Book Introduction - Chapter 1


Chapter 1:
A study on the role of the Divine School of Psychology as a criterion and coordinative school

• Abstract
There is no doubt that human beings have only one psychic apparatus. Each school of psychology has studied this psychic apparatus through its own special approach. At present we have numerous schools of psychology having in some respects contradictory points of views. Consequently, we need a criterion school of psychology in order to evaluate and coordinate these schools and to correct their deviations.
We suggest to use the Divine school of psychology as a criterion and coordinative school. As the basic messages of the Divine School of Psychology have been elicited from the Qur'an, one can say it has been organized by the Creator of men. We are sure that we can find out the same messages by reviewing other Divine books, such as Barnabas Gospel and other Gospels. So it can and should be considered as the criterion school. One can discover the essence of the Divine School of Psychology in its intact form in Islam. Islam introduces psychology as the baseline of all sciences and as the essential key to gain psychic development. Practical criteria of mental health and mental illnesses have been clearly defined in this school. In addition, the Islamic School of Psychology has given clear definitions for the nature of the life factor and its dimensions and essential components of psyche.

At present we are teaching many schools of psychology in our universities and even through our mass media. Our students are familiar with Freudian, Jungian, Adlerian, Pavlovian and other schools of thoughts. However, at no time do we mention the Divine School of Psychology even for the purposes of comparison with the above schools of psychology. Recently, during the last few decades, this school of psychology has brought a new feeling and awakening in the world. In fact, it was the first school of its kind to have appeared in the world. Since it has not been considered by this name, i.e. the Divine School of Psychology, it has been neglected; and some false and invalid schools have been substituted in its place. Consequently, the Divine School of Psychology has been omitted from scientific dictionaries.
Now, we are confronted with complications due to the omission and neglect of the Divine School of Psychology. This is indicated through the spread and increase of psychiatric reactive disturbances, personality problems, family structure disturbances, social problems, alcoholism, sexual deviation, aggression, etc. Thus, it would be beneficial to pay more attention to this forgotten school of psychology and try to fulfill its points of views in our individual and social life.

Why do we need a criterion school of psychology?
There is no doubt that human beings have only one psychic apparatus. Each school of psychology has studied this psychic apparatus through its own special approach. We already have numerous psychology schools having some inherently contradictory points of views. Consequently, we need a criterion school of psychology in order to evaluate and coordinate these schools and to correct their mistakes and weaknesses.
God brought the book of existence and creation into being. From this, we can presume that in all branches of science we are studying the signs of Allah; and psychology is not an exception. For many centuries billions of human beings have believed in God and His instructions. They have thoroughly carried out their lifestyles with His education, and the trend is continuing at present.
Of course all human beings are supposed to obey the Divine laws if they wish to gain psychic development. Now we can put forth a big question: viz., what is the meaning of the relationship between human beings and the Divine laws from a psychological point of view? And how should this continuous relationship be interpreted? Usually different schools of psychology have their own special approach to this relationship. It seems that the Divine religions have their unique school of psychology, and this has enabled them to convince humans with their thoughts and by these to manage their life according to the Divine methods.
We suggest to use the Divine school of psychology as a criterion and coordinative school. As the basic messages of the Divine School of Psychology have been elicited from the Qur'an , one can say it has been organized by the Creator of men. We are sure that we can find out the same messages by reviewing other Divine books , such as Barnabas Gospel and other Gospels.We can discover the fundamentals of this school in its intact form in Islam . So , we have used the concept of Islamic School of Psychology as a synonym of the Divine School of Psychology. The fundamentals of the Islamic School of Psychology are mentioned as follows:

- The life factor as a non-chemical agent
Each school of psychology views the psyche and its dimensions in a certain way. There is a close relationship between each approach’s perspective on the psyche, its points of view about the world, and the programs which it suggests for human life.
Materialist biologists think that the universe is organized of matter and radiation energy.

