What is Islamic Psychology

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Islamic psychology (IP) is difficult to define because it is conceptualized in so many different ways. Some think it is synonymous with the works of early Muslims scholars like Al-Ghazali, Al-Balkhi, Al-Razi, and others. Some think IP is taṣawwuf (Sufism) or tazkiyat al-nafs (purification of the self) – claiming it to be Islam’s versions of psychology/psychotherapy.

Others think it is a domain that focuses on understanding the nature and structures of the self from an Islamic perspective such as fiṭra (primordial disposition), nafs (self), qalb (heart), rūḥ (soul/spirit), ‘aql (intellect), etc. Still others think it is the Islamization of psychology whereby theological explanations are given for psychological phenomenon, although the term Islamization also has a variety of meanings. Some think IP is about using prayer or other spiritual interventions in psychotherapy. Some think it’s psychology about Muslims. Some think it’s psychology by Muslims. Some think it’s psychology for Muslims. Some call it Muslim psychology. Some also describe it as an “Islam and Psychology” movement.

All of these various conceptualizations have a certain validity to them. However, the best way to describe the kind of Islamic psychology that gives our institution a reason to exist is that it is simply psychology but underpinned by a worldview and ethical values that are rooted in the Islamic tradition. In that regard, some of our work addresses religion and spirituality explicitly, other times it is merely the backdrop. In our view, IP is not about preaching religion, rather, Islam serves as a wellspring and inspiration from which we attempt to create a scientific discipline in which we find solutions to some of the biggest problems psychology faces today. Read more about Islamic Psychology below: