Young Muslim Psychologist 2009

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Bismillāh ar-Rahmān ar-Rahīm

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Young Muslim Psychologist is back again! Watch the video below to see pictures from the session from last year held at Masjid Darul Aman.

For those interested in psychology, perhaps this article from The New Yorker might appeal to you. It is about a marshmallow test about self-control and delayed gratification. Here’s how its done:

A researcher will make an offer to the test subject (in this case, young children aged around 4 years): she could either eat one marshmallow right away or, if she was willing to wait while he stepped out for a few minutes, she could have two marshmallows when he returned. He said that if she rang a bell on the desk while he was away he would come running back, and she could eat one marshmallow but would forfeit the second. Then the researcher would leave the room.

This experiment was done in the late 1960s but they’ve found that low delayers, the children who rang the bell quickly, seemed more likely to have behavioral problems, both in school and at home. They got lower S.A.T. scores. They struggled in stressful situations, often had trouble paying attention, and found it difficult to maintain friendships. The child who could wait fifteen minutes had an S.A.T. score that was, on average, two hundred and ten points higher than that of the kid who could wait only thirty seconds.

The researchers came to this conclusion: based on hundreds of hours of observation, the crucial skill was the “strategic allocation of attention.” Instead of getting obsessed with the marshmallow—the “hot stimulus”—the patient children distracted themselves by covering their eyes, pretending to play hide-and-seek underneath the desk, or singing songs from “Sesame Street.” Their desire wasn’t defeated—it was merely forgotten. “If you’re thinking about the marshmallow and how delicious it is, then you’re going to eat it,” Mischel says. “The key is to avoid thinking about it in the first place.”

In adults, this skill is often referred to as metacognition, or thinking about thinking, and it’s what allows people to outsmart their shortcomings. How interesting is that? Does it not remind you of the encouragement the Qur’an gives whenever it says the Afterlife is better than this dunya and that we should just hold out for a while more?

Although Young Muslim Psychologist will not be conducting such experiments on their participants, it would be interesting what they would share and the things that you could possibly learn!

This year, Young Muslim Psychologist will be held at Masjid Khalid on Sunday, 14th June 2009 from 10am to 5pm. It is open to anyone from the ages of 12 – 24. Please check out the event page for more details. You can also check the organiser’s website at www.guidance-excel.com.

amee

Ameera Begum Aslam

[email protected]

Young Muslims Psychologist

14 June 2009, 10am – 5pm
Venue: Masjid KhalidDetails»
Organiser: Masjid Khalid & Guidance Excel Consultancy

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14 COMMENTS

  1. That’s a very very interesting real-life analogy!

    “but they’ve found that low delayers, the children who rang the bell quickly, seemed more likely to have behavioral problems, both in school and at home. They got lower S.A.T. scores. They struggled in stressful situations, often had trouble paying attention, and found it difficult to maintain friendships. The child who could wait fifteen minutes had an S.A.T. score that was, on average, two hundred and ten points higher than that of the kid who could wait only thirty seconds….

    …How interesting is that? Does it not remind you of the encouragement the Qur’an gives whenever it says the Afterlife is better than this dunya and that we should just hold out for a while more?”

  2. The study mentioned leaves much to be desired. From teh Islamic perspective, it does not address the fitrah of a person generally or individually. There is also a large hint of determinism, as if a child who exhibits certain traits at the age of 4 is destined to be so and so in life.

    What is the point of making the young Muslim think like a psychologist anyway? What really is the aim of this program? Man is not to be relegated to animal-like beings governed only by stimulus and reactions to stimulus. What the young need to know is Fardhu ‘Ain. They hardly need to know what Psychology is all about…

  3. How can psychology not address the fitrah of a person? Real science do not contradict Haqq. In Surah ash-Shams,

    “By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it; (7)
    And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right;― (8) Truly he succeeds that purifies it, (9)
    And he fails that corrupts it! (10)”

    And the hadith of the Prophet SAW: He who knows himself, knows His Lord.

    Isn’t psychology a way to know one’s self better? And then later to change the bad to goodness?

