In “The Liberal Arts: What is a Liberal Arts Education and Why is it Important Today”), US-based educators Howard and Matthew Greene define the goals of such education in the following way :
In a complex, shifting world, it is essential to develop a high degree of intellectual literacy and critical-thinking skills, a sense of moral and ethical responsibility to one’s community, the ability to reason clearly, to think rationally, to analyze information intelligently, to respond to people in a compassionate and fair way, to continue learning new information and concepts over a lifetime, to appreciate and gain pleasure from the beauty of the arts and literature and to use these as an inspiration and solace when needed, to revert to our historical past for lessons that will help shape the future intelligently and avoid unnecessary mistakes, to create a sense of self-esteem that comes from personal accomplishments and challenges met with success. The focus is on the student, not the faculty; he is heavily involved in his own education. There are no passive ears; students and faculty work so closely together, that they even co-author publications. Teaching is an act of love. There is not only a mentor relationship in class, but professors become hiking companions, intramural teammates, dinner companions, and friends. Learning is collaborative rather than competitive; values are central; there is a strong sense of community. They are places of great synergy, where the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. Aspirations are raised, and young people are empowered.
Integral Worlds: Originating in Transformation Management – Ronnie Lessem
Ever since the launch of the Transformation Management master’s program in Jordan, under the local stewardship of Prof Adel al-Rashid at Yarmouk University School of Management, and the participation of both ASG International School and also Medlabs, in it in the 1990s, there was a sense that something special was brewing. The kind of educational and developmental activities we were witnessing in these two institutions surpassed anything that we saw within the universities in the country, generally, and in their management schools specifically. At the same time, the vision of trans-Jordan standing at the center of our four worlds – south and east, north and west – was firmly and continually implanted in our collective imagination.
In the new millennium Trans4m, as the then joint creation of Ronnie Lessem and Alexander Schieffer, was born, as an institution in Geneva, and began to co-evolve, with individual and institutional others, around the four worlds, as well as in Jordan in the center. As such our integral approaches to research and development, economics, and enterprise, invariably forged locally-globally, rather than globally-locally, served to recognize the release of individual and collective GENE-ius, in and of all worlds. However there was one vital ingredient still missing, come the second decade of the new millennium. The very universities with which we and our associates were working, not only in Jordan but now also in Egypt and Sri Lanka, in the UK and Slovenia, in Southern Africa and Nigeria, in the US and Canada, had not yet grasped the integral idea, that experience, and imagination, conceptualization and application, needed to be co-evolved, individually and collectively, locally with-a-view-to-globally. It was then that the idea of an “integral university” entered our mind’s eye, and all too quickly disappeared when we witnessed how the formidable Sekem vision of integrality was quickly snuffed out by the Egyptian educational authorities, in the course of the development of Heliopolis University.
So we urged ourselves to think again, and in the course of writing Integral Dynamics: Political Economy, Cultural Dynamics, and the Future of the University, in 2013, we hatched the idea of a “Genealogy”, not a University, where “GENE-ius” was recognized and released. Moreover, while on the one hand, nobody anywhere really resonated with this all too exotic, new idea, on the other hand, Father Anselm Adodo read the book, grasped the nettle, and was determined to turn his local Ewo community, his Benedictine Monastery, his association with Nigeria’s Ibadan University Institute for African Studies, and his own Pax Herbals into an all-round – wait for it – what he termed Communiversity. Such was duly aligned, not with capitalism or socialism, but with Communitalism, born and bred, not in the “north” or “west” but in the “south”. Such a communiversity, just as we had envisaged in our Integral Dynamics, was constituted of a Community (Ewo), a sanctuary (Benedictine Monastery), an academy (Institute for African Studies), and a Laboratory (Pax Herbals), what he termed four Pax’s.
