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SEVEN GIFTS OF THE SOUL:

A GUIDE TO ISLAMIC INTEGRATIVE THERAPY

by

Sima Sweid

A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of

the California Institute of Integral Studies

in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology

California Institute of Integral Studies

San Francisco, CA

2016

ProQuest Number:

10183270

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CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL

I certify that I have read SEVEN GIFTS OF THE SOUL: A GUIDE TO

ISLAMIC INTEGRATIVE THERAPY, by Sima Sweid, and that in my opinion

this work meets the criteria for approving a dissertation submitted in partial

fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctor of Psychology in Clinical

Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

Douglas Vakoch, Ph.D., Chair

Core Faculty, Clinical Psychology

Susan Hillier, Ph.D.

Sanoma State University

© 2016 Sima Sweid

Sima Sweid California Institute of Integral Studies, 2015 Douglas Vakoch, Ph.D., Committee Chair

SEVEN GIFTS OF THE SOUL:

A GUIDE TO ISLAMIC INTEGRATIVE THERAPY

ABSTRACT

While the term Islamic psychology has yet to be clearly defined, it includes

various approaches that draw on the connections between Islamic philosophy,

Western theories of psychology, and clinical considerations for working with the

Muslim population. The current research contributes to the emerging field of

Islamic Psychology by developing a professional guidebook for Islamic

integrative therapy. Wellbeing is defined in psycho-spiritual terms associated

with the condition of wholesomeness and the state of being in sound condition.

The Islamic concepts of unity and oneness (tawhid) are used to inform the

philosophical foundation of the guidebook, which is modeled on seven leading

attributes of God: Life, Knowledge, Will, Power, Perception (Seeing), Presence

(Hearing) and Speech. Each of these Divine attributes is believed to play a role in

the psycho-spiritual development of the human soul. The guidebook explores how

these attributes can be integrated into the therapeutic setting and how they can be

used to nourish and develop the client’s fullest potential.

iv

DEDICATION

To my twin — a true gift — a reminder of God’s exquisite grace.

v

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

There is no rhyme, nor reason – no song, or logical sequence – that can

account for all the blessings in my life. True, Divine blessings have showered me

since the day I was born. My adoring mother, Samar Sawaf, and my generous

father, Mohannad Sweid, have given me nothing but their best; supporting my

growth, my happiness and health. They not only taught me the principles of love

and logic, but also inspired me by demonstrating the power of spiritual

commitment and religious introspection. I could not have wished for better

parents, nor is there anyone else to whom this accomplishment is more indebted.

Born into a family of six, I was blessed with siblings to make my life

complete – Noor Sweid, who courageously paved the way to the doors of higher

education; Maher Sweid, who has never let me forget the value of family; and

Reem Sweid, who I can always count on in my darkest hours. The fabric of my

soul is defined by the early years that we spent together.

And beyond the blessings of family, I have been surrounded with the

blessings of community, friendships, and teachers of all sorts. Here again, I find

no rhyme or logical sequence to the rhythm of knowledge that has passed my

way. I have been nourished by the wise words of my Sheikh, Dr. Umar Abdullah

Farooq, who imparts both knowledge and kindness in every gathering; I have

been supported by the loving friendship of Laurie Margaritonda, who has been

just as much an intellectual colleague, as a role model and spiritual companion; I

have been humbled in the presence of Mikki Asada, as her unfolding soul

feverishly commits to spiritual excellence and honesty; I have been uplifted and

vi

encouraged by the unwavering love and support of Ruby Sawaf; and I have been

schooled, educated and informed by the bright mind and spirit of Amal Crespo.

Blessed with not one, but two, incredible supervisors – Dr. Douglas

Vakoch and Dr. Robert Walters – I could not have completed this work without

them. With kindness, they patiently guided me towards the questions that

mattered most to my heart. They created a safe and promising space that

challenged my intellect, and inevitably, grounded my faith.

This dissertation would not be complete if it were not for the countless

friends with whom I have discussed my evolving beliefs. My gratitude goes to

my dearest brothers Rizwan Chaudry and Ali Hassan, with whom I spent

countless hours considering the nature of the universe and the message of God.

Those conversations played a critical role in this work.

And as a reminder that God’s blessings surpass all expectations, hopes and

dreams – I have been blessed by the gift of Mustafa Habib, the love of my life.

Like an unexpected, cool breeze on a hot summer day, he walked straight into my

life with nothing but joy, relief, and endless support. His wisdom, patience and

delightful character turned the dream of this dissertation into reality.

And God gave you from all you asked.

And if you would count the graces of God,

never would you be able to enumerate them.

vii

(Koran, 14:34)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT…………………………………………………………

………

iv

DEDICATION…………………………………………………………………

v

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS……………………………………………………… vi

LIST OF FIGURES…………………………………………………….………. xv

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………1

Purpose…………………………………………………………………

3

Method…………………………………………………………………… 5

CHAPTER 2: STAGE I—ENVIRONMENTAL SCAN OF LITERATURE…… 9

Central Theme 1: The Call for Unity, the Principle of Tawhid………… 10

Central Theme 2: Revisiting Classical Islamic Psychology……………. 12

Central Theme 3: A Common Practice of Integrative Therapy………

13

Conclusion to Stage I…………………………………………………… 13

CHAPTER 3: STAGE II—THEMATIC REVIEW……………………………. 15

Thematic Review 1.1: Methodology and Tawhid………………………. 15

Methodological Approach: A Heuristic Perspective…………… 15

Tawhid and Islamic methodology………………………. 17

Guidelines that promote a methodology of tawhid……

17

Tawhid and the hermeneutic circle…………….………

18

Methodological Content: The Unity of Knowledge……………. 18

Early Muslim scholars build on ancient knowledge……. 19

The Islamic practice of cross-disciplinary dialogue……. 21

Sources of knowledge in the Islamic tradition…………

viii

22

Guidelines that promote consilience……………………. 23

Tawhid and the principle of parsimony………………… 24

Tawhid and cross-cultural inclusion……………………. 24

Thematic Review 1.2: Psychology and Tawhid………………………… 25

Self as Integrated Whole………………………………………

26

Tawhid Reflects Relational Reality………………………….…. 27

Guidelines that Promote a Psychology of Tawhid……………… 27

Thematic Review 2: A Brief History of Islamic Psychology…………

31

Philosophy, Psychology and the Islamic Legacy………………

32

Ancient Muslim Psychologists…………………………………. 33

Traditional Muslim Society…………………………………

36

Psychology of Religion and Spirituality in the West…………… 37

Thematic Review 3: Islamic Integrative Therapy……………………

39

Reviewing Four Approaches to Integrative Therapy…………… 40

Assimilative integration………………………………… 41

The nafs: soul, self, and psyche………………… 41

Presence in therapy……………………………

42

Innate capacity: fitra…………………………

43

A relational philosophy.……

………………

44

A personal metaphysics of responsibility……

45

Theoretical Integration Model…………………………………

46

Emotion-focused therapy………………………………

47

Existential-humanistic therapy………………………

48

ix

Theistic and spiritually-integrated therapy……………

48

Expressive arts therapy………………………………

49

Relational cultural therapy.……………………………

49

Multicultural psychotherapy…………………………

50

Technical Eclecticism…………………………………………

50

Common Factors Theory………………………………………

51

Guidelines from evidence-based therapy relationships

51

Goal consensus and collaboration………

……

52

Adapting the relationship to the individual client. 53

Cultural perspectives on well-being….…………. 53

Positive regard and affirmation…

……………

53

Congruence and genuineness…………………… 53

Repairing alliance ruptures……………………

54

Psychoeducation……………

…………………

54

CHAPTER 4: STAGE III—THE GUIDEBOOK………………………………. 55

Introduction: An Islamic Platform for Assimilative Integration………

55

The Philosophy: Theology as Self-Discovery…………………

56

The Seven Gifts………

………………………………………

58

A Theoretical Orientation for Islamic Psychology……………

59

The doctrine of unity……………………………………. 61

The theology of divine unity……………………………. 62

Unity as metaphysical reality…

………………………

63

Unity as relational endeavor……………………………. 64

x

How to Use this Guide…………………………………………………

65

Treatment Goals and the Therapeutic Process…………………

67

A Theological Foundation for Psycho-Education………………. 68

The Principles of Psychological Unity…………………………. 71

Soul as an emerging property…………………………

72

Differentiation and integration…………………………

73

Spiritual Formation of an Emerging Soul………………………………. 74

An Emerging Soul………………………………………………. 79

The Psychological Faculties of the Soul………………………

81

The fitra and the self……………………………………. 83

The heart………………………………………………

84

The intellect.……………………………………………. 88

Intellect and speech.……………………………………

89

Life: The Center………………………………….……………….…

91

Therapeutic Implications………………………………………

92

Psycho-education: Exploring the dipolar nature of life………… 93

Specific Considerations: Working with Muslim clients………

96

Healing the Fitra: Working with the Divine attributes………… 99

The Practice of Dhikr: Remembrance……

…………………

100

Presence: The Listener………………………………………………… 101

The Development of Presence……………………….………

102

Presence and Attachment Theory……

…………….………

103

Therapeutic Implications……………………………………

105

xi

Modeling presence, empathy and positive regard……

105

Self-compassion and the process of change…

….…….

107

Developing mindfulness………….………….………

108

Focusing and aperture…………………….……….…

108

Spotlight on Relational-Cultural Therapy (RCT)……………

109

Central relational paradox……………………………

112

Facilitating social change……………………………… 115

Knowledge: The Teacher……………………………………………… 116

Islamic Contemplation………………………………………… 118

The process……………………………………………. 119

The therapeutic invitation…….……………….………. 120

Multicultural psychotherapy…

………………….…

121

Development of Knowledge: From Fitra, to Soul, to Self…

122

Transmitted and acquired knowledge

………….…….

123

Therapeutic implications……

……………….……….

125

Perception: The Interpreter………………………………….………… 126

Meaning and Perceptual Organization………………………… 127

Self-image……………………………………………………

129

Therapeutic Implications………………………………….…

130

Reflective thinking……………………………….……. 130

The development of multiple perspectives…….……… 131

Attending to thoughts and emotions…

……………….

132

Emotion-focused therapy (EFT)………

…………….

133

xii

Psycho-education: Reflection-in-action………………………

134

Will: The Judge………………………………….……………….……. 137

The Development of a Predictive Center……………………… 138

Intentions and Actions………………………………….……

140

Harnessing the Will: The Power of Imagination……………

142

Therapeutic Implications and Techniques…………………

143

Values: the center of intention and expectation………

144

Non-Violent Communication…………………………

145

OCC Model………………………

…………………

146

Applying the OCC Model to Islamic philosophy……

147

Time

……

………

…………………………

147

Intention

………

……………………………

148

Desires…

………………………

…………

148

Reality Therapy………………

………………………………

148

Level of wants…………………

……………………

148

Level of commitment.………

………………………

149

Power: The Motivator………………………………….……………… 150

Power of the Body and Mind…………………………………

151

Motivation: The Power of Pleasure…………………………… 152

The pleasure—learning cycle…………………………. 153

Wanting, liking and learning……………

……………

153

Honoring the power of fear………….………………… 154

Motivation-Based Techniques………………………………… 156

xiii

Safety and self-preservation

………………………….

157

The triune brain………

………

……………………

157

A quick physical health assessment

………………….

159

The self-care list………………….……………………. 159

Power of belonging, love and affiliation

……………

161

Power and self-esteem……….………

……………….

