An elementary study of human needs according to the Islamic school of psychology

In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate

These transparencies was presented by the author of this webpag  in “the first International Congress on Religion and Mental Health” held in april 2001 in Tehran .

Definition of the Islamic school of psychology
The prophet of Islam defines the scientific approach as discovering the facts and realities. He says: “o god, show me things as they are.” So, the Islamic school of psychology means realistic approach to psyche, its dimensions, and its interactions.
According to Islam, mental health is well being of humans, including mundane welfare as well as over worldly well being i.e. eternal well being. So, its dimension is extensive and vast, and it needs appropriate instruments and strategies. According to Islam, mental health should cover all human beings, and it should not be presented to exclusively special people. This approach, too, needs systemic, very extensive activities all over the world.

The main strategy for humans to reach eternal development
According to Islam, man is responsible for his voluntary behavior, so he can and should prevent voluntary stressful life events. According to the Islamic principles, preventing and eradicating the main sources and the causes of disturbances should be considered in primary prevention strategies. By very extensive and repetitive teachings, Islam has clarified the duties and rights of every one. Every human being is responsible to god for considering and observing these instructions and behaving according to the principle of the unity of god. Islam has a very special instructive plan for every basic circle (system) of human life, i.e. family circle (system), occupational circle (system), the circle (system) of friendly and group relationships, the relations between the human being and nature, the political circle (system), and the relationship between man and his creator. (Diagram 2)
In summary: if man is eager to earn development, he has to control himself both in his personality system and in all of his related systems. This is his key need.

Main psychic processes of personality structure
According to this school, there are two different and opposite psychic processes in operation, namely conscience and passion which are inherent and not acquired. The first one has an evolutionary and developmental nature, whereas the second can be considered as an instinctual motive. Reasoning ability, as realized in man’s free will, helps him to activate his conscience and control passion, accordingly or vice versa. Imam Ali confirms that the psychic apparatus of human beings is a combination of the above two processes. He believes that if man can succeed in giving authority to the natural wisdom (natural wisdom=conscience), then he is superior to angels; but if his passion takes authority over the self, then he is lower than animals.

The main goal of humans according to the Islamic school of psychology
According to this school, in order to gain real development man is supposed to believe in Allah and to try always to do his best by using the Divine instructions. We can find this approach in the 186th verse of the second chapter of the Qur’an: “and when my servant questions thee concerning me, I am near to answer the call of the caller when he calls to me. So let them respond to me, and let them believe in me, haply so they will develop.”
The whole qur’an is a guide to development. We can see this message in the Qur’an: “it is a guide to development.” (Jinn: 2)
Allama Tabatabai, interpreting this verse, believes that access to reality in everything is synonymous to development, multidimensional development. Perfection and evolution are the reasons and results of believing in god and obeying him. The word “development” in the sense of continuous evolution has been defined as a criterion for the mature person. The prophet (PBUH) says: “one whose two days are equal is a cheated one.” By this approach psychic development should be continuously followed up and to this there is no conceivable stop. So, we can name Islamic messages as “the principles of development.”
As the Divine instructions are much extended, we have to summarize them in some practical principles. After many years of discussion in academic groups, I have succeeded in categorizing these, into 40 basic principles. So the Divine instructions are unique and exclusive instruments to offer development. Keeping this in mind, I have presented the above principles as “the basic principles of development”. The prerequisite processes to enable the basic principles of development to have practical results in preventing stress-related manifestations are as follows:
1. To be learned,
2. To be accepted,
3. To be used in everyday practice of life.

It seems that one of the reasons of non-acceptable and pathologic reactive states in mankind, which appear as “faulty lifestyle” is the lack and deficiency of the above processes. On the other hand, the psychopathology of reactive manifestations can be summarized as follows:
1. One did not learn the principles of development.
2. One did not accept the principles of development.
3. One did not use the principles of development.

So, it is the duty of the therapist to discover what principle or principles have been neglected? The following processes are necessary for the therapeutic procedures:
1. To train the counselee with the neglected principle or principles.
2. Convince him to accept it.
3. Urge him to use and follow it up in his everyday practice of life.

The prophet of Islam considers the basic needs as prerequisite instruments to fulfill prayer, fast and other branches of worship when he says: “o god, bless us in bread because if there is no bread we do not pray, we do not fast, and we do not do other worship for which we are responsible. (Vasael – al – Shiee, vol. 12, p. 17)
Islam’s prophet considers poverty as a main source of blasphemy, and he says: “poverty produces blasphemy. (Vasael – al – shiee ,vol. 11, p. 293)
Imam Sadegh (PBUH) confirms the fact that there are natural motivations to satisfy miscellaneous human needs when he says:” hunger motivates the individual to eat; which life and consistency of the body is due to it. Lack of sleep, motivates sleep which rest the body energy. Passion motivates sexual intercourse which results in continuity of race and permanence of humans.“

