Thursday, September 27, 2012

Muslim Perspective on Psychology

Are there Muslims in our communities that are dealing with psychological, social, and family problems? Obviously that is a rhetorical question because of course there is. So is there a need for Muslim counselors who can try to help them with these issues? I say there is a need and as a Muslim psychologist you have an advantage which non-Muslim teachers and students don’t have which is a penetrating insight into the true nature of the human being as revealed by the texts of the Kitaab and Sunnah. Islaam identifies the diseases of the heart and provides the true cure for them. The psychologists from the behaviorist school see us as nothing more than animals responding to stimuli. So if that is the case they have a pill for every ill that cut off receptors in the brain. They are trying to turn off the valve as it were. But who knows what the long term effects of these pills are and what other problems they can make. Then there are psychoanalytic and Freudian theorists but as al-Suyuufi pointed out that is certainly not the end all be all to psychology. I was just looking at a book on juvenile delinquency theory and the author listed many problems with psychoanalytic theories in that field. So Freud and the neo-Freudians are not without harsh criticisms from other psychologists. But that doesn’t mean all that they say is necessarily wrong, I would say there is some truth to a lot of what is found in the books and have been used as effective tools against the masses such as with advertising and propaganda. But there are multiple brands of psychology for example the cognitive school which I find most fascinating despite my little knowledge of it.

So there is truth found within these schools and benefits that can be used but certainly much falsehood as well but what we want is Islamic psychology. In the book recently published Psychology from the Islamic Perspective by Dr. Aisha Utz, she writes, “An alternative definition of psychology from the Islamic perspective would include: the study of the soul: the ensuing behavioural, emotional, and mental processes; and both the seen and unseen aspects that influence these elements.

This description stems from the notion that the soul is the basic element of life. It drives the behaviour, emotions, and mental processes of the human. The human psyche is not purely psychological; its essence is spiritual and metaphysical. The fitrah (the natural inclinations instilled by Allah, which will be discussed in detail below) and the covenant of monotheism are inscribed on each soul, whether the person is Muslim or not.

Since its true nature is spiritual, the soul requires a spiritual connection to its source, the Creator, just as the body requires food and water to survive. Without this vital nourishment, the soul will suffer anxiety, depression, and despair. Many humans who currently experience mental health problems are suffering from ailments of the soul, not of the mind. The soul is calling out for its food, but instead of getting the real food that it requires – submission and closeness to Allah, it is fed junk food in the form of various psychotherapies and medications. For this reason, the soul continues to call out.

In the Islamic conceptualization of psychology, aspects of both the seen and unseen world may influence humans. In general, the focus of contemporary psychological theories is the seen world, which includes parents and other family members, peers, teachers, communities, media, and so forth. Islamic psychology incorporates additional aspects of the unseen world to explain human nature: Allah, with His power and omnipotence, as well as the angels and the jinn. This does not negate the concept of choice and free will but places it within a context.” (34-35)

Then as Umm DJ-N pointed out that knowledge of human psychology can possibly make a person a better Da’ee. You can learn to communicate with others effectively and how to deal with difficult people. In that regard it will probably make you a better businessmen as well ask any salesman about their tricks of the trade and you can see psychology. It is like the real estate agent who bakes cookies in the oven before an open house so when people walk in and smell the aroma it reminds them of grandma’s house LOL. Or the car salesman, “You are really going to look good in this car.” A good appeal to narcissism and you can get the fish to sign ya dig LOL. So there are many advantages to it but let the Qur’an and Sunnah be your foundation and let that be the scale in which you judge.

Some recommended readings in the English language:

Psychology from the Islamic Perspective by Dr. Aisha Utz
Contemplation; An Islamic Psychospiritual Study by Malik Badri
Disciplining the Soul by Ibn al-Jawzi
Purification of the Soul Concept, Process and Means by Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo
How to Achieve Happiness by Abdur-Rahman as-Sa’di
Don’t Be Sad by Aaidh al-Qarni
Preventative Measures Against Shaytan by Mustafa ibn al-‘Adawi
Jinn & Human Sickness by Dr. Abu’l-Mundhir Khaleel ibn Ibrahim Ameen
(Two other books I have seen but not read that you might want to check out are Healing Body & Soul by Amira Ayad and Therapy from the Qur’an and Ahadith by Dr. Feryad A. Hussain).

Muhammad bin Salih al-Munajjid gave some recommendations in the Arabic Language Islam Question and Answer - Psychology: Recommended Reading

May Allaah guide you to making the best decisions for yourself and direct you towards the good in this life to lead to good in the Hereafter.
Source : IA