more than we dare admit. Social media manipulators know this very well, for they trade in attention and emotion. They don't want us to pause and evaluate, but only to emote in a hurry. In a media environment where emotion is untethered, polarisation is inevitable.
But there is another way.
Emotion does not have to be a force that pushes us apart and disperses us into separate cells.
For our book club this month we are reading Imam Mikaeel Ahmed Smith's With the Heart in Mind: The Moral and Emotional Intelligence of the Prophet ﷺ. In the pre-reading session last Monday, Imam Mikaeel spoke about the importance of the Prophetic example of being emotionally present for our families and loved ones. Here we see examples of emotion as a means of connection and gatheredness.
Clearly, the cultivation of emotional intelligence is an imperative for every human being, especially in our times that has been dubbed 'The Age of Rage'.
Join the post-reading session for the Heart in Mind on 26 October 2020, Monday, 8pm.