This is according to Hojat-ol-Islam Hamid Rafiei Honar, speaking at a psychology forum held recently at the University of Tehran.
Excerpts from his address at the forum are as follows:
In 2000, an article was published in the 8th volume of the Encyclopedia of Psychology by the American Psychological Association (APA), in which the author discusses the start of psychology in Islam and says there is news coming from Iran that some researchers have begun activities to study Islamic teachings in psychology.
Since 2010, there has been growing interest in Islamic psychology. An Islamic psychology lab was founded at Stanford University and it defined 12 research lines, one of which studies the history of Islamic psychology. They have so far identified 150 Islamic manuscripts related to the issue and are working on them.
There is also a center in western United States, in California, named Khalil Center that has launched an Islamic psychological center and holds courses on Islamic psychology. In the East Coast of the US, there is Alkaram Islamic Psychology Institute in Virginia. It holds online Islamic psychology courses in cooperation with George Washington University. Some of our students have taken the course, in which the theory of Mulla Sadra on Nafs is taught.
In Europe, too, similar centers have been founded, including an International Association of Islamic Psychology in Britain that organizes conferences and forums on Islamic psychology. In London, the Cambridge Muslim College offers an online diploma in Islamic psychology. There have also been centers for Islamic psychology research in Germany as well as one of the universities in the Netherlands. Such centers have been established in Muslim countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey, too.
What is the reason for this interest in some countries in Islamic psychology? This has to do with the link between religion and health, or between religion and psychology. Today it is emphasized in the world that one cannot ignore the effects of religion on man’s mind. In a research about the link between religion and depression conducted by a number of American researchers in 2013, 444 previous studies were reviewed and the result showed that the more religious one gets, the speedier will be the treatment of depression.
What happened that the American Psychological Association came to the conclusion that there is a correlation between religion and psychological health? The analysis of the 444 previous studies conducted with scientific methods tells us that there is a tight link between religion and health. There have been mediator variables identified in this area, including styles that religion offers for tackling stress. Another one is providing emotional and social support for religious people and the third one is the meaning that religion gives to people that helps them deal with depression and resolve psychological problems.