Strategies for Managing Stress and Increasing Productivity During a ‘Shelter in Place’

The suddenness of the COVID-19 Pandemic change has drastically impacted all of our lives and has compelled everyone to make immediate lifestyle changes. Especially the “shelter in place” imposed on all of us, may evoke unsettling feelings. These can include worries about the economy, our jobs, health and managing the adaptation to these new circumstances. 

Given the unpredictability of the current circumstances or how long this may last, a sense of anxiety or depressive feelings can set in if we don’t see an emerging solution that is near.  Such an experience can lead to feeling overwhelmed and can be exacerbated when we see no immediate end in sight to the present circumstances. For many of us, such feelings can exhaust our energy, lead to irritability, impact our relationships and tap our available psychological resources to handle such stress. Such unpleasant feelings can come at a time when we need our resources most.

Here are a few psychospiritual strategies you can integrate into your life today to help manage this burden

  • Learning to Let Go. Among the most difficult things for human beings to do is to LET GO. Learning to recognize what you control and what you don’t is half of wisdom. Imām Al-Ghazālī in his Iḥyā Ulūm al-Dīn, describes psycho-spiritual health as the perfect balance between fear and hope. Once you have exhausted what you control, then there is a freedom in resigning yourself to God’s plan and having hope in Him. There is an Arabic proverb, “The actions of a wise one are never devoid of wisdom”.  In Allah’s infinite wisdom, there is benefit in the end for the believer, even if it comes at the cost of a bitter pill. 
    • A practical exercise:
      • Attempt to come up with at least three possible hidden blessings of this trial and tribulation. How could this be of benefit to you? Share this with others or write it down, as the Qurʾān states: “Speak of the blessings of Allāh”.
      • Then express gratitude for it through a devotional act.  The Qurʾān states: “If you show gratitude, then I (Allāh) will increase you (in blessings)”. 
  • Focus on the Here & Now. Consider that fear is the anticipation of a future threat or negative outcome (ex. joblessness, poor health etc), while sadness creates a psychological orientation to ruminate about undesirable events in the past. This can especially be present during times of social isolation, where recall of past inadequacies or memories may be more readily available to us, since we are alone with our thoughts. 
    Both states of mind, take you away from the present. Both fear and sadness are ONLY useful in so much as it promotes present oriented action.  Simply put, use reflection on past inadequacies to improve yourself in the present and use worries about the future to prepare for tomorrow by focusing on your actions today.  
    • Some Exercises:
      • Perform acts of services. Some of the ʿUlemā (scholars of Islām) have discussed the possibility of this being a punishment for the overindulgence and self-absorption of humankind. Therefore, we can perhaps repel this through acts of service. These may include:
        • Serve your spouse or immediate relatives. Learn to cook/bake new things for them.
        • Listen attentively to those immediate family members around you. Check in with them (call them if you are alone).
        • Have patience with the shortcomings of your immediate family members.
        • Give in Sadaqah to those who are in need through your trusted institutions (Zakat Foundation of America is a recommended resource).
          • In particular: Offer the Sacrifice of an Animal
  • Reflect on the Vastness of Allah & the Insignificance of Man – ʿIzz ibn ʿAbd Al-Salām (d. 1262 AD/ 660 AH)  mentions that one of the benefits of trials and tribulations is that it broadens one’s focus to realize the Greatness & Might of Allah. Take a lesson in realizing how much God is really in control, by reflecting on how He shook the entire world through sending out a virus. Consider how dependent We as creation truly are and how small we are in comparison to His power.  There is a saying, “Do not say: Oh Allah I am facing a tremendous calamity, rather say, Oh Calamity, I have a tremendous Lord”!
  • Do not Over-consume the Media: The Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him), taught us a prayer, “Oh Allah, I seek refuge in you from non-beneficial knowledge”. While we are in a ‘shelter in place’, knowing the numbers of infections, its origins, which country it came from, etc, may not be helpful. This overindulgence can be addictive and a vehicle for us to be glued to screens that have adverse physiological and psychological effects upon us.
  • Structure your Day: When our workplace also becomes the place where we rest, there can be a tendency to have disarray and mismanagement of time. Take some time at the beginning of the week in planning out your week or time in the morning to plan out the entire day. We realize that Islām is systematic and built on order and this should be a lesson for us to make our lives the same way.
  • Unplug and Train yourself through Acts of Worship.  Religion is not merely a psychological activity but is made up of important acts of devotions. One of the greatest challenges of our times, is to keep our mind focused and gathered. Assign at least 30 minutes of your day to spending time in isolation, away from family and any social devices, simply to worship Allah through voluntary acts of worship (nafl) or in contemplation (tafakkur) of the Divine. Learn to focus on what’s truly important.
    • Specific Acts of Worship to conduct
      • Recite Surah Yāsīn daily in the morning.
      • Offer two Rakʿāt of the Ṣalat al-Ḥājah (refer to your local ʿUlema for how to perform this)
      • Make a regular daily practice of repentance
      • Send 300 salutations upon the Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him).
      • Recitation of morning and evening prayers for protection

NEW KC Book Publication: Applying Islamic Principles to Clinical Mental Health Care: Introducing TIIP

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Description

This text outlines for the first time a structured articulation of an emerging Islamic orientation to psychotherapy, a framework presented and known as Traditional Islamically Integrated Psychotherapy (TIIP).

