Internalized Islamophobia in Muslim Communities

Rania Awaad

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Hello everyone and welcome to blogging theology Today I'm delighted to talk to Dr. Rania Awad, MD You are most welcome As salam o alaikum O Alikum Salam rahmatullah wa barakato. Wonderful to be here with you. Thank you so much for this invitation. Absolutely. My pleasure. Thank you. And just to introduce you to the viewers a bit more, I adopted a word is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine, where she is the director of the Stanford and Muslim mental health and Islamic psychology lab, as well as Stanford University's affiliate chaplain, an affiliate professor of Islamic Studies in the community. She serves as president and co founder of

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the medicine.org, a holistic mental health, nonprofit serving Muslim communities, and the director of the Rockefeller Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating Muslim women and girls. In addition, she is faculty of Islamic psychology at the Cambridge Muslim College here in England, and the Islamic Seminary of America. She's also a senior fellow for your keen Institute, and the Institute of Social Policy and understanding. Prior to studying medicine, she pursued classical Islamic studies in Damascus in Syria, and holds certifications as ijazah in the Quran, Islamic law and other branches of the Islamic sciences and you can follow her on her Twitter handle,

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which I will put in the link in the description below as well as to the other organizations I mentioned just now. Now, today, Dr. Awad has kindly agreed to discuss an extremely important and often overlooked subject, actually, the internalized Islamophobia that is affecting Muslim American Muslim communities from within. It's a really important subject. So if I may, I'd like to urge over to you.

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Thank you so very much for this opportunity to discuss Yes, a very difficult conversation, but definitely one that's very important. I think the best thing, really to do to kind of frame the discussion is probably to share a story. And the story is, it's one that takes place, actually, in my own clinic at Stanford University. And for me, I think it was a defining moment to understand what is this term Islamophobia, particular Lee internalized Islamophobia, what does that mean, exactly. And so, the story is that I, when one of my clinics one day, I had two patients, one after another, both Muslim woman, one who wore a full niqab and face covering her hijab, and you have so

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fully covered in block, and the other Muslim woman doesn't does not cover, one had just completed her session with me and was walking, we were walking out into the hallway for her to leave. And in the hallway is the waiting room where I'm calling back the next patient to my office. And I could see that my second patient was visibly shaken. Just somebody who is really kind of very anxious and anxious at baseline, but today was more than usual. And so I, you know, didn't say anything out of privacy in the hallway, but as we entered into my office, sat down, checked in with her and said, what's happening? You do an okay, like, what's going on? And she just sort of really trembling, kind

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of like a leaf trembling, and said, Why was that other lady here? What is she doing in a place like Stanford University? What is someone like her dress like that think they're doing here.

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And, you know, I took a moment helped her kind of break through this a little bit, but eventually said to her, you know, I can't share any details out of confidentiality, for what's you know why that's other patient is there. But I'm very curious about your own response to what's happened here. And she said, Well, I think people that look like that give Muslims a bad rap. And in a place like Stanford, that really that kind of dress doesn't belong. We talked through this, and eventually, as we were talking through and kind of processing everything, and what I can take share with you and I couldn't share with her in, you know, is just that the other patient really had a lot of the same

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family complaints and interpersonal issues that were happening as the second patient but you know, she's done the Wiser related to that, and it had nothing to do with her new call or the way she covered. And so as we kind of processed a little bit more, my second patients reactions. At the end of it all, she sort of sat back in the chair, and just sort of side let a sigh of relief out and sort of said, Matt, the media has done a number on me to

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kind of connecting and realizing that she had been holding all this internalized fear around

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rational fear, which is what how we define Islamophobia of Islam and Muslims are the symbols that represent them. And that to me was very telling, it was kind of this defining moment for me of realizing, wow, even for us as Muslims, we have taken in a lot of what the media has said about Muslims, what others have been saying negatively or incorrectly, a lot of the misinformation that's out there and carry that along with us and don't realize sometimes that it's these unconscious, or what we would call on our field kind of implicit bias that we carry around to our own. Yeah, I think what if I may just say, a really interesting point you make about the term Islamophobia because

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often, conservative commentators in the West say what Islamophobia this word, they don't like it, because it just means you can't criticize Islam. You can't disagree with Islam, they say, but you've defined it clinically, I think, as an irrational fear of Muslims, perhaps or Islam. So it's not based on an objection that might be rationalized is irrational is not based on on information and knowledge. And I think that's a really important definition you're given. Definitely, and that the term phobia in psychiatry is, is exactly the same type of understanding that it's an irrational fear of something that when you break it down and analyze, it doesn't quite add up.

