By: DR. Alizi Alias - (
Theoretically, every Muslims should, within his/her capacity, islamise any human knowledge which has been secularised by the Western thinkers and scientists. But some Muslims possess certain characteristics that will make them more effective and useful as Islamisers of knowledge/science.
In the case of psychology as a social science, the following are some of the character (based on various papers/lectures by Prof. Malik Badri):
1.A fully committed Muslim
2.Thorough knowledge of his field
6.Having critical thinking and creativity
1. A Fully Committed Muslim
Do you think that just because you have a PhD in psychology, it will make you a useful Islamiser without being a committed Muslim (having iltizam) yourself (having high iman, taqwa, and spiritual motivation)? Prof. Malik believes that the answer is “no.” Islamisation process can suffer from a half-baked and half-hearted Islamist who suffer from “cognitive dissonance,” or the one who has become too “scientific” to offer a strong Islamic statement. On the other hand, a devout and selfless Muslim scholar, who is not even a psychologist himself, may at time offer a much better and lasting contribution to Islamisation of social science e.g. Abu al-A’la al-Mawdudi, Sayyid Qutb, Muhammad Qutb, and Malik Ben Nabi.
These are the first generations of Muslims after the fall of the caliphate. They had observed the negative effect of colonialisation on Muslim ummah. They are very clear about the meaning of religion/din as a way of life and the new forms of shirk/kufr/idols in modern time. They strived to Islamise the Western and secular way of dealing with politic, economic, society, and education. They have been criticising capitalism, socialism, liberalism, pragmatisme and other Western phisophy and new pseudo-religions to save the Muslims who have been secularised. This came from their clear iman and understanding of Islam. Bottom line: in Islamising, we should be Muslim first and psychologist second.
Self-plan: Do all the things that can increase my iman/faith: pray salat wajib/nafilah, sawm Ramadan and other recommended ones, read and reflect the Qur’an daily, read and reflect on selected hadith, perform qiyamullayl, recite dhikrullah, perform tawbah daily, etc.
2. Thorough Knowledge of His/Her Field
Some believes that we don’t have to be expert in psychology to Islamise psychology. Look at Mawdudi and Syed Qutb, for example. So, is being knowledegable of Western psychology an important character of Islamiser? Surprise, surprise, Prof. Malik answered “Yes. In fact, he should be recognised as specialist in his/her particular field, preferably as distinguished scholar. Mawdudi and Qutb are just exceptions of the rule, and rarely happen.”
We are not as great as al-Ghazali, al-Muhasibi, or Ibn al-Qayyim who were able to discuss very advanced theories and application of psychology that are only popularised today by secular psychology. They have high standard of scientific method, high knowledge about shari’ah, and high iman/taqwa that enable them to receive ilham/inspiration about the phenomena that they observed. We, who have lots of sins, has not choice but to be trained in specialised psychology at postgraduate level. Muslim psychologists who are still in doubt about specialisation will probably only listen to a first class scholar. The field of Islamisation should not be a ‘dustbin’ of those who failed to attain academic excellence in psychology who will probably lead to scorn and ridicule from other people if a psychologist with shaky academic credential is shouting Islamic rhetoric on Islamic perspective of psychology when there is no good analysis, evaluation and synthesis are provided at both micro and macro levels.
Self-plan: PhD - done. Continuous professional development - get further training and necessary skills. Get research presented and published. Write books/articles/book chapters.
3. Having Islamic Knowledge
The Islamiser should be well-read in Islam. How can we Islamise psychologist if we fail to Islamise ourselves at least in terms of knowledge and understanding? Just the minimum level of knowledge would do e.g. in Qur’an, Sunnah, Sirah, and some knowledge of shari’ah and fiqh. The more the better, of course. The problem is there is a dichotomy between Islamic knowledge and the so-called worldly knowledge at our schools and universities today. Only a few colleges and universities provide the opportunity to major/minor in both fields, and yet fewer would offer double-major or double-degree. Even if they do, the teachers themselves may still not understand the unity of both knowledge and thus leaving it to the students to make sense of both disciplines and to integrate them. Nevertheless, it has to be done and some great Islamisers achieve this from both formal and informal education.
Self-plan: Having a Bachelor degree in Islamic studies - done. Continuous professional development - involved in Islamic discussion with colleagues face-to-face or virtual. Revise old readings and read new books on various Islamic sub-disciplines - Aqidah, Fiqh, Usul Fiqh, Ulum Qur’an, Ulum Hadith, Sirah Nabawiyah, Islamic Da’wah, Islamic Akhlaq, Comparative Religion, etc.
4. Movement-oriented (haraki)
Islamiser should be movement-oriented, or at least should be familar with current Islamic movement and their conceptualisations of Islam as a way of life, a government and dynamic social movement. After all, psychologists are trying to Islamise the ’science’ of behaviour and mental processes at the universities and they (the da’i and murabbi) are Islamising the ‘actual’ behaviour and mental processes in the field. What if both aspect exist in a single person? A powerful Islamiser indeed!