TIIP is an integrative model of mental health care that is grounded in the core principles of Islam while drawing upon empirical truths in psychology. The book introduces the basic foundations of TIIP, then delves into the writings of early Islamic scholars to provide a richer understanding of the Islamic intellectual heritage as it pertains to human psychology and mental health. Beyond theory, the book provides readers with practical interventional skills illustrated with case studies as well as techniques drawn inherently from the Islamic tradition. A methodology of case formulation is provided that allows for effective treatment planning and translation into therapeutic application. Throughout its chapters, the book situates TIIP within an Islamic epistemological and ontological framework, providing a discussion of the nature and composition of the human psyche, its drives, health, pathology, mechanisms of psychological change, and principles of healing.

Mental health practitioners who treat Muslim patients, Muslim clinicians, students of the behavioral sciences and related disciplines, and anyone with an interest in spiritually oriented psychotherapies will greatly benefit from this illustrative and practical text.

Reviews

“This book fills a tremendous void in the literature, wherein it provides both a structured theoretical explication of an Islamic Psychotherapy as well as practical guidelines and concrete interventions for clinical practice. It uniquely combines faith and science, creating an integrative bridge for mental health providers in providing therapy within an Islamic spiritual context.” —Harold G. Koenig, Duke University Medical Center, USA

“This is a fascinating and impressive book—theologically, philosophically, and theoretically. The book also contains many helpful insights for the practice of Islamic spiritually integrated psychotherapy. It makes an outstanding contribution to the growing literature about the role of religion and spirituality in mainstream psychology and psychotherapy. I enthusiastically recommend it.” —P. Scott Richards, Brigham Young University, USA

Job Posting: Mental Health Therapist/Clinician – Manhattan, NY


Job Title:

Mental Health Therapist/Clinician – Manhattan, NY

Reports to:

Job Narrative

The contractor shall work in the capacity of a therapist and educator, the current duties and responsibilities of which are outlined below. These duties and responsibilities may be amended from time to time as deemed necessary by Khalil Foundation or requested by contractor subject to a formal notification/arrangement. The contractor will:

– Provide individual, family, couples, and/or group psychotherapy to a predominantly Muslim population
– Attend bi-monthly Islamic Psychotherapy didactic trainings and staff meetings online, roughly every other Sunday from 11am-1pm EST. Meeting schedule will be provided in advance
– If applicable, attend weekly clinical supervision meetings provided by Khalil Foundation
– Present at occasional speaking engagements, trainings, seminars or workshops, at a maximum of once monthly.
– If desired, offer and develop programming for the organization, for example support groups, seminars, and presentations.
– Provide a brief monthly report on work duties and current caseload, with any suggestions for the improvement of services both organizationally and for individual service providers.
– Complete all administrative forms and tasks related to the role of being a mental health therapist at Khalil Foundation, including participating in a brief, weekly individual meeting on billing and administrative updates with Managing Director.
– Have an interest and knowledge of the organizational happenings of Khalil Foundation, due to possible organizational situations that may cause a shift in routine business or organizational growth.
– Adhere to the Islamic religious rules and laws that pertain to his/her profession as a Muslim professional. As a professional and member of the Khalil Foundation team of service providers, the contractor must conduct him or herself in a manner that is congruent with Islamic character etiquettes and expectations as a professional and outlined within the staff handbook.


Working conditions

– Minimum 20 hours a week
– Must be available Tuesdays, Thursdays, and/or the weekend
– Therapist’s work location(s) will be in Manhattan
– Required bi-monthly didactic trainings held on Sundays 11am to 1pm
– Shared office with managing director, schedule will be developed and updated as needed
– Routinely use standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers & filing cabinets

Qualifications & Requirements

– Doctorate-level therapist or Masters in Clinical Psychology or Counseling
– Licensed in the State of New York
– Experience conducting psychological evaluations with adolescents to young adults
– Language capacities in: Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Bangla, and other languages of traditionally Islamic countries
– Clinician with extensive trauma experience preferred

Basic Requirements
– Master’s Degree in a mental health field (MSW, MFT, LPCC, etc.)
– Familiarity with Islamic theology, customs, rituals and rules
– Excellent written and verbal communication skills

Compensation

– Hourly rate $30-65/hr based upon degree, licensure and experience
– No benefits offered currently, due to part-time contractual nature of the position
– This business relationship is that of an independent contractor, there is no entitlement to benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, retirement, or unemployment insurance

How to Apply

Send CV or resume with a cover letter to hr@khalilcenter.com with the subject line: “NY Therapist Application”

Applications without cover letters will NOT be accepted

Job Posting: Donor Relations Associate – Bay Area


Job Title:

Donor Relations Associate – Bay Area, CA

Reports to:

Executive Director and Regional Director

Job Narrative

The main goals of the position are to a) serve as an assistant to the Executive Director or Director of Development and to work closely with Development Associate for the institution’s localized development strategy to help fund Khalil Center’s Bay Area programming, (b) populating and utilizing a donor database using software like FunRaise to drive and support donor engagement, provide updates, and garner solicitations for donor (online) campaigns (c) maintain contact in serving as a liaison between ED, Development Associate and key stakeholders and private grant givers to reinforce the financial sustainability of the institution.