The die was then cast, the “genealogical” theory and the “communiversity” practice. However, one swallow does not a summer make. So we returned to our muse, Haifa, in Jordan, now in 2016, and intimated to her that Jordan in the middle east could indeed become the center of our four worlds, should such a communiversity come to full worldly life, and it was in that guise that Laila Abdul-Majeed joined our Trans4mative PhD program, and she, together with her co-evolvers Samar and Majd, altogether infused with the vision of their muse, would establish Tanweer. Soon then to evolve were the Community Engagement (south), Human Wellbeing (east), Arab Emancipatory (north), Innovative Learning (west), and all-round Enlightenment-Tanweer (center) integral realms of such.
By that stage, moreover, Medlabs had indeed returned to the Trans4m fold, and via the good offices of our good Samaritan Manar al-Nimer, had become an integral society-building laboratory, soon to be followed by the prodigal daughter Zeina Saayoun, whereby Medlabs academy and laboratory would meet. Meanwhile, and in the wings, in the Pakistani near east, a star was rising, bringing brotherhood, if not also sisterhood, to the world, in the guise of Anita Malik and Akhuwat, where spirit and matter were being altogether fused, hitherto in the financial world, now ripe for communiversity evolution.
If things were stirring then in the middle and near “east”, in association with Trans4m in the “north”, what of the “west” and the “south”. The all-pervasive west is our point of comparison, the benchmark against which we set our standards if only to transform them. It was not for nothing then that Ronnie-becoming-Samanyanga was educated in the west, at the LSE and at Harvard Business School, so that he was aware of what the non-western worlds were up against, that is the standards that they had to not only surpass but fundamentally Trans4m, starting from the ground up. And his grounds were in the “south”, specifically in Zimbabwe in Southern Africa. Like Medlabs, Zimbabwe has its integral laboratory in the making, Providence Human Capital co-created by Chipo Ndudzo. Like Tanweer, Zimbabwe had its equivalent, Pundutso, which was poised to develop its own Communiversity, and Phiri Zongolola, together with Passmore Matupire, were spearheading that southern charge, rooted in what they termed an integral kumusha (homestead), the equivalent to Ibn Khaldun’s Asabiyyah.
So now that we have incorporated the South, the east, and the north, what about the west? What proactive part has it to play, just as long as it builds integrally on the rest?
Interestingly enough, moreover, in that other “west”, that is in the UK, specifically in Liverpool, which is an amalgam of Celtic “south” and Anglo-Saxon “west”, Tony Bradley at Hope University, co-author with Lessem and Adodo of The Idea of the Communiversity, and his other academic, political, architectural, and sociological colleagues are dreaming up a new Liverpool Communiversity. So at the end of the day in Jordan, true to ourselves, at the center of the four worlds, we want to realise the best of all worlds: the communality of the south, the spirituality of the east, the scientific reach of the north, and the individualism-individuation of the west. We need an institution, or more precisely an inter-institutional organism, one we have provisionally termed an “ec-colleg-y” to achieve all that, and that is why we are gathered in Jordan as co-creators, on January 23/4 and beyond, altogether. While such will be centred in Jordan, it will draw on the four corners of the globe, geographically and epistemologically, mediated through a healing centre, thereby healing ignorance, of mind and body, thereby playing its constructive, as opposed to destructive, part, in the healing of the world’s soul. From West Africa, and more specifically from enterprise-and-nature, it takes a particular tone.
Communitalism: The Genealogy of an African Communiversity: Anselm Adodo
When I was a primary school student, my teachers used to tell me that my country, Nigeria, is a great country with huge potentials. I graduated to secondary school, and my teachers told me at every opportunity that Nigeria is a great country with lots of potentials. I went to University, and my teachers kept reminding me that Nigeria is a great country with incredible potentials. Now I am in my late forties, and everyone is saying that Nigeria is a great country with extraordinary potentials. It suddenly dawned on me that I may grow old and die, while Nigeria remains a great country with huge potentials. And I said to myself: ‘when will my country evolve from its state of potentiality to actuality? When will Nigeria actualize its potentials? When will dream become a reality, thinking become doing, knowledge become transformation?’