162

Speech: The Actor………………………………….………………

163

The Language of Selfhood and Becoming……………………

164

Adab: The Refinement of Speech and Action.………………

165

Speech of the Heart and Mind………………….……………

167

The speech of prayer…………

………………………

168

Awakening the inner guide………….………………… 170

Expressive Arts Therapy………………………………….…… 172

River of life……………………………………………. 172

Circle of friends: points of contact……………………

172

Journaling……………………………………………

173

LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY…………………………………………

175

REFERENCES……………….……………………………….…………….… 177

xiv

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1. Spirit and Form Represent Two Sides of the Soul

74

Figure 2. The Union of Spirit And Form, the Emergence of Soul

75

Figure 3. The Soul is Influenced by Both Spiritual and Somatic Effusions

77

Figure 4. The Emergence of Soul Unfolds Through the Seven Gifts

78

Figure 5. The Emerging Soul and Its Spiritual Faculties

80

Figure 6. The Turning Heart

82

xv

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

Graduate psychology programs often require students to commit to a

working model of psychotherapy: one that can assist the student’s professional

development and practice. Some schools offer a specific and exclusive model for

psychotherapy, while others allow for the inclusion and exploration of various

approaches and techniques. In recent years, it has become increasingly common

for programs to support students in developing integrative approaches. This

attitude reflects the emerging trend among many contemporary psychologists,

with an increasing number of psychologists reporting the use of integrative

approaches (Stricker, 2010; Utz, 2011).

Preference for integrative therapy is often rooted in an appreciation of the

variance that exists among individuals and cultures. This is particularly relevant

in matters that involve religious and spiritual sensitivities. While many

therapeutic models do not explicitly include religious and spiritual practices in

their treatment models, the integration of religious variables can be used to inform

and guide the clinician’s treatment formulation. In recent decades, cultural and

religious awareness has gained some footing in the standards that inform clinical

competency and ethical practice. These changes have co-occurred with an

increase in scientific research on the relationship between psychology, religion,

spirituality, and well-being (Hood, Hill, & Spilka, 2009).

The renewed interest in spiritual and religious practice is not only

significant to the field of research and psychology, but to the training of

competent and ethical clinicians. In an increasingly diverse world, it is ever more

1

important that academic programs embrace the task of informing and training

their students on spiritual and religious factors. The American Psychological

Association (APA) has taken steps toward this goal by issuing an extensive

Handbook on Psychology, Spirituality and Religion (Hood, 2013). Unfortunately,

the impact of these changes on clinical practice remain at an early stage of

development and are moving at a slower pace than their research counterpart.

With psychotherapists tending to be less spiritual or religious than the general

public, this suggests a limitation in their overall practices.

Unfortunately, then, students find only a meager number of faculty

members who are interested in religiously- and spiritually-informed practice

(Ismail, 2008). Furthermore, since most psychologists adhere to therapeutic

approaches that are aligned with their personal philosophy and values

(Cummings, Ivan, Carson, Stanley, & Pargament, 2014), non-religious therapists

may be more prone to developing perspectives that do not include theological and

spiritual dimensions of other faiths.

In general, the absence of religious and spiritual competency among

practitioners poses an ethical challenge for the incoming generation of therapists

and their clients. With limited availability of faculty members to train students in

religious and spiritual perspectives, it becomes increasingly important to provide

resources to assist in the professional development of spiritually informed

psychologists. This study addresses this need by developing a guidebook for

Islamic integrative therapy.

2

Purpose

The recent decade witnessed a steady increase in the number of Muslim

psychologists entering the workforce (Ahmed & Amer, 2012; Hedayat-Diba,

2014). However, a review of the literature revealed a shortage in psychological

resources that support the integration of Islamic principles into therapeutic

practice. In general, contemporary Islamic approaches to psychotherapy remain

at an early stage of development. Yet, what does exist provides a solid foundation

for developing a psychological model for therapeutic practice. The current study

sought to build on existing resources by developing an integrated model of

Islamic therapy, presented as a guidebook. This study synthesized Islamic

principles with psychological concepts and contemporary research findings to

develop a guidebook for Muslim psychologists.

In pursuing this endeavor, this study paid heed to the recommendations

raised by contemporary Muslim psychologists, such as Ghena Ismail (2008) who

cautioned against the promotion of Islamic therapy as an “exotic or foreign

practice” but rather, addressed the need to establish dialogue with “all theories

and methods of intervention— and the beliefs, values, and epistemologies that

grant them credence” (p. 84). Similarly, this study approached Islamic theory as a

heuristic and practical tool that “stimulates thinking and the development of

holistic concepts” (Ansari, 2002, p. 351). As a result, a cross-disciplinary

methodology supported this study by actively recognizing and integrating

knowledge from various sources. This approach required that the guidebook first

establish a theoretical and philosophical foundation before integrating other

3

therapeutic approaches. In developing a guidebook, this study also presented a

philosophical framework of integrative Islamic psychology.

To further recognize the value and need of religious frames in

psychotherapy, an integrative and spiritual approach to psychology predominantly

guided this study. The principles it endorsed were universal, while the practices it

referenced were particular to the Islamic tradition. In general, it offered a model

of integrative therapy that was informed by humanistic Islamic beliefs,

particularly the belief in the innate goodness and supreme potential of human

beings (the fitra). These principles can serve both Muslim and non-Muslim

psychotherapists in the same manner that this research was informed by both

Muslim and non-Muslim scholars. The presupposition is that all psychotherapists

can enrich their clinical practice by drawing on the wisdom of religious and

spiritual traditions. However, in light of the limited amount of literature dedicated

to Muslim clients, this study was supplemented with examples that addressed the

religious and spiritual practices of Muslims.

The relevance of this study has significant implications when considered

in context of recent socio-political affairs, 1 which have resulted in the

psychological distress of many Muslims (Amer & Jalal, 2012). Due to the

increased challenges faced by Muslims, it is reasonable to assume that there will

be an increased demand for psychological services from Muslim clients. While

some Muslims may specifically seek Muslim psychologists who can identify with

1 For example the documented rise of anti-Muslim incidents in America (Green, 2015) and the number of American Muslims who have family living in war-torn countries.

2

For example, the Muslim Mental Health Journal was established in 2005,

4

their religious beliefs and cultural affiliations, other Muslim clients may prefer to

preserve a sense of anonymity that can be found in working with non-Muslim

psychologists.

With the recent unfolding of community programs and initiatives that

address mental health stigmas in the Muslim population 2 , the possibility of

encountering Muslim clients is likely to increase over the next few years. It is

essential then for psychologists to become versed in the basic beliefs and practices

of Muslims as well as the cultural aspects that shape the Islamic tradition. This

preparation will not only enhance the field’s therapeutic effectiveness but also

address the growing fear among Muslims about the lack of competency among

mental health professionals (Hodge & Nadir, 2008).

Method

In selecting an approach for this study, I was guided by the

recommendations of the clinical psychology program at Pepperdine University

(Psy.D. Program Clinical Dissertation Handbook, 2011). In their handbook, the

authors advocate for a research design that is compatible with the researcher’s

expertise, identity and temperament. This approach reflected the philosophical

outlook of the California Institute of Integral Studies, which encourages personal

experience and growth as vital to the pursuit of knowledge. More directly, this

approach encouraged a deeper reflection into my main objectives, motivations,

resources, and personal capacities and also established research value in my

2 For example, the Muslim Mental Health Journal was established in 2005, creating a platform for psychologists across the United States.

5

personal engagement with the spiritual, religious, and intellectual dimensions of

Islam.

In pursuing a degree in clinical psychology, I continually engaged with my

Islamic roots and explored Islamic principles and practices while learning from

clinical exposure to Muslim clients in private-practice settings. The motivation

and design for this study was drawn from these experiences, and is rooted in the

desire to share and build upon a therapeutic orientation both compatible with

Islamic principles and informed by Western models.

Of note, clinical psychology departments (i.e., PsyD programs) differ from

other research programs in that they offer dissertation methods that differ from

traditional, quantitative and qualitative approaches. These approaches represent

various forms of applied scholarship and share the same main objective:

demonstrate competency vis-à-vis an extensive review of the literature.

Specifically, these approaches are employed in order “to analyze, evaluate, and/or

provide new information relevant to a focused applied problem in psychology”

(Psy.D. Program Clinical Dissertation Handbook, 2011, p. 7).

This study employed an approach to applied scholarship that focused on the

development of a professional resource or guidebook for therapeutic practice 3 .

This form of applied scholarship is typically adopted in order to advance the

treatment of specific populations and psychological disorders, or, to improve on

specific treatment modalities. For the purposes of this study, an applied

3 The terms professional resource and guidebook are used interchangeably throughout this study.

6

scholarship in resource development was used to inform clinical practice with the

Muslim population by expanding on Islamic philosophy and psychology.

In developing a guidebook, a three-stage methodology was adopted. In the

first stage, the literature was reviewed for popular themes and topics in the

discourse on Islamic psychology. This study used an environmental scan,

reviewing bodies of literature for specific themes or recommendations that

occurred regularly. In reviewing the literature on Islamic psychology, a

substantial number of publications addressed the synthesis of Islamic theology

with Western psychology. This finding revealed that the field of Islamic

psychology integrated approaches from across disciplines and cultures.

Therefore, it was necessary to include such information into this study’s research

approach.

In the second stage of this study, the themes that emerged from the

environmental scan were analyzed in a thematic review. The review produced

specific guidelines to aid in the development of a guidebook. Similar to the

previous example, integration of major theological principles, such as the

principle of unity, tawhid, was included in the guidebook. In this manner, the

initial review helped inform the selection process, and the final thematic review

clarified the necessary content and literary sources to be integrated into the third

stage of development.

Following this approach to applied scholarship, the study adopted a three-

stage methodology that prepared and selected content to be included into a

guidebook for integrative Islamic therapy. Each of the three stages are further

7

developed and discussed in major sections of this study: Chapter I: Stage I—

Environmental Scan of the Literature, Chapter II: Stage II— Thematic Review

and Selection Process, and Chapter III: Stage III— The Guidebook.

8

CHAPTER 2: STAGE I—ENVIRONMENTAL SCAN OF THE LITERATURE

An environmental scan of the literature focused on two areas: (a) recurrent

themes among Islamic research and psychology, and (b) common practices

among Muslim psychologists. In general, the field of Islamic psychology remains

at an early stage of development with most recent contributions occurring after

the turn of the century (Hedayat-Diba, 2014). And while the term Islamic

psychology has yet to be clearly defined, recent publications have made use of

this term by offering new theories on Islamic psychology along with specific

recommendations for clinical work with Muslim clients (Abu-Raiya &

Pargament, 2011).

Muslim psychologists’ recommendations range across a broad spectrum of

therapeutic approaches and reflect the cultural and religious diversity that exists

among Muslim populations. Significantly, recent research findings suggest that

the diversity of Muslim populations is not only found in the cultural variance of

its adherents, but within the fabric of the Islamic faith itself. Specifically,

empirically based research on Islamic psychology reveals a multidimensional

religion with many psychological and practical implications on Islamic life (Abu-

Raiya & Pargament, 2011).

Given the multidimensionality of Islam, it comes as no surprise that

Islamic psychologists possess a variety of clinical practices and approaches as

well. To this end, humanistic psychology has been endorsed by many Muslim

practitioners as a compatible model for Islamic therapy (Ahmed & Amer, 2012;

Haque & Mohammed, 2009). In addition, Muslim scholars have explored other

9

theories and approaches for compatibility: psychodynamic theory (Shafii, 1985),

cognitive-behavioral therapy, attachment theory and existential psychology

(Ansari, 2002).