“If there were no feeling of hunger and feeding was only due to body needs, and if there were no motivation in human nature to urge him to eat, the individual might often neglect his body and be careless in eating, resulting in wasting or death. Sometimes the body needs medication for modification of the body. Although one is aware to his needs, but he may neglect to take it. So, fatal disease and death may occur. Also, if sleep were due to the fact that man knew it necessary for his body and rest for his energy, he might consider it difficult and neglect it because of his avidity. If sexual intercourse were only for bearing children, it is likely that one would neglect it and diminish the race because some people do not wish to have children and pay no attention to it. So know that he who directs the world and knows all things (god) has arranged natural motivation for every action which consistency and well being of the body is due to it, in order to exhort man according to his needs.”

The prophet (PBUH) informs us that the main sources of human lapse in conduct are gluttony and sexual needs. So it is human duty to control these two refractory motivations, in order to save mundane and eternal mental health.
The leaders of the Islamic school of psychology have not only put the subject of needs in their theoretical points, but they have also considered them in their legal principles. If a single person is unable to satisfy his sexual needs and commits adultery, his punishment is to be whipped. But the punishment of a married man or woman in this case is to be stoned to death. If intercourse is impossible with the spouse of a married individual due to travel, imprisonment, etc. and that person commits adultery, his or her punishment will be minimized to only whipping.
This approach shows that this school of psychology has legal sanctions in addition to the theoretical points of view to control humans’ motivations. The prophet of Islam (PBUH) stresses on the commands for sexual needs in humans, and directs his followers to facilitate marriage in youths to prevent illegal sexual relations. He says:” virgins are like fruit on trees. When they ripen without being picked, they spoil in the sun and are scattered by the wind. So, also are virgins if they reach the maturity state which is elated to women, there is no conceivable drug for them except to be got married. Otherwise they will be susceptible to immorality because they are humans.”

Islam believes that all the human needs have been prepared by god. According to the qur’an:
“o, men, you are the ones that have need of god; he is the all-sufficient, the all-laudable.” (The angels: 15)
“god is the all-sufficient; you are the needy ones.” Muhammad: 38

Remembering these messages, Hekmatnia believes the target of the prophets is to fulfill human needs, and all human needs are fulfilled by god. People are tested to use Divine facilities to help each other. So, humans should always consider this fact and worship nothing other than god.
Imam Ali (PBUH) says:” do not be a slave to anyone because god has made you free.” this message is the most powerful social approach in inter-individual relationships, and it suggests that humans deny any sovereignty except god’s. This message will make humans free of any idols, including cruel powers of the world in the near future (Inshaallah)
According to Islam human needs have been divided into four categories as follows: “he created me and guides me and gives me to eat and drink, and whenever I am sick, heals me.” (Poets: 78-82)

These verses are the presentation of god to adulators by Abraham, in which the main human needs have been discussed. Allama Tabatabai, interpreting the above verses says that the most striking need in humans is guidance to the right way. By this approach the needs for feeding and healing can be considered the needs of passion and guidance to the right way can be considered as the conscience need. The concept of guidance has the meaning of absolute guidance i.e. guidance to mundane welfare and other worldly welfare. So the meaning of these verses is as follows:
“god created me and indestructibly guides me. He has always been my creator from the beginning and directs me to prosperity.”
Allame believes this need is better than all other affluences of god, either mundane or other worldly. According to Allame, the needs for food, water and treatment are symbols of all mundane human needs. As these needs are more important, god has mentioned them exclusively.
According to the Islamic school of psychology, there are two opposite inherent components in the human personality, namely passion and conscience. These two components always struggle for guidance of the self. So their needs are quite different.
I have categorized human needs according to Islam in two main categories:
1. Needs urged by passion,
2. Needs urged by conscience.

An elementary study in the Islamic instructions shows that Islam tries to convince humans to be satisfied with sufficient points of these needs of passion so that there is room for further struggle to fulfill needs of the conscience. Severe needs which put an individual in a distress position with lack of alternatives will change Islamic laws. For example, if there is no choice except to eat pork, even though it is forbidden in Islamic principles, a person should have pork in order to save his life; otherwise he or she has committed a sin. Satisfying pleasure needs has been considered as basic needs which enable the individual to fulfill other needs.
Imam kazem (PBUH) says that : “one should divide his or her time in four parts as follows: “one part for fervent prayer with god , one part for living affairs , one part for association with sincere people and brothers in Allah who will make him aware of his faults. One part for privacy for lawful pleasure. This part will enable you to fulfill the other three needs. You should enjoy the world in a lawful manner which does not harm your humane position and without any waste. You should help yourselves in religious affairs by fulfilling pleasurable needs because in the Islamic tradition, one is not in our (Muslim) group if he or she leaves his or her mundane needs in favor of religion or leaves his or her religion in favor of his mundane needs.”

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