Mainstream vs. Islamic Psychology: An Introduction

Rumi-nation

By SADIA AHMED

‘Psychology’: the study of the ‘psyche’. Although often disguised as being a ‘science’ in the traditional sense (whereby recurrent observations lead to the formation of somewhat-solid conclusions) this discipline, in reality, is as complex, abstract and ungraspable as they come. The nature of the human ‘psyche’ – the very thing that determines our individual and collective human realities as we know them – remains, for the most part, a deep mystery to us. Even the most highly qualified and trained psychologists, psychiatrists and psychotherapists understand that the entity they seek to understand (which is otherwise known as the ‘soul’, ‘mind’ or ‘spirit’) is fundamentally incomprehensible.

Therefore, when it comes to positing theories about the unseen object in question, all constructs of understanding are at once true and untrue. Freud, Jung, Al-Ghazali and Avicenna each held very different views (substantiated – given the malleability of a concept as…

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