Deliverables include (d) quarterly grant reports and updates to grant providers and major donors, (e) managing an annual fundraising events calendar, (e) populating the donor management system for local donations/donors.

Donor relations associate will work with a team including: (f) development associate (g) part-time community outreach coordinator in region, (g) a national events manager dedicating .25 PT to development activities, (h) a professional social media manager dedicating .25 PT to donor activities, (i) administrative managers and assistants, (j) a pool of repeat volunteers, (k) a robust donor management system platform and (l) robust lists of existing donors and potential donors.

Working conditions

Though this position will require some travel within the locality where employee is based and nationally, the employee will have office hours out of Union City, CA office. The employee may need to leave the office frequently for meetings and events. Additionally, the employee will keep regular contact with Executive Director (“ED”) and Development associate, informing them of activities and progress. The Executive Director and Board have developed a successful fundraising strategy and will welcome revisions based on the ability and commitment of the new hire. This role requires availability to work 10-15 hours a week. Hours of work are flexible and can be arranged before hire. One Sunday a month, all staff are expected to attend staff meetings in the late morning (1-2 hours) (can attend online). If required to travel outside of Bay Area, the employee will accrue overtime hours which can be applied paid time-off the week following the week of travels.

This roles operates in a professional office environment, routinely using standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers, filing cabinets and fax machines.

Qualifications & Requirements

a. Minimum of Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, not-for-profit management, fundraising or a related degree. Graduate degree preferred.

b. Knowledge of and experience with fundraising techniques, particularly major gift fundraising, and familiarity with donor management software.

c. Desire to get out of the office and build external relationships, good interpersonal and communication skills.

d. Ability to do public speaking about our organization.

e. Well organized, disciplined and manage multiple tasks considering order of priority.

 f. Some familiarity with the field of mental health, working with the Muslim community and Islamic studies preferred.

 g. Demonstrate a willingness to learn and identify with our mission & vision.

h. Ability to work independently with little supervision. 

Compensation

This will be a contractual position with a compensation of $15/hr for 10-15 hours per week.

How to Apply

Please email your resume/CV and Cover Letter to hr@khalilcenter.com.  Applications without Cover Letters will not be accepted.  

Khalil Center Canada Featured in the “Globe & Mail”.

See the below link to find the article that featured Khalil Center’s groundbreaking work in Canada and US.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/article-mental-health-programs-specifically-geared-for-muslims-gain-traction/

Social Media Intern – Wanted

Social Media Intern

Company Description:

The Khalil Center is a qualified 501(c)(3) not-for-profit spiritual wellness center advancing the practice of professional psychology rooted in Islamic principles. Using a holistic approach, our clinic aims to integrate cultural and spiritual competence in traditional psychological methodology. We are working to combat the stigmas surrounding mental health with an approach that both acknowledges and incorporates an individual’s own cultural and religious background when designing their treatment plan. Our staff hopes to embody the meaning of the word Khalil (a very close and dear companion) to each client, and believe that it is our duty to show concern, intervene, empathize and safeguard the individuals in our community from suffering through deep compassion.

Internship Purpose:

We are looking for a volunteer intern who can reliably support us in cultivating our social media presence. This intern will be responsible for producing and sharing content that is relevant to our space and the services we provide across a variety of platforms. This intern will have the opportunity to work for both the Khalil Center and the Muslims and Mental Health Lab at Stanford University.

Duties and Responsibilities:

Our social media intern will be responsible of

  • Representing both organizations as psychological and spiritual wellness initiatives that are rooted in the classical Islamic tradition
  • Sharing relevant content across social media channels that align with the messaging and values of each organization
  • Abiding by the Social Media guidelines for each organization
  • Occasionally creating graphics to publicize each center and its events and services
  • Engaging with each social media audience in order to network or build community between the staff and interested parties
  • Collaborating with the Office Manager, Outreach Coordinator, Clinical Director, or other relevant staff members regarding event promotion
  • Maintaining a professional demeanor while representing each organization at different outreach engagements
  • Corresponding with relevant staff members to obtain photography and information regarding special events, as needed for social media publications.
  • Assisting in other office management type tasks as needed

Qualifications and Skills:

The ideal intern

  • Has an understanding of the Bay Area Muslim community and general Islamic etiquettes, customs, and practices
  • Has an interest in mental health advocacy and learning more about our approach to counseling and psychotherapy
  • Is detail oriented and has impeccable written communication skills
  • Is able to handle multiple projects simultaneously
  • Thrives while working independently or with a team
  • Has previous marketing or public relations experience
  • Has ideas for future marketing strategies and how to get the community more actively involved
  • Is an experienced and active social media user, specifically in regards to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Is proficient in graphic design and knows their way around Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, or Photoshop
  • Is comfortable with a camera and capable of taking clear and captivating photographs of different events and outreach engagements

Time commitment:

  • An average of 15-20 hours of volunteer work per week, with some weeks requiring more time than others, e.g. for photography and marketing of special events such as seminars, open houses, or fundraisers
  • Hours will be flexible and will vary week by week based on organization’s social media needs
  • Social Media Intern may perform duties off-site from home, and will attend Khalil Center events or meetings in person as needed

Compensation:

  • Please note that this is an unpaid 12 month internship. Interns will be compensated through hands-on experience in a professional, clinical setting.
  • The Khalil Center is open to supervising this intern for academic units in a college or school setting, if applicable.
  • If possible, interns will be invited to attend Khalil Center trainings, seminars or workshops free of charge for their own learning and benefit

Resume and cover letter should be sent to both Dr. Rania Awaad and our Office Manager, Anum Ahmed, at raniaawaad@khalilcenter.com and caadmin@khalilcenter.com.