    Should we teach all children Fardhu ‘Ain and not teach anything else? Surely not. Fardhu ‘Ain as is already understood by its name, is fardhu = compulsory upon an individual. Studying Fardhu ‘Ain should not stop children and everyone to study other fields of knowledge.

    And Allah and His Messenger know best.

  4. Well, it IS possible for Psychology NOT to address the fitrah of a person. Psychology as conceived in the west and taught in our universities is secular in nature. There is no Psychology textbook used in any university in Singapore which refers to fitrah. Fitrah is an Islamic concept foreign to conventional Psychology. To quote the Qur’an and then to suggest that Psychology somehow addresses the concept of Fitrah is misleading.

    I do hope that words are not put into my mouth. I am certainly not saying that children are not to be taught other than Fardhu ‘Ain BUT this is a compulsory priority. For instance, children MUST to be taught how to pray and to pray well… not to be taught to second guess a person’s so-called attitude and dispositions by psychological games. Most of the Muslims who study Psychology do not know what it is from the Islamic perspective even if they have a degree on it. Indeed, Western Psychology is not a good way to know “oneself better”. For the Muslim it does more damage than good. Yes Allah and His messenger knows best…

  5. We all agree that Fardhu Ain is the basic foundation. But your comments are more suited to parents who send these children to these kind of sideline courses without considering Fardhu Ain studies/courses in the first place.
    And its not as if we dont have basic Fardhu Ain courses in Singapore (i highly recommend the upcoming one by Ustadz Iqbal).

    Secondly, I know the course conductor personally (Ustadz Abdul Rahman), who is a University-Masters-trained Psychologist and an in-house Religious officer in the masjid. He got both these degrees in an Islamic university and certainly, I doubt that he was taught and neither is he teaching, secular-un-Islamic psychology. Like what Ameera said in her second post, psychology helps to (re)view oneself and that is what we value most, rather than second-guessing another person.

    Perhaps instead of viewing Psychology (or other fields of knowledge) collectively as un-Godly Westernised fields, you could attend this course and judge it better yourself (you learn Fardhu ‘Ain already, right?).

  6. I am not blaming anybody here. I am stating the facts. My comments are not for parents alone it is for all concerned. I am also not suggesting that there are no basic Fardhu Ain courses even though apparently there is not enough of that. My comments have nothing to do with any particular ustaz or his education!

    I am attending Ustaz Zhulkeflee’s classes on Fardhu ‘Ain and have attended Brother/Ustaz Abdul Halim’s pergas classes and what I get from them is what I am relaying to you here. Essentially they say that there is an important aspect of prioritising in the search for ilm in Islam. And I am sorry no matter how you argue, psychology is not high on such priority as laid out in Islam. This is especially so when much of what is learnt in Psychology is indeed secular. May Allah s.wt. guide us!

  7. Comments are moderated.

    I have to comment on this..

    “There is no Psychology textbook used in any university in Singapore which refers to fitrah. ”

    Shouldn’t we have one and how can we have one?

    Perhaps we don’t know about psychology and that is why we cannot accept it?

    Did you study psychology in school?

    “Psychology is not high on such priority as laid out in Islam”.. Do you have proof to back this up? Dalil or something?

    Psychology is also a study of the MIND. Without it do you think we can do effective DAKWAH? So if its not important do you think DAKWAH isnt?

    Your thoughts please.

  8. Salaam to all,

    I tend to agree with Multatuli… I also think that for children and teens, Fardhu Ain is wajib. I hope we are not defending a course for the sake of defending it. Or we are organising courses for the sake of organising it…Alamak now I sound confused pasal my english not that good lah… ummm I rather say it in Malay… untuk kanak-kanak dan golongan muda iaitu teenagers, Psychologi tak perlu jika dibandingkan dengan ilmu fardhu ‘ain. Ini tidak bermakna jangan belajar Psychologi langsung hanya ia bermakna ilmu itu tidak patut didahulukan. Memang betul ini soal priority. Dah ada persiapan yang lain baru nak belajar, belajarlah.. Dan saya juga pernah mendengar ada ustaz yang menganjurkan supaya kita berhati-hati pelajari tentang psychologi kerana selalunya yang dipelajari seakan-akan menyalahkan ibu-bapa pulak… I think Multatily is on the right track…

  9. Salaam, both Multatuli and Abdullah are right in some ways. Some knowledge are in high priority than others and needs to be learnt before pursuing other subjects eg. Fardhu Ain, Tassawur etc.. Hence a person needs to be grounded in these before pursuing other subjects and expertise.