It would be an impossible task to exam all of the underlying principles and

epistemological foundations that inform contemporary Muslim psychologists and

their practices. However, a review of the literature on Islamic psychology

delivers three central themes that provide a philosophical, historical and

psychological foundation to the present study: tawhid (unity), classical Islamic

concepts, and integrative therapy. These three themes are introduced below. The

subsequent chapter (Stage II: Thematic Review) provides a more detailed analysis

of each of these themes and the specific material selected for inclusion into the

final stage.

Central Theme 1: The Call for Unity, the Principle of Tawhid

Tawhid represents a significant philosophical component to this study.

Tawhid is a multifaceted term with an essential meaning of oneness and unity. In

theological discourse, it is often used to refer to the essential nature of One God.

Across the Muslim population, tawhid is recognized as the central component of

Islamic faith. This concept is central to the shahada, the Islamic article of faith,

i.e. belief in the Oneness of God and the prophecy of Muhammad. The shahada,

the only pre-requisite for entry into the Islamic faith, acts as a unifying doctrine

among Muslims worldwide.

While variance exists within the beliefs and practices among the Muslim

population, the notion that the unity of God extends to his creations and to the

10

lineage of prophecy (particularly the Abrahamic lineage) reflects a commonplace

Islamic perspective. This belief establishes the prophet Muhammad’s message as

primordial and primary: one that has been spoken and delivered by each prophet

throughout history. In essence, the theological perspective of tawhid, unity,

recognizes One God, one Truth, and one Reality. The Koran frequently refers to

Islam as a primordial, universal faith that has been established across various

religions, cultures and traditions. 4

In addition to the theological implications of tawhid, this concept serves as

a metaphysical and epistemological foundation for the guidebook. Throughout

Islamic history, a great number of scholars have established tawhid as the

philosophical grounds for their epistemological framework and ontological belief

system. In general, tawhid represents the belief in the oneness of reality and

creation. Its cosmological counterpart is described as “the unique, unitary reality

that gives rise to the universe” (Chittick, 2007, p. 113).

In general, traditional Islamic scholarship has recognized the influence of

tawhid on various domains of knowledge, including psychology, sociology,

philosophy, and the natural sciences (Bakar, 1999). It was also recognized as the

qualifying concept inherent to all Islamic theories. It is thus no surprise that in an

attempt to revive Islamic psychology, contemporary psychologists have begun to

4 This study references Dr. Ahmad Zaki Hammad’s edition of the Koran, entitled, The Gracious Koran: A modern-phrased interpretation in English. Arabic- English parallel edition (2009). According to Koran, cultural and religious

diversity is necessary for human beings to fulfill their human role and responsibility to know one another and be gracious with others. The Koran repeatedly reminds the reader that God could have made humanity one single type, without variance, but that this is not in line with the cosmological order. (Koran 7:26; Koran, 30:22; Koran, 49:13).

11

consider the philosophical concept of tawhid. To this end, an environmental scan

of the literature reveals consensus among Muslim psychologists and researchers

on the importance of exploring the implications of tawhid within research

methodologies and clinical practice (Alias & Hanapi, 2015; Bakar, 1999; Chittick,

2007; Haque & Mohammed, 2009; Ismail, 2008; Nasr, 1993). Though tawhid is

essential to traditional Islamic discourse, it is still in its early stages of clinical

advancement. This study attempts to contribute to the field of Islamic psychology

by addressing the following questions: 5

How does the concept of tawhid inform research methodology?

Specifically, how can it inform the development of content for a

guidebook on Islamic psychotherapy?

How does the concept of tawhid inform the principles of both

psychology and psychotherapy?

Central Theme 2: Revisiting Classical Islamic Psychology

Across various literary publications and resources, contemporary Muslim

psychologists attempt to establish historical precedence for Islamic psychology in

early Muslim communities. Although only a few Western psychologists have

specialized in the revival of classical Islamic theories and practices (Bakhtier,

2002), the majority expresses an interest in the contributions of early Muslim

scholars and frequently employs classical Islamic concepts. It is quite likely that

this trend is a reflection of the young nature of the field of Islamic psychology,

which currently lacks a central body or guiding construct, and needs a sense of

5 These questions are explored more fully in the subsequent Stage II: Thematic Analysis on tawhid.

12

lineage and connection with previously established traditions. To this end, the

current study hopes to contribute to this practice by (a) including a brief

introduction on Islamic psychology, and (b) incorporating psychological concepts

from Islamic philosophy and theology. A thematic review and selection process

(Stage II) informs the central concepts and guidelines for the guidebook.

Central Theme 3: A Common Practice of Integrative Therapy

A review of the literature indicated integrative therapy as the most

frequently employed treatment approach amongst therapists, including Muslim

practitioners (Utz, 2011). In general, integrative therapy serves to maintain

dialogue with other multiple approaches and therapeutic practices. It offers a

much-needed element of clinical flexibility, which is essential when working with

the Muslim population. 6 Given the suitability and current practices of Muslim

psychologists, this study incorporated an integrative approach to the development

of a guidebook. As a general theme, the environmental scan revealed two trends

among integrative therapists: (a) the tendency to incorporate spiritual and Islamic

concepts into psychological practice, and (b) the integration of various multiple

approaches to psychotherapy. Both of these approaches will be revisited and used

in the following section.

Conclusion to Stage I

The conditions that currently shape the academic field of clinical

psychology offer a unique and challenging opportunity for Muslim psychologists.

6 For an overview of the diversity in the Muslim population, the Pew Forum has provided a substantial resource (The Pew Research Center, The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 2012).

13

On the one hand, the Islamic discourse on psychology and psychotherapy is at a

young stage, with a shortage of religiously informed practitioners to lead and

guide the way. On the other hand, this unbound, blank canvas offers a creative

space for future growth, integration, and possibility. In general, the dominant

field of psychology is currently embracing a holistic and integrative approach to

therapy, one that encourages practitioners to incorporate a variety of therapeutic

practices into their treatment. To move the field forward, Muslim psychologists

have recalled tawhid, attempting to reintroduce it to the field through

recommendations and practice. To build a full foundation and framework, it is

necessary to integrate contributions from ancient Muslim scholars, and current

Islamic concepts and therapeutic techniques from a wide variety of clinical

approaches.

14

CHAPTER 3: STAGE II—THEMATIC REVIEW

Thematic Review 1.1: Methodology and Tawhid

The implications of tawhid can be separated into two overarching themes:

the attitude with which a researcher engages the pursuit of knowledge and the

process of gathering and organizing knowledge. Both are governed by an Islamic

attitude toward research and methodology, which contends that “all knowledge,

no matter how objective or impersonal some forms of knowledge appear to be,

has its grounds in self-knowledge” (Coates, 2002, p. 4) Therefore, the search for

knowledge is also the search for the self and guides the qualities that shape the

researcher’s personal development. This approach to knowledge is reflected in

the traditional practices of Muslim scholars who sought knowledge in order to

actualize and embody universal truths within themselves (Chittick, 2007).

Methodological Approach: A Heuristic Perspective

Traditionally, Muslims have approached research with a commitment to

divine principles and with a desire to actualize their spiritual potential. Research

and spirituality are inextricably linked. In Arabic, this process is referred to as

tahqiq, literally meaning, the verification and realization of truth. In

contemporary Western psychology, this attitude is reflected in heuristic research,

which is characterized by “a process of internal search through which one

discovers the nature and meaning of experience and develops methods and

procedures for further investigation and analysis” (Moustakas, 1990, p. 4). While

the quantifiable goal of heuristic research may be to understand a specific

phenomenon, the process of inquiry is valued for its capacity to increase the

15

researchers’ self-knowledge. This process occurs by way of personal exploration,

reflection and an attempt to refine one’s engagement with the topic of inquiry.

Similarly, Islamic scholars adopted a “conception of knowledge as a form of

encounter” which occurred in every relationship, whether within oneself or with

another individual, idea, music or nature (Coates, 2002, p. 8).

In general, Islamic methodology adopts a flexible approach to research

that recognizes the primary commitment to “seeking truth, honesty and integrity

and being ethical and moral” (Haque & Mohamed, 2009, p. 78). These values

reflect the epistemological foundation of Islamic research and contain the central

components for the process of tahqiq, self-actualization. According to Islamic

methodology, for knowledge and truth to become evident, guidelines must be

established for one to “pursue, express, promote and re-create” the normative

values that inspired the research at the beginning (Abou El-Fadl, 2006, p. xix).

Consideration of metaphysical principles is paramount for one to

discover and actualize the truth of his or her reality. The various methodological

approaches shaping Islamic inquiry then reflect the various normative values that

inspire Muslim researchers. Significantly, Islamic methodology recognizes and

considers the influence of both cosmic reality (metaphysics) and researcher bias

on the scientific process. The undeniable influence of these components has been

recognized by many contemporary psychologists and captured elegantly in the

words of researcher Hood (2013) “Any method is at least an implicit

epistemology, and any epistemology assumes at least an implicit ontology.

Simply put, how we seek to know assumes what we believe to be real” (p.79).

16

Tawhid and Islamic methodology. Of the many belief systems, Tawhid

is the most widely accepted principle in Islamic methodology. As a general rule,

the Islamic intellectual tradition is one that has been inclusive of various

methodological approaches and normative values on the condition that they do

not “destroy the literal meaning [of tawhid] 7 : for in that case one destroys the

unity of Islam, that is to say its universality, its faculty of adapting and fitting

itself to all mentalities, circumstances and epochs” (Abdul Hadi, as cited in Nasr,

1993, p. 5). There needs to be a harmony amongst methodological approaches

and values for tawhid to serve as a unifying force. In the past, amongst ancient

academic pursuits, it allowed for the development of various perspectives and

disciplines.

Guidelines that promote a methodology of tawhid. In summary, the

connotation of tawhid suggests both inherent knowledge and the presence of

knowledge within research and methodological pursuits. In light of these

conditions, the current study produces a guidebook based on the principle of

unity, tawhid. To properly produce such a guidebook, a methodology from

hermeneutic research is selected to guide the integration process: the hermeneutic

circle.

7 A good example of an alternative guiding principle for Islamic methodology is one advanced by Abou El-Fadl (2006), Islamic scholar and UCLA professor, who advanced a methodology based in the exploration of the core Islamic value of

beauty. In so doing, he wrote The Search for Beauty in Islam: A Conference of the Books, a thought-provoking book on contemporary Islamic reality. This approach is an exemplar of the traditional Islamic spirit of inclusiveness that facilitated the development of various methodologies, each typically derived from the researcher’s particular relationship with the divine formula of tawhid.

17

Tawhid and the hermeneutic circle. Hermeneutics research is

particularly useful for a deeper analysis of texts and for developing meaningful

interpretations among theories. The development and production of this

guidebook relies on the hermeneutic circle, which is a

circular pattern of determining the meaning of a part that affects the meaning of the whole, which, in turn, bears on the meaning of the individual part. This process of going back and forth strengthens internal consistency and the interdependency of emerging themes as they lead toward an overall meaning for the text. (Hood, 2013, p. 92)

This process opens the possibility to revising one’s original perspective in light of

deeper understanding. At the core of the current study then, is a hermeneutic

element that informs the process of integration and the development of a

guidebook. As a result, the current proposal also acknowledges that a continued

analysis of research may result in an adjustment of the guidebook, whether in the

interpretation of specific texts or the structure of the guidebook layout. As a rule,

however, these adjustments must serve to enhance the concept of unity, tawhid.