Job Posting: Mental Health Therapist (Bay Area)

Job title Mental Health Therapist / Clinician
Reports to Clinical Director (Bay Area)
Application Date Open: Nov 27/2017
Closes: Until Filled

Job purpose

The contractor shall work in the capacity of a mental health therapist offering clinical and preventative intervention services to a predominantly Muslim population, designed to alleviate psychological distress and produce resiliency.

Duties and responsibilities

The contractor shall work in the capacity of a therapist and educator, the current duties and responsibilities of which are outlined below.  These duties and responsibilities may be amended from time to time as deemed necessary by KHALIL FOUNDATION or requested by Therapist subject to a formal notification/arrangement.  The contractor will:

  • Provide individual, family, couples, and/or group psychotherapy to a predominantly Muslim population
  • Provide psychological evaluations and counseling in K-12 school or university-based settings, wherein Khalil Foundation engages in a contract with such educational institutions to a minimum of 4 hours a week and a maximum of 20 hours, or as desired by the contractor.
  • Attend bi-monthly Islamic Psycho-therapy didactic trainings and staff meeting at Union City headquarters office, roughly every other Sunday from 8am – 11am. Meeting schedule will be provided in advance.
  • If applicable, attend weekly clinical supervision meetings provided by Khalil Foundation.
  • Present at occasional speaking engagements, trainings, seminars or workshops, at a maximum of once monthly.
  • If desired, offer and develop programming for the organization, for example support groups, seminars, and presentations
  • Provide a brief monthly report on work duties and current caseload, with any suggestions for the improvement of services both organizationally and for individual service providers
  • Complete all administrative forms and tasks related to the role of being a mental health therapist at Khalil Foundation, including participating in a brief, weekly individual meeting on billing and administrative updates with Office Manager
  • Have an interest and knowledge of the organizational happenings of KHALIL FOUNDATION, due to possible organizational situations that may cause a shift in routine business or organizational growth.
  • Adhere to the Islamic religious rules and laws that pertain to his/her profession as a Muslim professional. As a professional and member of the KHALIL FOUNDATION team of service providers, the contractor must conduct him or herself in a manner that is congruent with Islamic character etiquettes and expectations as a professional and outlined within the staff handbook.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Doctorate-level therapist or Master’s in Clinical Psychology or Counseling
  • Licensed in the State of California, or registered as an intern/associate with the appropriate State Board
  • Experience conducting psychological evaluations with adolescents to young adults
  • Language capacities in: Arabic, Tigrinya, Farsi, Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Bangla, and other languages of traditionally Islamic countries

Basic Requirements

  • Master’s Degree in a mental health field (MSW, MFT, LPCC, etc)
  • Licensed in the State of California, or registered as an intern/associate with the appropriate State Board
  • Familiarity with Islamic theology, customs, rituals and rules
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills

Working conditions

  • Minimum 20 hours a week, spread over 3-4 days in the week
  • Therapist’s work location(s) will be determined based on agency need, with attention given to therapist preference if possible (potential locations: Union City, Santa Clara, Pleasanton)
  • Required bi-monthly didactic trainings held on Sundays will be at Union City headquarters office
  • Shared administrative office in designated work location
  • Routinely use standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers & filing cabinets

Compensation

  • Hourly rate $30-65/hr based upon degree, licensure and experience
  • No benefits offered currently, due to part-time contractual nature of the position
  • This business relationship is that of an independent contractor, there is no entitlement to benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, retirement, or unemployment insurance

HOW TO APPLY:

Please send CV/Resume with a Cover letter to caadmin@khalilcenter.com.  Applications without a cover letter will NOT be accepted.

Recommended Reading List for Islamically Integrated Psychology

Recommended Reading List for Islamically Integrated Psychology

Books on Traditional Islamic Psychology from Islamic tradition

  • Al-Razi, A. (2007). Razi’s Traditional Psychology (A.J. Arberry Trans.). Kazi Publications Inc.
  • Al-Balkhi, A. (2013). Abu Zayd Al-Balkhi’s Sustenance of the Soul: The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy of a Ninth Century Physician (M. Badri Trans.). Malaysia: International Institute of Islamic Thought.
  • Mishkawayh, A. (2003). Refinement of Character (C.K. Zurayk Trans.). Kazi Publications Inc.
  • Ghazali, A. (2014). Mukhtasar Ihya Ulum Ad-Din. (M. Khalaf Trans.). Lypia/Nikosia, Cyprus: Spohr Publishers.
  • Birgivi, I. (2005). The Path of Muhammad: A Book on Islamic Morals and Ethics. (S.T. Bayrak Trans.). Bloomington, Indiana: World Wisdom.
  • Khan, I.M. (2005). The Path to Perfection. Santa Barbara, California: White Thread Press.
  • Al-Qayyim, I. (2013). Trials and Tribulations. Birmingham, United Kingdom: Daar us-Sunnah Publishers.
  • Al-Qayyim, I. (1990). The Soul’s Journey After Death. (L. Mabrouk Trans.) London, United Kingdom: Dar Al-Taqwa Publishers
  • Waliullah, S. (2005). Hujjat Allah Al-Baligha. (M.K Hermansen Trans.). Delhi, India: Kitab Bhavan Publishers
  • Abdus-Salam, I. (2004). Trials and Tribulations: Wisdom and Benefits. Birmingham, United Kingdom: Daar us-Sunnah Publishers

