Channel: Ismail Kamdar
In this lesson, we're going to look at one of my favorite subjects. And that's Islamic psychology. And the Muslim world has a very rich history of psychology that goes back much earlier than you can imagine. You know, we look at psychology as a new field that developed in the past 150 years. But reality is that the Muslim world had a very in depth understanding of mental health and cures a long, long time ago. So, psychology in Islam, what does Islam tell us about psychology? Well, Islam teaches us to understand each other and to care for each other. We should love for our brothers, we love ourselves, we should listen to others understand the opinions, have empathy for each other, be
kind to each other, be compassionate towards each other. All of this forms the basis of what becomes Islamic psychology. Many Muslims are wanting to understand each other better, when deep into understanding how the human mind works, how the human heart works. And this led to development of the field of Islamic psychology.
One interesting aspect that hasn't been discussed or analyzed enough is the life of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam himself, because when you read the life of Rasulullah, sallAllahu, alayhi wasallam, you will find that he regularly counseled his Sahaba. And I believe if you actually had to approach the CETA, from the perspective of psychotherapy, and just analyze, what Rasulullah sallallahu, alayhi wasallam did when talking to people, we could extract a lot of lessons in psychotherapy. And this is maybe a book that somebody could write in the future, just going back and doing this. So for example, when a young man came to the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam, asking
for permission to fornicate, the prophets allow some did not chase him away or shout at him or degrading, he counseled him, and helped him to understand that this is wrong. And this isn't something that he should be doing with his life. So we see that counseling people was a part of the lifestyle of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam. And this became the methodology of Allah, ma and doctors later on in our history as well. So what's the difference between modern psychology and Islamic psychology? Well, one very basic difference in the modern world, psychology focuses on our body, mind and behavior. And in Islam, psychology focuses on our soul, our metaphysical heart, our
body, our mind and behavior. So essentially, Islamic psychology contains a spiritual element that is lacking in modern secular psychology.
Now, is psychology in using in the Muslim world? No, it is not. Rather, if you go back, you will find many ancient books talking about illness. Illness means study of the soul. Right? psychology is a Latin word that means study of the soul. So you can see that illness is the Arabic for psychology. This is a very old concept in Islam, that Muslims studied the soul from both a scientific and spiritual perspective, to help them understand each other better to understand people better.
We see this very early on in history with abubaker. Rosie,
the hospital that he built, contained a psych psychiatric ward Ward, and he was the director of this ward. We see this even earlier with even Sina, that even Siena's books didn't just focus on medic medicine, and, you know, surgery and things like that, but also on psychotherapy as well. He treated mental illness the same way he treated physical illness. So again, we think it's a modern idea that people are taking mental illness seriously and, you know, finding cures for it. But even Sina now, Raji did this, you know, almost 1000 years ago, this was in the Muslim world back then, a mental problem, whether it was depression or OCD, or anything of that case, was treated as a medical
problem. And it was something which was treated in the hospital in new ways of dealing with it. So this isn't a new concept for the Muslim world, even though the West makes it look as it is, right. So if you had to study the history of psychology,
and the modern day teachers, they will tell you that psychotherapy was invented by Sigmund Freud. And again, this is a rewriting of history. Because even seen as book clearly mentioned, psychotherapy as a method of healing. And this was hundreds of years before Sigmund Freud. So clearly, the modern books have ignored this part of our history.
Islamic psychology is one of those areas where Muslims continue to lead the way. Now we did go to a point in time where Muslims fell apart
In this area as with every other area, and during the colonial stage of history, the Muslims began to imitate the western ideas of psychology and began to study Western psychological theories and practice those and Islamic psychology seem to have disappeared altogether. But nonetheless, in the past 20 years, Islamic psychology has been revived, and it is growing in popularity. So there are many books available on this topic. For example, the books written by my teacher Dr. Ayesha woods, and by specifically by Marty Quadri, very important works in the field of Islamic psychology. Malik budgie especially has been responsible for reviving this field in our times. And they're not the
only ones every year, we are learning but more and more Islamic psychologists who are reviving this field and contributing to it in a very positive way, to such an extent that they are now universities offering Islamic psychology as a degree. For example, the Islamic online university where I work as the faculty manager has a degree in Islamic psychology, as does the International Islamic University of Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur. Both of these universities have a degree in Islamic psychology. So we see a revival of this field in different parts of the world in our times.