- The divine school of psychology as a criterion
The Divine School of Psychology introduces the concept of “the life factor” as a causal agent. In this approach the life factor is seen as the cause of vital and psychological processes in all bio-organisms. It is a non-chemical agent and is a rich and extensive source for further scientific research.
According to the cause and effect principle, we are supposed to identify the main source of vital processes. This can be done by the means of profound studies which may enable us to come to the natural conclusion that the factor of life cannot have a chemical nature.
Martyr Mottahary, contemporary Iranian philosopher supports the Vitalism approach and believes that the best system to study life factor is the biology. By reviewing different books of biology we came to the natural conclusion that molecules can't cause vital processes either by themselves or any conceivable synthesis. I've put this approach in my Persian book titled: "An Elementary Study of the Principles of Islamic School of Psychology" - 1985.

I have summarized the main characteristics of life factors as the following:
1. Chemical agents are unable to perform and coordinate vital processes. Therefore, we have to consider the life factor as a non-chemical agent.
2. The life factor has a very close relationship with the chemical agents in bio-organisms.
3. The life factor is alive, and it is the source of energy and motivation, without which we cannot even imagine motility and energy in bio-organisms.
4. All vital and psychological processes in bio-organisms are due to the life factor.
5. The integrity of vital processes in each bio-organism is due to the life factor.
6. The way in which the life factor works is quite scientific; and it has been confirmed that it is conscious of its own activities and situations.
7. The life factor is purposeful, and it causes goal-directed activities in all processes of bio-organisms and in their whole body as well.
8. The lawfulness of every bio-organism in its vital processes is due to the life factor.
9. The life factor is dependent on God, and it is not an independent entity.
10. The life factor is responsible for causing common aspects in all bio-organisms.

The situation of psychology in Islam
The position of psychology in Islam is a unique one. The Prophet (PBUH) says:
One who knows himself thus knows God. F (Footnote) 1
He says again:
To study science is necessary for every Muslim, both for men as well as for women. F2
Further, according to the Prophet:
This science ought to be psychology.F2
Imam Ali says:
One who knows himself has gained the final goal of all knowledge and sciences.F3 you should not be ignorant of yourself because one who is ignorant of himself is ignorant of everything.F4
In Chapter 11 (Hood) , verse 53 of the Qur’an , we see the following sentence: We will soon show them our signs in the universe and in their own souls, until it becomes clear to them that He is the truth.F5
Imam Ali, interpreting this verse, says:
Knowledge of oneself is the more useful one of two kinds of knowledge.F6
It means that science that deals with the psyche is more useful than those sciences which deal with the universe.
Allama Tabatabai, one of the great interpreters of the Qur’an, concludes this saying by stating that the reason why psychology is more useful is because it helps in modifying the self and in understanding its dependency on God. This approach will enable man to discover that all aspects of himself are quite dependent on God and that he is not an independent creature. Allama further adds that man needs to discover the straight path for his development; and this, according to him, can be achieved by obeying the Divine laws.

Main psychic components
According to this school, there are two different and opposite psychic components in operation, namely the conscienceF7 and the passion F8 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 the passion, accordingly or vice versa.(7) 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) F9, then he is superior to the angels; but if his passion takes authority over the self, then he is lower than animals F10
Imam Khomeini believes that the conscience is inherent and not acquired, and he states that it has the two following components:
1. Main conscience F11 has an evolutionary and developmental nature. This urges the whole personality to gain complete development, evolution, power and the drive to gain knowledge. In fact, according to Imam Khomeini, the conscience is fond of absolute development.
2. Subordinate conscience F12 which abhors any conceivable defect. Imam Khomeini concludes that absolute perfection can be seen only in God, and since man admires and pursues perfection, he is thereby fond of God, his heart and soul consequently desire to reach Him. This author, by using the 30th verse of the 30th chapter of the Qur’an, concludes that all Divine instructions are acceptable by the conscience. He adds that these instructions, which fortify the conscience and facilitate psychic development, can be introduced as curative medicaments for ill psyches.
Imam Ali confirms that the passion is opposite to the conscience F13.
According to the Prophet (PBUH) there is a continuous conflict between the passion and the conscience which he explains as a real war (14). The Prophet (PBUH) emphasizes that the war between these two opposite components is even more severe than a war between two groups of enemies (2). The personality of man and his volition depends on the authority of one of these two factors. Thus, according to the Islamic School of Psychology, all Divine laws are instruments to control the passion and to fortify the conscience. Allama Tabatabai believes that in one way or another all the Divine instructions are related to humans psyche.