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And neither does the amount of effect or reaction that comes with it as well. I just wanted to really ask if I may, we've all heard about, you know, other other phobias, and other irrational prejudices that people have against groups of people. Obviously, we all know what that might be. But and that's recognized in psychology and in the academy, as you know, a problem that we need to address and understand and analyze and find ways through this. Can we now say that that is true for Islamophobia. As you've defined, it is just a recognized problem in psychology, for example,

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that in the clinical textbooks, however, the entire field of Islamophobia is a massive field in which there's been a lot of writing, studying and research on it. In many ways, some of the experts on Islamophobia may also disagree with accent, the exact terminology of it, there may have been a better way to actually conceptualize this entire this this concept, however, as Dr. Hatem Bazian, who is one of the main writers, I would say, in the current era on Islamophobia often says, The train has left the station on this particular term. It's really what has been coined and used for such a long time now. And so we'll continue to use it understanding that there probably could be

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other better ways to exactly capture the meanings of what's happening here. But your definition and your experience there would that be recognized by your professional colleagues, as an example of irrational fear and treated as such

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a bit of phobia, absolutely anything that is anything really there could be, and it's very individualized from person to person. So it may not be in the DSM in our manual of diagnosis. But really any fear that a person may have that is irrational and also elicits a response that is not that is above and beyond what would be typical,

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is categorized as a phobia. Hmm, interesting. You mentioned I mentioned in your introduction to your work that you're you've discussed internalized Islamophobia that is affecting Muslim communities in America, particularly, I don't think it's just America, by the way, and a number of other places in Europe as well, of course, and maybe other places, as well. But in terms of the social dynamics here, how does that work? Are we talking about people who are individually consuming, you know, Islamophobic, prejudicial kind of concepts from the media or from Tik Tok or Twitter or YouTube? Or the a more kind of social dynamic to this, that whole communities are affected in some way?

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So that's yes, definitely. I think that's something to see. So I'll clarify first, that a lot of the research that I do in my lab is focused on American Muslims. That is where I reside, and where a lot of AI researchers, but I absolutely agree with you that it's really similar in other Western nations. And really, wherever you find the Muslim dies for me, you really find this all throughout the world. And we focus a lot on the English speaking populations in our research, but yes, I would say that it's beyond just the individual. There are different layers of Islamophobia. The individual being if you think of it as almost like concentric circles, one circle within another within another

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nested within one another. You start at the individual level, and there are direct effects and some of the starts are right at home. And that's why we always say we need to point inwards before we point outwards. Kind of similar to the story that I mentioned. There are things that happen even in how we discuss what is acceptable and what

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isn't in terms of, for example, outward Islamic appearance of woman or men children. So you have an individualized level. Beyond that you go into more of a community and that starts at the local level, what was that community? Like? Was there any support or wasn't there? Beyond that you kind of go out into a national level. So for us, we kind of look at the entire United States and what is what is happening, kind of what is the rhetoric that is being said about Muslims? And then you kind of enter out into the global domain, all of these stacked one upon another, absolutely affect how Islamophobia is stripping? And is it the case that men and women both men and women experienced this

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differently as well, obviously, the hijab or the niqab is of a visible, social sign are unavoidable.

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But for men, how are manufactured by this kind of internalized Islamophobia in the United States? Certainly men and women and children, but women take the cake here, they absolutely do. All the research has shown that Muslim woman who are visibly identifiable as Muslim by their hijab or other Dressler, that they definitely are the symbol of Islam. And so therefore, so much of the hate crimes and other violence, even an even smaller

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biases that come towards them tend to come to Muslim woman the most. But certainly men experience too and the more visible as Muslims they are, whether that be by clothing, or whether that be by facial hair or bid, what would that be? I don't mean just estoppel I mean, a big bid. Sure.

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Sure, although one might say that, you know, in recent years, the beard has also become kind of a fashion statement for so. So here's where, you know, names matter what a person's name is, can make a big difference. And then children, the stats related to some of the Libyan children are heartbreaking. And as I see this as a parent, knowing that as I send my child, my children out into the world, who are visibly identifiable as Muslims, and have names as such, knowing that there's a 5050 chance it's nearly 49 to 50% of all Muslim children in the US will experience some level of identity based

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Islamophobia directed towards them, but because of their Muslim identity, either their names the what they wear, even what they eat at school, and their lunchboxes, right? 40,000,050% that's half of sushi incredible statistic. It is. It's incredible, stunning statistic and heartbreaking. And this is where so many Muslim families like like the first patient I was referring to, you know, make a very make a decision about do we want to be visibly identifiable and recognizable and to the world? Or do we kind of make this more private?