Methodological Content: The Unity of Knowledge

While the previous sections focused on the methodological approach of

tawhid, the current section discusses the traditional concept of consilience, the

unity of knowledge. The conceptualization of knowledge as a unified reality has

been recognized across many cultures and epochs. However, this concept was

most recently revived in Western culture by Harvard biologist, Edward Osborn

Wilson, in his book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (1998). The writings of

Wilson (1998) reflect a synchronized and organized structure to knowledge and

reality, a principle shared in the classical works of Muslim scholars. Across

18

ancient literature, theologians, philosophers, and cosmologists shared this concept

of unity while differing in their epistemological and cosmological frameworks.

While some Islamic philosophers excluded scriptural sources from their

theoretical formulations 8 , relying purely on reason, others relied heavily on these

textual references and in doing so, established precise and intricate methodologies

to analyze scriptural authenticity and meaning. Despite these epistemological

differences, all theories held unity as their primary principle, underneath the wide

net of consilience. In the broadest sense, tawhid was established as a

philosophical foundation that guided intellectual inquiry and united Muslim

scholars, regardless of sect, creed or epoch. In Omar Bakar’s (2000) reflections

on the historic achievements of Islamic civilization he states that:

as long as Muslims were faithful to the true spirit of tawhid, implying a faithfulness to the idea of the hierarchy and unity of knowledge, they were spared of that unfortunate and precarious situation whereby one mode of knowing is affirmed at the expense of other modes, or the validity of some modes of knowing negated in the name of upholding the supremacy of some other modes. (p. 5)

Early Muslim scholars build on ancient knowledge. Early Muslim

scholars sought to gather information from various traditions, recognizing the

inherent unity of knowledge and its primordial origins. This perspective was

8 Historically, Islam has supported the development of various philosophical perspectives and has had an inclusive approach that promotes dialogue between different schools of thought. Al-Farabi (872–950), a well-respected Muslim theologian, is known to have promoted the notion of religion and philosophy as two paths that lead to the same destination. This attitude was furthered by his

development of a theory that accounted for the benefits of diversity in religion, as well as the fundamental unity in philosophy across all revealed traditions. It is for this reason perhaps, that Muslims were traditionally less concerned with pagan beliefs and remained receptive to intellectual exchanges with cultures that shared a unitarian philosophy; a fundamental principle of Islamic theology.

19

inspired by the famous prophetic command to “seek knowledge as far as China,”

which became the cornerstone of the Islamic intellectual tradition and the bedrock

of Islamic civilization. Today, the proverb, “seeking knowledge as far as China,

remains on the lips of many Muslims throughout the world and is used to promote

Islam as a religion of knowledge. Methodological implications of this perspective

are expounded upon throughout the study by integrating knowledge from various

sources, which is a way of honoring the traditional spirit of tawhid that

encouraged the search for knowledge across cultures.

In the search for knowledge, Muslims have traditionally referenced their

sources and acknowledged and honored the founders of their theories. This

attitude led to the labeling of Aristotle as the “First Teacher” (Nasr, 1993) and

Plato as “Divine Plato” (Coates, 2002). It was perhaps this inclusive attitude that

allowed the early Islamic civilization to flourish and consolidate knowledge in a

practical and efficient manner. In general, Muslims adopted the belief that

“whatever learning and knowledge is good, and true and in tune with Islam’s

teachings comes from God, and is ‘Islamic’” 9 (Ahmed & Amer, 2012, p. 149).

This attitude provided an openness to others that is needed in today’s academic

world. To this end, the Islamic intellectual tradition endorses the essence of

tawhid as one that “stands outside of history” (Chittick, 2007, p. 113) and is able

to unite knowledge across time and space, providing a sense of continuity and

harmony across cultures and traditions.

9 This approach can also be seen as part of a broader movement within contemporary Islamic thinking that moves away from earlier more rigid

interpretations of Islam to a more holistic understanding (Kamrava et al., 2006).

20

The Islamic practice of cross-disciplinary dialogue. The Islamic

intellectual tradition did not limit its integrative qualities to geographic and

historical studies, but also established an inter-disciplinary practice across

scholarly expositions. As a reminder, the inner-connectivity between Islamic

methodology and spiritual philosophy is firmly rooted in the Islamic tradition.

Thus the philosophical principles that govern each scholar’s worldview become

evident in their methodology and theory. Metaphysical considerations were

common in discourses on cosmology, psychology, and natural sciences. Most

classical Muslim psychologists developed their theories in a holistic fashion and

wrote their arguments in tandem with cosmological, metaphysical, philosophical

and ontological considerations (Nasr, 1993).

A cross-disciplinary approach to knowledge is not unique to Islam but

evident across all spiritual and religious traditions (Wilber, 2000). Unfortunately,

with recent advances of modernity and post-modernity, academic discourse in the

West has become increasingly compartmentalized with clear distinctions drawn

between different disciplines. The resulting schism is an evident concern across

the literature, whether cited in the works of philosophers or psychologists 10 . A

more detailed discussion of the historic divide between philosophy and

10 The introduction to the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM Task Force, 2006) clearly states that “although the psychoanalytic tradition, or depth psychology, has a long history of examining overall human functioning in a searching and comprehensive way, the diagnostic precision and usefulness of psychodynamic approaches have been compromised by at least two problems” (p. 7). Both of the reasons listed, point towards a trend of dissolution and debate. The unifying force of a “comprehensive way” and the simplicity of “precision” are lost in the devilish details.

21

psychology is taken up the Thematic Review 2: A Brief History of Islamic

Psychology.

Sources of knowledge in the Islamic tradition. Across many historical

and cultural divides, the question of what constitutes knowledge has served to

differentiate and unite philosophical perspectives. During the early period of

Islamic civilization, epistemological discussions received a great deal of attention

while scholars advanced various approaches to seeking truth and knowledge.

While it is beyond the scope of this study to review the rich heritage of Islamic

epistemology, it is important to highlight the diversity in opinion that existed in

early debates among Muslim philosophers. For a brief yet insightful discussion

on this subject, Alias & Hanapi’s (2015) introduction to Ibn Al-Haytham’s

Philosophy on Scientific Research Applied in Islamic Research Methodology:

Analysis from Tasawwir, Epistemology and Ontology Perspectives is

recommended. With regard to the current discourse, two sources of knowledge

are worth mentioning for their uniqueness to the Islamic tradition: intuition and

revelation.

Intuition has been traditionally understood by Muslim scholars as

representing a perceptive faculty that belongs to the domain of reason (Bakhtier,

2002). Together with the rational intellect, intuition serves as one of two major

routes to obtaining knowledge. Intuition held an honorable position in Islamic

research and was considered one of four qualified modes of obtaining knowledge,

along with: empirical, rational, and revelation sources (Haque & Mohamed,

2009). The current study also accepts these four sources of knowledge as valid

22

proofs while simultaneously recognizing Muslim Intellectuals’ traditional

practices, which “did not depend on revelation and transmission for their

understanding of tawhid,” (Chittick, 2007, p. 118). Yet, the capacity to arrive at

truth, independent of revelation, is consistent with the Koranic perspective, which

encourages spiritual seekers to obtain knowledge by way of signs (Koran, 27:93;

Koran, 14:52). These signs are located in three domains: scripture (and prophetic

activity), natural phenomena, and the inner workings of the soul (Chittick, 2007).

As such, while most early Muslim scholars were deeply versed in

theology, they generally sought to prove their intellectual positions by way of

investigating and analyzing the cosmos and their psychic realities. Though

genuinely believing the Koran to be the literal word of God, Muslims also

recognized the reality of subjective interpretation, the Koran’s reflective capacity,

and its tendency to reveal itself differently depending on the quality of one’s

heart. Even loyal adherents to the Koran recognized the importance of following

the Divine command to seek knowledge and wisdom by contemplating the

cosmological signs, whether internal or external. This was also considered a way

toward tahqiq, self-actualization, whereby a person would be inspired with new

perceptions and insight, returning to the Koran with a wiser heart. It was also

supported by the Islamic belief that the Koran contains “messages that are clear in

and by themselves - and these are the essence of the divine writ - as well as others

that are allegorical” (Koran, 3:7, Muhammad Asad).

Guidelines that promote consilience. In tandem with a traditional

approach of Islamic scholarship, the current study promotes the development of a

23

guidebook that is cross-disciplinary and able to integrate philosophical,

psychological, cosmological, and theological concepts into a unitary framework.

The foundational premise for this approach is the belief in consilience, the unity

of knowledge, which is a universal principle shared across various cosmological

expressions. In order to integrate content in a manner that is not repetitive and

redundant, this study implements the principle of parsimony in its analytic

process.

Tawhid and the principle of parsimony. The principle of parsimony is a

contemporary concept that shares common traits with tawhid in that it honors the

simplicity found in unity. The principle of parsimony states, “between two

equally tenable hypotheses, the simpler is to be preferred” (Lazarus, 1981, p. 33).

Multimodal therapy approaches promote this principle, making it particularly

compatible with the current study. For the purposes of this study, the following

guideline was established in order to pursue, express and promote the principle of

parsimony: This study attempts to select inclusive material; however, if over the

course of the study, new material emerges that can incorporate two or more

previously selected texts without sacrificing content, the study will uphold the

principle of parsimony by either (a) substituting the theorist/ theory/ text with the

more inclusive approach or (b) provide suggestions and recommendations for the

substitution in future revisions.

Tawhid and cross-cultural inclusion. The content selected for the

guidebook is not restricted solely to the contributions of Muslim scholars. On the

contrary, in recognition of the historical and political environment that currently

24

surrounds (and stifles) intellectual discourse in many Muslim countries (see

Thematic Review 2: A Brief History of Islamic Psychology), the integration of

Western theories is considered an invaluable necessity. The integration of

knowledge cross-culturally parallels the attitude of early Muslim scholars who

were inspired to revive and integrate Greek philosophy—acknowledging their

own historical limitations 11 —and the gifts of preceding traditions. Furthermore,

an attempt is made to incorporate research and literature from various Muslim

cultures, nodding to the cultural diversity within Muslim populations.

Thematic Review 1.2: Psychology and Tawhid

The core principles of tawhid are captured in the concepts of oneness and

unity. Traditionally, Islamic philosophy has recognized the benefit of

differentiating between these two terms, particularly in theological discussions

(Murata, 1992; Murata & Chittick, 1994). Specifically, the term unity is used to

refer to the essence of a single unified reality: the whole. On the other hand, the

term oneness is best recognized for its ability to capture “the traditional Islamic

universe where the light of the One dominates all multiplicity and multiplicity is

always seen in the light of Unity” (Nasr, 1979, p. 1). In traditional Islamic

understandings, the multiplicity of Divine names collectively captures the various

attributes of One God.

11 Often referred to as the “time of ignorance” (Khan, 2013), the era that preceded the Islamic enlightenment was governed by an ambiance of disconnection, alienation and tribal rivalry. It is important to note the difference here between the Arab and Persian regions. Both became a part of the Islamic civilization; however, while the Arabs were transitioning from an age of ignorance, the Persians brought the intellectual and industrial knowledge of the preceding Persian Empire.

25

Self as Integrated Whole

From a psychological perspective, the concept of tawhid can also be used to

represent the integrated aspect of the self and the soul. In discussing

psychological development, Wilber (2000) states, “as the locus of integration, the

self is responsible for balancing and integrating all of the levels, lines, and states

in the individual” (emphasis in original, p. 37). Similarly, Muslim psychologist

and scholar, Bakhtier (2002) uses a diagrammatic model of a centered circle to

discuss her theory of psychological development. In general, the concept of

psychological well-being, in terms of a holistic, integrated and balanced soul, is

consistent with both traditional and contemporary practices of Islamic psychology

(Al-Issa, 2000). For example, contemporary Muslim psychologist Ebrahim

(2014) has described this process relationally, as “the dynamic force that

intertwines, interweaves, and inter-connects all life, being, creation” (p. 107).

