(Edited by Shahid Athar , M. D.)
The "Holy Qur'an And The "Psyche"
Tariq I. Hamdi, M.D., & A.M.H. Al-Jadiry, M.D.
This is an aspect of the contribution made by the Holy Qur'an' to the
field of Psychology and the allied sciences.
Current Psycho-dynamic hypotheses and concepts, especially the freudian and the post freudian, have been looked for in a number of verses which
were thought of to carry in their contents numerous incidents of such
It has become obvious from the analysis of the various verses that the
'Holy Qur'an' had tackled Psycho analytic schools developed.
The revelation of the 'Holy Qur'an' to Mohammed, the last prophet to
the people, had marked the birth of the Muslim's world.
The'Holy Qur'an' through its impact upon the mentality and the spirits
of the people , had transformed the heterogenous tribes of the people, had
transformed the heterogenous tribes of the Arabian Peninsula in to a great
nation. It had extended east and west and stimulated the establishment of the
earliest Islamic civilization which supplied science and various sorts of
knowledge to many regions of the world (Rodwell, 1933)
Islam fought illiteracy and learning, moreover, it enhanced the development of humanitarian codes for communication.
The 'Holy Qur'an, however, was not a mere book, but a strong living
voice addressed primarily to the Arabs. As a book it came to existence after
the Prophet's death through the efforts of the third Caliph of the Mustim's
Orthodox era 'Uthman'.
In addition to being a religious book, it also covers legal, social,
educative and humanitarian codes that had provided the Islamic nation with
all the sound principles for the development of their community. It may be
viewed as a comprehensive encyclopedia to serve humanity in every respect
The reference index concerning what has been written about the 'Holy
Qur'an' is a condensed one, digging through will entail unlimited efforts.
Apparently, the literature written on the 'Qur'an" is devoid of a
specific reference to the contribution made to the psychodynamic development of personality and the related psychological processes.
Throughout our reading of the 'Holy Qur'an' we have been attracted to
a large number of verses in which the Arabic word 'Al-Nafs' is mentioned.
Its sense depends upon the structure of the verse. Among which the meaning
intended to convey is the sense of 'Psyche or mind '.
Direct or indirect indications to other psychological matters such as
'Instincts, Id, Ego and Super-ego' had also been mentioned.This has driven
us to explore as much of the psychodynamic assumptions and concept as
possible and to present it in a brief way with the intention to advocate for
the fact that 'Holy Qur'an' is an early reference that had contributed
adequately to the central themes of the freudian and post freudian schools.
This might motivate the students of dynamic psychology to exploit such
information in their research to find out other psychologycal realms in it;
expecting that this would help them to come up with answers for the
insoluble obscurities of the psyche from its psychological context.
'Holy Qur'an' contains 143 verses that encompass the Arabic word
'Al-Nafs'. All these verses were analysed to extract the various meaning of
The word Al-Nafs' referring to the 'mind or psyche' is found in 28
These have received special attention in this study. Few of these verses
were quoted for the purpose of this study. A brief definition of the psychodynamic concepts: Psyche, Id , ego and super-ego have also been given.
The word 'Psyche' according to the Oxford dictionary , means the
spirit, soul or mind;Thus it corresponds with the Arabic word 'Al-Nafs' and
its various senses. Hereby we give few examples of such verses:
1. "Nor need I swear by the self- accusing soul."
2. "O thou comforted soul return into thy lord, well-pleased and well
3. "Verily, every soul has a guardian over it."
It is also useful here to mention few verses in which the word Al-Nafs
conveys the sense of the individual or person: These verses however
were not included.
4. "But no soul shall earn aught save against it-self."
5. "And kill not the soul, which God hath forbidden save by eight."
6."Said she, 'My lord' verily, I have wronged myself..,"
The 'Instinct' is defined as an inborn condition which imparts direction
to psychological processes; The sex instinct, for example, directs the
psychological processes of perceiving, remembering and thinking toward
the goal of sexual consummation (Hall, 1954). No special mention is made
of the word instinct in the'Holy' Qur'an' directly while it has been pointed
to the instinctual built of the psyche in a number of verses as:
7. "Yet Ido not clear myself for the soul is very urgent to evil. "A pleading
of inability to resist such instinctual drive.
8. "Had we pleased we would have given to every soul its guidance. " It
points to the fact instincts can be channeled into another direction.
9. "For thus my soul induce me."
That is to say such instinctual impulses drove me to behave so. Freud's
concept of personality is that it consists of three provinces: the 'Id', 'Eco'
and 'Super-ego'. These operate and interact with each other and with the
environment. When they form a unified harmonious organization the
person is 'mentally healthy'. The person is said to be 'mal adjusted' when
these systems are not working coordinately (Hall, 1954).
The 'Id' is a latinized derivation from Groddeck's (1928) 'das Es' (The
It) it is held to be the reservoirs of psychic energy or libido and is fully
developed at birth. It is also described as amoral, egocentric, ruled by the
pleasure-pain principle and considered, as the seat for the instincts. (Sim,
1974). Here, again, we ought to point out that though there is no particular
mention of these 3 constricts in the'Holy Qur'an' the evidence which point
to them are ample, especially the verses that deal with 'Id':
10. "And the soul and what fashioned it, and thought it its sin and its piety."
It means that the Id is born with the individual and that every individual
is equipped with good and bad instinct. At the same time it has been declared
in other verses, that the instinctual character of the 'Id' may be modified or
moulded as in the following verse:
11. "But as for him who feared the station of his lord, and prohibited his soul
from lust, verily, paradise is the resort!"
Here, also behavioral approach towards the person (reinforcement of
good intentions) is evident. This verse is one example that contains various
psycho-social points which include:
- Social approval of good behavior
- The 'Instinctual' characteristic of the 'Id.'