Books on Islamic Psychology from an Academic Perspective

  • Utz, A. (2011). Psychology from the Islamic perspective. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: International Islamic Publishing House.
  • Haque, A., & Mohamed, Y. (Eds.). (2009). Psychology of personality: Islamic perspectives. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Cengage Learning Asia.
  • Badri, M. (1979). The dilemma of Muslim psychologists. London: MWH London Pub- lishers.
  • Badri, M. (2000). Contemplation. Richmond, VA: Institute of Islamic Thought
  • Badri, M. (2013). Translation and annotation of Abu Zayd al-Balkhi’s Sustenance of the Soul. Richmond, VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought.
  • Rajab, A. (2015). The Medieval Islamic Hospital: Medicine, Religion and Charity. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press
  • Koenig, H.G., & Al-Shohaib, S., (2014) Health and Well-being in Islamic Societies: Background, Research and Applications.New York City, NY: Springer Publishing Company
  • Pargament, K. I. (2007). Spiritually integrated psychotherapy: Understanding and addressing the sacred. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
  • Pargament, K. I. (1997). The psychology of religion and coping: Theory, research, practice. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
  • Frager, R. (1999). Heart, self, & soul. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing.
  • Chishti, H.G.M. (1985). The Book of Sufi Healing. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions and Bear Company
  • Chaleby, K. (2001).  Forensic Psychiatry in Islamic Jurisprudence. Herndon, VA: The International Institute of Islamic Thought.
  • Rasool, G. (2015). Islamic Counselling: An Introduction to Theory and Practice. New York, NY: Routledge
  • Richards, P. S., & Bergin, A. E. (2004). Casebook for a spiritual strategy in counseling and psychotherapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Richards, P. S., & Bergin, A. E. (2005). A spiritual strategy for counseling and psychotherapy (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Kobeisy, A. N. (2004). Counseling American Muslims: Understanding the Faith and Helping the People. Westport, CT: Praeger Publisher
  • Usmani, M. T. (2001). Spiritual discourses. Karachi, Pakistan: Darul Ishat.
  • Pargament, K. I. (1997). The psychology of religion and coping. New York, NY: Guilford.
  • Al-Issa (Ed.), Al-Junun: Mental illness in the Islamic world (pp. 277–293). Madison, CT: International Universities Press.
  • Ahmed, S., & Amer, M. M. (2012). Counseling Muslims: Handbook of Mental Health Issues and Interventions. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Ansari, S. T. (2007). Alternative healing: The Sufi way. New York: Ansari.
  • Ciarrocchi, J.W., Koenig, H.G., Pearce, M.J., Schechter, D., & Vasegh, S. (2014). Religious Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Muslim Version): 10 Session Treatment Manual for Depression in Clients with Chronic Physical Illness. Tehran, Iran: Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences

Contemporary Arabic Books focused on Islamic Psychology

  • al-Mahazaa, K.A.R. (2013) Ahkam Mareed al-nafs fi fiqh al-Islamiyyah.  Dar al-Samiya
  • Ibn Awf, A., Ibn Awf, A. (2016). Al-ahkam al-fiqhiyyah l-il-amrad al-nafsiyyah wa turuqu elajiha.  Wizarat al-awqaafi wa al-shu’uni al-Islamiyyah: Dawlat al-Qatar.
  • Saeed, R., al-Thuhuri, A.  (2017). Al-Wiqayatu min al-Dughuti wa al-amradi al-nafsiyyah fi Sunnah al-nabawiyyah.  Dar al-Samiya.

