You are currently viewing KCS Session 2: A Glimpse into the Living Islamic Tradition: Reading Abū Zayd al-Balkhī and Imām al-Ghazalī in light of Modern Psychology

KCS Session 2: A Glimpse into the Living Islamic Tradition: Reading Abū Zayd al-Balkhī and Imām al-Ghazalī in light of Modern Psychology

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This is the second session in the 6-session Khalil Center Educational Series

Presented by Recep Şentürk and Asim Yusuf

This program, when attended in its entirety, offers 1.5 APA CEs for Psychologists and other professionals, and 1.5 BBS California CEUs for LPCCs, LPSWs, and LMFTs

Workshop Description

This presentation will provide attendees with an exposure to the richness of the Islamic intellectual heritage as it pertains to human psychology, pathology and its treatment. The Islamic intellectual heritage is a long-standing living tradition whose scholarly works have been underexplored within contemporary psychology. The scholarly works, and in some cases scholarly exchanges between Muslim scholars contributed to the diversity of Islamic intellectual discourse in addressing the physical, metaphysical and rational branches of knowledge. These conversations demonstrated the intersection between theology, law, philosophy, medicine and spirituality contributing to the abundance of literature related to human cognition, behavior, emotions and spirituality despite the absence of a distinct field of psychology.

With a growing modern interest in Eastern philosophies and medicine, the Islamic tradition in this presentation is presented as an illustration of diverse perspectives that can enhance the field of modern psychology. A reading of two very notable Islamic scholars’ contributions to human psychology, ontology of the human psyche and its treatment by drawing directly from their treatises will be discussed.

Firstly, Abu Zayd al-Balkhi, a 9th century polymath will be used as a sample of a medically oriented treatise that discusses preventative behavioral medicine and cognitive techniques as interventions for the treatment of mood disorders and Obsessive-compulsive disorders. In fact, the seminal publication of Sustenance of the Soul by the polymath al-Balkhī is one of the earliest documented manuscripts specific to mental and spiritual health (al-Balkhi,2013). Awaad and Ali’s (2016) comparative analysis yielded a complete convergence between the current symptomology for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V) and Abu Zayd’s original manuscript. A comparative analysis will be provided with regard to the applicability and utility of his proposed theories of human psychological treatment as well as cognitive interventions in light of modern empirical evidence.

Secondly, a presentation of the psychology of the 12th century polymath, Imam Al-Ghazalī, will be provided as a sample of a more theologically and Sufi oriented treatise on psycho-spiritual reformation. Al-Ghazalī’s ontology of the human psyche and principles of change presented in his ‘revival of the religious sciences’ will be outlined. Al-Ghazalī’s discussion of the mind-body relationship will also be extracted from his writings as a proposed integrative working model of how to faithfully harmonize and integrate cognitive neuroscience with metaphysics. Additionally, Imam Al-Ghazalī’s principles of change and interventional mechanisms will be highlighted as proposed psychospiritual strategies for mental heath treatment.

Learning Objectives:

After attending this introductory-level workshop, participants will be able to:

– Demonstrate a stronger understanding of Muslim culture and the Islamic faith and be able to utilize this knowledge to provide more culturally competent psychotherapy.

– Assess the applicability of certain therapeutic interventions or modalities in their suitability for Muslim populations

– Integrate Islamic spiritual concepts into psychotherapy.

– Provide psychotherapy to Muslim patients within an Islamic context

– Describe Islamic concepts, culture and Islamic scholarly contributions to human psychology

Professional Bio of Recep Şentürk , Ph.D., President & Professor at Ibn Haldun University

Prof. Dr. Recep Şentürk completed his undergraduate education in the Faculty of Theology at Marmara University (1986). Then he did his postgraduate degree in Sociology in the Faculty of Letters at Istanbul University (1988) and became an assistant in the same department (1988-1989). He pursued his PhD in Sociology at Columbia University, New York (1998). Between 1998 and 2007 he was researcher at the Center for Islamic Studies (İSAM). He has been the director of the Alliance of Civilizations Institute (ACI) since it was founded. In addition, he has been the general coordinator of the Istanbul Research and Education Association (İSAR) in Istanbul for seven years (2009-2016). Currently, he is the president of Ibn Khaldun University (IHU) in Istanbul.

He did research on human rights as a visiting scholar in the Faculty of Law at Emory University, Atlanta (2002-2003). He continued his research on human rights as a guest of the British Academy in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law at Oxford Brookes University, and he lectured on the same topic in various universities in the UK (2005). He is married with four children and speaks English, Turkish, Arabic, Persian, French, and German.

