|The Psychology of Extra-sensory Perception (ESP) or the Sixth Senses|
|Published by Abdul Razak Ricardo|
|Wednesday, 04 January 2012 11:09|
Wouldn’t it be nice if we are able we can send messages to our friends via mind-reading, can see/hear things which are not in front of us, and can predict future event (like Paul the Octopus!). Unfortunately, it is not accurate as it seems. An experimental study on a seemingly intelligent horse called the Clever Hans who can answer mathematical question showed that he was not able reproduce the same ability in a highly controlled laboratory. It was found out that the horse learn to use the hints that his instructor unconsciously gave during the exercise. Scientific experiments can show whether all these amazing abilities are genuine or occur by chance only.
That is why extra-sensory perception (ESP) is one of the most controversial topic in modern secular psychology which is also in the realm of a sub-field called parapsychology. Modern secular psychology defines ESP as a response to an unknown event not presented to any known sense. First and foremost, we need to find out whether Islam acknowledges the ‘existence’ of extrasensory perception. But, Muslim psychologists need to accept the inclusion of the concept of soul first in order to understand this area better. Therefore, parapsychology can be a useful sub-field of psychology to promote the concept of soul in psychology.
The first type of ESP is telepathy, that is, direct transmission of thought from one person to another. Abbas Mahmud `Aqqad (as cited in Najati, 1987, 1989) reported that the second caliph `Umar al-Khattab was delivering a sermon (khutbah) at Medina when suddenly shouted “O the troop of ibn Hashn, to the mountain, to the mountain.” When asked by `Ali ibn Talib later, `Umar informed that he had this feelings that the enemy will overcome the Muslim troops if they do not climb to the mountain. One month later, when the troop finally arrived at Medina, it was confirmed that the troop had really heard `Umar’s voice, follow it, and defeat the enemy. This shows that certain peoples with high spiritual level are given by Allah with the ability of telepathy.
The second type of extra-sensory perception is clairvoyance, which is, the awareness of an unknown object or event. Allah had mentioned in the Qur’an about the ability of Jacob (AS) to smell his son’s (Joseph AS) body odour from afar: “When the caravan left (Egypt), their father (Jacob) said: ‘I do indeed smell the presence of Joseph.
But, I know you will refute me” (12:94). Allah also mentioned that Jesus (AS) is able to tell other people what they have eaten and what they kept in their houses: “… and I declare to you what you eat, and what you keep in your houses. Surely, there is a sign for you if you did believe.” (3:49). Several hadiths mentioned Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) ability to see behind his back while praying (narrated by al-Bukhari: Vol., Book 11, No. 686, 687, 692; Book 12, No. 708, 709, Volume 8, Book 78, No. 639).
There are several other hadiths that shows Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) ability to hear the voice or torments in graves (narrated by al-Bukhari: Vol. 2, Book 23, No. 376, 379, 422, 457, ). Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was also able to see the 12 angels competing to write the rewards for a person who had praised Allah (SWT) (narrated by Muslim: Book 4, No. 1247). In fact, another hadith state that, with certain spiritual level, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said to Hanzalah al-Usaydi that human being has the potential to see the angel (narrated by Muslim: Book 37, No. 6623) . This shows that certain peoples with high spiritual level are given by Allah the ability of clairvoyance.
All these dalils or religious evidences (notice that I only rely on the Qur’an and Hadith Sahih) only show that Islam acknowledges its existence. But this does not mean that Islam accepts it totally as “sources of knowledge” in religion (aqidah, shari`ah or akhlaq). Al-Qaradawi had mentioned two extreme positions among Muslims on this issue: (1) those who rejected ESP altogether as religious evidences, and (2) those who excessively use ESP as religious evidences and signs of sainthood.
The moderate position, according to Al-Qaradawi, is Islam believes that ESP exists and using it as religious evidence are only allowed for those who experience it AS LONG AS it is in line with the existing rulings in the Qur’an and Sunnah. That is why kashaf and dreams have never been listed as one of the sources of hukm/rulings in the field of Usul Fiqh. And they are listed in tasawwuf/sufi books only to remind those who had experienced it to improve their iman and `amal or to show Allah’s (not their!) power to save them while facing difficulties.