Academic Articles on Islamic Psychology

  • Abu-Raiya, H. (2015). Working with religious Muslim clients: A dynamic, Quranic- based model of psychotherapy. Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 2(2), 120-133. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/scp0000068
  • Abu-Raiya, H., & Pargament, K. I. (2010). Religiously integrated psychotherapy with Muslim clients: From research to practice. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 41(2), 181-188. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0017988
  • Abu-Raiya, H., Pargament, K. I., Mahoney, A., & Stein, C. (2008). A psychological measure of Islamic religiousness: Development and evidence for reliability and validity. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 18(4), 291-315. http:// dx.doi.org/10.1080/10508610802229270
  • Ali, B. & Keshavarzi, H. (2016). Forensic Psychology in Islamic Jurisprudence. Oxford Encyclopedia of Islamic Bioethics.Al-Radi, O., & Mahdy, M. A. (1994). Group therapy: An Islamic approach. Integrative Psychiatry, 10, 106–109.
  • Awaad, R., & Ali, S. (2015). Obsessional disorders in al-Balkhi’s 9th century treatise: Sustenance of the body and soul. Journal of Affective Disorders, 180, 185-189. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2015.03.003
  • Campbell, D. T. (1975). On the conflicts between biological and social evolution and between psychology and moral tradition. American Psychologist, 30, 1103-1126.
  • Ghorbani, N., Watson, P. J., Geranmayepour, S., & Chen, Z. (2014). Measuring Muslim spirituality: Relationships of Muslim experiential religiousness with religious and psychological adjustment in Iran. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 8(1), 77-94. http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/jmmh.10381607.0008.105
  • Hamdan, A. (2008). Cognitive restructuring: An Islamic perspective. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 3(1), 99-116. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15564900802035268
  • Haque, A. (1997). National seminar on islamization of psychology: Seminar report. Intellectual Discourse, 5(1), 88-92.
  • Haque, A. (2004). Psychology from Islamic perspective: Contributions of early Muslim scholars and challenges to contemporary Muslim psychologists. Journal of Religion & Health, 43(4), 357-377. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10943-004-4302-z
  • Haque, A. Khan, F., Keshavarzi, H. & Rothman, A. (2016). Integrating Islamic Traditions in Modern Psychology: Research Trends in Last Ten Years. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 10 (1), 75-100.
  • Haque, A., & Keshavarzi, H. (2012). Integrating indigenous healing methods in therapy: Muslim beliefs and practices. International Journal of Culture and Mental Health, 7(3), 297-314. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17542863.2013.794249
  • Hermansen, M. K. (1982). Shah Wali Allah’s arrangement of the subtle spiritual centers. Studies in Islam, 137-150.
  • Hodge, D. R. (2005). Social work and the house of Islam: Orienting practitioners to the beliefs and values of Muslims in the United States. Social Work, 50, 162–173.
  • Hodge, D. R., & Nadir, A. (2008). Moving toward culturally competent practice with Muslims: Modifying cognitive therapy with Islamic tenets. Social Work, 53, 31–41.
  • Hook, J. N., Worthington, E. L., Jr., Davis, D. E., Jennings, D. J., Gartner, A. L., & Hook, J. P. (2010). Empirically supported religious and spiritual therapies. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 66, 46–72.
  • Keshavarzi, H & Ali, B (2018). Islamic Perspectives on Psychological and Spiritual Well-being and Treatment, in H. S. Moffic,, J. Peteet, A. Hankir, R. Awaad, Islamophobia & Psychiatry: Recognition, Prevention, and Treatment (in press).
  • Keshavarzi, H. & Ali, B. (2018). Exploring the role of mental status & expert testimony in the Islamic Judicial process In A. Padela, Doctors & Jurists in Dialogue: Constructing the Field of Islamic Bioethics. In press.
Keshavarzi, H. & Khan, F. (2018). Outlining a case illustration of Islamically Integrated Psychotherapy In C. York al-Karam, Islamically Integrated
  • Keshavarzi, H., & Haque, A. (2013). Outlining a psychotherapy model for enhancing Muslim mental health within an Islamic context. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 23(3), 230-249. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10508619.2012. 712000
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The Four Benefits of Cultivating Self-Awareness

By Sister Heba el-Haddad

‘Al-Dunya’ is an Arabic word that is very frequently used to describe the temporal world that hosts our lives here on earth. Upon taking a closer look, the word dunya stems from the root word  دنو  d-w-n or  دني d-n-y, which means ‘the nearer’ or ‘the lower.’  This word has been mentioned in the Qur’an as ‘Al-hayaat al dunya’ because it is ‘nearer’ to us than the akhirah (the afterlife); it is our current existence, and that which we are most familiar with. However, it is also lowly in nature, greatly superficial in comparison to the life of the hereafter and is a place that contains all objects of desire for the human nafs or carnal soul.  Essentially, Al-Dunya is a mere transition to the afterlife that is both fleeting and knows neither stability nor permanence. The human soul temporarily resides in this world, which aims to test us by the constant bombardment of messages about who we should be, what we should look like, and the manner in which we should live. As a result, it becomes crucial to re-assess who we are and what we desire out of life to maintain a clear direction and focus on that which truly matters.

The question of who we are can cover such a broad category of facts, as each individual is deeply unique, beautiful in their natural state and flawed in equally varying ways. There are no two individuals that look exactly alike, and each person lives in a way that is unique to them according to their own upbringing, faith, knowledge, culture and life experiences. Living in such a vast world that tends to pull one in many competing directions and presents many temptations for the nafs, it becomes incumbent to cultivate a level of self-awareness for the sake of one’s emotional health and spiritual survival.  We’re all composed of countless layers of the self, and by increasing our level of self-awareness, we progress in our journey of understanding why we behave the way we do and what drives our fears, hopes and motivations. Mentioned in this article are four benefits of cultivating self-awareness which are: knowing ourselves in order to better know Allah, self-awareness strengthens our resilience, the relationship between self-awareness and humility and self-awareness in relation to habit formation.

  1. Know Yourself So That You May Come to Know Allah (swt)

    It is stated in Islamic tradition: ‘Whosoever knows himself knows his Lord.”