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So the pressure must be enormous on obviously on Muslim women not to wear hijab, or perhaps for both men and women not to have Islamic names publicly Islamic No. So, you know, call themselves mo rather than Mohamed, I'm not so sure what they would say. But you know, the emphasis very much on on invisibility, sometimes, rather than being yourself and having an identity. You know, America prides itself on being a free country where freedom of religion is practiced, allegedly, and valued allegedly as political and social value.

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So there seems to be a disconnect between the rhetoric and the reality as certainly when it comes to Muslims.

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Absolutely. And I think that's the story that I was sharing earlier was kind of like, encapsulated in real time, you could see kind of the one who decided to take a stance and what was important to and I didn't share this earlier, as you know, this is not a woman who comes from a family of hijab wearing or niqab wearing woman, she made a very personal decision that meant a lot to her, and kind of took that stand, not just in hijab, a full new cloth.

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And then you almost see the example on the other side of a Muslim woman who is also proud to be a Muslim, but very private about her Islam. Right. So I mean, how do you you mentioned that the students, just half the children are affected by this? How do you clinically or as a carer, actually come alongside these people in their families? How do you help them? Because surely there's nothing that can be done in that the the forces are, there's an asymmetry of power and influence. So how do you assist them in in somehow dealing with this reality?

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Absolutely. The for me, the parents are important. under percent, I'm actually quite interested in the youth. A lot of the work I do in the communities actually on a youth level. Locally, we run multiple girls how because or kind of youth groups and youth camps and different things that we do for kind of empowerment, and so knowledge is empowerment and being able to get to a point where you feel proud of who you are and your identity, realizing

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mean that you're going to be out there and going to be questions, and you'll get the funny looks and may even have, unfortunately, negative attention come your way as well. But also realizing that the kind of the the core identity that I often speak to the, you know, the girls that I mentor, and those who mentor the girls we have a mentorship program is Allah subhanaw taala is with you like that God is with you. And if this is a requirement of your faith, because God has has put it there, then he's never going to put something or make enforce something that actually isn't the best for you. And so it's almost like a cognitive shift that needs to happen, you know, kind of a reframing

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this whole discussion of what could be negative and realizing there are risks, really, to everything out there. But that sense of like pride in oneself, and knowing that God is overseeing everything and protecting you, as you are careful and protecting yourself, of course, but that God is there with you, is powerful. And I find that so many young girls kind of

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again, those of us who I mentor, often really take on that message and feel that sense of pride and are able to go into their schools or into their programs, with their hate jobs and feel very confident in that. Well, this touches on fascinating subject, because when I think of psychology or psychiatry, normally I think of like Sigmund Freud, or, you know, I think of these quite an atheist or materialist kind of outlooks or assumptions, particularly Sigmund Freud, who was very, you know, passionate atheist in many ways in motivated in, apparently, but your understanding of psychology and psychiatry, I guess, seems to be much more of what a better word holistic, it includes the

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spiritual from what you're saying. So you're talking about changing the paradigm so that this is a much more holistic approach to human wellbeing than the narrowly reductionist or materialist approach to that, that's very interesting, I think. Absolutely. I can't tell you how much the rendition on psychology being this Freudian psychology is, is so problematic. And for me, it's been really the catalyst to look into what else is there. So I welcome you and everybody else listening, actually, to the newest kind of emerging field, within the fields of psychology today, which is understood to be religion and spirituality. And so there's quite an emphasis and a push actually, to

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have religion, spirituality be part and parcel of the field of psychology, when I was training, you know, did my training at Stanford when I was there, early on, and I was trying to speak up these things in the early days, in my training, I have people say, there is no space for this in this department. This is a this doesn't belong in the field of psychiatry, we don't know what you're talking about. However, it's not just myself, there's actually researchers and clinicians across the faith spectrum, you know, all different faith backgrounds who have been writing and pushing this domain. And I'll share with you something, you know, just to just to start to see that the change

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happening in the field of psychology, this last couple of months ago, the annual conference on the American Psychological Association, or the APA, the largest body that kind of governs and

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puts on the conferences, which have 1000s and 1000s of people in the field of psychology, hosted a conference in which they had on their main stage. This is the first time in their 130 year history, on their main stage, a topic on religion and mental health. This was the first time you said

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I've been to America actually people haven't been there. I mean, it's officially a secular state. I understand. Correct me if I'm wrong, but boy, is your country religious? salutely. Absolutely. It really is. I mean, okay, there are pockets of secularity, maybe bits of New York a bit, it's bit secular. You go out there, you know, people are very proud of being Christian or Muslim, or whatever. very religious, was Britain, ironically, is technically a Christian country that our King is head of the church, yet people don't like it's embarrassing to talk about religion in public, you know, but America's very different. So I say that, because I'm surprised at what you have just said

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in the 100 or so years of existence of this prestigious premier psychological city. There's a first time in the United States that religion has been on the agenda and I find that astonishing. Absolutely. It's in the main stage to I mean, it's probably likely had talks in different years. But this is the first time where it's like, the organization itself is putting it onto the main stage realizing and recognizing there is a gap here that they have completely ignored. If we go back to the history of psychology, just very briefly and say, if we break down the term psychology, in the lot and understanding of the, the, the root of the word psychology, the site

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He means breath, spirit.