Because of the inner-connected workings of the human soul, its unity is

considered an essential component of the current study and the proposed theory of

Islamic integrative therapy.

The concept of psychic integration is further developed in terms of the

individual’s imaginative faculties (Dhanidina, 2004) and cognitive organizational

skills (Badri, 2000). In this sense, the concept of tawhid is represented in the

individual’s psychic process as reflected in Nasr’s (1979) discussion on the

intellect’s “unifying function,through which the soul can be saved from “all

bondage of multiplicity and separateness” (p. 2). Accordingly, it is not simply

26

that the soul has a unified reality but that there is an intellectual process behind

that unification that allows such a reality to unfold.

Tawhid Reflects a Relational Reality

Traditional Islamic cosmology was interested in the notion of tawhid

because it not only represented the essence of God but also established a balanced

perspective on human relationships with God (Dhanidina, 2004; Murata &

Chittick, 1994). God is seen as distant and omniscient as well as close and

personal. On the one hand, Islamic theology stipulates God’s distance and

dominion over Creation; this is referred to as tanzih. On the other hand, the

Koran clearly states that God is closer to an individual than their jugular vein

(Koran, 50:16), thus indicating the proximity (tashbih) of God with Creation.

The concept of tawhid synthesizes these apparent polarities and brings these

differing perspectives into harmony. The relational aspect of tawhid crops up

repeatedly in psychological literature on Islam. In general, the current study

emphasizes the importance of establishing relationships that are balanced in

proximity and distance. This is applied to the individual’s relationship with God

as well as others.

Guidelines That Promote a Psychology of Tawhid

In order to promote an integrated vision of the self, the guidebook will

attempt to limit the compartmentalization and differentiation of the various

components of psychological functioning. In other words, the guidebook will

attempt to provide a holistic vision of the self that embodies an integrated

conception of multiplicity within unity and avoids a separation and individuation

27

of body-mind functioning. The need to pay particular attention to a body-mind

schism is evident across the literature on Islamic psychology, which often

endorses a Hellenistic approach that differentiates the individual soul into three

parts: the vegetative, the animal and the rational soul. While this approach has

traditionally been adopted in a holistic manner that recognizes the unified nature

of the mind, body, and soul, its current usage in the literature can be interpreted as

problematically separatist and compartmentalizing. Given the contemporary

tendency to emphasize natural sciences and limit psychological functions to the

brain’s anatomical design, the discussion of an animal soul vs. a rational soul can

lead to a dualistic understanding of the mind and body. As such, the current

research pays particular attention to this potential division, in light of its

philosophical allegiance to the principle of unity.

To harness the integrative propensity of tawhid, this study draws from

Islamic theologians who have frequently discussed the integration of Divine

Multiplicity within Unity through the use of the terms Divine attributes or God’s

names. This approach is based in Koranic scripture, which encourages the

invocation of Divine presence through the use of Divine names (Koran, 2:186;

Koran, 17:110). These Divine names are referenced throughout the Koran, as well

as the prophetic sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, and as such, are familiar to

many Muslims. While the names of God are philosophically considered to be

infinite, a traditional ninety-nine attributes are recognized across the Muslim

world and are considered a central component of Islamic faith and worship.

28

However, while Muslims may call on God by these Names, Islamic

practices are strictly monotheistic and these attributes are not considered separate

from the One Essence of God. The dominant belief in Islam is that God is beyond

all imaginative capacity. However, in relation to one’s experience and

relationship to God, the attributes of God function as a way of understanding

particular qualities of the One God. This approach is always undertaken with the

knowledge that the sum, or whole, is always greater than its parts.

While most Muslims have a basic knowledge of some of God’s attributes,

such as Mercy, Grace, Majesty, and Beauty, one cannot presume that all Muslims

have familiarity with all ninety-nine attributes, nor that they understand the

philosophical basis that supports the use of attributes in understanding God. In

fact, many Muslims today are unaware of basic Islamic beliefs about the nature of

God’s existence, even though ancient Islamic scholars insisted on a basic

knowledge of Gods essence as a pre-requisite to prayer and true faith.

Essentially, one must know what he or she is worshiping prior to prayer. This

approach is evident in the prophetic tradition, which recounts the stories of the

Prophet Muhammad and his companions. Significantly, historic evidence

suggests that these companions were not initiated into the formal practices of

worship for many years, but once they were, they were guided toward

understanding the true nature of God and Reality.

Unfortunately, by the end of the sixteenth century C.E., many Muslims

around the world had lost this theological and spiritual knowledge. In order to

address this intellectual-spiritual decline, Abd al-Wahid Ibn ‘Ashir, a Moroccan

29

theologian who lived in 1600 AD, developed a poem, Al-Murshid al-Mu’een, that

captured the essential aspects of Islamic creed. Among its lines, his poem

emphasizes thirteen attributes of God (Ibn ‘Ashir, 2013), selected for their ability

to encompass a plenitude of God’s attributes. The simplicity and elegance of this

poem has facilitated its memorization and transmission for the past four hundred

years. As such, it resonates with the concept of parsimony and the importance of

honoring the effective quality of simplicity, which is often aligned with the

concept of unity.

In exploring Islamic approaches to integration, the theological approach

adopted by Ibn ‘Ashir was examined. The selection of thirteen attributes was a

result of careful consideration among many Muslim scholars. As such, the

integration of ninety-nine Attributes of God into a framework of thirteen

Attributes is considered an intellectual feat that is promoted by many

contemporary scholars, who recognize the importance of educating Muslims

about the fundamental qualities of God’s existence. Because of this

consolidation, the thirteen Attributes are considered a viable framework for the

current study. In adopting this approach, this study also endorses a cosmological

framework— man was created in God’s image— accepted by many Muslim

scholars to indicate that human beings share in God’s attributes (Bakar, 1999;

Chittick, 1998; Murata; 1992; Shah-Kazemi, 2006).

In light of these Islamic beliefs, the current study attempted to locate

integrative concepts and guidelines in the thirteen attributes of God referenced by

Ibn Ashir’s poem. Of the thirteen attributes, six are known to be inapplicable to

30

human beings, such as, the incomparability of God to anything in creation, or the

complete self-sufficiency of God. The remaining seven attributes were found

compatible and highly suitable for a model of psychology. These are: life,

knowledge, will, power, hearing, seeing, and speaking. These seven attributes

present an alternative to the traditional Hellenistic framework of the vegetative-

animal-rational soul. They form the foundation from which psychological

concepts are described and defined. The final stage of this study includes the

development of a guidebook based on these seven attributes of the soul, which are

labeled The Seven Gifts of the Soul.

Thematic Review 2: A Brief History of Islamic Psychology

The Islamic discourse on psychology dates back to the early 9th century, a

time that marked the accelerated expansion of Islamic Civilization. The pursuit of

knowledge received considerable support from political rulers who recognized the

significance of the prophetic injunction to seek knowledge as far as China. An

intellectual commitment to preserving and disseminating knowledge became the

cornerstone of scientific discoveries and philosophical debates for the following

eight centuries. 12 During that time, many ancient texts (particularly those from

12 From its emergence in the 7th century, various beliefs and perspectives shaped the Islamic civilization. In its early formative years, the Islamic civilization quickly expanded and developed into a global empire, producing and sustaining intellectual growth and the development of an integrated civilization. Today, however, the Islamic world receives a great deal of attention for its regressive economy, turbulent ideology and oppressive and extremist practices. While historical achievements affirm Islam as a source of inspiration, one that has led to social justice movements, spiritual transformations, and cultural integration, Islamic discourse today is often filled with political ideology and religious dogma.

In order to capture the beauty and spirit of Islam, scholars often return to the early

31

the Hellenic period) were translated into Arabic at major academic centers and

then made accessible throughout various regions of the Islamic Empire: from

Persia, to Morocco, to Turkey and to other locations throughout Eastern parts of

Europe. Such dissemination was made possible by capitalizing on a resource

from China, paper, which quite literally became a major fabric of the Islamic

civilization. In general, the Islamic intellectual tradition was one shaped by a

rigorous examination of ancient texts. In this way, Islam was able to pass the

torch of knowledge from one civilization to the next, bringing along fresh

interpretations and renewed applications still visible in Western academia and

civilization (Al-Issa, 2000).

Philosophy, Psychology and the Islamic Legacy

Historically, Islam has supported the development of various

philosophical perspectives, which includes a comprehensive approach promoting

a dialogue between different schools of thought. This attitude was established

from the earliest generation of Muslim scholars. It was Al-Farabi, a well-known

and influential Muslim theologian who lived between 872-950 AD. Al-Farabi

promoted religion and philosophy as two paths leading to the same destination.

His theory on the roles of imagination and spirituality accounted for the

importance of diversity in religion, as well as the fundamental unity in philosophy

across all revealed traditions. Early Muslim scholars then were less concerned

with people’s specific religious orientations and remained receptive to intellectual

contributions from various cultures and traditions. Essentially, all theories that

did not contradict a unitarian philosophy (i.e., the fundamental principle of

tawhid) were accepted or integrated into the development of new ones (Nasr,

1993). Similarly, early Islamic scholarship reflects a syncretism of knowledge,

drawing heavily from earlier works, including ancient Greek, Buddhist, and

Hindu philosophy. Furthermore, as mentioned previously, most scholars adopted

an inter-disciplinary approach, with philosophy as a general foundation and the

term psychology not being differentiated. Thus, while many scholars were deeply

involved in the practice of psychology, the term psychologist was not employed.

Today however, we recognize their work as specifically tailored toward the

healing of the psyche and as such, introduce these philosophers as early Muslim

psychologists. A brief introduction to their practices and theories is provided

below.

Ancient Muslim Psychologists

Muslim psychologists held a general view of psychological well-being as

rooted in wholesomeness and balance, very similar to Hellenistic philosophy,

which promoted a holistic approach to conceptualizing the mind, body, and spirit.

However, in contrast to the philosophical era that defined the Hellenistic period,

Muslim psychologists were more interested in the practical application of theory

and thus focused their efforts on studying and documenting the conditions

underlying many disorders including psychic delirium, memory disorders,

obsessive compulsive disorder, and a host of other disorders (Al-Isaa, 2000). In

particular, a great deal of attention went to the diagnosis of depression and the

distinction between psychosis and neurosis (Haque, 1998). The interest in

33

developing treatment methods is likely rooted in the traditional Islamic belief that

God created a cure for every ailment.

In developing treatments for psychological conditions, early Muslim

psychologists also established some of the first psychological treatment facilities

in history. These facilities were strategically located near the town centers and

markets, which encouraged social visitations and avoided the health hazards of

isolation. To this end, early Muslim psychologists recognized the healing power

of relationships and encouraged the practice of positive reinforcement and

reflection. These relational skills were believed to facilitate the healing process.

One of the strongest proponents of these relational skills was Al-Razi (also known

as Rhases in the West), who was considered an expert in diagnosing

psychosomatic ailments (Hamarneh, 1984). Along with many other scholars,

including Al-Kindi, Al-Balkhi, Al-Farabi and Al-Ghazali, Al-Razi recognized the

importance of establishing balance between the mind and body (Haddad, 1991).

The role of thought, imagination, and cognition played a central role in the

early formulation of Muslim philosophy and psychology. Of particular interest to

Western culture is Ibn Sina (named Avicenna in the West). He developed

Hellenistic theories and historically made “one of the first attempts to try to

understand the way that the mind and reasoning operate,” (Badri, 2000, p. 106)

which paved the way for the development of cognitive-behavioral techniques,

including talk therapy. In particular, Avicenna believed that a person could

overcome psychological ailments through a process of “cognitive reframing”

(Badri, 2000).