This hadith implies that gaining knowledge about oneself leads to knowledge about Allah (swt). But how are these two types of knowledge connected? By studying ourselves, our abilities, the way in which our bodies function and the manner in which we are molded and designed, this knowledge combined redirects our attention back to the existence of a supreme Creator: The Fashioner, The Originator, and The Giver of Life. By coming to terms with our weaknesses as fallible beings, we realize the need for reliance on The Most Strong, The Omnipotent The Able. By being aware of our weaknesses, we can work on them in order to gain closeness to Allah (swt) and avoid incurring sins as a result of that awareness. An example of how knowledge of our weaknesses can help us do just that is an individual who is aware of their weakness to temptations of the use of substances. Avoiding friends who use substances and encourage it and places which may trigger that temptation can help strengthen one’s resolve and ability to abstain from it altogether. Similarly, by being aware of our strengths we can capitalize on them and use them in order to positively impact our surroundings and loved ones and gain closeness to Allah (swt) and His pleasure. An individual who is very tech savvy and is skilled in creating apps decides to create an app to help blind individuals connect with someone who is blessed with the gift of sight through the use of video chat to help guide them around their homes and assist them with small day-to-day tasks. Through the culmination of knowledge of our weaknesses and strengths, it becomes increasingly evident that in no way shape or form did we have anything to do with our own creation. All signs embedded within ourselves and in our surroundings redirect us back to a higher supreme being whose existence is undeniable.

  1. Self-Awareness strengthens The Muscle of Resiliency

On average, human beings have approximately 60,000 thoughts per day, which translates to one thought per second! The large majority of these thoughts are the same ones on replay in our minds each day and a whopping 80 percent of those thoughts are negative in nature. Due to the brain being inclined to focus more attention on the negative experiences or circumstances in life, a term that is often referred to as negative attribution bias, during your toughest and darkest moments, your mind will do an amazing job of convincing you of a multitude of things. You may repeatedly have thoughts that tell you that you aren’t good enough to succeed in your business endeavors, that you’re not worthy of a good spouse, that you’ll never reach your weight loss goal and that you’re a horrible parent, and the list is endless. You may start to firmly believe that you’re weak and incapable of fulfilling your lifelong dreams and aspirations and you may even be fooled into thinking that your thoughts are concrete facts. Thoughts surface from many different sources including but not limited to what we repeatedly have been exposed to: people, upbringing, books, faith, social media, movies, or music. Regardless of how firmly rooted these ‘facts’ become in your mind, with some deep analysis of your past, you’ll realize that the only real facts that are worthy of your attention are that you’ve survived greater struggles, endured greater pain and became progressively resilient as a result. Having a great propensity towards being forgetful, a lack of self-awareness may inadvertently lead us to lose sight of all the internal battles we’ve won irrespective of how small and how much progress we’ve made in our respective journeys.  Self-awareness will engender a greater degree of accurate self-perception and reflection which leads to better accountability (muhasabah) and which can allow you to conquer the mind’s inclination to focus on the negative. Perhaps nothing is more empowering than knowing that you don’t have to believe every thought that crosses your mind; that your thoughts aren’t facts; and that by questioning your thoughts, you can essentially revolutionize the entire process of how you think. Every thought is not automatically worthy of being entertained and you can practice mindfulness in regards to which thoughts you feed and respond to, for they will be the ones that have power over you.

  1. The Relationship Between Self-Awareness & Humility

Although we have a negative attribution bias, we also have what may seem to be a contradictory tendency known as a self-serving bias. The self-serving bias is a tendency to perceive ourselves in an overly favorable way and is ultimately designed to protect our self-esteem. In order to guide ourselves to a more accurate form of self-awareness, it’s essential to balance our lowliness and fallibility with our potential for greatness. Those who are in touch with both ends of this spectrum and balance them well are often identified as confident yet humble individuals due to not losing sight of both sides. Contributing to our potential greatness, humans enjoy complex cognitive faculties, free will, and language and comprehension abilities to name just a few. These combined abilities contributed to the emergence of many extraordinary inventions, innovative discoveries and incredible achievements which can pave the way to a state of delusion and loss of touch with our own fallibility. Cultivating self-awareness teaches that, similar to Newton’s law of gravity, what goes up in life must eventually come down.  Allah (swt) states in the Qur’an a similar concept reflected in this verse “…for man was created weak”[4:28]. At times, we can feel great surges of strength and soar in life and shortly thereafter encounter crashing moments of despair. We live in a world of contrasts. We have strengths as well as weaknesses- some strengths are present from birth and others are acquired through hard work and practice. Some weaknesses are beyond our control and some harmful practices or habits that we adopt and engage in by choice render us weaker as a result. We’re unable to fully understand happiness until we’ve known sadness and we can’t fully appreciate ease until we’ve experienced hardship. It’s these contrasting experiences that teach us the beautiful concept of humility; and within the depths of humility one can feel a greater connection and closeness to The Creator. Despite the many advantages of humility, this virtue isn’t always viewed as a strength depending on the context it’s framed in.

Humility in relation to the field of leadership, for example, is often perceived as a form of weakness; especially in a competitive cut throat culture where over confidence and power are glorified and frequently rewarded.  In an article by Morris, Brotheridge & Urbanski (2005), leaders who embodied high levels of humility were found to have higher levels of self-awareness, openness and transcendence: the three dimensions of humility identified by the authors. Leaders with high levels of humility had a higher probability of forming supportive relationships with their employees, presented a socialized power motivation, and had the overall greater good of the company in mind which led them to thrive collectively. A research study by Collins (2001) provided evidence for the importance of humility in leadership.  Collins discovered that Level 5 leadership led companies had continuously high performance; meaning that these leaders had a combination of humility and strong personal will. The tide of leadership is slowly turning due to researchers shedding light on the great benefits humility stemming from leadership brings to the workplace.

