Islamic Psychology Research Fellowship

The Islamic Psychology Research Fellowship (online) advances the Islamic Psychology body of knowledge by supporting graduate students anywhere in the world doing their masters thesis or doctoral dissertation on Islamic Psychology but whose home university does not have faculty with the requisite expertise. We provide mentorship and help the student through all phases of their project, including guidance on publishing the work when done. This Fellowship is also open to (early-career) professionals wanting to advance an area of IP scholarship but who need support in doing so. If you are interested in becoming a Fellow, send an email to info@alkaraminstitute.org that contains the following information: Your name, current university or institution, country the institution is located in, what degree you are pursuing, and an abstract of your proposed project. See below for FAQ on the Fellowship as well as some of our Fellows’ work.

FAQ

What is the difference between Islamic psychology and Muslim mental health?

Islamic psychology (IP) is a field that seeks to develop framework of psychology rooted in Islam. The field of Muslim mental health (MMH) is primarily about understanding the mental health needs of Muslims. Although there is overlap (for example, when exploring the utility of an IP framework or intervention on a Muslim population), they are also quite distinct in that IP is primarily about Islam whereas MMH is primarily about Muslims. Although exploring the mental health needs of Muslims is a very worthy and necessary area of scholarship, it is simply not the focus of what we do at the Institute at this time.

Does it matter what kind of degree I am currently pursuing in order to be eligible for the Fellowship?

No. Our Fellows come from diverse scholarly backgrounds which naturally reflects the multidisciplinary nature of Islamic psychology. Some are pursuing a degree in psychology, others are in Islamic studies. Potential Fellows could come from other domains as well including history, philosophy, and beyond.  Some are doing an MA thesis, others are doing a doctoral dissertation. What is important to us is the actual project you would like to do and whether or not it fits within the scope of the Institute’s mission.

When do Fellowships begin and how long do they last?

Fellowships can begin at any time and vary in duration, depending on what stage the Fellow is at in his or her research project when they join. Some Fellowships could be as little as a year, some could be 2 or 3. There is no strict time-frame.

I have very little exposure to the IP field but am interested in doing a Fellowship. Where should I start?

In order to do a Fellowship and advance the IP field, you must, in the very least, be familiar with the basic IP landscape. As a starting point, you must familiarize yourself with the literature base. For more information see https://alkaraminstitute.org/what-is-islamic-psychology/

 

OUR FELLOWS:

Venus Mahmoodi, PhD

Columbia University

Transition to Motherhood: An Islamically Integrated Approach to Matrescence

Matrescence refers to the transition from pre-parenthood to motherhood, a development experience similar to adolescence, where a child moves into adulthood. There is a natural push-pull that occurs during these developmental transitions that can incur a range of experiences, including identity shifts, discomfort, excitement, and even vulnerability to significant distress (depression and anxiety). This transition can be influenced by a number of factors, including religious, cultural, and societal expectations, support network, and history of mental health struggles.

For many Muslim women, their spiritual and religious connections to God influence their experiences of motherhood and their conceptualization of a “good mother”. The Quran and Sunnah provides guidelines about the role, importance, and treatment of mothers. Furthermore, these scriptures provide countless exemplars of mothers who are patient, pious, and selfless. Although these are guidelines for motherhood in Islam, many Muslim women engage with these exemplars and guidelines as rigid rules that can influence their expectations of a “good mother”. When these expectations are not met, what are the consequences for these women?

The focus of this research is:

  1. To identify the Islamic rulings, guidelines, and requirements outlined in the Quran and Sunnah around motherhood and the role of the mother using primary sources under the guidance of religious scholars.
  2. To elucidate the process of matrescence as it relates to Muslim women and the factors (religious, personal, country of origin, etc.) that contribute to their transition to motherhood.
  3. To understand the role of expectations, religious and cultural, in Muslim women’s distress around the perinatal period (during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum) and to determine if some Muslim women are more vulnerable to distress if expectations are not met.
  4. To develop interventions rooted in Islamic Psychology to alleviate the range of emotional struggles Muslim women might experience around their transition to motherhood, from discomfort to significant mental health diagnoses
  5. To explore how Islamic notions of matrescence might have relevance to non-Muslims as well as how it might inform non-Islamic understandings of this concept.

Khalid Elzamzamy, MD

Hamad bin Khalifa University – Qatar

Suicide: An Islamically Integrated Approach to Prevention and Care (MA thesis)

Suicide is a multi-faceted global phenomenon that is frequently viewed as a manifestation of the interaction of many factors including mental illness, social injustice, and weakness of faith. Suicide is also a public mental health challenge. This project focuses on how suicide and life-threatening behaviors are conceptualized and approached in mental health practice vis-à-vis the Islamic religious discourse and practice. Through a critical discourse and analysis of Islamic religious texts and fatwas (verdicts), the project aims at navigating the theological, legal and ethical dimensions, principles, and arguments put forth by Muslim religious scholars when dealing with individuals with life-threatening behaviors and suicide-related questions and rulings. The project also aims to propose potential reconciliatory approaches that attempt to combine both psychological and religious perspectives into care models that can be utilized by mental health professionals and religious scholars alike when dealing with cases of suicide and life-threatening behavior.

Sumejja Kasapovic

Hamad bin Khalifa University – Qatar

Islamic Tradition Meets Social Sciences: The Case of Islamic Psychology (MA thesis)

The last few decades have witnessed an increasing number of studies on the relationship between Islam and science in general, and Islam and social sciences in particular. Some of these studies have focused on the incommensurability between modern Western and classical Islamic understandings of science and knowledge. Others have attempted to produce Islamic versions of modern disciplines by critically engaging with modern knowledge and Islamizing its content. These efforts can be seen in the field of  psychology, where proponents of its islamization claim that the relationship between this modern discipline and classical Islamic scholarship is not just possible but urgently needed in modern times. This thesis aims to evaluate the relationship between modern psychology and classical Islamic scholarship in the works of two major scholars, Malik Badri and Rasjid Skinner. The close engagement with their writings aims to answer the following question: how do the two scholars draw on the Islamic tradition and modern psychology in the development of their visions of Islamic psychology? This question is answered by going back to both – traditional Islamic scholarship and modern psychological concepts. The analysis seeks to shed light on the ways in which Islamic psychology is in continuity and in rupture with both the Islamic tradition and modern psychology.