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And of course, this is the study of the breath or spirit. And it's interesting in that this is how psychology actually began even in Europe, but eventually changed over time and moved into much more of an empirical, rational science, in which nothing else other than that, which you can reproduce in a lab and test and see now under an FMRI machine, right, if you can't touch it, improve it, it doesn't exist. So the discussion on the soul just flew out right out the window. And many people criticize the field of psychology today. And quite literally, it makes sense. And that it, quote, lost its soul.

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both literally and metaphorically, it's go, and this is referred to kind of bring it back an effort to really come back to, you know, full circle to how the field began. And the importance of what happens when you leave out. Or, you know, another thing in the field is, when people come into therapy, in a very secularized understanding of the field and clinical practice of it, they have to, quote, check God at the door.

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Right. And that's very hard for a person who comes from a faith background, right, in which God is they come from a God centered worldview. And that's how they understand their life, and how they even how they cope with everything coming through. It's quite hard. I completely sympathize and agree, but there is a problem is there not because if psychology or putting in a kind of pushing back a little bit, for the sake of argument away, if psychology is supposed to be scientific, okay, if it is a science, whatever that means, and you know, science, we have other scientists, we have physics, we have chemistry, we have biology, and so on. These are also in terms of their

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methodology, as you put it, check God at the door. So a physicist wouldn't normally speak of the marble. I mean, he could he or she could do but my experience, they don't tend to publicly say we're the universe is a marvel of God's design. And we can add up we can investigate the mechanisms of that design, the laws of physics and so on, they wouldn't use that language, they check it at the door. So couldn't a psychologist say in trying to be scientific as well that we would check that language at the door? Whilst personally he or she may be a believer? You certainly it's a question of how it's done rather than a metaphysical declining of religion. It's just our way of doing

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science, excludes that language. Does that make sense? Well, it does. But that exclusionary language has effects on language has effect, right. And the effect eventually becomes completely excising it out of the field altogether. Even looking down upon it, even not just looking down upon but literally demeaning it. And I think that's the the field I'm in certainly when I was going through training you similar to what you mentioned, being in Britain, I mean, you can't even bring up religion, you are literally considered the livestock, right of the group. And not rigorous or scientific enough, nor nor your research. But the reality is back to research and scientific study,

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when you look at some of these studies that are now you know, back when I was training, were in the hundreds now they're in the 1000s of studies that show the direct connection between one's spirituality or religion, and their physical and mental well being. So we have groups related to Dell research, study, after research, study after research study in which there is everything that you would want in a scientific study, right? You have clinical evidence now. That's right. Meditation, and it can be Islamic, of course, it could be Hindu or whatever. But this is not a metaphysical sort of theology. But nevertheless, the practice of spirituality in some form, is

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intrinsic to the well being of the physical, mental, spiritual wealth, are human beings. And this is empirically established, as you say, over and over and over again, over and over, you have direct connections in you know, cardiac, for example, you might think, Well, that's very biological, scientific, right heart conditions. And the connection between that and between figuring out whether a person is depressed or not the connection between the two that one affects the other. Wow, right. And as you as you help the depression, you also help the cardiac condition as well. I mean, these are well established at this point. It's so it's so it's so plentiful, that it's hard to any longer

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to push back on it.

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I can't ever think of what the Quran says about the fitna the vitriol rather, they send to the innate disposition that human beings have in our human nature to to worship God and to connect so that this this will be a description of that sign scientifically, or what the crown is already teaching us about the nature of what it is to be human, we have this that we're God's creatures, and so we would obviously flourish as human beings if we behaved in the way that we're creating.