So you may be asking, what's the difference? What's the difference between Islamic psychology and Western psychology? Well, the main difference is that Islamic psychology doesn't just focus on our physical and emotional needs, but our spiritual needs as well. Right Western theories ignore this Western, the modern Western world doesn't focus on spirituality. It's all about materialism, it's all about the more about you and what you want what you desire. It's, it's
very atheistic, in its nature. But the Islamic psychology is spiritual in nature.
So we focus on the spiritual heart, we focus on the soul, we focus on the state of a person's spirituality. And we link all of that to the state of a person's mind and what they are experiencing.
Furthermore, when you look at Western psychology doesn't have a unified theory, each psychologist may have his own theory or ideas. So when I studied psychology, there were so many different theories we studied. And those were just the main theories, the basic ones, reality is each psychologist you visit has their own ideas. So some psychologists, one psychologists might tell you that your problem is to do with your destiny, and there's nothing you can do to change it. Another person said me has to do with your behavior, and you just have to change your behavior. A third one will say it has to do with your parents, your parents are to blame for your situation. And
unfortunate might say that it's a mental illness. And if you take these tablets, it will fix it. So for different psychologists would give you four different theories and four different solutions or lack of solutions. Because there is no unified theory. It's a it's an area where there's a lot of experimentation and theorizing and people are still finding their way. This is reality. in psychology, people are still finding their way. But Islamic psychology is much more unified, there are differences of opinion, but at least on a very basic level, it's very unified in understanding the importance of the soul. And Muslims have a unified understanding of destiny, and what can be
changed or what can't be changed. So it's much much more unified compared to the Western theories that exist.
And finally, the Islamic psychology as part of the healing process, it may teach you to do acts of worship. So to overcome depression, they may teach you to give sadaqa or to deal with anxiety, they may tell you to to pray, kiama lay, so it incorporates acts of worship into the healing process. And you're not going to get this if you go to a non Muslim psychologist. So these are some of the key differences between Islamic psychology and Western psychology. Now, what can we learn from the history of Islamic psychology and
the current practices in this field as well? Well, as with any other science, it's important for Muslims to go back to their roots and avoid blind imitation of others. In our times, blind imitation of the Western psychology has led many people to becoming atheists.
You know, recent studies have shown that more psychologists are atheist and scientists of the average scientist still believes in God the average psychologist does not. This is because as I mentioned earlier, Western psychology is very atheistic in nature. The more you study the blindly follow it, the more you lose your faith in religion. And this is why it's important for Muslims who want to go into this field to study Islamic psychology and make that the basis of the understanding of the world and not the western theories.
The second thing to keep in mind is that your spirituality is very important for your mental health. Many people ignore this and many people when they when something's wrong, they only think about what may be wrong physically or mentally. They don't think about what might be wrong spirit.
But very often spirituality is linked to it. So for example, a lack of tawakkol in Allah a lack of trust in Allah leads to anxiety, right? A lack of acceptance of color or lack of acceptance of destiny leads to depression. Right? So they are spiritual illnesses that lead to mental illnesses. And the best way to get rid of that mental illness is to get rid of the spiritual illness. So they are very closely connected. And Islamic psychology is the one form of psychology that helps us to understand this connection, and to deal with it from its very roots.
Another lesson we can take from this is that the life of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam is full of lessons in counseling and and empathic listening. And this is something that needs to be dived into deeper, perhaps one of you may be inspired to study the Syrah from this perspective and write a book or prepare course on the topic that would be very beneficial for the ummah. The reality is that Islamic psychology is still a growing field, there's a lot of room for improvement. So hopefully somebody watching this is inspired to go into this field to get a degree in this field, and to contribute to it and to develop it even further. So this is the history of Islamic
psychology. It's important, and I hope I've inspired somebody out there to become the next great Muslim psychologist.