The relationship between fact and reality, the dream and action, has always fascinated me. As a child, my grandmother used to tell me that trees could talk. That the palm trees, the mango trees, the baobab trees, the Iroko trees and the forest can talk. And I asked, “how can the palm trees, the mango trees and the Iroko trees talk? Are they human beings?” And she would smile and reply, “there is more to hearing than what you hear; there is more to seeing than what you see; there is more to life than being awake”.
I spent the first six years of my life learning about the moon, stars, forests, trees and spirits from my parents. Every night we gathered around auntie Joke, and auntie Bunnmi, and baba Tunde, as they took turns to tell us stories about animals, spirits, and the invincible world. They told us about the origin of the world, what is above the sky, why it rains, why people die, why animals eat other animals, etc.
The world of biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics fascinated me. I marveled at the intricate complexity of the single-celled amoeba, the sophistication of the human heart and its incessant rhythm, the intricate complexity of the human brain, and the laws of physics and chemistry. I also wondered at the audacity with which these laws were stated as if they were infallible church dogmas. In later years, as a young adult, I came across this quotation from Robert L. Weber (1992), an American scientist: “It is disconcerting to reflect on the number of students we have flunked in chemistry for not knowing what we later found out to be untrue”. Weber was expressing the reservation I had about the so-called unquestionable claims of science. So, after all, those laws of physics and chemistry were not written on gold!
The invention of the microscope was a big step forward in the human search for knowledge, as hitherto unseen microbes, bacteria and viruses, invisible to the naked human eye, could now be seen, studied and examined. Is it possible that one day, human beings could invent a machine that can penetrate the world of the spirits and expose the invisible world? The impact of the microscope was immediately felt in the field of medicine as it led to the discovery of new drugs, especially antibiotics. Could this invisible world of bacteria, microbes and viruses be the invisible world that my grandmother was referring to when she said that there is more to things than what the eyes could see? I was determined to know more about this invisible world.
My approach to education then has always been to transverse different fields of knowledge, towards attaining a more broad and Holistic view of life. I made an intellectual forage into Philosophy, Theology and Religion and acquired degrees in those disciplines. I also acquired degrees in ethnobotany, anthropology and Sociology as well as in innovation and management. I acquired certificates in music. I learned to write poems and beat the African drums. I was a champion wrestler in my secondary days, and for my exploits, I won a scholarship from my State government to study at the University.
However, opted to join a Catholic Monastery as a contemplative Monk and was later ordained a Priest. The eclectic nature of my life and intellectual odyssey reflects in my publications, which focuses on diverse topics: religion, spirituality, Traditional African Medicine, Agriculture, economics, politics and administration. My desire for Holistic and integral education attracted me to the Integral Worlds Research Model as thought by Trans4m founders, Ronnie Lessem and Alexander Schieffer. We became co-creators in an authentic and practical sense. Such relationship eventually evolved towards taking practical and concrete steps to actualise the communiversity idea (which is the title of our forthcoming book: ‘The Idea of the Communiversity’), an integral way of knowledge creation that embraces Nature and Community (South), Culture and Spirituality (East), Science and Technology (North) and Economics and Enterprise (West). In my local context, I described these four dimensions as Pax Natural (Community), Pax Spiritus (Sanctuary), Pax Scientia (University) and Pax Economia (Economics).
Higher technical education is increasingly recognized as critical to development, especially with growing awareness of the role of science, technology and innovation in economic growth. Universities and research institutions are well placed to aid development through their involvement with the local business industry and society. Universities and institutions in developing countries can aid development by focusing some of their technical training on specific development needs. It is crucial that universities in Africa focus on encouraging innovation and concentrate on building entrepreneurial skills among students to help them develop the capacity to transform ideas into business proposals and actual products and services; otherwise, these universities remain mere ivory towers with no impact on societal transformation.
University education, as it is presently constituted in Nigeria and Africa, is geared toward producing graduates who are job seekers rather than job creators. Universities also need to integrate with their local communities and help to promote local economic transformation. The aim of such a new movement of the formal education system that is built on and grounded local context, which we call a communiversity, is to produce entrepreneurial graduates who are likely to generate sustainable livelihoods, not job creation, in their communities while adding to the growth of the national economy. In my Nigerian context, it is called ‘communitalism’. Our communiversities consciously recognize and transcend the embedded dichotomies in the conventional mode of knowledge creation. The communiversity movement has started.