  1. Out With The Old, In With The New

It’s an unquestionable fact that we are creatures of habit. Habits are formed through repetition and become so familiar to us that we begin to perform them automatically, without much effort or thought. The more we practice or do something, the more engrained the neural pathways in the brain become. When our habits become so deeply engrained, we become less aware of them to the point where if a friend or loved one were to point them out to us, it may take us by surprise. The habits that we are unaware of are more harmful due to us being oblivious to their impact in our lives or to their impact on others. As difficult as it may be to admit, most of us have at least one bad habit that we dislike about ourselves and wish we could change. But you may tell yourself ‘it’s easier said than done.’ Whether your habit is being chronically late, smoking, being a perfectionist or impulsively overspending; surprisingly, every bad habit serves a purpose in our lives. It may be that certain habits were formed as a result of deeply rooted issues such as resentment towards someone or something, a long history of exposure to trauma, or underlying depression. For example, someone who often struggles with controlling their anger could have assumed the role of caretaker for an elderly loved one for so long and has been in the mode of giving to the point of burnout that any small mishap or problem sets them off. At times, bad habits can help us cope with overwhelming levels of stress, avoiding uncomfortable situations or to merely pass time.  But what makes a habit bad for us? A habit crosses the red line from good to doubtful or bad when it disrupts our daily productivity, robs us of precious time or threatens our emotional, physical and psychological well being. To learn how to replace bad habits with new ones by forming new neural pathways in the brain through a cool process known as neuroplasticity, one must first understand the role that awareness plays in the larger picture. To discern a good habit from the bad, a level of self-awareness and introspection is necessary. Reflection leads to a heightened sense of self-awareness. Self-awareness in turn helps us to decipher bad habits that previously led to patterns of dysfunction, the role these habits played in our lives and how to better replace them with new positive habits. For example, do you dislike your habit of consistently focusing on the negative aspects of your past despite the presence of many positive ones that you should be grateful for? First, try to understand why you’re mentally holding onto these negative thoughts and experiences, and the purpose they serve you. Once you understand why it is you do what you do, it becomes easier to envision being positive and how reflecting on these positive experiences makes you feel. Make it a daily practice to go through this envisioning process. Select your thoughts carefully as you would select your best outfits daily and make it a habit to only focus on the positive aspects of each day. What you choose to focus on is what will grow in your mind. Be mindful of what you pay attention to as it will consume you and manifest in various ways through your actions and life overall.

A ninth century Muslim physician known as Abu Zayd Al-Balkhi often discussed the nature of this life and how it is a home for anxiety, trials, worry and sadness. He highlighted the importance of focusing on positive thoughts in his works and practice; the types of thoughts that are the opposite of those that sustain the psychological disturbance and the importance of making the realization that whatever afflicts the soul could have been worse in nature. By using this train of thought, one can cultivate gratefulness for their current state and develop enough strength to avoid falling into hopelessness and defeat. The concept that our thoughts lead to our emotional states and later influence our actions is as old as Greek philosophy, however, it was Al-Balkhi who developed this concept into cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which is a form of psychotherapy used regularly by psychologists today. It may come as a surprise to many that it took western psychologists close to an entire century to arrive at this approach that Al-Balkhi arrived at in the ninth century! Al-Balkhi also mentions the concept of being self-aware in order to know what one should avoid and what one’s soul can bear. Self-awareness is the first step in ridding oneself of old habits and facilitating the formation of new habits. You can’t change that which you’re not aware of.  And you can’t become a better person without learning from your past behaviors, mistakes, and the present habits that comprise your character.

Al-Balkhi along with tenth century physician Abu Bakr Al-Razi and 11th century scholar Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali all spoke about the importance of seeking out the counsel of a wise person (hakim) in the form of a discussion or counseling in an effort to neutralize problematic habits or to change one’s thoughts and behaviors to the better. Al-Balkhi in specific made mention of this practical approach in his manuscript ‘Sustenance of the Soul’ where he described the importance of having an advisor to oversee one’s actions, to go hand in hand with the internal self-treatment approach which in this case is the positive envisioning process referred to earlier. We may not always be aware of the detrimental habits we adopt as we are unable to see ourselves from an outsider’s perspective and having an advisor or a friend oversee us can help in changing unfavorable habits significantly by merely allowing someone to bring them to our level of consciousness. Seeking therapy can also help in reforming our inner selves and most stubborn habits and can increase one’s quality of life and level of happiness. True contentment lies in gaining knowledge to enlighten our minds and hearts, and the most beneficial form of knowledge originates from knowing oneself.

“Who looks outside, dreams; Who looks inside, awakens” — Carl Jung

References

Al-Balkhi, A. (2013). Sustenance of the Soul: The Cognitive Behavior Therapy of a Ninth Century Physician. London: The International Institute of Islamic Thought.

Collins, J. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap and others don’t. New York: Harper Business.

Morris, J. A., Brotheridge, C., & Urbanski, J. C. (2005). Bringing humility to leadership: Antecedents and consequences of leader humility. Human Relations, 58(10), 1323-1350.