    I believe what you’re learning right now with Ustadz Zhul is the deeper meaning behind Fardhu Ain, and not as a primer in your Muslim life now (im just assuming, if you’re a Muallaf, welcome! :)). For some eg Muallaf, children etc, if they’re attending Ustadz Zhul’s course on Fardhu Ain as the first step towards other knowledge, then ALHAMDULILLAH, im very sure their shaksiah as Muslims will be strengthened insyallah (Ustadz Zhul’s Fardhu Ain courses ARE different from the mainstream ones that only teach it as a subject!).

    Correct me if im wrong, but it seems from the above post is that, Fardhu Ain is the ONLY life-long course you should pursue and the ONLY one that we need. To remain as a steadfast Muslim who knows his place, yes, but as a knowledgable one, no. How do you progress if you keep asking and taking Fardhu Ain courses all the time? Dont you learn anything from all Fardhu Ain courses such that you need to take them again and again?

    My question is, if you’re already equipped with the basics of being a Muslim and understand its laws, rituals and practices and the history and meaning behind them, what is wrong with pursuing a course in anything else (in this case, Psychology?) as long as its not forbidden, haram knowledge?

    Im surprised that without even knowing what psychology is, you can comment on how secular it is. Btw, brother Abdul Halim and Ustadz Zhulkiflee also teaches and exposes us to Philosophy albeit an Islamic one. If you have taken Philosophy in NUS (I did 2 courses in it, brother Halim graduated with Honours in it), it is as un-Godly a subject as it is (even making reference on how God does not exist in this world or have an equal – Descartes’ Meditations On 1st Philosophy). Do note that the secular origins and works of Philosophy (Greek) are preserved by Islamic scholars (read Al-Farabi, Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd just to name a few) themselves and expounded and advanced to fit into the Islamic model!

    I believe Psychology and other branches of human-centric fields can be fitted within the Islamic framework, and I believe Ustadz Abdul Rahman is doing that with psychology insyallah. Granted, if you were to probably take Social Science or Psychology within the secular realm found in most universities, you cant even explain how Rasulullah saw became what he is. Every theory in them then breaks down. Like all knowledge, a holistic approach is needed and in turn, an Islamic one.

    And also just curious, how do you categorise something like Engineering and Computer Science then?

  10. Assalamualaikum wr. wb.

    Abdullah: Thanks for your input and for agreeing with me.

    Fadzuli: Your questions are very very misleading. You do not understand that Psychology as conceived in the west is of a totally different paradigm. So it is meaningless to work for “fitrah” to be put into their textbooks on Psychology. We not only have one concept i.e. fitrah missing here. It is not about particular concepts. It is about a whole paradigm! I think if you take Brother A.Halim’s course on Tasawwur Islam you will know better.

    For your info, I have studied Psychology but I do not claim to know everything about the subject but I know enough to say that it is definitely based on Western, secular perspective which always contradicts the Islamic perspective.

    Yes I maintain that psychology is not high as a priority in Islamic knowledge. What is high in priority is Fardhu Ain – Abdullah has agreed, Luqman has agreed and if you read the Ihya and other books on Islam you will also know. Your question asking for a dalil is really something you should go out and find out yourself. Try asking any Ustaz from Pergas…

    I do not know how this conversation has turned into a conversation about Dakwah. Clearly, bro, Fadzuli, you need to clarify what you mean by Dakwah. Is the organiser of the course doing dakwah for the Muslim children in the so-called “Muslim Psychologist” course? If so, something is wrong because we don’t do “dakwah” to our own children! Please go to Ustaz Zhul’s blog an-nasehah and you will find lots of stuffs on dakwah. I like his piece attacking those who don’t know dakwah and yet are talking about it. He even commented on the so-called Dakwah 2.0 which he describes as “naïve”.