Pundutso Communiversity in Zimbabwe: Phiri Zongololo
The word Pundutso means Transformation or Advancement. Pundutso was formed in the first instance by three then doctoral candidates, Elizabeth Mamukwa, Joshua Chinyuku and Passmore Matupire as a co-operative inquiry group and think tank for their research to innovation processes. It has since evolved into a doctoral and post-doctoral Center for Integral Development bringing in five other members, Andrew Nyambayo, Wellington Mutyanda, Chipo Ndudzo, Smart Zongololo, Daud Taranhike, and Patience Magodo. Students also on the Process of Holistic Development (PHD) Sibonginkosi Moyo and Isabella Nyoka are also members. Now Pundutso has evolved to be both a registered trust but more so the Zimbabwean communiversity.
Now as for Pundutso communiversity we have various learning communities in Mhondoro, Buhera, Chivhu, Mware to just name a few. In the pilgrimium we have budiriro yevanhu, advancement of people being the inspiration. The Nhakanomic Research Academy is inspired from nhaka- Heritage economics we have Kuona Centre of Integral Enterprise, Great Zimbabwe University Researchers, Trans4m researchers and our live Socio-economic laboratories include Econet, Schweppes Holdings Africa Limited (SHAL), Providence Human Capital, Tafadzwa neChiedza Trust and Weph Commercial agencies, and growing.
I recall when Wellington Mutyanda one of the doctoral candidates in my cohort introduced me to the DaVinci / Trans4m Program, I was in the middle of searching for an appropriate doctoral study to embark on. I had gone for a year of soul searching regarding the type of research I wanted to be involved in. What I wanted was a practical program with a likelihood of impact on myself, my organization, society, and world at large. My research to innovation was originally driven by the desire to see a change in the world of small-scale farmers in Zimbabwe. change, in Lessem and Schieffer’s integral (201) “four worlds” terms on how the natives relate to nature (south), changes on how they relate to their culture and belief system (east), changes in which they relate to their science and technology (north) and changes on how they relate to the economic markets and politics (west).
Equally the same, now in retrospect, when I look at the majority of Pundutso co researchers’ inner calling, I see a common thread -that of wanting to see a ‘pundutso’ transformation within our organizations, society, our country, in this case Zimbabwe and the world at large. It would appear then, that there is a similar strong force that unites us in this call to want to see our next kin and kith in a ‘better place’ socio-cultural-spiritual, epistemically, and economically. That high energy force common in our African-being bind us together is Ubuntu – I am because you are. It is from whence that we draw our inspiration from. It is more than a well in the middle of the desert. Tsime (well) in our Kumusha (home) set up is the source of life, the centre of our village- in this case the core of our heart. Water in not a natural resource as the west would like to portray it but rather it is life.
It was in my role as General Manager of Best Fruit Processors when I faced the reality of imbalances that exist and affect small scale farmers in their quest to earn a living through the work of their hands. The discovery awakened my consciousness around issues affecting small-scale farmers and initially, I was focusing my research on Integral agriculture. As the research evolved Prof Ronnie Lessem, my co-creator (supervisor) and Irealizedd that perhaps focusing solely on the small-scale farmers integrally would miss an opportunity to introspect on the entire ecosystem which perhaps has gotten us to be where small-scale farmers are battling with self-sufficiency let alone participating in meaningfully in commercial activities. Perhaps the development of the communiversity is the antidote the doctor ordered for learning communities (nature and community) as the answers do lie and also are connected with the budiriro yevanhu pilgrimium(Culture and Consciousness) , the research academy (knowledge Science and Technology and the socio-economic laboratories (enterprise, politics and economy )
Is it also not an oxymoron that Zimbabwe is said to have one of the most highly educated people in Africa, yet it has nothing seemingly to show for it given its socio-economic-cultural- technical performance over the years. Then I look at myself in relation to the Eurocentric university education I got and sadly how irrelevant to the socio-economic needs of the country. Then we look at the silo mentality which exists. Research has remained academic, researching on people not with people, enterprises drive for profits ahead of humanity issues, communities are not at sixes regarding how to come of out of various socio-economic issues and need re- Grounding so to speak and Emerge in new consciousness and Navigate both indigenous and exogenous knowledge systems and Effect meaningful transformation.