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to debate of worship God, for example, correct? Absolutely. And this that, I would say, was definitely an impetus for the early Muslims, who, of course, in that Islamic heritage, did amazing work related to science, medicine, and amazing advances and focus quite a bit on psychology, of course, quite a bit on the field today we call psychology then they called nine one knifes, or the science of the self. And when you look at their work, and you figure out what inspired them, versus in the plan, or in the Hadith directly correspond to that impotence, I think that catalyst in which they said, you know, the Quran says, look within yourselves, the Signs of God are within yourself

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and look out into the world around you, because those are the Signs of God to and realize that if God is telling us to take care of ourselves, and the baseline, literally, the baseline of all Islamic duty starts with one being saying that you have a mental capacity. And so if somebody in front of you does not have mental capacity, then there is this impetus to actually try to help them reach that point, so that they can fulfill their personal obligatory duties and duties to those around them. This becomes a core

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principle, this core, this principle is a core impetus really for what inspired the early Muslims to do all the work they did. There's something very, very interesting in this subject, I must say, and of course, you are now a clinical professor of psychiatry at Stanford University. So clearly the university now accepts the, the validity, the raison d'etre, everything you're saying has been totally on ball, and they want to support it and endow you with a chair. So that's fantastic news. But I'm still not 100% clear, maybe people are perhaps not 100%. Clear. I mean, you're also on the faculty of Islamic psychology at the Cambridge Muslim College, which I mentioned, which is in the

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UK, what is Islamic psychology? I mean, you described the benefits of a kind of integrating a holistic understanding spirituality, perhaps meditation, perhaps yoga may be for other people. And so but what is this thinks the Islamic psychology sort of mean? How is that conceptualized? Yes. And what happens when you put the word Islamic before any discipline? What is that? What is that mean? Exactly? Absolutely. And so if I could take just a step back and say that there are two connected related fields that they, they overlap, but they're different than one another. And so it helps me explain what Islamic psychology is. And that's the other field that's connected, which is the Muslim

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mental health field. And when you put the word Muslim in front of something, in this case, mental health, we're talking about populations, Muslim populations, however it is that they practice or don't, the Islamic religion here is not quite as prevalent, it's really talking about different populations that are Muslim and their mental health. As soon as we go into Islamic psychology, now, we're talking about the religion itself, we're talking about its foundational principles, the thing that basically the scaffolding comes from the faith itself, and then you build a psychology upon it. So we often refer to this as a bottoms up approach, where you have the scaffolding of the religion

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at the bottom, then you build upon it a psychology, that understanding is actually quite different than most mental health, even when they overlap with one another.

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Okay, so what is Islamic psychology then? So it's based on the religion itself, but how does it connect with your colleagues who are in psychology? What what do you what do you tell them when I'm, you know, I practice Islamic psychology and they say, Well, I'm just a psychologist, if told me, how do you have that conversation? Who, you know, claims the generic psychology if you like, as if that's kind of the morally central element and you you have a very a job that I'm not saying that how that's how it is, but how would you explain that you're saying that it's sometimes it is sometimes, but I would like to be just clarify as well, that there's no such thing as a generic

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psychology. The psychology we talk about today is a Western psychology. It's a Eurocentric psychology, it's a psychology that when we talk about modern psychology, its roots are very Eurocentric, and are they everything comes this is where people sometimes don't realize this until we kind of take a step back. I do this with my Stanford students. In their class, I teach a class to our psychiatry trainees called religion and culture and psychiatry, and often at the very beginning of every one of these classes, and every cohort I've taught now, this is our 12th cohort of this class, is somebody raises their hand and says, you know, why are we doing this? And isn't there just

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kind of your question in the same as your question? Is it just psychology Well, what what are we why are we talking about this? And so I say to them, or somebody might say to me, I don't even think I have a

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don't have a religion. And I'm not even sure I have a culture. And I say to them, yes, but if I were to pick you up right now and drop you in the Gambia, do you know how the culture

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like you sometimes have to reframe and help people understand that everything has a bias to it, everything is colored by an experience. So for us, when we talk about what is Islamic psychology, it is such

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that I'm going to use the Lasallian model of Imam Azhar his model of understanding the human psyche, in Vanguard because Ali died and 1111 of the Common Era, a very, very famous Islamic philosopher or theologian, and the many, many things but yeah, and one of the many people who contributed to the field of Islamic psychology. And his model of the human psyche is really what a lot of this is based on. It's the understanding that at the very core is the connection with a human being with their Lord. And that connection is a spiritual connection. And so he can he connects it in from the heart, the caliphate, it's the metaphysical heart, not the heart that beats in your chest and not our Can I

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stop, can I pause you there. So at this word, the heart because I know particularly myself, before I was a Muslim, and I came across this language of the heart, because I only knew about the physical pump in my ribcage, so to speak. So when you started talking about the heart thinking, feeling connecting, I think it doesn't make any sense. How can a heart a biological mechanism possibly do that, but Islamic and this is the point I think are mentioning this is Islamic conception of the heart is much richer and more profound than the pump that we in the materialist West have now reduced this language to, and this is your point about how specific that psychology has become. So

