Introduction to Islamic Psychology
Co-Partnered with the George Washington University Department of Religious Studies.
The field of psychology has long been criticized for being a science rooted in a (secular) worldview that not many people espouse. This has raised questions about its relevance, especially for people of faith, indigenous peoples, those in non-Western cultures, and more. This has given rise to movements such as the decolonization of psychology, multicultural and cross-cultural psychology, and religious and spiritual psychologies. Such movements seek to provide frameworks of psychology that are rooted in the various worldviews in which they are positioned.
It is within this broader climate, the contemporary push for diversity and inclusion, as well as the vast Islamic tradition that one can locate Islamic psychology today. Although defined and conceptualized in a variety of ways and in an attempt to not “other” it, one could argue that Islamic psychology (IP) is simply psychology – but rooted in the philosophical, metaphysical, cosmological, theological, ontological, and epistemological worldview of the Islamic tradition.
The purpose of this program is to introduce attendees to these foundational “roots” of the field as well as some of its emerging branches – areas of application in which IP is already benefiting society and improving lives.
This public program is designed for a broad audience including students, professionals, or scholars from any field or background. Anyone interested in the field of Islamic psychology is welcomed. Its pedagogical approach is rooted in an Islamic view that education is holistic: informing the intellect and transforming the soul. As such, modules are comprised of two sessions: the first is a theory-based lecture with class discussion, and the second is an experiential, practice-based session lead by an expert in Islamic spirituality. All modules are live, online, two hours each, hosted by the program’s core faculty, delivered by a renowned expert on that specific topic, and will have ample time for discussion and engagement. All module sessions are also on Saturdays. Recordings of the classes will be available afterwards for attendees that cannot make a live class. Attendees will also be provided with a reading list for each module. The following is an overview of the 9-module program. A list of the program faculty as well as a FAQ are also below.
Fall Semester: Islamic Psychology’s Roots
Module 1 (September 25th): Introduction to Islamic Psychology
This module provides necessary intellectual infrastructure for the program as a whole. It begins with a general overview of the emerging field of Islamic psychology including how it is defined and conceptualized, examples of current scholarship and the landscape today. How religion, spirituality, and other issues of diversity are dealt with in psychology will also be examined.
Module 2 (October 9th): Introduction to Islam
This course introduces students to Islam by exploring the structure and landscape of Islamic sciences and schools of thought. An essential module in order to understand the various sources from which IP scholarship is influenced.
IP Experience: Islamic meditation (October 16th)
Module 3 (November 13th): Islamic Philosophy
This module examines Islamic philosophy, metaphysics, and epistemology. The objective of this module is to articulate the features of an Islamic philosophy of science that could underpin a modern field of psychology.
IP Experience: Islamic meditation (November 20th)
Module 4 (December 11th): The Self and Human Ontology
This module explores various ways the self is conceptualized from an Islamic perspective. Structures such as the nafs, aql, ruh, and qalb and their function will be examined as well as theories of personality and personhood from various perspectives within the Islamic intellectual tradition. Also to be explored is the relevance to and implications such views have in psychology today.
IP Experience: Islamic meditation (December 18th)
Module 5 (January 8th): Sufism
Some have argued that Sufism / the science of the self (ilm al-nafs) is Islam’s version of psychology and psychotherapy as it is a science devoted to rid the human soul of psycho-spiritual and behavioral disorders and to elevate it to stations of virtuous character. This module examines this vast Islamic science, with a particular emphasis on what it has to offer both in relation to as well as in place of clinical and behavioral sciences today.
IP Experience: Islamic meditation (January 15th)
Spring Semester: Islamic Psychology’s Branches
Module 6 (February 12th): Islamically Integrated Psychotherapy and Counseling
Islamically integrated psychotherapy is an integrative approach that combines modern psychotherapies with Islamic philosophies, teachings, or interventions. This module will provide a broad overview of the various approaches Islamic psychologists and psychotherapists have developed and examine ways forward.
IP Experience: Islamic meditation (February 19th)
Module 7 (March 12th): Islamic Psychology and Mental Health
This module examines the contributions of classical Muslim scholars to what is today called the field of psychology or mental health. Also to be explored are issues that arise with terminology such as “mental” health; what role religion and spirituality play in disease conceptualization, treatment, and prevention; the place (or not) of spiritual diseases of the heart in mental healthcare; diagnosing spiritual disorders; and issues related to the development of holistic Islamic frameworks of various mental health issues like suicide, depression, anxiety, and more.
IP Experience: Islamic meditation (March 19th)
Module 8 (April 9th): Islamic Medicine and Healing
The field of Islamic healing is vast and includes prophetic medicine (al-Tibb al-Nabawi), Sufism (tasawwuf), spiritual modalities such as dhikr, duaa, ruqya, other modalities and concepts like muraqaba and muhasaba, and what is today called mind-body or complementary and alternative medicine. This module explores this area of Islamic healing. Also to be examined are distinctions between modern clinical services such as psychotherapy and medical care versus Islamic spiritual care and the role of clinician versus sheikh/spiritual guide.
IP Experience: Islamic meditation (April 16th)
Module 9 (May 14th): Research Methods in a Multidisciplinary Field
Building upon discussions in previous modules on how “science” is defined and conceptualized, this module explores various research methods available to the multidisciplinary field of Islamic psychology and what role religion and spirituality could have in the research process (as opposed to as topics of research inquiry). Various questions will also be examined such as methodological issues of using quantitative measurements on qualitative constructs (spiritual experiences, etc.) and more.
IP Experience: Islamic meditation (May 21st)
How is the program administered? The program is completely online. All class sessions are live and last two hours each, either from 1-3pm EST or from 3-5pm EST. Recordings of sessions will be available afterwards but attendance of live sessions is strongly preferred and encouraged. A full list of class dates and timings will be provided to registered students.
Who is this course designed for? This is a public course designed for anyone wanting to know more about the academic field of Islamic psychology including students, clinicians, scholars, professionals, and more. This is not a course that focuses on the mental health needs of Muslims, as important as a topic as that may be. Rather, the program focuses on the development of frameworks of psychology that are rooted in the Islamic theological and philosophical traditions.
Is this course accredited? There is currently no regulatory body that accredits Islamic psychology courses. This is a public course and attendees will receive a certificate of completion issued by the Alkaram Institute at the end. This course does not prepare or train attendees for any sort of clinical practice. For attendees who are currently enrolled in a graduate program elsewhere and are interested in doing their MA thesis or doctoral dissertation on an IP topic, consider applying to our Islamic Psychology Research Fellowship program. For more information, see our website.
Are there assignments or exams for the course? There will be a good amount of assigned reading and some personal reflection exercises to be done outside of class. However, there are no formal exams.
How do I register for the program? Send an email with “register” in the subject line to email@example.com. The content of the email should include your full name, location, as well as one sentence about your background (are you a student? If so, where and in which subject? Are you a scholar or professional? If so, in which field etc.). Your email to us will generate an invoice that will be emailed back to you. PLEASE ALLOW 3-4 DAYS FOR PROCESSING TIME. Once you receive the invoice and pay the tuition, you will be enrolled in the program. Program materials will be provided early September. Access to our online classroom will be provided just before the program begins in late September.
How many credit hours is the program? The entire program is comprised of 34 instruction hours. Each of the 9 modules, except module 1, has two class sessions. The first is a 2 hour lecture and discussion session and the second, one week later, is an experiential meditation class that will also have ample time for discussion and integration. Module 1 does not have the experiential meditation class.
How much does the program cost? The cost of the program is $389 – which is approximately $11 per hour of live instruction.
For other questions not answered here, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org