Islamic Psychology Around the Globe
by Abdallah Rothman, Edited by Amber Haque
Review by Lamya Al-Khraisha
It is evident that psychology and psychiatry are going through a paradigm shift with debates over issues that were once taken as scientific fact such as “The Serotonin Hypothesis” or the “Chemical Imbalance Theory” of mental illness. Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is no longer the stuff of pulp fiction, nor is chasing “peak experiences” aided by psychedelics disregarded out of hand now. As these debates have raged over the past few years, in 2021 the International Association of Islamic Psychology (IAIP) quietly published its first book: Islamic Psychology Around the Globe.
Edited by Professors Amber Haque and Abdallah Rothman, the book is a collection of 17 essays that examine the development of Islamic Psychology (IP) in 17 countries around the world written by practitioners of IP in those countries. The countries are: Australia; Bosnia; Egypt; India; Indonesia; Iran; Saudi Arabia; Malaysia; Nigeria; Pakistan; Somalia; South Africa; Sudan; Türkiye; the United Kingdom; the United States, and Western Continental Europe. The book charts the history, challenges and prospects of Islamic Psychology in these countries.
During the Islamic Golden Age, the body of knowledge known in Arabic as ilm al-nafs (science of the soul) flourished. Muslim scholars going back to the 9th century wrote about it informed by their knowledge and understanding of the Qur’an and Sunnah. It diminished in significance over time and with the advent of the 19th century, and increasingly over later centuries, the study of behavior and mental processes was done through a secular lens.
Over the last 40 years, decolonization of different bodies of knowledge has encouraged Muslim scholars to retrace the roots of sciences back to the classical tradition; this includes Islamic Psychology. The revived field of study and practice of Islamic Psychology has as its foundation an Islamic worldview behind the study of soul which the International Association of Islamic Psychology (IAIP) defines as including the mind, heart, self, and spirit.
The integration of religion, spirituality, and psychology in a thoughtful and sensitive manner, coupled with evidence-based scholarship has been lacking in the study of psychology over the last century. By and large psychology has been a secular field with most psychologists being dismissive of religion and spirituality. Indeed, many psychologists and psychiatrists consider too much interest in these subjects a sign of psychopathology. Thankfully, a sizeable minority of psychologists and psychiatrists, have rejected this view and undertaken quality research and provided evidence-based clinical practice approaches to the integration of religion, spirituality, and psychology.
People who take their religious and spiritual identities and beliefs seriously need well-informed and religiously-minded psychotherapists who can comprehend their worldview in order to serve them better. Islamic Psychology Around the Globe serves as a wonderful guide for religiously oriented psychologists and psychotherapists who counsel Muslims in these increasingly troubled and challenging times.