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sorry to pause there, but could you just what, what do you mean by the word heart? Yes, it's very similar to what you just said, I appreciate that very much the difference between the physical and the metaphysical. So here, so often, in the West, when we think about a thinking, person, or thinking in general, we think cognition, we go straight to the brain. And the field of Psychology Today, in modern psychology, that's exactly I mean, look at where I'm housed, I'm housed in, you know, any department of psychiatry, even Psychology Today is usually housed in the School of Medicine, usually, in the sciences. And so, there, you find a very kind of rational, empirical kind

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of field, and a lot less related to the emotional and or kind of the spiritual connection we were talking about earlier. So not in the humanities, and not anywhere near the anything related to divinity. So if you're, the metaphysical heart, then is one that's able to, as you mentioned, ration, it's able to think it's able to make decisions, and it needs to be cleansed, as well, there are diseases of the heart, and there's a purification of the heart, which emammal Is it spends a lot of time in his books, outlining and detailing what that is. And as Muslims, we are as concerned about the health of our heart, the physical, but also very much the metaphysical heart, in purifying

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that hearts, in order to then be able to do better and be well have a sense of wellness, which is why the core Imam was at his model, heart right at the center, more important than the brain or cognition in this. So where is this heart? Look? I mean, maybe I'm using inappropriate language. So correct me if I'm wrong. But where is this heart located? Or is it not in a spatial dimension? Dimension? Right, this is the thing is because the cardio, the physical heart is located in a special dimension, obviously. So this is a spiritual, this is not a metaphor, this is it is a real, it's an ontological reality. It's not just a metaphor, this is real, or even perhaps more real, I

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don't know, the physical heart, but it doesn't have a spatial temporal locality that we can point to and say, oh, there it is, is that correct? Absolutely. Absolutely. And if you think about it as the core, then you have different things that connect to it. And so one, we've already mentioned the cognition, right? And so that the Arabic term is awkward, right to be able to understand many people might kind of understand that as the brain or, at this point in time, the mind is probably the better way to translate that. Also connected to it is little, little being the soul. And this is where I was saying the study of the soul has been largely lost but part of the Islamic tradition,

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it's part and parcel, it's directly connected to the subject. The another connection is the knifes or the self. And this is where in terms of both of these that sometimes people conflate the two of these little enough's, but they're actually different entities and Allah subhanaw taala speaks about them in the Quran, and outlines and he talks about different levels of neffs for example, the tranquil knifes the one that is pulling right to evil and then you have to kind of continue to fight against it right and kind of do your jihad or knifes or struggle against them.

00:35:00--> 00:35:01

EFS to do better.

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And so you have, as I was mentioning that or connected, the next connected docket or the cognition connected to this.

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And also, in some of the models, you also see SS or emotions connected as well. They use a very strong worship to work the diseases of the heart. Now, when I think of heart disease, I immediately thinking of blocked arteries, you know, eating the wrong kind of food, not getting exercise, whatever. But you didn't mean that you meant I don't think the diseases of the heart that you're speaking of are what spiritual diseases diseases, right? And why are they called diseases? And what is their cure? You're not taking tablets, we're not having physical exercise, aren't we? There's a whole different regime operating here. So could you explain a bit about exactly what you mean by the

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word disease? And the cure that ecommerce that is offered in the Islamic spiritual slash psychological approach to this? Absolutely, absolutely. The best way to explain this, if I may, is also take a step back here to explain there's a hadith or saying of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. So Melania was Saddam, that in which he's asked to explain about this religion. And he explains it in three levels, and explains that the first level of it is, is stem. So kind of the five pillars that many people are familiar with of the sun. The next layer up is Iman, the belief system, that al Qaeda or the creed that Muslims believe. And the third layer up, which is what I'm

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going to focus on here is air, sun, and aerosol and being kind of that level of excellence, right? And that connectedness, so when a person, it, you could be a Muslim at any of these levels. But the ideal is to kind of get to the very top right to kind of work your way through the three levels. And so if you've done your five pillars, you're praying, you're fasting, you're giving your charity, and you have your iman, your core belief system, what's left them to do is really work on purifying and bettering oneself, that level of excellence or so and so, so much of the science of the diseases of the heart is really focusing on not so much the clinical diseases that you were mentioning, kind of