34

In addition to these approaches, Muslim psychologists used expressive

therapies, including, musical therapy and olfactory therapy. By enlisting the

sensory functions and healing potentials of the individual, Muslim psychologists

promoted a holistic approach to psychological treatment. And while most

psychologists incorporated theological principles into their philosophy of health,

and recognized the spiritual benefits of religion, many avoided the potential health

hazards of religious dogma and fundamentalism. Rather, early Muslim

psychologists focused more on developing cognitive and somatic approaches to

healing, and did not rely purely on the power of prayer, although they recognized

the power of healing as connected with the healing power of God.

Many early Muslim psychologists were also interested in the spiritual

development of the soul and the different stages of enlightenment. This area of

interest was described as the science of ihsan and is commonly referred to as

Sufism. Ihsan, literally meaning beautification, is a term that the Koran

frequently employs to refer to a heightened state of God-consciousness. Given

the scientific rigor of the Islamic intellectual tradition 13 , Sufism was keenly

interested in documenting the spiritual stages of development and examined these

patterns in order to develop a quantifiable and repeatable system. In other words,

13 The Islamic intellectual tradition classically recognized the term science in its original Latin sense, meaning knowledge, and explored scientific questions as part of natural philosophy. In later centuries (specifically between the tenth and fourteenth), more attention was given to the scientific method that was established by Al-Haytham and which included the following stages: (1) Observation (of natural world), (2) Defining the problem, (3) Developing a hypothesis, (4) Testing the theory, (5) Analyzing results, (6) Interpretation and (7) Publishing (results) (Alias & Hanapi, 2015).

35

Sufism was established as a practical and scientific approach that, like all other

disciplines of the time, was rooted in a theoretical and philosophical foundation.

Traditional Muslim Society

Prior to the turn of the 20th century, approximately 25% of adult Muslims

across the world participated in a spiritual practice commonly referred to as a

tariqa, literally meaning “a path” (Asfour, Aftab, Ahmed, & Bruncaj, 2013).

Traditionally, this practice followed alongside philosophical and rational inquiry

into the nature of religion and reality (Bakar, 1999). These spiritual paths,

developed by Muslim scholars, scientists, and philosophers, were often based in

observational and theoretical systems of psychology. Each carried its own set of

customs and practices that facilitated the development of a personal, spiritual

bond with God vis-à-vis a philosophical and cosmological framework (Bakar,

1999). Of the many paths that were developed, approximately thirteen have been

established and recognized for their ability to document and promote spiritual

development among their followers. For centuries, these practices spread as a

common aspect of traditional Islamic society and offered a colorful supplement to

formalized, communal prayer.

Today, these paths are more commonly referred to as Sufi orders and have

lost their popularity in many parts of the Muslim world. Over the course of the

19th century, and in conjunction with the exportation of puritanical rationalism

and Western notions of Orientalism, the Islamic world “sought to revive Islam by

rejecting all the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of its teachings, reducing it to

the narrowest possible interpretation of the Divine Law or Shari’ah” (Nasr, 1973,

36

p. 12). This rationalistic perspective dismissed Muslim’s intellectual heritage,

along with its openness to scientific research and it’s psycho-spiritual practices.

As a result, Muslim leaders and religious scholars began pursuing a puritanical

form of Islamic ideology. Consequently, many Muslims today have lost access to

traditional practices that once provided psychological and spiritual support.

Psychology of Religion and Spirituality in the West

In a similar thread, Western psychology experienced a major shift in the

20th century, particularly in relation to philosophy and religion. In contrast to the

prior century, the 20th century marked a specific interest in natural sciences and

was particularly influenced by behaviorism (first half of the century) and

cognitivism (second half of the century). In general, psychology in the twentieth

century pushed toward the “burgeoning of psychology as a discipline

distinguishable from philosophy” (DeRobertis & Iuculano, 2005, p. 1). And

while this attempt was initially successful, the last quarter of the 20th century

marked an interesting shift whereby “philosophers played an increasingly active

role in articulating and testing empirical theories about the mind and

psychologists became increasingly interested in the philosophical underpinnings

and implications of their work” (Mason, Sripada, & Stick, 2015, p.2).

As the 21st century rolled in, an evident shift emerged in the field of

psychology whereby spirituality and religion began to reclaim attention and

clinical value. As such, spiritual and religious interventions have dramatically

increased over the past three decades, in alignment with the increase in scientific

inquiry on the relationship between psychology, religion, spirituality, and well-

37

being (Hood, Hill, & Spilka, 2009). This rapidly evolving field of research has

been promoted by various traditions and religions. Recently, the American

Psychological Association published an in-depth handbook on the psychology of

religion and spirituality, which provides academic and clinical support for

spiritually integrated therapy (Pargament, 2013). Alternatively, the term theistic

therapy has been proposed by some psychologists as a suitable way to

differentiate spiritual psychology from God-centered therapy (Utz, 2011 &

Pargament, 2013).

In harmony with these recent developments, the turn of the century

marked a notable increase in academic publications and scholarly contributions

toward Islamic psychology (Hedayat-Diba, 2014). While the term Islamic

psychology has yet to be clearly defined, partially due to its Western

terminology 14 , recent publications have contributed to the development of new

perspectives on spiritual and psychological development (Abu-Raiya &

Pargament, 2011). An environmental scan of contemporary literature reveals a

concerted effort to revive traditional practices of Muslim scholars, including

Sufism. These traditional practices are necessary components to the current

study, not only for capacity to resonate with Muslims’ beliefs and cultures, but

also due to recent findings that indicate their compatibility with contemporary

14 The discipline of psychology exists throughout the Muslim world, however, the distinction of what is Islamic has not been clearly made. This is perhaps due to

the dominant Islamic culture, which precludes the necessity to discuss its Islamic counter-parts. In a similar vein, Westerners do not refer to their practice of psychology as “Western psychology” but rather assume that the context is recognized. The term Islamic psychology is one that has emerged in an increasingly Westernized world, which differentiates itself from Islamic beliefs.

38

practices. For example, a recent publication by Awad (2015) explores the

uncanny correlation between the Psychological Diagnostic Manual’s current

description of OCD and that written by Muslim psychologist, Al-Bakhi during the

9th century.

Thematic Review 3: Islamic Integrative Therapy

Two major themes govern the discourse on Islamic integrative practice.

One focuses on the integration of unique characteristics and needs of the Muslim

population, while the other focuses on the treatment process and the integration of

Islamic principles into therapy. These distinct areas of inquiry have the potential

for synergy but can also function independently. This is evidenced by research

findings that indicate diversity among the practices of Muslim psychologists

(Ismail, 2008; Khan, 2014; Shujah, 2006). In some cases, the use of Islamic

concepts in psychotherapy parallels the practices of Western psychologists who

are personally shaped by Buddhist concepts of mindfulness but may not explicitly

explore the benefits of prayer and meditation with their clients. Ultimately,

Islamic principles can impact a clinician’s therapeutic orientation without being

integrated into their treatment approach.

Similarly, some spiritual psychologists may be well-versed in spiritual

principles without being informed about the particular needs and characteristics of

the religious community in question. For example, one may find effective

psychologists who integrate Buddhist philosophy into their practice, but have

limited knowledge of the defining characteristics of contemporary Buddhist

society, whether local or abroad. In the same vein, a Sufi-based psychologist may

39

be guided by Islamic principles of psychology and spirituality while having

limited exposure to the specific issues that face contemporary Muslim

communities.

In order to address the various needs of the Muslim population and the

psychologists that serve them, the current study will incorporate universal

principles of Islam (such as the philosophy of unity), as well as particular aspects

of the Islamic faith (such as traditional practices of prayer and meditation). In

other words, both spiritual and theological considerations will be incorporated

into the development of a guidebook on Islamic integrative therapy, thus

representing a form of spiritual and theistic-therapy. To accomplish this task, a

platform of integrative therapy was used to guide the selection and integration of

literature for the guidebook. A final review of the selected materials is presented

in the final stage and proposed as a plan of action for developing a guidebook on

Islamic integrative therapy.

Reviewing Four Approaches to Integrative Therapy

As previously discussed, integrative therapy was found to be the most

consistently adopted practice among Muslim psychologists. To review integrative

therapy more fully, a recent publication by the American Psychological

Association (APA) was selected to inform the development of this guidebook.

According to Psychotherapy Integration (Sticker, 2010), the general approaches

of contemporary integrative psychologists can be captured in four approaches:

common factors approach, technical eclecticism, theoretical integration and

40

assimilative integration. Combining two or more of these approaches forms a

fifth approach.

The current study reviewed each of these approaches in light of its research

objectives. A brief overview of the four basic approaches to integrative therapy is

presented below, along with specific content and guidelines selected for the

current study and the final development of a guidebook (Stage III).

Assimilative integration. Assimilative integration is the term assigned to

psychological work that recognizes the importance of improving clinical

effectiveness by incorporating various practices and techniques into clinical

approaches. As such, psychologists integrate new perspectives or practices into

pre-established models of psychotherapy (Stricker, 2010).

The current study adopted an approach of assimilative integration, one that

recognized the importance of establishing a philosophical basis into which other

theories could be incorporated. The primary philosophical foundation for this

study was the concept of tawhid. The psychological implications of tawhid have

been discussed in the previous sections, and stipulate the importance of an

integral and holistic perspective of psychology and therapy. In addition to the

principle of tawhid, an environmental scan of the literature delivered four other

essential concepts to be included in an Islamic approach to integrative therapy:

nafs (soul) fitra (innate capacity), presence, and a relational philosophy.

The nafs: Soul, self, and psyche. The overwhelming majority of

publications on Islamic psychology adopt the traditional use of the term

psychology to refer to the study of the soul (i.e. the word psyche is used to refer to

41

the soul). This attitude captures the holistic and spiritual perspective of Muslim

psychologists who recognize an implicit spiritual component of existence. From

an Islamic perspective, the client is engaged primarily as a spiritual being (Ismail,

2008) but is also conceptualized as a constructed self that is shaped by its

experiences (Khan, 2014).

It is important to note that while some Muslim psychologists and Sufis use

the word nafs to specifically describe the animalistic nature of the soul, the

current study recognizes its literal meaning for “breath” and adopts the term nafs

as the general term for a spiritual soul. However, in order to avoid the promotion

of Islamic psychology as an “exotic or foreign practice” (Ismail, 2008, p. 84) and

avoid alienating the reader, the current study will adopt English terms whenever

possible. In this case, the term soul is preserved.

Presence in therapy. The significance of presence was found to be

consistent among the literature results. 15 Whether it was discussed in context of

existential realities (Schneider, 2004), inner dynamics (Shafii, 1985), connectivity

(Jordan, 2009), consciousness (Khan, 1972), experiential knowledge (Al-Ghazali,

2010), personality development (Almass, 1984), or contemplation (Badri, 2000).

It has not only been recognized for its commonality across “all great spiritual

traditions,” (Helminski, 2000, p. viii) but was recently valued for its intra-

disciplinary association across various therapeutic approaches. Presence took root

in existential-phenomenology during the early 20th century, then captured the

15 Presence goes by many names: “awakening, recollection, mindfulness, dhyana, remembrance, zhikr” (Helminski, 2000, p. 1), as well as “dhat” (Meyer, Hyde, Muqaddam, & Kahn, 2011)

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attention of humanistic psychology in the late 20th century psychology, before

results in phenomenological-humanistic psychology, which laid the foundation

for the rise of cognitive-behavioral “third wave mindfulness” modalities (Felder,

Aten, Neudeck, Shiomi-Chen, & Robbins, 2014). Across religious traditions,

spiritual practices, philosophical inquiries, and psychological approaches,

presence is a central principle that demands attention and inclusion into the

fundamental philosophy of therapy.