The long-term vision that we carry is that of an Integral University, A new type of CARE-ing University that would take our collective efforts (as opposed to silo mentality) to date to a whole new level’’ Now is the time to take that bold step and a communiversity may be the answer.
Then Pundutso Centre for Integral Development Zimbabwe’s collaborative and inclusive efforts are engaged in the societal renewal and development and regeneration of Zimbabwe leading to the restoration of the national pride (Nhakanomics). Economics for the legacy, heritage, nation building. Within Pundutso, there are off-shoots working on various integral development initiatives, be it in community activation like Integral Kumusha in Buhera and Chivhu, awakening consciousness, as in Providence Human Capital integral enterprise drive and the birth of Kuona, Integral Farming and the SHAL Africa way, the Research and embodiment of Knowledge through Nhakanomics Research Academy.
Nhakanomics research academy’s purpose is to research local-global economic issues grounded in indigenous African Nhaka settings (Integral Kumusha) blended with exogenous knowledge and practices in order to preserve, enhance and create Nhaka and livelihoods in a sustainable manner.
Now also enters Great Zimbabwe University as well as Zimbabwe Christian Church (ZCC) University, all prepared to work with Pundutso and Trans4M in coming up with a truly sustainable communiversity relevant and appropriate for the regeneration of Zimbabwe.
Manara: Imagined Jordanian Communiversity: Manar Al Nimer/Zeina Sahyoun
Five years ago, our medical laboratories company was experiencing a slump in employee morale and the founders of the company, recognising that the initial flame of the pioneering years seemed to have waned somewhat, sought the advice of Trans4m founders Professors Ronnie Lessem and Alexander Schieffer to find a way to ‘re-vitalise the moral core and morale’ of MedLabs. Little did they know then that the journey they embarked on to this end would have such a profound impact on the corporate culture and such far-reaching impact on the communities the laboratories served, not to mention the journey so many staff took in parallel to evolve their ‘integral self’.
After journeying through Trans4m’s ‘four-worlds’ approach, following both the GENE path and the CARE model, MedLabs evolved its management functions to higher level practices and created effective tools to spread the culture of CARE-ing through its 450-strong staff. The torch was carried mainly by MedLabs’ founder and CEO, Dr. Hassib Sahyoun who throughout his career passionately believed in a global need to “return humanity to the workplace”, and Dr. Manar Agha Al Nimer who embarked on a PhD with Trans4m and the Da Vinci Institute to help lead MedLabs towards the Integral Enterprise. Key to catalysing MedLabs’ ‘big’ PHD with both were Chief Marketing Officer, Zeina Sahyoun, herself currently on her Trans4mative PhD program, and researcher Ms. Reem Aqel, Organisational Development officer at MedLabs. After successfully evolving Marketing to Community Building, Human Resources to Awakening Conscious Evolution, Operations to Research-based Knowledge Creation and Finance to a Sustainable Enterprise and implementing a new common practice of Care Circles, an inspiring Orientation path and writing a small book about MedLabs story, MedLabs was ready to take yet another leap on its Integral Journey to have a more profound and far-reaching impact on society. This leap would be in the formation of an Integral Academy, modelled largely on Lessem, Bradley and Adodo’s Idea of a Communiversity.
MedLabs Academy – At first it was merely an emerging thought for the evolution of MedLabs and its role in sharing its integral knowledge, spreading health awareness and education and nurturing healthy societies. The initial concept was imagined in the final chapters of Dr. Manar’s PhD. Soon the imagined ‘academy’ grew into a more crystallised plan. With the interactions that took place with Tanweer and the shared passion both the MedLabs and ASG leadership had for enlightened humanism, Arab liberal education and community activation, many parallels could be seen and over the past two years many inspiring ‘co-creative’ sessions took place that fuelled the flames for both MedLabs and Tanweer. Since September 2018, with Zeina Sahyoun on her ‘small’ PhD and a new CI group forming, MedLabs Academy has been evolving steadily. Modelled on MedLabs core being of ‘Science’ but expanding holistically out of such, the academy is being designed much as MedLabs Integral enterprise was – based on the GENE and CARE models, grounded in local culture and wisdom.
MANARA – Integral Science & Innovation Academy – We are laying the foundations of the first academy in the region based on an integral health management model: a learning & innovation academy that will be the platform from which MedLabs can further its integral journey and take its relationships with different organisations and stakeholders to a whole new level of cooperation and associative organisation. Through this new learning enterprise we can build ‘shared destiny’ relationships that will produce a combination of scientific and personal awakening learning and research opportunities. These will help post-graduate students as well as professionals from various backgrounds evolve their knowledge and higher ‘integral’ selves, organizations, communities and societies. The name MANARA (meaning Lighthouse and with a visualisation of the ancient lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt) embodies Arab rootedness for our ‘four-worlds’ approach (Lessem & Schieffer, 2010). The framework of the academy will be built upon four realms of science. These ‘science’ realms are designed to invite people to learn, research and explore the different ‘sciences’ that exist, rather than assume that by ‘science’ we are only referring to ‘natural’ or ‘biological and physical’ science. There are immense bodies of knowledge in social science (society and social relationships), psychological science (human thought and behaviour), spirit science (seeking higher consciousness) and enterprise science (the science of business). Through the academy, and in an integral sense we see all these science realms falling within the four worlds model and corresponding to our own CARE-ing enterprise model.
Spiritual and Psychological Science (East): Awakening Conscious Evolution, Life Balance, Mindfulness & Presence, Empowerment, Guidance & Mentoring and finding our inner callings and aligning them to outer callings. Looking inwards to awaken our purpose, drawing inspiration from spiritual teachings and reflective practices, researching our thought patterns and behaviours, all with the aim of linking to one another in our common humanity.
This is the beginning of a journey to bring CARE, knowledge & sustainability to society through learning and through healing. This is a journey towards creating the first integral learning academy in the Middle East that while initially conceptualized to serve medical technology graduates, will also serve anyone open to learning about themselves, integral enterprises and CARE-ing for their communities and society.
iSRA: Anthropology of Mawakhat / Brotherhood / Soulidarity: Aneeqa Malik
The word Mawakhat derives its roots from the Arabic word ‘Ikhuwa’ – Brotherhood. In its particular context it could also be understood as ‘spiritual brotherhood’; a bond that is more like a ‘moral obligation’ for every member of the society to take honour-ship of one’s brothers/sisters in the community – especially those who are lesser privileged than those who are more fortunate – an age-old phenomenon of ‘haves’ vs the ‘have-nots’.
The story of Mawakhat originated in another time and in another space. It goes as back as the Prophetic migration from Mecca – his home/birthplace to Medina – now his eternal resting place, visited by millions every year. It was when he was ordained to leave the place of his comfort to a city which was made to welcome him. It was but a divine pact – to take the scared message to those people who could understand / receive the message with an awakened consciousness and communicate it others as it was meant to be. It was in-effect the renewal of the cosmic pact / covenant all of God’s creation made with the divine before being sent to this earth – Alastu bi Rabbikum – the day of “Am I not your Lord” – the day when all of the children of our father Adam were made to acknowledge the oneness of their Lord and Creator.
When thy Lord drew forth
From the Children of Adam—
From their loins—
Their descendants, and made them
Testify concerning themselves, (saying):
“Am I not your Lord
(Who cherishes and sustains you)?”—
They said: “Yea!
