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Friday, April 21, 2006

Islam and Psychology

By A Staff Writer

World over, experts from various fields are approaching the Quran and Sunnah to discover the human behaviour pattern.

How often do you suffer pain? Isn't human behaviour the most frequent source of pain and sorrow? One of the most difficult tasks is to understand human behaviour. Nothing is so powerful as an insight into human nature, what compulsions drive a man, what instincts dominate his action, even though his language so often camouflages what really motivates him. For if you know these things about a man, you can touch him at the core of his being.

From preachers to management gurus, motivation experts to psychologists, all have pondered since ages to understand human behaviour and methods to influence them. Islam recognises differences among people, whether in physical aspects, psychological aspects, or both. Responsibility about deeds and behaviour in Islam is individual.

We clearly see from the Quran that people were created out of one soul. This is repeated four times in Surah al-Nisa. World over, experts from various fields are approaching the Quran and Sunnah to discover the human behaviour pattern and apply those findings in their day to day practice.

Dr Syeda Ruksheda, a practising psychotherapist, says, "Islam teaches surrender of the ego. Lot of practising professionals identified with this theory". She is interacting with like-minded people with regard to practice of psychiatry with focus on Islam. Recently, Dr Ruksheda participated in an "International conference on media and mental health" organised by World Psychiatric Association, South Asian Forum on Mental Health and Indo- Pak Punjab Psychiatric Society. She presented a paper on "Islam and Psychology". With other Muslim psychotherapists, Dr Ruksheda is working on some interesting on-going psychiatric research projects such as Surah Rahman and depression.

The most important dimension of human behaviour is the 'Spiritual Dimension.' What is meant by "spiritual" here is the aspect of "faith" that is, the belief in Allah, His angels, messengers, scriptures, the day of judgement and destiny (good or bad). These are the articles of faith which bear no discussion or compromise. But "faith" is higher in degree than "Islam" as it is what is settled in the heart and endorsed by deed. There is no room in Islam of talking about faith that is separate from deeds and behaviour. The Quran reproached the believers for expressing their "belief" and stopping short of action. "O, ye who believe! Why say ye that which ye do not do? Grievously odious is it in the sight of Allah that ye say that which ye do not Do." (Al-Saff-61, verse 2-3).

Behavioural dimension of man, concerns about his education, development and change. Even the basis of worship in Islam, like salat, fasting, zakat and hajj are all an expression of behaviour which has two sides: internal and external or spiritual and material.

The future is an important dimension in the formation of the personality of the Muslim. This is because the future in Islam is not limited to this world alone, but it extends to the Day of Judgement. Therefore, the future is a significant dimension in the formation of the Muslim personality and directing it to good deeds in the present and the future.

The best summary of the Islamic attitude on this subject may be found in the following verse: "But seek, with the (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on thee, the Home of the Hereafter, nor forget thy portion in this world: but do thou good, as Allah has been good to thee." (Al-Qasas, 77).

The first step in empowering the community is to help individual Muslims to understand themselves with the help of Quran and Sunnah and then act to eliminate their weaknesses and achieve success in the world and hereafter.

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