What things should a Muslim who is a psychologist in the West pay attention to?

The Details of the Question

What things should a Muslim who is a psychologist in the West pay attention to? What methods should he follow?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

There are things that a Muslim psychologist should pay attention to whether he is in Islamic countries or other countries.

A Muslim psychologist can perform his duty anywhere as long as there is no suggestion contrary to the Islamic faith, rules and ethics.

Accordingly, a Muslim can become a psychologist according to the rules of the country he lives in provided that he does not say things contrary to Islam and does not encourage harams and sins.

After this short information, we congratulate you for your sensitivity first of all. With this sensitivity, attention and questioning, you can be sure that you will never lose your point of view based on your faith along with making use of the Western Psychology in the best way.

Since you are a psychologist, you know very well that nobody perceives reality objectively. Factors such as a person’s character, temperament, philosophy of life, religious faith, the environment in which he grew up and educational life shape his way of evaluating events. 

Therefore, since Western psychologists view life, human beings, and human happiness from the perspective of the western understanding of life, the recipe for salvation they offer to humanity remain limited and inadequate.

The western understanding of life consists of
- the Greek Philosophy, which regards man primarily as a victim of the Gods,
- Capitalism, which reduces everything to material interest, competition and pleasure,
- Liberalism, which claims freedom and individualism that imposes no limits on human beings,
- Freudianism, which claims that sexual impulses underlie all kinds of emotions and behaviors,
- Darwinism, which argues that the strong must rise by crushing the weak, and that life is a struggle, etc.,
and distorted Christian faith.

Those approaches generally say that people exist only for the world; they do not hold people accountable to anyone except laws; thus, they say that man should think of only his own pleasure, comfort, individuality and interests.

Every evaluation related to man made by a Western social scientist growing up in such a philosophy of life will remain within this framework.

However, the concept of “man” in the religion of Islam has an understanding that covers him in all aspects, material-spiritual and worldly-otherworldly aspects. Its approach to examine and understand man is more advanced than all other thought systems and philosophical perspectives because man is in the position of “the vicegerent of Allah on earth”.

The best proof that the recipes for happiness offered by an approach that does not see the spiritual side of man, does not accept eternal life, and does not recognize his spiritual needs do not yield any results is the deplorable state of the western society.

For example, almost all the theories of marriage and therapy are of western origin. However, it is the western society that is in the most miserable situation in terms of family and marriage.

In this context, our advice to you should be to make maximum use of Western psychology theories, but to evaluate the recipes offered by it through the Quranic criteria and not to take into account the theories and suggestions that are not in compliance with the Quran and the sunnah.

However, to be able to do so, first of all, it is necessary to know the Quran, the Sunnah and Islam’s philosophy of life of very well. In this context, if you have a strong belief and good knowledge of Islamic civilization and philosophy, it will always be easy to maintain your stability. It is particularly useful to understand the meanings attributed by Islam to concepts such as man, worldly life, social life, family relations, interpersonal relations, marriage, misfortunes, diseases, loneliness, separation and death.

Understanding the concepts of patience, reliance on Allah, surrendering and predestination that are not on the agenda in Western psychology and their positive effects on mental health will give you sound and valid criteria for everyone.

In addition, it is very important for a sound psychological background to know the great personalities that left their mark on Islamic civilization, mysticism and philosophy and their works. Even before psychology existed in the West, many Islamic thinkers wrote works describing people and all their social relations and mental health in accordance with the essence of Islam.

For example, Muhasibi’s ‘religious behavior theory’, Mawlana’s theory of solution for depression centered on ‘loving problems’ and Farabi’s approach of ‘learning by realizing’ and his perspective on the factors affecting dreams are just a few of them.

On the other hand, Ibn Sina’s theory of the soul, Ghazzali’s grading of the soul, Farabi’s classification of the soul as belonging to the superlunar world and belonging to the sublunar world by expressing man with concepts such as soul and mind, and many other scholars’ focusing on this subject are important psychological studies that are aimed at understanding man better.

To sum up, it is definitely necessary to benefit from non-Muslim psychologists but it is necessary to filter their ideas while receiving and conveying them.

Therefore, a Muslim psychologist should first know the Islamic faith, its decrees and ethics, and then read others. Otherwise, it would be like entering a poisonous room without a mask, first poisoning himself and then poisoning others.

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