We do testify!” (This), lest
Ye should say on the Day
Of Judgment: “Of this we
Were never mindful”: Quran 22:172
Ontology of Akhuwat (Ikhuwah) / Brotherhood – Migration to Trans-migration of Communal Activation & Developmental Pilgrimium
It was thus in this backdrop and spirit of the divine covenant that the Meccan Muhajiroun (emigrants) were adopted by the Medani Ansar (helpers) as their (spiritual) brothers/sisters and now bond together through a Prophetic lineage. The Ansar of Medina left no stones unturned to facilitate their Muhajir brothers with their socio-economic settlement/development, thus making Medina an ideal city for the newcomers to co-evolve together. This story is often narrated and is preserved in history/time.
For Van der Post, a 20th-century Afrikaner author and explorer; ‘human stories are timeless, Life is timeless. If we play our role in it, we redeem it from time.’
For Van der Post, indigenous societies give the most dramatic example of life developing from an invisible point in time where history has as yet no size and magnitude but only position, right on into our own age.
And so, it was, for the Mawakhat / solidarity ‘impulse’ to reawaken in another time and in another place. This time in Pakistan, where a person of Sufi nature and compassionate heart, working on the ground with the most downtrodden strata of the Pakistani society, revives the spirit of Mawakhat; of solidarity with one’s needy brothers/sisters. Dr Amjad Saqib, founder of Akhuwat; world’s largest Qard-e-Hasan (benevolent loans / interest-free loans), by rekindling the Mawakhat spirit (sharing and caring for one’s brothers/sisters) of the Pakistani (primarily) Muslim society by successfully helping millions of families in Pakistan to uplift themselves from the black hole of (man-made) abject poverty.
It was then, whilst being on an inner-outer spiritual journey, I was united with TRANS4M and introduced the concept of their GENE rhythm / flow, equipping me with an integral approach and tool for communal development as I was deeply immersed in community work at that time. This also gave me a new insight into why the disconnect that exists between Pakistani diaspora living in the UK and the local communities. In order to (re)integrate my own (newly-formed) global identity, I took a pilgrimium back to my own origin/my cultural roots / birth-place, Lahore.
This forms the bases of my trans-global call of finding a new meaning and possibly a new understanding of how the soul / being of a person (& of communities) remains connected to their source / origin of being – a 4 T’s (trans-migration, trans-mutation, transcendental & trans-formational) journeying from East to West and in between. For Pakistan and Pakistani diaspora communities’ multi-dimensional i.e. culturally induced, faith-based challenges, a new approach was becoming ever so pertinent and for me only a trans-disciplinary approach could develop one such process.
Through TRANS4M’s GENE-rative trans4mational rhythm, my inner calling thus, integrally juxtaposed with my outer calling, was to find a clue for the disintegration and socio-economic disparity that existed in diaspora communities, especially within the Pakistani diaspora, and to look for some such socio-economic models prevalent within their own local culture that might not feel alien or imposing on to them.
Incidentally, their GENE flow and holistic approach to self-actualisation and communal transformation, closely matching with my universal spiritualisation opened a new dimension within my self-realisation which I now identify with as Soulidarity; solidarity with soul-fullness.
In Pakistan, I identified the reGENE-rative revival of the same Prophetic Mawakhat / solidarity rhythm reawakened by Dr Amjad Saqib, who was to become my catalyst for initiating a global ‘Integral Soulidarity Economic’ movement. Yet, the story as it has been unfolding needed a narrator to make the implicit, explicit by recalibrating the Mawakhat story in a new-age version of contemporary Mawakhat (Soulidarity) paradigm; the Hikma of Soulidarity.
Soulidarity with Community / Biradari (Brotherhood) – A New Age Mawakhat Paradigm
Thereby, Journeying through the rhythm of Integral Soulidarity, in quest of finding a model of spiritual & communal solidarity, I found my Catalyst & mentor, of all the places, in Pakistan. Dr Muhammad Amjad Saqib, founder of Akhuwat Foundation – world’s largest Qard-e-Hasan (interest-free micro-loans) and revivalist of the Prophetic tradition of Mawakhat – spiritual brotherhood (Soulidarity). The invisible hand and a compassionate heart were made visible to me as our paths crossed, resulting in a co-authorship of ‘Integral Finance’; a model of Solidarity Economy infused with Eastern (South Asian) anthropological socio-economic innovation.