Innate capacity: Fitra. Across the literature, the shared view on the

innate human disposition, or fitra, is similar to that of humanistic perspectives that

endorse an inherent inclination toward growth, goodness and truth. The defining

element of a person’s success is often measured by their capacity to access fitra

and stay connected to it (i.e. establish a healthy relationship to one’s fitra

(Helminski, 2005). For many Muslim philosophers and psychologists, this innate

human capacity is a divinely ordained potential to consciously participate in

reflection and expression of Divine attributes (Dhaoudi, 2009). From this

perspective, fitra is like a seed that holds potential for both growth and form.

Fitra makes possible the expression of diversity, while centering the universal

qualities of human nature.

The concept of innate capacity is found across various traditions and

cultures. While the majority of scholars in the field of Western social sciences

promote a constructivist perspective of human potential, many scholars voice the

limitations of a constructivist model that overlooks the universal potential for

mystical experiences of consciousness. According to these accounts, mystical

43

experiences bypass language systems and are neither conceptual nor shaped by

one’s beliefs, suggesting that “rather than being a product of a cultural and

linguistic learning process, mysticism seems to result from some sort of innate

human capacity.” 16 (Forman, 1998, p. viii)

A relational philosophy. Traditional Muslim psychologists believed that

emotional suffering originates from disconnection with one’s true nature and

origins (Ahmed & Amer, 2012; Al-Issa, 2000; Meyer et al, 2011; Shafii, 1985;

Utz, 2011) thus making connectivity a central goal of psychotherapy, and a

defining component of psychological and spiritual health. A review of the current

research indicates initial attempts by contemporary Muslim psychologists to

conceptualize psychotherapy from a relational perspective (El-Amin & Nadir,

2014; Khan, 2013).

Furthermore, in consideration of traditional Islamic practices, the link

between spirituality and connectivity is evident in the Islamic call to prayer.

Globally, a single call to prayer unites worshipers seeking to draw close to the

Divine. This call to prayer has been collectively adopted across all Muslim

countries and has remained the same for over 1400 years. Its simple lines invite

listeners to “Come to salat (prayer), come to falah (success).”

The Arabic word

for prayer, salat, literally means the connection between two things, like a rope or

bridge that connects two things together (Omar, 2006). Prayer is a way to

connect, not only with the Divine, but also with others in conjugal prayer. The

call to prayer thus invites the seeker to move toward falah, which is loosely

16 Mysticism, addresses the development of the soul in relationship to the “unique Reality that underlies all appearances and experiences” (Shafii, 1983, p. 15).

44

translated as “success” but has deeper implications for developing presence and

for the participatory role in manifesting one’s psychic capacities. Both of these

principles lay the foundation for human development and will be taken up in more

detail in the final development of the guidebook.

A personal metaphysics of responsibility. Inherent in a relational

metaphysics is the concept of responsibility. While this outlook can be

substantiated in Islamic theology, it is also recognized in recent scientific and

philosophical developments in the West. Research has clearly demonstrated the

impact that individuals have on one another and the fact that an individual’s

exposure to another person directly shapes and alters his or her psychology

structure (Jordan, 2009). Additionally, recent philosophical arguments have been

advanced, particularly in context of existential-phenomenology, that argue for a

“dynamic self-in-action(DeRobertis & Iuculano, 2005, p. 242) and is well

captured in the following description:

The self-in-responsible-relation retains the form of the personal at the psychological level that we endeavored to attain at the metaphysical. We experience, we think, we choose, we take action, we are responsible within our psychological life and shared meaningfulness is the manifest within the state of affairs. (DeRobertis & Iuculano, 2005, p. 250)

In regard to Islamic beliefs, the concept of responsibility is central to the

notion of an eternal and post-corporeal life. In essence, most Muslims believe

that their eternal spirit is contingent on their actions in this world and the

intentions that drive them. These actions and intentions include one’s relationship

to self, environment, community and God. As such, spiritual well-being is

dependent on the quality of one’s relationship with their self (including their

45

corporeal body), 17 as well as nature, 18 society, and God. The Koran specifically

addresses the creation of human souls out of their own actions. In developing an

Islamic approach to integrative therapy, one cannot separate the soul from the

inter-connected and unified fabric of creation–nature. An Islamic approach

acknowledges this reality, thus underscoring an essential element of responsibility

and inter-dependency.

Theoretical Integration Model

Theoretical integration models are a result of synthesizing two or more

systems or theories of therapy (Stricker, 2010). This approach is quite common

among the increasing number of therapists who practice integral psychotherapy.

In contrast to technical eclecticism (see below, p. 50), theoretical integration

models are oriented toward synthesizing a foundational model that informs

clinical practice. A theoretical integration model maintains open dialogue with

therapeutic approaches from various schools of thought.

Having summarized the philosophical principles in the previous section on

assimilative integration, this section reviews the therapeutic approaches to be

integrated into a guidebook on Islamic integrative therapy. The environmental

scan of the literature confirmed Islam as a multidimensional religion with a wide

range of practices and beliefs amongst its followers (Abu-Raiya, 2010). Among

these practices, a general consensus exists regarding the compatibility of

humanistic psychology with Islamic faith and philosophy (Ahmed & Amer, 2012;

17 Islamic psychology recognizes each individual’s spiritual responsible for the wellbeing of his her body and somatic needs (Khan, 2013). 18 Islamic psychology regards each person as responsible for his or her relationship with Earth.

46

Haque & Mohammed, 2009). Additionally, Muslim psychologists have

synthesized Islamic concepts with psychodynamic theory (Shafii, 1985),

cognitive-behavioral therapy, attachment theory, and existential psychology

(Ansari, 2002).

Additionally, some spiritually-integrated approaches have been advanced

by psychologists who do not explicitly endorse Islamic practices but who

acknowledge the Sufi basis of their theories (Amass, 2000; Helminski, 2007).

These spiritually integrated approaches benefit the field in general by translating

theological principles of Islamic philosophy into contemporary and universal

frameworks of spirituality. They also appeal to psychologists who have a general

interest in spiritual practices but are not particularly involved in serving a

religious population. As such, they are considered a valuable resource for this

study, which hopes to develop a guidebook that is useful to Muslims with various

backgrounds.

Emotion-focused therapy. Rational-emotive behavior therapy has been

endorsed by contemporary Muslim psychologists and is considered compatible

with Islamic discourse that “highlights the role of intellect, reflection, and seeking

knowledge in maintaining positive mental health” (Haque, cited in Amer & Jalal,

2012, p. 98). In general, cognitive-behavioral therapy is argued to be more

compatible with Muslim temperaments due to its emphasis on "reason, logical

discussion, education, and consultation—notions that are well known and

commonly addressed within Islamic-religious discourse" (Amer & Jalal, 2012,

47

p.97). Similarly, emotion-focused therapy (EFT) incorporates cognitive-based

components that are compatible with Muslim temperaments.

In contrast to the general approach of the guidebook (which is primarily

concerned with advancing a theoretical philosophy of therapy), emotion-focused

therapy (EFT) concerns itself primarily with the integration of psychological

techniques. EFT shares the common goal of developing a sense of self through the

cultivation of presence and inner harmony. To this end, EFT therapists pay close

attention to emotions throughout the treatment process and use this information to

guide their clients in developing a harmonious relationship with their emotions

(Greenberg, 2010). EFT is compatible with the Islamic approach advanced in this

guidebook because its philosophy on the etiology of dysfunction includes a

variety of theoretical perspectives. The cultivation of emotional awareness has

been indicated as a clearly viable practice with Muslim clients (Ismail, 2008).

Existential-humanistic therapy. Yalom describes his approach to

psychotherapy as one that is simultaneously “process-oriented” and “relationship-

driven” as well as influenced by a “heightened sensibility to existential issues”

and operating from “an existential frame of reference” (Yalom, 2009, p. xvi).

Similarly, the guidebook advances a model of Islamic integrated therapy that

conceptualizes existence within a tawhidic paradigm. An existential-humanistic

approach also aligns with an Islamic perspective of relational responsibility and

with a humanistic perspective of innate goodness, i.e. fitra.

Theistic and spiritually-integrated therapy. Muslims report that prayer,

meditation, and other religious practices provide them with peace and emotional

48

comfort (Khan, 2006), thus supporting its inclusion into the guidebook.

Incorporating theistic therapy into a framework of integrative therapy also

enhances the therapeutic relationship and improves client retention rates (Ahmed

& Amer, 2012).

In Sufi Healing with the Divine Names (2011) Meyer et al., propose a psycho-

spiritual approach based on a connection between a human being’s spiritual

composition and the Divine attributes of God. The authors’ psychological

perspective includes an ontological theory of existence, human potential, and

psychological disease (including primary and secondary narcissistic wounds). A

highlight of this theory is the Islamic practice of bypassing the language system

through prayer, which connects directly with the inherent potential (fitra) of an

individual.

Expressive arts therapy. The ancient practices of Muslim psychologists

were attuned to the psycho-somatic needs of clients. This guidebook will include

therapeutic recommendations for music, dance, and expressive therapies.

Additional support for these recommendations will be culled from the Islamic

tradition.

Relational cultural therapy. Relational cultural therapy (RCT) posits that

pathology arises from chronic disconnection and centers its healing model on the

concept of mutual empathy, which requires that both parties experience the

other’s responsiveness for empathy to produce therapeutic change. RCT is more

of a philosophical model than a skill-based model; it establishes change in clients

by impacting their attitude and understanding. At the same time, it is

49

scientifically-based in neurobiology and attachment theory, which has

revolutionized the field of psychology. (Jordan, 2009)

Multicultural psychotherapy. Discussing the Muslim population casts a

wide net over all individuals who identify as Muslim. In order to address the

variance that exists in this group, issues of cultural diversity are mitigated through

the integration of Ramirez’s multicultural approach to psychotherapy (Ramirez,

1998). Ramirez’s multicultural approach is selected for the following reasons: (a)

its alignment with Islamic philosophy by conceptualizing a multicultural identity

that is both structured and flexible (Chittick, 2007), (b) its alignment with the

message in the Koran that human beings have been made “into nations and tribes,

so that you [humans] might come to know one another” (Koran, 49:13), (c) the

literatures on Islamic psychology has recommended its usage (Ansari, 2002), (d)

it is grounded in empirical research, and (e) disempowered individuals are

conceptualized as those who are “dis-connected” or “mis-matched” with their

environment (Ramirez, 1998), thus in alignment with a relational philosophy.

Technical eclecticism

Technical eclecticism is a practice of integrative therapy that recognizes the

importance of select therapeutic techniques based on the client’s particular

temperament or problem. As such, it is a client-specific approach that is defined

by theoretical adaptability and flexibility. In consideration of technical

eclecticism, this study hopes to clarify and differentiate those elements common

among the Muslim population and those specific to individual temperaments and

50

found across all cultures. To this end, the guidebook will include specific

discussions on evidence-based psychological research with Muslim populations.

An initial review of the literature indicates a number of publications that

sample Muslim populations from various countries including the United States,

Iran, Turkey, and Malaysia. These cross-cultural dialogues promote a specific

approach to research that is able to tease out elements that are specific to the

Muslim population from those that are culturally driven. Both religious and

cultural influences are important when discussing the Muslim population.

Whenever possible, these differences will be clarified and used to promote

multicultural competency.

For example, one of the principles of multicultural therapy is the development

of cognitive flex, which expresses itself across five domains including

communication, interpersonal relationships, motivation, counseling, and learning.

In addressing the clinical aspects of these cognitive domains, specific examples

and considerations are culled from research with various Muslim cultures.

