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Content analysis is one of the most important research techniques in the social sciences and seeks to analyse data within a specific context. According to Krippendorff (1989), content analysis is a technique for making replicable and valid interpretations from data to their context. The technique enables a researcher to analyse and interpret the recorded material within its own context, for instance public records, texts, books, letters, tapes, films, themes, diaries, reports and so on (Ary et al., 2009).

Content analysis allows researchers to establish their own context of inquiry, thus opening the door to a rich repertoire of social-scientific constructs by which texts may become meaningful in ways that a culture may not be aware of ((Krippendorff, 1989). In this study, a specific context of spiritual intelligence terms were used and discussed based on the chosen texts (Ihya Ulumuddin – Book 3 and Manusia dan Pendidikan) in which no spiritual intelligence studies was done before in relation to these texts.

There are many purposes in using content analysis, in regards to this study, the main purpose in conducting content analysis is to discover the relative importance of, or interest in spiritual intelligence. There are a few steps involved in conducting a content analysis (Ary et al., 2009):

1. Specifying the phenomenon to be investigated. In this study, the researcher has investigated about spiritual intelligence elements.

2. Selecting the media from which the observations are to be made. This study involved two main texts which were Ihya Ulumuddin (Book 3) by al-Ghazali (translated version by Fazlul Karim, 1991) and Manusia dan Pendidikan by Hasan Langgulung (1986).


3. Formulating exhaustive and mutually exclusive coding categories. In this study, seven categories were identified and each category contains 4 – 6 sub-categories as Figure 3.7:

Table 3.7: Spiritual intelligence themes and sub-themes coding

Code Theme and sub-theme

Theme 1: Purpose / meaning of life

A1 Contemplating the meaning/ purpose for being in this world A2 Contemplating the reason why this world is being created

A3 Contemplate the oneness of God the Almighty and His grace towards the creations

A4 Practicing good conduct to build a sense of purpose in this world and hereafter

A5 Understand the inter-connectedness between oneself and others Theme 2: Consciousness

B1 Highly aware of the relationship between mind, body and soul

B2 Conscious towards the knowledge of the soul to gain the knowledge of God B3 Being conscious of the origin/ source of one’s thought (bad/ good) B4 Being conscious of the importance that one’s choices have on one’s life B5 To keep one’s mind under control

B6 Entering a state of consciousness during prayers/ meditation Theme 3: Transcendence

C1 Recognise God’s existence, attributes and actions

C2 Recognise the inter-connectedness of man’s attributes/ potentials to God’s attributes/ potentials.

C3 Contemplate the nature of God’s creation and how He rules the world and the universe

C4 Relating one’s actions to God

C5 Realise and sense the non-material aspects of life Theme 4: Spiritual Resources

D1 Takes the holy/ sacred/ motivational text as the source of life direction/

decision making

D2 Practice daily life and actions according to as-Sunnah/ a chosen role model D3 Having knowledge to reach God. (Intellect knowledge and religion


D4 Understand the holy/ sacred/motivational text to gain a high level of intelligence

D5 Using one’s senses and relate to the inner self Theme 5: Self-determination

E1 To have will to obtain good

E2 Intensely work towards controlling negative thoughts and behaviour E3 Determined to make the best choice in one’s own behaviour

E4 Determined to achieve the ultimate aim of being the servant and the vicegerent of God

E5 Determined to achieve self-actualisation through God-realisation Theme 6: Reflection-soul purification

F1 Reflect on God’s creation to acquire self-motivation F2 Purifying oneself through worship of God

F3 Purifying one’s heart through the remembrance of God

F4 Reflect upon one’s own deeds and work towards removing impurities


Table 3.7, Continued

Theme 7: Spiritual coping with obstacles

G1 Discover and overcome obstacles to gain Divine knowledge G2 Identify the negative influences and take action to control them G3 Identify the diseases within one’s heart and purify them

G4 Identify the causes of disaster to human nature and take action to address Them

4. Deciding on sampling plan. For this study, not the whole books from both texts were used as some chapters are not relevant to the study. For Ihya Ulumuddin (Book 3), main concentration was given in chapter 1. For other chapters only related pages were used. For Hasan Langgulung, only selected pages from chapter one to the last chapter were used that can be related to the spiritual intelligence elements.

5. Training the coders. (Not applicable in this study as the researcher had the sole responsibility in the coding activity).

6. Analysing the data. In this study, no specific tool was used. Data were analysed using secondary sources, including the Holy Qur’an and other literature to support the selected themes.

In this phase, to ensure the reliability and validity in qualitative research, examination of trustworthiness is crucial. According to Seale (1999), a good quality study through reliability and validity is established through the trustworthiness of a research. The trustworthiness in this phase was done through triangulation process since triangulation is typically a strategy (test) for improving the validity and reliability of research or evaluation of findings (Golafshani, 2003). Mathison (1988) explains this by saying:

Triangulation has raised an important methodological issue in naturalistic and qualitative approaches to evaluation [in order to] control bias and establishing valid propositions because traditional scientific techniques are incompatible with this alternate epistemology. (p. 13)


There are few types of triangulation as identified by Denzin (1970):

1. Data triangulation, which entails gathering data through several sampling strategies, so that slices of data at different times and social situations, as well as on a variety of people, are gathered.

2. Investigator triangulation, which refers to the use of more than one researcher in the field to gather and interpret data.

3. Theoretical triangulation, which refers to the use of more than one theoretical position in interpreting data.

4. Methodological triangulation, which refers to the use of more than one method for gathering data.

The trustworthiness of the coding process is gained through the first type of triangulation; data triangulation. Data triangulation is the use of a variety of data sources, including time, space and persons, in a study/ research. The coding of seven themes and 34 initial sub-themes of spiritual intelligence were done from two different time zones;

modern and traditional. The modern or the contemporary view is taken from the work of Hasan Langgulung while the traditional view is gained from the work of Imam al-Ghazali.

Meanwhile data sources from different spaces were reflected from Western perspectives and Islamic perspectives. And finally data sources were as well advanced from different persons or in this research experts’ views from different background; academician, philosopher, researcher and scholar. Eight main experts’ works were used; al-Ghazali (1991), Hasan Langgulung (1986), King and DeCicco (2009), Zohar and Marshall (2000), Emmons (2000a) and, Amram and Dryer (2008). The data triangulation resulted complete information needed for this research as being depicted in Table 4.2 (pp. 189 – 199) and Table 3.7 (pp. 169 – 170).


Through the initial research on spiritual intelligence from the Western perspective and the content analysis done (Islamic perspective), seven major themes were identified that led to the design and development of the spiritual intelligence model for adolescents.

The seven themes are: purpose/ meaning of life, consciousness, transcendence, spiritual resources, self-determination, reflection-soul purification and spiritual coping with obstacles. These seven themes form the basis in designing and developing the model of spiritual intelligence for adolescents (SIMA) to guide them in achieving success and human excellence (Figure 3.4).


Figure 3.4: Phase 2 - Design & development of SI Model

Phase 2

Design &


Phase 3 Phase 1

Western perspective of SI

Content analysis of Imam

al-Ghazali’s Ihya

Ulumuddin (Book 3) and Hasan Lanngulung’s Manusia & Pendidikan


Purpose of life

Spiritual resources Transcendence


Self -Determination

Reflection - soul purification

Spiritual coping with