As a society builder, Akhuwat was established, in 2001 in Pakistan, with a view to alleviating poverty in the country by drawing on its generative – as opposed to debilitating – societal forces. As such, and overall, it was rooted in Islam, that is in its origin story of sharing, and reciprocity, brought about by the Prophet and his devotees in 7th century Medina. In effect Akhuwat has subsequently revisited and renewed that original spiritual and social impulse in economic and communal guise.
Specifically, as such it has thereby recognized and released four or five generative social forces in Pakistan. These are the overall spirit of service (manifested through gift money), reflected firstly and specifically in the pursuit of an inner calling (expressed through voluntarism), secondly drawing upon a sense of reciprocity (receivers of capital become donors), thirdly building upon religiously infused compassion (drawing on mosques and churches as physical and social infrastructure), and ultimately promoting liberation from debt slavery (non-interest banking). These generative forces, altogether then, serve to create a new form of “Soulidarity economy” that has the power to alleviate material poverty, through its spiritual richness. It has in that overall guise that Akhuwat has established an authentic basis for Pakistan’s independence, or indeed prospective independence through fostering interdependence, in the 21st century.
The Isra and Miraj refer to, two parts of a miraculous journey that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) took in one night from Makkah to Jerusalem and then an ascension to the heavens.
Isra, an Arabic term, refers to the Prophet’s miraculous night journey as narrated in the holy Quran. It is believed to have been followed by the Mi’raj, his ascension to heaven. The Quran mentions that the Prophet was taken from the Kabah to the mosque in Jerusalem, and specifies that the purpose of the journey was such that God might “show him some of His signs”.
Therefore, some Islamic scholars, essentially regard Prophet Muhammed’s journey as a spiritual experience while others see it as a physical journey.
For us, the relevance of this ascension is the fact that this event took place one year before the Prophet’s Hijrah (migration) from Makkah to the holy city of Medina which is now his eternal resting abode. The relevance lies within the fundamental nature of Islam and of the Qur’an and in the way the Qur’an views history and in the manner in which it illustrates history. The Qur’an is a book of rhythms and patterns both in its sound and construction as well as in its content and meaning. It does not view history simply as a linear process, as a sequence of events which succeed one another. Rather it sees history as a pattern or series of patterns which occur over a period of time and which arise as the result of certain natural laws at work in society and within men.
These patterns or rhythms in history are repeatedly illustrated in the Qur’an, for example, by references to past civilizations which have all followed the same pattern of rise, decay, and collapse. At the same time the Qur’an is a book of principles, of truths, which, if they are implemented, will allow men to understand, and perhaps for a time, break free of the repetitious cycles of history.
Following on from our integral trans-local journey rounds, the relevance of this journey of ascension (awakening integral consciousness) starts with a trans-Migrational (pilgrimium) journey – from Makkah to Jerusalem on to the heavenly ascension thereby preparing the Prophet to leave his place of birth onto his journey (navigation) to Medina (a model Islamic city) thereof having a transformative effect globally through Quran (tacit knowledge) and his Sunnah (explicit knowledge).
It is in this light, that Integral Soulidarity Research Academy (iSRA), is born – a rebirthing of the Prophet’s spiritual Journey of Ascension (raising our integral consciousness) through a Trans-migrational (trans-local) to global-local Transformation through our integral 4E’s (Ethics, Epistemology, Erudition, Economics & Enterprise) Trans-disciplinary knowledge paths to integral Soulidarity with Universality as per my own research-to-innovation contribution of my PHD (Process of Holistic Development).
Furthermore, iSRA aims to tune-in to the deeper impulses of a universal calling seeking to invoke the ‘spirit’ of economics and finance hence the term Soulidarity Economy. iSRA in collaboration with TRANS4M, Centre for Integral Development and our extensive global TRANS4M community, seeks to identify the implicit (deeper) impulses/patterns within communities & societies, emerging from their midst and in reference to their anthropological spiritual/cultural contexts, thus, aiming to their societal renewal.