Psychology and Islam...

Where Islam and Positive Psychology meet


Where are you headed?


Depression versus Contentment

  Islam’s View on Depression ?

Islam and Emotions


Love in Islam


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Questions such as why human beings were created, and why certain events occur as opposed to others, and why someone had to die and not another, can not be answered by the human mind in and of itself. A simple reason is the fact that human beings are not even able to uncover the mysteries of their own brain! The human mind is only able to identify existing rules, which Allah has put in nature, and use them to come up with new connections. That is why Allah,

  the One and Only Perfect Creator of the universe, has sent messengers, Prophets (peace be upon them all) since the beginning of time, from among the best of human beings, to guide human beings…

Where are you headed?


“ Where do you want to go?”
Alice pauses, looks at the crossroad in front of her and admits, “I don't know”.

“Then, any road will take you there,” answers the Cheshire cat perched comfortably on a tree.

Now that is one wise cat! In the simplest way possible, and in a children's story nonetheless, he clearly explained “Purpose”.

Having purpose is exactly that; knowing where you want to go. Positive psychology defines “happiness” through three components; positive emotion (1), engagement and meaning ( Shearon and Sheiner, 2007, P.3-4). In this context, meaning is the highest purpose one would like to achieve or strive towards; having a purpose or a meaning in life.

If we take another look at Alice's situation, couldn't we easily say she is lost? Or that she needs guidance? Much like Alice, many of us are lost. The question of why we are here is an eternal one. Some people have come up with answers that please them and some are still searching. As Muslims, God gives us the answer in the Quran;

“I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me.” 51:56, translated by Pickthal.

That does not mean that Muslims should spend their living days and nights in constant rituals. We don't pray nor fast nonstop. Rather, we live our normal day-to-day lives but with a pure intention (for God's sake only) in every action we do.

So if we sleep with an intention of thanks to God by resting our bodies; we are in a state of worship. If we give charity for the sake of God and not for fame or social recognition, then we are in an act of worship. And so on. This way, a Muslim is always in a state of worship, which is a main reason behind the coined phrase, “Islam is not just a religion, it's a way of life!”.

This also means that doing good to our surroundings is worship, and from this concept comes our second purpose in life as Muslims; to be God's successors on Earth. God says in the Quran:

“And when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to place a viceroy in the earth…” (2) 2:30, translated by Pickthal.

When Muslims have this purpose in mind, they give so much to humanity. One would only have to check history to see Muslim contributions in every walk of life. A good website on this topic is . Also, an excellent documentary by BBC channel 4 that delves into this can be accessed on you tube;

Contributions don't have to be huge or change the face of history though! Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, said in one of his traditions:

"If the Hour is about to take place while any one of you has a sapling in his hand, which he can cultivate before it takes place, let him cultivate it for he will be rewarded for it."

As such, many psychologists have a strong correlation between having meaning in life and being happy. Shearon and Sheiner ( 2007, P.6) mention that “using one's signature strengths and talents to belong to and serve something that one believes is bigger than the self. There are a large number of such “positive institutions:” religion, politics, family, work, community, and nation, for example.” (3)

The bigger the purpose the more profound the effect on the individual. While defining purpose in positive psychology, this website , says: “a basic human need is to have meaning in life so we can feel purpose and enhance our feeling of self worth”. A purpose creates contentment with one's life. Islam adds yet anther extra benefit to having purpose; that is living in harmony with the universe.

God tells us in the Quran that everything on Earth is in submission to Him, is worshiping Him and is in a constant state of remembrance. By willingly submitting to God as Muslims (4) , we are in sync with all His creation, like members of an orchestra; different yet playing one symphony.

“Do you not see that Allah is He Whom do glorify all those who are in the heavens and the earth, and the (very) birds with expanded wings? He knows the prayer of each one and its glorification, and Allah is Cognizant of what they do.” Shakir translation of the Quran 24:41

References: ; Shearon and Sheiner, R esearch Compodium, 2007.


(1) Check the article “Where Islam and Positive Psychology meet” for a look at positive emotions as a life-philosophy in Islam.

(2) The complete translation of this verse by Pickthal: “And when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to place a viceroy in the earth, they said: Wilt thou place therein one who will do harm therein and will shed blood, while we, we hymn Thy praise and sanctify Thee? He said: Surely I know that which ye know not.” 2:30 .

(3) The next article will talk of these examples in more detail.

(4) See the article” Where Islam and Positive Psychology meet” for details.