He published articles and books in various languages, among which Turkish, English, and Arabic. Some of the titles of his published works are Civilization and Values (ed. 2013), the Mehmet Akif Ersoy Quran Translation (ed. with Cüneyt Köksal, 2012), Open Civilization: Towards a Multicivilizational Society and World (2010), Consumption and Values (ed. 2010), Economic Development and Values (ed. 2009), Ibn Khaldun: Contemporary Readings (ed. 2009), The Sociology of Turkish Thought: From Islamic Law to Social Sciences (2008), Islam and Human Rights: Sociological and Islamic Approaches (2007), Malcolm X: A Struggle for Human Rights (2006), Malcom X: Al-Sīra al-Dhātiyya li Qā’id al-Muslimīn al-Sūd fī Amrīkā (Arabic translation, 2006), Narrative Social Structure: Hadith Transmission Network 610-1505 (California: Standford University Press, 2005), Introduccion a la Ciencia del Hadiz (Spanish translation, 2008), New Sociologies of Religion (2004), Modernization and Social Science: The Example of Turkey and Egypt (Istanbul, 1996).

Professional Bio of Asim Yusuf, M.D, Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and a practicing psychiatrist

Dr. Asim Yusuf, MD is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and a practicing clinician with a special interest in Mental Health and Spirituality. He is acknowledged as one of the leading figures in Islamic psychological studies in the UK. He received twenty years of rigorous theological training, and has been granted ijazat (formal religious authorizations) to instruct students in the art and science of Islamic thought by over thirty scholars from four continents. He is an authorised Shaykh of the Chishti and Qadiri spiritual orders, and has been teaching traditional Islam for nearly two decades, including an ongoing complete read-through of the Ihya Ulum al-Din of Imam Ghazali.

Program Standards and Goals  

This program meets APA’s continuing education Standard 1.3: Program content focuses on topics related to psychological practice, education, or research other than application of psychological assessment and/or intervention methods that are supported by contemporary scholarship grounded in established research procedures.  

This program meets APA’s continuing education GOAL 3: Program will allow psychologists to maintain, develop, and increase competencies in order to improve services to the public and enhance contributions to the profession.  


Awaad, R., & Ali, S. (2015). Obsessional disorders in al-Balkhi’s 9th century treatise: Sustenance  of the body and soul. Journal of Affective Disorders, 180, 185-189.  

Awaad, R., Elsayed, D., Ali, S. & Abid, A. (2020). Islamic Psychology: A portrait of its  Historical Origins and Contributions. In H. Keshavarzi, F. Khan, Ali. B & R. Awaad. Applying Islamic Principles to Clinical Mental Health Care: Introducing Traditional Islamically Integrated Psychotherapy. New York: Routledge.  

Keshavarzi, H & Ali, B (2018). Islamic Perspectives on Psychological and Spiritual Well being and Treatment. In H. S. Moffic,, J. Peteet, A. Hankir, R. Awaad, Islamophobia & Psychiatry: Recognition, Prevention, and Treatment. Switzerland: Springer.  Psychotherapy.  New York: Routledge. 

Keshavarzi, H., Khan, F., Ali, B. & Awaad, R. (Eds.) (2020). Applying Islamic Principles to  Clinical Mental Health Care: Introducing Traditional Islamically Integrated  Psychotherapy.  New York: Routledge. 

Rothman, A. & Coyle, A. (2020). Conceptualizing an Islamic psychotherapy: A grounded theory  study. Spirituality in Clinical Practice. American Psychological Association. Advance online publication.   


Target Audience: Any mental health or heath care practitioner engaged in therapeutic care and interested in furthering the discussion about evidence-based practice. Graduate students are welcome.  

Psychologists. This program, when attended in its entirety, is available for 1.5 continuing education credits. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is committed to accessibility and non-discrimination in its continuing education activities. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is also committed to conducting all activities in conformity with the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles for Psychologists. Participants are asked to be aware of the need for privacy and confidentiality throughout the program. If program content becomes stressful, participants are encouraged to process these feelings during discussion periods. If participants have special needs, we will attempt to accommodate them. There is no commercial support for this program nor are there any relationships between the CE Sponsor, presenting organization, presenter, program content, research, grants, or other funding that could reasonably be construed as conflicts of interest.  

MFTs, LPCCs, and LCSWs. Course meets the qualifications for 1.5 hour of continuing education credit for MFTs, LPCCs, and/or LCSWs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. If you are licensed outside of California please check with your local licensing agency to to determine if they will accept these CEUs. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is approved by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) to offer continuing education programming for MFTs, LPCCs, LEPs, and/or LCSWs. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is an accredited or approved postsecondary institution that meets the requirements set forth in Sections 4980.54(f)(1), 4989.34, 4996.22(d)(1), or 4999.76(d) of the Code.  

Other Non Psychologists. Most licensing boards accept Continuing Education Credits sponsored by the American Psychological Association but non-psychologists are recommended to consult with their specific state-licensing board to ensure that APA-sponsored CE is acceptable.  

Participation Certificate. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is able to provide students and other participants who simply wish to have documentation of their attendance at the program a participation certificate.  

*Participants must attend 100% of the program in order to obtain a Certificate of Attendance.  

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology maintains responsibility for this program and its content.