Non-linear thinking and its spirituality

A ‘ba’ is not a ‘dza’, a non-linear thinker is not a linear thinker.

Here’s a quick quiz I’ve gotten from a website to determine your thinking style. Imagine yourself facing a challenge. Does column one or column two feel like the best way to proceed?

Column One                                             Column Two

1. Define the goal                                   1. Gather and welcome everyone affected

2. Develop a strategy                             2. Think about the questions to be asked

3. Make a plan                                       3. Interactively share information

4. Set time lines, costs, tasks                 4. Recognize a pattern, get an idea

5. Activate the plan                                 5. Create a prototype and try it

6. Measure progress                              6. Respond to the information and redesign

I find this article in explaining non-linear thinking interesting, in this case, fragmented thinking;


There’s the frustration in trying to be somebody we were not created to be in the course of a setback and then there’s the leniency we place on ourselves while being complacent. Maybe that’s where, like Shaykh Mendes said in prophetic parenting, that we should stop reacting to our parents. Maybe that’s where going back to our deen al-fitrah is important. Maybe that’s where we should dig our own well and find our inner strength. Maybe that is why our spiritual gurus treat some of us with Jamal (beauty) and some with Jalal (majesty). But how often can we find that ‘potential’ in us, without Love? Even our teachers have a love for us and have mercy over us while at the same time keeping the balance, they keep on telling us to just do, to keep on going.. to keep on striving…

Having sat with people who are autistic, dyslexia and tutored children from orphanage homes with dysfunctional backgrounds, made me realize one thing. How often, when we are placed in a difficult situation, we give up on others. We react to the other’s frustrations as if it was ours. We demolish the independent thinking we should teach in the people around us, and we limit the unconditional love we should instead express. We subconsciously teach the other learned helplessness when we tell them that there is nothing you can do about it and that you should avoid it. Maybe that’s where the teachers who specialize in special needs come into play to turn the weaknesses of the students into skills. Maybe that’s where coaches or career counselors take the place to help those who are grappling to find their potential. Maybe that’s where psychotherapists help the regress individual to cope in life and to integrate back into society.

How many of these involve a relationship? A teacher, a coach, a counselor, a psychotherapist, or even a spiritual guru, which we can see are all working relationships.

In our attempts to escape into our form of coping mechanism, like detachment and avoidance, before we lash out in anger and verbally abuse others due to our low-stress threshold. Are our non-linear thinkers able to turn these victims into capable geniuses instead? and are our mothers strong enough to be patient in redeeming it?

Maybe that was what I meant when I typed the post; Tolerance back in 2016.

I guess I found my strength, but the water to grow that strength, isn’t strong enough. But how can we say it isn’t strong enough when I understand that we as humans are weak ourselves.

Shaykh Ahmad Saad Al-Azhari once said, “An orphan is not when one doesn’t have a mother or a father, a true orphan is one whose both mother and father are always busy.”

A mother and a father play a very important role in the development of a child that even Shaykh Abdul Aziz Fredrericks said that we should not be sending our children to any preschool until the age of 7, but that we should be the sole nurturer and teacher to our own children because they should be learning from you. You should be the one setting a prophetic environment for your children, show them Ihsan. Like what Shaykh Mendes said, be like a murrobi, you are gifted a child, it’s an entrusted responsibility on you to rear a ruh (spirit).

Maybe we try to compensate for what we lack and maybe that’s what we are learning to stand up for.

Isn’t it interesting though, our dear messenger salallahu alaihi wasallam himself was an orphan, this was how the Prophet ﷺ was. The hidden blessing of being an orphan is that the one who teaches you adab and raises you is Allah swt Himself. There is wisdom in Allah’s separating the prophets from their parents, and this has happened to some of you too. Sometimes we are amazed at how our mothers are orphans themselves yet they express Ihsan and generosity towards people. In this case, Ar-Rabb is the one who nurtures and forms them into a spiritual being, Masya Allah. In addition to that, our dear Prophet Muhammad salallahu alaihi wasallam was also illiterate. How is it that Allah wants to show us that knowledge and revelations can come from Him ﷻ Himself.

Maybe as fragmented our thoughts, hearts and souls are, the cracks are meant to be filled with God’s light.

May we learn from the prophet ﷺ and be people of Ihsan when we deal with His creations and His gifts such as our spouses and children. Aameen.

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