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like heart disease, you know, a blocked artery, or even a psychiatric disease, depression, anxiety, but actually looking more here at things like greed, gluttony, vanity, love of the limelight, you know, all of these different types of spiritual diseases, which in Islam, and a lot of the Muslim spiritual scholars of the inner sciences say that those diseases are just as deadly as the physical ones, and need their treatments and cures just as physical illnesses. And if we weren't, then you're out of balance, you may be very healthy, because you run a mile every day and eat very, very healthy food and sleep well, right. And maybe you also

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kind of do well in terms of morality, you're a good moral person and treat others well. But if you don't have the spiritual connectedness, where you're able to also make sure you're somebody who doesn't lie and cheat and steal, and, and cause others harm, then you're out of balance. It's not holistic, in your you are not a holistic person in your wellness. So there's some there's a huge gap, you're missing, you're not in the DSM,

00:38:14--> 00:38:20

I'm sorry, you won't see this, you won't see these illnesses, these diseases in the DSM or diagnostic manual of psychiatry.

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But I'm very hopeful that that's the Muslims that will come together with actually putting a more complete manual of what are all the different illnesses that need to be treated both physical and spiritual. You guys, I'm interested, because I come from a Christian background, lot of what you said, would resonate from that context. So the language of the heart, the Bible talks about the heart, the psalmist, for example, in the book of Psalms, talks about the human heart and the prophets sometimes talk about the how the, how corrupt the human heart is, and they're not talking about the physical organ in our ribcage. They're using the same I think the same concept. And I

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think also that's found in the Jewish Bible, and therefore in the Christian tradition, is an Islamic tradition. And I think it's in other traditions as well in the Far Eastern traditions as well. So, this seems to be a quite a common almost universal language in traditional religions that is used that sides in inverted commas in this western construct as you as you would describe, it has kind of bleached out in the name of science, I suppose. This kind of very rationalist empiricist, materialists kind of way of looking at things. So this this your approach is both very new and very old, isn't it? It's not it's it's a technology that's been around for millennia, probably around the

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world for millennia, but it seems new in some kind of fresh and so on because it's been lost perhaps in the western context anyway. And and I would say a term that you had brought up earlier, which is the concept of fitrah fits inside a Nate

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you know, kind of connection where we know you can't necessarily always put your finger on it but you know, inside of yourself

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And that's that deep connection with God. And so this is a human aspect. It's not limited to Muslims. It's really all humans can recognize fitrah when they see it, when they hear about it, and so when when someone hears about this and understands even the concept of holistic well being, balancing mind, body and soul, regardless of their background, usually they're able to say, yes, that's, that's, that's what I want. I want that I want that balance right there. Mirza and as it's called in the Arabic tradition, but that's not a controversial question. Yeah. If you don't want to answer that's fine. I'm, I'm very interested in atheists and atheism. Okay. I mean, both the

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theoretical and the individual. I know atheists, some of them may even sort of vaguely friends taught many of them.

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And I have a suspicion and I was wondering if you have any clinical view or professional view on this, and again, if you don't have any, that's fine. But my my intuition is that a lot of atheists, atheists, because they're very angry with God, so they might have had some bad experience, some relationship or work or whatever, some existential, great crisis and acute event in their lives. And for me, the opposite of, of love is not hate, but indifference when you say, I'm not going to hate you, I'm going to say, in my anger, you don't even exist, you know, wiping them out completely is the ultimate kind of dissing as someone if you like,

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my suspicion is based on precisely little evidence, really, it just anecdotal evidence is that a lot of atheists, self called are actually angry at God, at some level, because you make to the factory talks about the future. This is our natural disposition for our species. So atheism doesn't really fit does it in that, so I'm looking for some kind of explanation on the heart level, that your heart so to speak, the the heart You've been speaking about, that makes sense of atheists? Because often they'll say to me, Well, I'm an atheist, because I haven't seen any evidence for God. And I'm thinking, Well, what evidence do you want? It's all around you, you know, it's the universe.

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But they don't seem very happy with that. And I'm thinking, well, there's something going on there that seems more than the presenting rationale of the atheism. Do you see what I mean? Do you have a view on that you might do. And I think I think there's definitely something to be said about anger, we certainly see that quite a bit in therapy. And in our sessions that we work on with individuals. Sometimes I also wonder how much of it is veiled or called by another name, for example, in many of the patients that I've worked with, and I will say this, I'll give this caveat and say, as somebody from a faith background, working with somebody who's not from a faith background in therapy, it

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could be quite stifling sometimes, because sometimes they're seeing the world in such a bleak way. And maybe what they're describing is a very traumatic, terrible thing that's happened. And with a believer, they understand that there is a judgment day, and there is a better day coming after this right, the hereafter, in which there is goodness to come after this difficult life. This is a world of tribulations not had been up, as we call it here on Earth. And so when you don't have that point of view, yes, you can get a lot of anger, resentment, also, I would say, maybe also veiled by another name. So often, what we find people say is, they'll say, I'm going to channel you know, all