    Luqman: You are asking questions that are already answered. First Fardhu Ain is compulsory. Other knowledge is fardhu Kifayah and so when one’s knowledge of Fardhu Ain is reasonably achieved, one can and should proceed with Fardhu Kifayah… We are in agreement with this. BUT I am saying that and Abdullah agree, for children and teens we should not teach them fardhu Kifayah and Psychology is one of those knowledge. On top of that we all know how Psychology as conceived conventionally is totally secular and western.

    BUT Fardhu Ain is to be deepened through out one’s life! I am not saying that only Fardhu Ain is like that though… And as for Engineering and Computer Science, well these are obviously not Fardhu ‘Ain…

    As for Philosophy… well we are not talking about some event purporting to teach Muslim children to be Philosophers are we? Instead we have here “Muslim Psychologists” and for kids/teens! As for brother A.Halim I think he has to speak for himself. But I have spoken to him and found out some very interesting things about him. While it is true that he studied Philosophy, he is the first in Singapore to do research on Islamic Philosophy at Honours and Masters level at NUS. How did he manage to do that? You have to ask him 🙂 On top of his qualifications, it is clear that he has a strong Islamic Tasawwur to be able to teach it so well at Pergas that some other Ustazs and Ustazahs want to know what is it that he is teaching! I know for a fact that he is admired by the other Ustazs even though he declines to be called an ustaz himself. His story is fascinating and I really think that he is the exception rather than the rule. On top of that I remember him telling me that we can argue that the early Muslim philosophers “Islamised” what they have learnt from the Greeks. Many would argue that the ancient Greeks were not secular! So your analogy may not work when you compare Philosophy and Psychology…. But since I am not in Philosophy and the subject is really hard, I cannot say much about it. Since you do 2 courses in Philosophy, maybe you know better… I also do not know much about the relationship between Ustaz Zhulkeflee and Brother A.Halim but I know that both are very very knowledgeable but Ustaz Zhulkeflee is not trained in Philosophy like Brother A.Halim.

    As for Ustaz Abdul Rahman, I do not know him and so I cannot say much. All I can say is that I am not questioning him or his education! And also, unlike you Luqman, I DO NOT “believe Psychology and other branches of human-centric fields can be fitted within the Islamic framework”. Again we are talking about a whole different paradigm here… Which is the point I am trying to make!

    Allah and his Messenger knows best!

  11. Syukran Akhi,

    While we do not agree with this, at least we have the same understanding that Fardhu Ain is THE knowledge we and our children have to pursue first, before other knowledge. This is indeed quite obvious to any Muslim but often overlooked.

    And this common understanding is not based on our mere thinking and guesswork, but has been done and taught by our esteemed teachers and their teachers and so on. Its clear: The basics have to be cemented first!

    We hope you have a beneficial course of study with Ustadz Zhulkiflee. We have put up his article on the Da’i at his request and at our pleasure. Do read them!

  12. Salams,

    Thanks for pointing out our weaknesses. As they said, you have to be confused first before you can really learn. Hence its my part to further understand the lessons.

    I hope others who are reading this does not get too overwhelm as some you may see this as too intellectual. However pick it up from here and get to learn from others.

    What is mention above may be right or it may wrong. So the best people to refer to are still the Ustaz or Ustazahs whom have learned this for years.

  13. Assalamualaikum

    Luqman: As I mentioned there are things that we can agree on. Basically what I said is the truth regarding priority of knowledge. Thank you for posting Ustaz Zhulkeflee’s post from his blog for a moment there I thought that he himself posted it 🙂 [It would be nice to have him and people like Brother A.Halim also participating here, don’t you think so?]

    Fadzuli: It is not my intention to point out anybody’s weakness. What I said is clear and truthful and as yet none in this thread have shown that what I said is anything but that…. and yet I was asked questions which are not really relevant and there are insinuations about me that is really uncalled for… Lest this is construed as arrogance, it is not. I am merely pointing out what my concerns are and they are also based on what I have learnt from the Ustazs and those knowledgeable in Islamic studies and yet are sincere i.e. they are not beholden to any worldly authorities. I think Ustaz Zulkeflee’s post only strengthens my position, insha-Allah!

    Even so, forgive me if I have offended anyone.

    Wasalaam.

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