Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Perspective on Personalities

Every individual is born with a unique set of characteristics which get embellished with life experiences. At about age 40 they tend become stable and crystallize in a personality. Carl Jung, a psychologist, attempted to classify personalities based on various factors. Myers and Briggs later systematized these factors in personality types tests which are based on four dichotomies.
1. Extrovert / Introvert
2. Sensing / Intuition
3. Thinking / Feeling
4. Judging / Perception
A person tends to prefer one out of two dichotomies in the above four factors, resulting in 16 personality types. You can test your personality type by taking this test:

These types tell a lot about the person, his strengths, weaknesses, preferences, etc. This information can be helpful to people in the choice of their profession or a life partner. You can read more about these personality types here:

HR people not only encourage staff to build upon their strengths but also work on their weaknesses. The ideal person would be someone who excelled in all four dichotomies in the best possible manner. If we study the Seerah we will discover the Prophet (SWAS) as one such individual. He was an extrovert who found his eeman increase in mixing his affairs with others; yet he enjoyed long nights standing alone in tahajjud in conversation with his Lord. He made decisions after trying to gather all facts (Sensing), yet when forced to he was good in making decisions based on divine inspiration (Intuition). He had excellent abilities to think about situations by being aloof from it (Thinking); yet he as the most empathic person who ever walked the face of this Earth (Feeling). Similarly he was equally adept at judging and perceiving. So we see that HR people have it right. Whatever natural inclinations in personality we are born with, we should develop them well; while striving to develop other skills in trying to reach the Prophetic ideal. Thinking of it this way, implementing the Sunnah and studying the Seerah hold special value for humanity. It is the only way for them to try to attain the status of al insaan al kamil.

The Sahaba (RA) were doing the same with a live example living in front of them. No wonder the Prophet stated: "My Companions are like stars. Whichever of them you use as a guide, you will be rightly guided." There is a great need to research the life of the Sahaba (RA) and try to categories each of them in the above personality types. Then we can take those as role models who are the same personality type as us, making it easier for us to be rightly guided according to Prophetic advice.