The brain as the inhibitory system
Imam Jafar Ibn Mohammad (PBUH) introduces the brain as the center of wisdom (15) i.e. as an inhibitory system and center of intellectual activities.
According to Ibn Abbas :
God commanded David to ask Solomon fourteen questions and grant him the science of prophecy if he answered correctly. David said, “My little boy! Tell me where the center of wisdom is in yourself?” Solomon replied, “The brain” (16).

Criteria for mental health and mental illness
The Islamic School of Psychology has practical criteria for mental health and mental illness. We can find many of these criteria in the Qur’an and other Islamic teachings. I have divided these criteria into two main groups:
The first group consists of low-grade criteria of mental health which can be used in our every day practice of psychiatry .The second group distinguishes the mature personality. This school uses the criterion of “development” for both definitions of mental health. The meaning of development is very extended. The necessary amount of development for every day practice of life is defined as the minimal criterion of mental health(17). This criterion has been mentioned in the Qur’an (verses 5-6 of the 4th chapter), as follows:
And do not give away your property which Allah has made for you as (means of) support to the weak of understanding, and maintain them out of (the profits of) it, and clothe them and speak to them words of honest advice. And test the orphans until they attain puberty; then if you find in them maturity of intellect, make over to them their propertyF18.
In the above verse “maturity” (development in its lower stage) is a criterion for independence.
Severe and mild mental retardation have been mentioned in the Qur’an, and this has been clearly defined by the leaders of Islam. In verse 282 of the second chapter of the Qur’an we can see the following sentence:
But if he who oweth the debt is of low understanding, or weak, or unable himself to dictate, then let the guardian of his interests dictate (in terms of equity)F19.
Imam Jafar Ibn Mohammad interprets these items as follows F20:
A person of low understanding is one who pays for a Drachma (a unit of money) many folds.
It means that the most striking symptom of a low understanding person is his inability to calculate. We can use this item for the assessment of severe mental retardation. Further:
A weak and feeble minded person is one who pays two folds for somethingF21.
By comparison of these two items one finds that the calculation disturbance in a weak person is less than that seen in a person of low understanding. We can use this item as an index for the understanding of mild mental retardation.
Reality disturbance testing has been defined in the Islamic School of Psychology as “the covering of intellectual functioning”F22. There are many teachings in this school which indicate that this state can be reversed. Instructions from the Prophet (PBUH) and other leaders of this school introduce this state as a diseaseF23.
Disturbance in the social functioning is the most striking symptom which the Islamic laws define for this stateF24.

The definition of an ideal and mature person
The word “development”, in the sense of continuous evolution, has been defined as a criterion for the mature person. According to this school, in order to gain real development man is supposed to believe in Allah and to always try 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 developF25.
Thus, multidimensional development, perfection, and evolution are the reasons and results of believing in God and obeying Him.
The Prophet (PBUH) says:
One whose two days are equal is a cheated oneF26.
By this approach psychic development should be continuously followed up, and to this there is no conceivable end.

A practical method of the Divine school of psychology as a criterion school
From the Islamic point of view, existence and the universe were created by God. All scientific workers are in pursuit of facts about the above system. It follows from this that all scientific findings should be evaluated according to the Divine criteria. Therefore, the data presented by the different schools of psychology will have one of the three main possibilities as given below:
1. A given school of psychology has discovered certain data which has been confirmed by adopting a rational method. According to the Islamic School of Psychology:
“Anything which has been asserted by reasoning will be asserted by religion, too.” F27
Consequently the Divine School of Psychology will agree with such findings; and, therefore will consider the data as some of its components. For example, to highlight the above we can mention the data which are presented in the fields of psychophysiology and psychological tests (ref. to circles A,B, Diag.1).
2. The Divine School of Psychology will reject data which are not valid and are contrary to its instructions.F28
In brief we can conclude that the Divine School of Psychology will reject only that data which are false or invalid. Consequently, in a defined and given school of psychology we can accept the valid data and conversely reject the non-valid ones. According to the diagram1 we may have different schools of psychology with varying amounts of acceptability (ref. to circles C, D, E, Diag. 1). It appears that we seldom have a school of psychology with completely wrong data (Circle F).
3. The Divine School of Psychology will study theoretical data whose validity is in question. These data will be re-tested, and the conclusions will be evaluated against items 1 and 2.