- 'Instincts'which can be modified by the'Super-ego'(fear of God).
- Behavioural method of approach, that is to say the incentive for
good behavior is the heaven (The technique of 'positive reinforcement'). Moreover, the following verses also point to the 'Id' and its
12. "Yet I do not clear myself , for the soul is very urgent to evil".
13. "But if a bad thing (befall) they say this is from thee."
14. "For thus my soul induced me."
15. "And the soul and what fashioned it, and through it its sin and its piety."
External forces can influence the 'Id' and mould it in any shape as in this
16."Had we pleased we would have given to every soul its guidance."
The 'Id' impulses are modified by the 'Ego' which tests reality and
deals directly with the external and internal environment. The 'Ego' is
considered as largely conscious logical and has moral standards (Hall,
1954; Sim 1914). From the following verses direction to the 'Ego' can be
17. "For no soul shall be obliged beyond its capacity."
18. "God will not compel any soul beyond what he has given it."
These point to the defamed capacity and the threshold of tolerance
of the 'Ego'.
The following verse bears indication to the Ego and Super-ego as well:
19. "And every soul shall come -with it a driver and a witness!"
The driver here corresponds with the freudian 'Ego' and the witness
with the super-ego. The Ego's defense 'projection' which prevents the ego
from disintegration, is obvious in the following verse:
20. "Nor need I swear by the self accusing soul."
Another psychological description of the Ego appears in this verse:
21. "O Thou comforted soul......."
In the following verse we find an indication of obsessionality traits:
22. "But we created man, and we know what his soul whispers."
The 'Ego is influenced by the 'Super-Ego' which is the moral or judicial
branch of personality. The 'Super'Ego' primarily considered unconscious.
It is the moral monitor which is responsible for the sense of guilt and a
consequence of a child's assimilation of his parent's standards (Hall 1954,
Sim 1974). T'he 'Super-Ego "received no less attention and clearly demonstrated in the coming verses:
23. "And the soul and what fashioned it, and though it is sin and its piety."
It is meant here that the individual is born two conflicting powers; the
power if 'Id' which is bad and the power of the'Super'Ego' which is good.
The 'Super-Ego' can influence the impulsiveness of the 'ld' as in this verse:
24. "But as for him who feared the station of his lord, and prohibited his soul
from last, verily, paradise is the resort!"
A demonstration of how the 'Super-Ego' acts as a Supervisor is shown
in this verse:
25. "Read thy book, Thou art accountant enough against thy self today!'
We already have mentioned the following verse which engulfs an
indication to the "Super-Ego'
26. "And every soul shall come -with it a driver and a witness."
The witness here is the 'Super-Ego'. The same thing applies to this
27. "Verily, every soul has a guardian over it."
This is a mere presentation of fact, which if presumably unattended to
before, to attract the intention to it.
We are now at threshold of the immense realm of psychology and the
allied sciences in the 'Holy Qur'an'; hoping that those who are interested
in this particular field will conduct further research to find out other aspects
of the 'self'.
1. Abdul-aqi, M.F. (1945) The indexed Dictionary of the Name in the
'Holy Qur'an' (Arabic) PP. 710-12 (Beirut).
2. Brown,J A C. (1961)Freud & the Post Freudian, PP. 28-29, 68-71,
penguin book, (London)
3. Groddeck, G.D. (1928) The book of the IT. New York: Nervous &
Mental Diseases Publishing Co.
4. Hall, C.S. (1954) A primer of Freudian Psychology. PP. 22-49, A
mentor book, The New American Library, Ncw Jersey.
5. Palmer, E.H. (Tran .) (1954) The Quran, Oxford University Press,
6. Rodwell, J.M. (Trans.) (1933) The Koran, PP. 1-18, J.M. Dent & Song
7. Sim , M. (1974). Guide to Psychiatry, 3rd Ed., PP. 32-33, Churchill
Livingston, Edinburgh & London.
*Prof. Tariq 1. Hamdi, M.D.F.R.C. Psych., D.N.P. Professor of Psy-
chiatry & Neurology, Depi. of Neuro-Psychiatry, Medical College,
Mustansiriyah University, Baghdad.
**Dr. Abdul-Monaf H. Al-Jadiry, M.B., Ch.B., M.R.C. Psyth., D.P.M.
Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry & Neurology, Dept. of Neuro-Psychia-
try, Medical College, Baghdad University.
7. Body Built:
Encouraging all sports as swimming, running, horse riding,wrestling.
Discouraging obesity and idolness and big bellies.
8. Matemal and child care:-
Orders to care for pregnant and lactating mothers, and considering care
for children equivalent to Gihad "fighting for religion".And death
during delivery equivalent to Shihada "death for religion".
9. Occupational Hygiene:
Orders to care for manual workers and servants and treating them well,
giving them good housing and enough salaries and wages and medical
Islam was Ist to given orders for care of seniles.
11. Protocol for Practice of Medicine:
- No man should treat a patient unless he is authorized.
- Prayers alone cannot cure disease.
- Patients should consult doctors, etc...
12. Idiological Medicine:
Close connection between idiology of religion and medical orders a sort
A Moslem cannot pray to his God unless he is cleanly, washing his face,
hands, feet, etc....
Throwing garbage in the street, spitting on the floor, micturition in
water sources as considered as sins.
This combination between religion and Hygenic orders gives the
medical order a kind of scaracy and complete obedience.
These are some aspects of Islamic Medical Constitution. If they are
strictly followed in 20th century in any country they will create an ideal
Presented at 12th annual Convention of the Islamic Medical Association, Sept., 1979, Dallas, Texas.