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this energy out into the universe, and the universe will respond, you know, I'll manifest I'll say what I want, and it manifests. And, you know, it's honestly a rose by any other name is still a rose, right? Like, what are they doing other than dua like that is essentially what they're manifesting into the world, yet, they are not able to use the language of religion because they have walked away from that. And so sometimes it's anger. But sometimes it's also

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availing of the terminology or using different terminology to say the same things that honestly a person of faith is very interested in looking at the surface of the of the of the term is used, actually, underneath, they're actually the act, they're acting as a bit like believers, even though they'll deny it at the surface level. Certainly, certainly.

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There's this very interesting insight. Okay. And then the third thing, I would say is a word, a term that you mentioned as well, which is dissonance, a cognitive dissonance, where a person is essentially of two minds, where, if you were to kind of, and we do this, were able to do this in therapy sometimes is actually go deeper, deeper, deeper, deeper into the discussion, and really go back into people's core beliefs, their core belief systems. And we do this a lot in CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy, where you really talk about negative core beliefs that people walk around with things like you know, the world is unsafe, nobody's kind, right things like this where

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people walk around so they have a lot of critical thoughts to the world around them and people. Yes, in doing that,

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But we often tell people, you're essentially of two minds, because you go out every day, yes, sure you lock your car in your front door, but you also interact with people at the grocery store or do things every day. And those people are safe. So it's not always unsafe. So there's of two minds that are happening sometimes. And sometimes you have to be able to connect help people connect the dots, and then do behavioral change.

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And it's also for some people also that they might be more favorably disposed towards belief or faith during, I don't know, during the summer, when they're feeling happier, more optimistic, and when they've eaten a good meal, or, you know, they're going things are going well with their family, rather than, you know, the bleak midwinter when things are not going so good. And they're financially challenged. And so they might also be that kind of, you know, life just makes us more amenable to one than the other, you know, rather than a committed position that one holds sorts of mean. So it could be, it could be quite fluid, I suppose. I don't think so I've, in fact, I would

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say the majority of people that I meet, sort of are agnostic, they sort of say, I just don't know, they're not willing to take that hard stance of there is no God, right? And I'm going to discount it. And there's some more sort of in the middle, because again, when you scratch the surface of go deep enough, they realize that they're not getting up out of bed every morning, unable to take that first breath without some assistance that's not of their own. Right? Oh, that's another way of putting it. I like that. It's really nice to finally that if I may, if we're interested viewers that may or may have included my site does include myself, what what resources would you recommend, then

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for people to access? Could be YouTube could be books, or whatever, if you want to explore Islamic psychology better or in greater depth to help them personally, but also academically to understand the discipline? Sure, yes, there's a couple of resources. One is if they're willing to read something a little more dense, if you will. For those who want you know, more in depth and understanding, we've actually written a book on this topic. And it's actually called Islamic psychology. And it's introducing Islamic principles into clinical mental health care. And so they're able This is published by Rutledge, and they're able to take a look and read more in depth,

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particularly those first introductory chapters that really outline and explain what is Islamic psychology, and what are the models that we're using to find it. And certainly for clinicians that might be interested in working on this, and integrating this in their own clinical practice. For those who are able to willing to read academic papers, but not a whole book, I would direct them towards my labs website, the Stanford University's Muslim mental health and Islamic psychology lab. On our publications page, we have all of our publications, actually, you can click them, and immediately read all of the articles that we have published. Both of these are available, they're

00:47:52--> 00:47:57

not behind a paywall anything right on the website is

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more popular, or more generally accessible resource, would you Jesuits and for those who are not deep readers, I would say another resource to really learn about the connection between Islam and psychology. There is a series that I've recorded with the Yaqeen institute that talks about, you know, really defining what is prophetic understanding of holistic wellness and care, and explaining what is mental health from an Islamic point of view. There's historical aspects to that conversation. It's, I believe that several part series and and then we go into kind of discussions on how do you directly benefit from that kind of practical advice related to this?

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Oh, there's a streaming obviously, you're keen. Okay. I'll try and link to these in the description below so people can correctly access them. Well, I think that's fantastic. Well, thank you very much indeed, Dr. Ronnie our for your precious time and absolutely fascinating, actually. And it's very encouraging message as you're presenting here, for Muslims and others as well. Exploring a better way to live I think. Anyway, but so thank you very much for your time. Really appreciate it. Absolutely. My pleasure. Until next time,