The Islamiser should make a great effort to study haraki literature and to assess their success and failures, their social institutions and their struggle to bring about changes in the society. He/she should also examine their problems with other political parties or movements, and their clashes with government and Western power. Even in Islamisation movement, they are clashes with other Islamisation approaches, with university authorities, etc. In other words, we assessing their ‘theories’ of da’wah (changing of people behaviour and mental processes to the better) and the evidences from the field that support or do not support the theories - both generally and contextually.
At the end, we want to islamise the whole systems (micro and macro) so that all is in line with Islam. Our small effort of Islamisation of psychology should be part of a greater Islamisation of the ummah and the nation. But most importantly, we do not want our Islamisation process to become an aloof/detached academic exercise not contributing to da’wah and tarbiyah of the ummah. Islamisation should also be practical and down-to-earch. it needs operational suggestions compared to conceptual criticisms which is more suitable in the 70s and 80s. Haven’t anybody realised that the concept of “Islam as Way of Life” are not quite acceptable nowadays even by non-Muslims. We now need to be more practical to convince people and being movement-oriented can help us achieve this.
Self-plan: Involved in voluntary work in an Islamic movement. Attend halaqah/usrah. Involved in a choice of charity, da’wah and tarbiyah works to Muslims and non-Muslims, locally and internationally. Read and re-read books by Haraki Ulama e.g. Hasan al-Banna, Sayid Qutb, Mawdudi, Fathi Yakan, Mustafa Masyhur, Yusuf Qaradawi, Muhammad al-Ghazali, Sa’id Hawwa, Abd al-Karim Zaydan, Abd Allah Nasih `Ulwan, Mustafa Siba’i, Sayyid Sabiq, Ahmad Muhammad al-Rashid (Abu `Ammar), Tawfiq Wa’i, Sayyid Nuh, Abbas al-Sisi, Jum’ah Amin Abd al-Aziz, etc.
5. Have self-confidence
How do you perceive yourself and your ability to Islamise? Have you ever encountered a lecturer who keep on parroting what the secular psychology textbooks have said without evaluating the theories, what more to give any new ideas/theories. And mind you there are good Muslims! Prof. Malik believes that this cannot be because of lack of iman or because they believe in materialistic point of view. Most probably, they (us included and in many disciplines too) are too lazy or lack in self-confidence - plus afraid of being criticised by others especially their senior professors.
This is disheartening especially when the theories are obviously against Islam and have even been criticised by Western psychologists themselves. Imagine the Westerns are producing books which are more critical of their own psychology; are producing scholars which are able to revise past popular theories or even provide alternative new theories. I bet that they have been severely criticised by their their senior professors and stood up for it before being able to produce a well-argued criticism and/or an alternative theories that are finally recognised by the scientific community. Shouldn’t we have faith in our own religion as a way of life (including psychology)?
Self-plan: present ideas/writings to colleagues, consult senior professors on theoretical issues, be open to criticisms, revised own ideas, continuously perfecting the ideas, read sirah of Prophets ASS, Companions RAA, and Salaf al-Salih RH, and other great people who showed confidence in themselves, etc.
6. Having critical thinking and creativity
Islamiser should have a mind which is critical and sharp. The development of Islamic-oriented theories requires creativity to invent or to create new things. Sometimes, adab has been used or misused to silence children/students who asked innocent question or to highlight some of our weaknesses (who doesn’t have weaknesses). Sometimes we failed to differentiate between fact and interpretation, law and theories, wahy and turath, revealed knowledge and Islamic heritage.
Self-plan: train myself to think critically, train myself in creative thinking, practice husnuzzan, study how early Muslim scholars arrived at new interpretation of scientific data, study how previous mujtahid use independent reasoning to arrive at new fatwa/rulings on an issue, study how great da’i and murabbi used their creativity in performing da’wah and tarbiyah, etc.
Dear readers: I do not want to scare you with all these characteristics (or requirement as some of you might have perceived it). All of us have to strive for them anywhere. Don’t you want to be a committed Muslims? Some of you already have psychological knowledge at Bachelor level - that’s the first step. And I’m sure you want to study Islamic knowledge - enough for you to understand the Creator and how to interact with the creations? I’m sure you know that involving in voluntary works will benefit lots of people and eventually benefit you as a mu’min. And who doesn’t want to have self-confidence and creative thinking?
Even if you found later that you do not fit in one or several of the characteristics, at least you know that you are then a far better person than before. And who will prevent you from contributing to Islamisation of psychology (or any field), if you do it together - within your capacity - with your ex-lecturers or ex-professors? They sure needs a lot of help - and your near perfect characteristics suits well with the job, under their guidance.
May Allah make us all better Muslims fulfilling our correct role as `abid and khalifah.