Common Factors Theory

In contrast to the previous approaches, which were tailored toward the

theoretical orientation of therapy, the common factors theory approach is derived

from key elements and practices of effective psychotherapy. These elements are

typically obtained through research on evidence-based practices. Common

factors theory diverges from traditional Western models that typically endorse a

specific method or psychological theory (Stricker, 2010) by broadening its scope

to include evidence from multiple theoretical positions. While the current study is

51

sensitive to the common factors of effective therapy, it does so in a manner that

resembles assimilative integration, situating common factors into a pre-existing

philosophy.

Guidelines from evidence-based therapy relationships. Recent efforts

to research the effective components of psychotherapy have revealed that

approximately 30–70% of variance in therapy outcomes is due to common factors

associated with the therapeutic relationship (Norcross, 2002). Ostensibly then,

the clinical relationship is a vital element of any healing process. Knowing and

identifying the factors that impact this relationship is a necessary component of an

ethical and integrative approach to therapy. To this end, the literature review

delivered nine evidence-based common factors to be included in the guidebook:

(a) goal consensus and collaboration, (b) feedback collection, (c) adapting the

relationship to individual clients, (d) empathy and compassion, (e) positive

regard, (f) congruence and genuineness, (g) repairing alliance ruptures, (h)

managing counter-transference, and (i) psycho-education. The first eight of these

factors were obtained from the results of the American Psychological

Association’s research into the effectiveness of therapy. 19 The ninth factor,

psycho-education, was qualified by the research literature and found to be

particularly useful in therapy with minority groups.

Goal consensus and collaboration. This is based on (a) agreement about

the nature of the problem, (b) the goals of treatment, (c) the way that the therapist

and client will work together, (d) recognition (by client) of client’s importance in

19 Please refer to Norcross (2016) publication on the Purposes, Processes, and Products of the Task Force on Empirically Supported Therapy Relationships.

52

goal consensus, and (e) requesting client’s contributions, feedback, insight, and

reflections.

Adapting the relationship to the individual client. There are six patient

characteristics that a therapist should consider prior to case formulation. These

six characteristics are: reactance level, stage of change, preferences, culture,

coping style, and religion–spirituality.

Cultural perspectives on well-being. One significant finding from cross-

cultural research with Muslims captures a fearful attitude toward happiness

(Joshanloo, 2014). While this fear may be related to cultural perspectives and

post-traumatic symptoms, research indicates its association with the way that

contemporary Muslims respond to fear in general. An inquiry into this area is

guided by the distinction of two forms of well-being: hedonic well-being and

eudaimonic well-being (Joshanloo, 2014). The conceptualization of well-being in

these terms is not only relevant to contemporary Muslim issues but also consistent

with Islamic philosophy.

Positive regard and affirmation. This common factor is described in terms

of non-possessive warmth, which means that the therapist has philosophy of

client’s worth and the therapist practices communicating positive feelings and

regard.

This type of reinforcement is found to be especially useful with racial

and ethnic minority clients.

Congruence and genuineness. This common factor is dependent on (i)

the personal characteristics of the therapist: present personal awareness and

authenticity, (ii) experiential quality of therapy relationship: therapist models

53

capacity to communicate his or her experience and the possibility of engaging in a

genuine relationship. Effective therapists modify congruence style to match

client’s characteristics.

Repairing alliance ruptures. This relational quality is based on the

therapist’s attunement to ruptures and ability to address them therapeutically.

This aspect is essential to a relational model of psychology that is based in salah,

or, connection.

Psychoeducation. Psycho-education represents “a paradigm shift to a

more holistic and competence-based approach, stressing health, collaboration,

coping, and empowerment” (Lukens & McFarlane, 2006, p. 291). This factor is

based on positive considerations of the client’s psychological strengths and

resources, and is also focused on the present. The patient–client or family are

considered partners with the provider in treatment, on the premise that the more

knowledgeable the care recipients and informal caregivers are, the more positive

health-related outcomes will be for all.

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CHAPTER 4: STAGE III—THE GUIDEBOOK

The final chapter of this dissertation presents the outcome of the first two

stages, which resulted in a completed version of a guidebook entitled, Seven Gifts

of the Soul: A Guide to Islamic Integrative Therapy. The guidebook is composed

of ten chapters: (a) Introduction: An Islamic Platform for Assimilative

Integration, (b) How to Use this Guide, (c) Spiritual Formation of an Emerging

Soul, (d) Life, (e) Presence, (f) Knowledge, (g) Perception, (h) Will, (i) Power,

and (j) Speech.

Introduction: An Islamic Platform for Assimilative Integration

Integrative and holistic approaches to psychotherapy are steadily

becoming the most popular form of practice among Western psychologists. This

trend is emerging amidst a rapidly evolving discipline that continues to

disseminate new approaches and techniques every year. Over the last century, the

field of psychology has undergone a number of significant transformations and

embraced various perspectives (PDM Task Force, 2006). The field’s most recent

shift toward an integrative approach is evident in the APA’s recognition of

integrative and holistic therapies as one of five major theories that can provide a

“roadmap for psychologists” in clinical practice (American Psychological

Association, 2016). Integrative and holistic approaches are defined by their

ability to synthesize psychological information from various sources, whereas the

remaining four approaches (psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive and

humanistic) are categorized by their emphasis on particular aspects of

55

psychological development and treatment (American Psychological Association,

2016).

There are generally four different approaches to integrative therapy: the

common factors approach, technical integration, theoretical integration, and

assimilative integration (Stricker, 2010). 20 This guidebook is based on a model of

assimilative integration, which necessitates a philosophical foundation to guide

integration of remaining concepts and techniques. The underlying philosophy of

this guide is based on the Islamic principle tawhid 21 (unity), specifically as it

relates to the seven attributes of God: life, knowledge, will, power, seeing,

hearing, and speech.

The Philosophy: Theology as Self-Discovery

The notion that human beings share in the Divine attributes of God is a

long-standing tradition in Islamic philosophy that dates back to the early works of

Muslim scholars. 22 In his treatise, On the Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of God

20 Technical integration is applied on a client-to-client basis, dependent on the particular needs of the client. Theoretical integration, as the name implies, is based on a synthesis of various theoretical perspectives that serve to guide the clinician. Assimilative integration synthesizes psychological approaches into a pre-defined philosophical foundation (Stricker, 2010). The common factors approach integrates research-based therapeutic techniques that have been shown to be effective across various approaches.

21 The word tawhid is a noun that is derived from the verb wahada, meaning “to make one.” While it is often used to refer to the concept of oneness and unity, it’s truest sense denotes an active property (Shah-Kazemi, 2006).

22 The word God is used in this dissertation to refer to the One God that Muslims believe to be the Only God, and the same God that is worshipped across all primordial traditions. The Arabic word Allah is sometimes translated as The God (al-illah). Allah is a name of God that is beyond description and definition. It holds a similar connotation as the Taoist notion that “the tao that can be named is not the Tao.” Most English-speaking Muslim authors use the word God as a suitable translation for the word Allah.

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(1999), Al-Ghazali provides an overview of ninety-nine individual names of God

as they relate to the human being, and how individuals can manifest and perfect

these qualities in their soul. In this treatise, theology is presented as more than

just a belief in God; it becomes a path to self-discovery and psychological

development. 23 The Koran recognizes this processes and the importance of

becoming aware of the soul by means of interpreting its signs (as well as

discovering the meaning of signs throughout the universe), which provides a path

to self-knowledge and an opportunity to discover the truth of God’s integral

connection in the universe (Helminski, 1992).

Using these Divine attributes to facilitate and discover the human soul is a

delicate process that requires as much differentiation as it does integration. As

one explores this guide, it is important to do so against the backdrop of God’s

complete incomparability to human beings. God is completely beyond what one’s

mind can imagine. In no way can the attributes of God be confined to the way

that human beings understand or experience them. 24

One way to understand the relationship between God’s attributes and

human beings’ reflection of them is through the mechanics of signs. According to

23 Al-Ghazali is considered one of the most influential figures in medieval Islamic thought. As a teacher, Al-Ghazali was respected as an intellectual, one who continuously questioned blind religious practice. During his tenure at one of the most prominent universities in medieval Islam, he reflected on his intentions and found impurity in his direction towards God. This led him on a spiritual journey that resulted in the great magnum opus, the Ihya Ulum ad-din (Al-Ghazali, 2010), or “The Revivication of Religious Learning.” Much of his work was inspired by his self-proclaimed search to uncover “the true meaning of the fitra” (Al-Ghazali, 2000, p.9). 24 For a more detailed account of the relationship between God’s names and creation, refer to the section, Knowledge, of this guide.

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linguistic philosopher Ferdinand de Saussure, signs have two components: the

material signifier and the conceptual signified, neither of which are the actual

referent (Wilber, 2000, p. 165). For example, the word tree has both a signifier

(the actual letters on this page) and the signified (the concept of a tree that arises

in a person’s mind). Neither the word, nor the concept, is the actual tree itself,

i.e., the referent. Similarly, from an Islamic perspective, the cosmos is created as

a tapestry of signs that point toward the Names of God, but that does not imply

that the cosmos is God, or the actual referent.

A balance must be struck in one’s relationship to the Divine, without over-

emphasizing either divine similarity (tashbih) or human difference (tanzih).

Rather, a holistic understanding of one’s relationship to God reflects a unified

vision (tawhid) that recognizes both similarity and incomparability. While this

approach may appear foreign to some Muslims today, it is grounded in traditional

beliefs that are supported by verses in the Koran. 25 The goal of this guide is to

provide a picture of how these signs may co-exist in the formation of the soul.

The Seven Gifts

Of the infinite number of Divine names that permeate the cosmos, Islamic

tradition has delineated “Seven Leaders” that represent the foundation of cosmic

creation (Murata & Chittick, 1994, p. 122). These Seven Leaders (life,

knowledge, will, power, seeing, hearing, and speech) are reflected to various

degrees throughout the cosmos. In relation to the human being, they are evident

25 The Koran provides examples of both similarity and incomparability; for example, the Koran suggests that God is both beyond creation (13:16) and closer to an individual than their jugular vein (50:16).

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in the basic processes of an emerging soul. In this guide, each of the Seven

Leaders is considered a “gift” of the soul that must be unpacked and developed.

The traditional Latin origin of the term develop has its roots in the

meaning to unfold and bring forth (Helminski, 2005, p. 9). Just as we recognize

the word envelop as symbolizing the act which contains and brings together or

wraps a gift, for example, the term develop emphasizes the opposite act which

uncovers, opens up, and brings forth what is hidden in potential. In discussing the

soul’s development, it is not the acquisition of new traits or behaviors that is

stressed, but the unlocking of innate potential and the unfolding of new

possibilities based on what has already been gifted to the soul. This attitude

reflects a humanistic perspective that is generally shared among Muslim

psychologists (Ahmed & Amer, 2012; Ansari, 2002; Haque & Mohammed, 2009;

Hedayat-Diba, 2014; Utz, 2011). Evidence for this opinion is rooted in the

Islamic concept of fitra, which represents the spiritually-embodied nature of

human potential. It has been argued that the fitra is the spiritual quality of the

human soul that contains knowledge of all of God’s attributes, as well as the

hidden potential for unity with self, creation, and God (Chittick, 1998).

A Theoretical Orientation for Islamic Psychology

Islam literally means “the act of entering into a state of sound condition”

(Umar F. Abdullah, personal communication, February, 2016). In this sense, the

Arabic word islam shares a lot in common with the aspirations of psychotherapy

since therapists are generally concerned with helping their clients develop a state

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of sound condition. 26