This textbook presents a complete view of Quranic Psychology from the creation of the body to the command to “Be” to the spirit (ruh) that then enlivens our soul (nafs). It uses psychological terms and arguments related to how a psychologist understands the self (the word nafs used reflexively in the Quran). Quranic Psychology has now found its place as a science separate from, but incorporating, the traditional sciences of Ethics, Medicine, Natural Philosophy and Philosophy, among others. It is the hope that this textbook will be useful to psychotherapists working with Muslim clients as well as Muslims who wish to heal themselves.
Whereas in the past Muslim writers have claimed that the Quran refers to three aspects of the soul—the nafs al-ammarah, the nafs al-lawwamah and the nafs al-mutma’innah, this textbook—based on the extensive research into the works of traditional scholars—brings forth a fourth Quranic aspect of the soul, the nafs al-mulhamah (the inspired soul that fluctuates). In addition, previous to this, Muslim healers have used literal Quranic terms to describe the Quranic soul (nafs used non-reflexively in the Quran). When these same terms are used in the psychological sense, they not only give another level of meaning to the healing process, but allow the psychologist to understand the Quranic self as the Quran defines it, opening the way for further discussion and research in a systematic way. It also allows the psychologist to compare Quranic psychology with other forms of psychological theory. It is then up to them to use their powers of critical thinking (furqan) to dialogue and engage on equal terms with other psychologists and psychologies.
The four major divisions of the soul developed and explained in this textbook through Quranic signs/verses are: The nafs al-ammarah (the animal or animate soul consisting of two parts—affect and behavior); the mind (sadr) which is constantly being influenced by the nafs al-ammarah; consciousness (qalb, nafs al-mulhamah, “heart”); conscience (fu’ad, nafs al-lawwamah); and intellect or reason (‘aql, nafs al-mutma’innah). The nafs al-ammarah—attraction to pleasure and avoidance of pain—along with willpower (iradah), free willpower (ikhtiyar) and intention (niyyah), sensation and most aspects of perception including sensible imagination are part of our motivational system whereas rational imagination, mind, consciousness, conscience and reason are part of our cognitive system.
Quranic Psychology has a goal—to prepare us for our return to whence we came—to strengthen or return to our fitrat Allah as the monotheist we were created to be through engaging our moral intelligence (MI). We do this, according to Quranic Psychology, by strengthening our nafs al-mutma’innah (‘aql, reason, intellect, spirit) to dominate over our nafs al-ammarah (affect-behavior) through our reasoning, adhering to our mind (sadr) and nafs al-lawwamah, bringing awareness and consciousness to our nafs al-mulhamah (qalb, “heart”) of God-consciousness (taqwa) and the constant Presence of God in our lives.