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Role of Muslim Scientists and Theorists in the Development of Psychology

Many Muslim scholars have contributed to the knowledge of psychology, and they have explained human behavior and different aspects of psychology. We will explain every Muslim scientist in detail.

Al Ashath Al Kindi (801-866)

He was a prominent philosopher and Muslim scientist who contributed to psychology. Al Ashath Al Kindi is known in the west by the Latin name Alchendiu. Al-Kindi was born in Baghdad, and he was an Iraqi Muslim philosopher. He has written more than 230 pieces of literature in the field of philosophy and also contributed a few related to psychology.

His prominent psychological studies were Sleep and Dreams and the Eradication of Sorrow. He was the first Muslim philosopher who explained the term “sorrow”. For him, sorrow is spiritual grief that is caused by a state of disappointment, distress, and suffering. He considered visible pain as curable. He believed that our soul can only get satisfaction when it gets rid of worldly desires and it will seek intellectual treasures. He was also an idealist. He believed that our senses sometimes deceive us and we can lose the things which are gained through our senses.

He cured depression through cognitive methods. Considering the idea of free will, he defined the soul. He derived his ideas of the soul from Platonic and Aristotelian ideas. He extended the Platonic and Aristotelian ideas of the soul and he made a distinction between the lower and upper worlds. He believed that the lower world comprises the physical being, the body, creation, matter, and form that are finite, and the upper world is comprised of divine nature, soul, and intellect. He believed that we cannot capture God in intellect and human image and this idea led to “negative theology.”

Ali Ibn Sahl At-Tabari (838-870)

At-Tabari belonged to Persia and he was a physician. During his early life, he converted to Islam. His writings and pieces of literature mostly focused on the topic of child development.“Firdaus al Kikmah” was considered his famous book on the medical field and discussed psychotherapy. At-Tabari stressed the requirement of “psychotherapy” for effective and thorough healing. He believed that many illnesses, like the illness due to delusive imagination can be cured through psychotherapy. Patients can be cured through proper medical treatment and counseling. At-Tabari was the first who revealed the importance between medicine and psychology.

Abu Zaid Al-Balkhi (850-934)

He also belonged to Persia. He was a Persian Muslim mathematician, physician, scientist, and geographer. He was the first one who defined medical psychology. Al- Balkhi was the first one who made a distinction between psychoses and neuroses. He characterized the neurotic disorder and explained the importance of the usage of rational and spiritual therapies to cure specific disorders.

Al-Balkhi characterized neuroses into four emotional disorders: fear, anxiety, depression and sadness, aggression and anger, and obsessions. He suggested balancing between body and mind if we want good health and want to prevent illness. He characterized depression as sadness—normal depression—reactive depression and endogenous depression. Endogenous depression derives within the body while Reactive depression derives outside of the body.

Abdu Bakr Mohamed Al-Razi (864-932)

Al-Razi was a Persian Chemist, Physician, and philosopher as well. In the west, he was renowned by the name Rhazes. He was a pupil of At-Tabari and he worked on the ideas of psychotherapy. He mostly encouraged the physicians to make a positive relationship with patients, because it will lead to quicker recovery. He was a professional in psychosomatic medicine, prognosis, and anatomy. He wrote many pieces of literature on the measure of intelligence. “Kitab Al-Hawi” was the famous and longest book ever written in Islamic Medicine and In the West, he was known as a medical expert up to the 18th century. Al-Razi was famous for his book named “Al-Tibb Al Mansuri” which focused on medicinal healing art. In his book “Al-Tibb Al-Ruhani” he discussed and explained the treatment of psychological and moral ills of the human spirit.

Abu ‘Ali Al Husayn Ibn Sina “Avicenna” (980-1037)

Ibn Sina was a Persian physician and he was well-known in both the western and eastern worlds. His Latin name is Avicenna, and most people know him by this name. He was not only a physician but he also contributed to mathematics, philosophy, chemistry, and the recent field of psychology. He unified the philosophy of Aristotle and Plato philosophy with Islamic theology.

He divided the field of knowledge into theoretical and practical knowledge. He focused on the soul, and he adopted the idea of Aristotle about three types of soul i.e., animal, vegetative, and rational souls. He believed that the animal and vegetative soul connects humans to earth, and the rational soul connects humans to God. He believed that animals and human share five senses, but human has given a distinctive ability which is reason, and due to this ability, human connects to the divine.

He believed that humans own seven internal senses which influence the outer senses. Ibn Sina also developed musical therapies to cure mental illness. He had a firm belief in the connection between body and mind. He also suggested that humans can overcome physical ailments by convincing themselves that they can get better. Many researchers also consider this idea as free will. Ibn Sina contributed hugely to the field of psychology, particularly to the modern field of clinical psychology.


Muslim scientists and theorists had comprehensively explained psychology through Islamic fundamentals and linked this knowledge with the knowledge of famous philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates. Al-Kindi has beautifully explained the state of sorrow and its eradication. According to him, satisfaction is achieved through detaching oneself from worldly desires. At-Tabari has given the idea of psychotherapy and considered it a cure for many illnesses. Al-Balkhi contributed to medical psychology and proposed spiritual and rational therapies to cure the neurotic disorder. Al-Razi worked on psychotherapy and had given treatment for moral and psychological problems. Avicenna explained the connection between body and soul and suggested that humans can connect to the divine through reason. All these philosophers contributed to major fields of psychology.

Picture Credit: Ijtihad

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