Traditionally, psychology has been a secular discipline. In the 19th and 20th century, psychologists pursued to make the discipline as scientific as possible, ignoring the spiritual and transcendental aspects of the human psyche. However this attitude is now changing. Modern psychology seeks to encompass all aspects of the human mind. Both religion and spirituality are now being considered important factors in shaping human beings.
Naturally, Islam as a way of life, that outlines a comprehensive model of the human being and incorporates the spiritual, psychological, emotional and social aspects can contribute a lot to psychology.
Hence, Islamic psychology is the result of the need for a more holistic psychology.
According to professor Yusuf Ameen (Aligarh Muslim University), “Islamic psychology is a transcendental psychology, it contributes to our world view, affects our motion of reality and our moral view”. (Taken from the inaugural session at the International Conference of Islamic Psychology 2017, New Delhi).
- Psychology as a discipline that studies the human psyche must also account for it’s spiritual and transcendental nature. Therefore psychology cannot be secular.
- Islamic Psychology takes in account of the existence and the nature of rooh (soul).
- In the book, ‘Psychology from the Islamic Perspective by Aisha Utz’ the author states that through our connection with Allah, we experience peace and happiness, an elusive element that humans have striven to achieve since the beginning of their existence.
Modern psychology as well as Islamic psychology have been influenced by medieval Islamic philosophy. Some of the important contributors are:-
- Al-Balkhi (850-934 CE): He was the first to introduce concepts of mental health and mental hygiene. He also wrote the first book, Masalih al-Abdan wa al-anfus that discussed psychosomatic diseases with an emphasis on soul and body.
- Al-Razi (854-925 CE): Also known as Razes, he was the director of the first ever psychiatric ward at Baghdad, Iraq. He wrote two famous books on mental health, El-Mansuri and Al-Hawi.
- Ibn Sina (980-1037 CE): Also known as Avicenna, he believed in the importance of the link between mind and body. He was pioneer of psychosomatic medicine and he also wrote the influential and still relevant al-Qanun or the Canon of Medicine.
- Imam Ghazali (1058-1111): He discussed the concept of the self and the causes of it’s misery and happiness. He described the self using four terms; Qalb(heart), Ruh(spirit), Nafs(soul) and Aql(intellect).
Methods and Applications
Three different trends have been identified by researchers in the area of Islamic psychology; the Islamic Filter Approach, the Islamic Psychology Approach and the Comparison Approach.
Islamic psychology has many widespread applications in the modern world in the areas of clinical, counselling, organizational, social and educational psychology.