Diagram 1:

The relationship between the Divine School of Psychology and other schools


According to the late Jafari, our contemporary Islamic philosopher, the scientific system of Islam is an open one which accepts any reasonable data. We can discover the basis of the above criteria in the 17th verse of the 13th chapter of the Qur’an which says F29:
He sends down water from the cloud, then water-
courses flow according to their measure, and the torrent bears along the swelling foam and from what they melt in the fire for the sake of making ornaments of apparatus arises a scum like it; thus does Allah compare truth and falsehood; then as for the scum, it passes away as a worthless thing, and as for that which profits the people, it tarries in the earth; thus does Allah set forth the parables.
Allama Tabatabai, when interpreting this verse, says that the difference between false ideas and right ones is related to the amount of their concordance to reality. From this we can see that the criteria as employed in the Islamic School of Psychology have both logical and religious bases.

Practical management of the principles of development
The Islamic School of Psychology usually educates and trains the population with its own moral instructions. Therefore, a well-trained individual or society will never have legal engagement.
The principles which this school suggest for the development of human beings are not merely suggestions as they are supported by strong protective sanctions. This fact is valid in all aspects of individual and social duties. A believer in God considers His supervision on humanity, expects His rewards, and fears His punishment. These factors usually urge him to follow the straight path and abide the Islamic laws. However, if he neglects these prescriptions and does not obey these rules, he will be caught by defined acts for his behavior.
Of course Eternal rewards and punishments are the most striking incentives to do his best and to avoid indulging in sins. These facilities make this School of Psychology an unique one, especially when one remembers that other schools of psychology lack such possibilities. These characteristics make this school of thought the real, ideal, multidimensional approach to psychology which can be regarded as a coordinating, corrective and criterion school of psychology. From this, it appears that all workers of psychology, psychiatry, sociology and mental health in general, and the believers in God in particular, need to study this school of thought and rationally consider its instructions in every day practices.


  1. Al-Harrani: Tohaf al-oghool. Al-Eslamiia Pub. 1400 Hij., p. 371

  2. Ameli S: Alvasel Al-Shia, vol. 11. Al-Eslamiia Pub. 1398 Hij., pp.124,164

  3. Amodi: Ghorar Al-Hekam, vols. 1-2. Teheran Univ. Pub. 1360 Hij

  4. Feiz M.M: Al--Tafsir Al-Safi, vol. 2. Mahmoodi Pub. 1334 Hij., p.224

  5. Ghomi H.A.: Al-Safina Al--Behar, vol. 2. Sanaii Pub. 1355 Hij., p.603

  6. Hakimi M.R. et al: Al-Hayat, vol. 1. Daftar Nashre Farhang Eslami, 1358 Hij., p. 114

  7. Hosseini S.A: An elementary study on the principles of individual and group psychotherapy and mental health in Islam. Indian J Psychiatric 25(4)335, 1983.

  8. Hosseini S.A.: An elementary study on the fundamentals of the Islamic psychology, vol. 1, First edition.Mashhad university Press, 1985 pp. 230-272

  9. Khomeini: Talab va Eradeh, Persian version by Fehri. Markas Entesharat Elmi va Farhangi, 1963

  10. Majlesi M.B: Al-Bahar Al-Anvar, vol. 111, p. 6.

  11. Negari A.A.A: Jameo-Al-Oloom (Dastoor al-Olama),vol.1

  12. Daerat-al-Maaref. Heidar Abaad Dakan 1329 Hij., p.411

  13. Rashad M: Al-osool Al-Fegh. Eqbal Pub., p.228.Sadoogh: Al-Khesal. Persian version by Fehri. Entesharat Elmia Eslamiia

  14. Tabatabai M.H: Al-Tafsir Al-Mizan, Persian version by Moosavi. ohammadi Pub. 1384 Hij, vol. 11, pp. 316-327, vol. 22, pp.234-235



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