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

October 22, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm CDT

Khalil Center Educational Series
Session 2:
A Glimpse into the Living Islamic Tradition: Reading Abū Zayd al-Balkhī and Imām al-Ghazalī in light of Modern Psychology
Thursday, October 22nd, 2020
Presented by Recep Şentürk and Asim Yusuf
Event held online via zoom. Link to access zoom will be sent 24 hours prior to event.

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

This six part educational series is presented in partnership by the Counseling Psychology Department at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, The Khalil Center and IBN Haldun University.

Please see website for more information on individual sessions and continuing education.
Live Event Registration Fees:
General Admission (single session): $20.00

General Admission (6-Session package): $90.00

TCSPP Faculty/staff/Alumni: Free

Khalil Center Staff: Free

TCSPP/IBN Haldun/Khalil Center Students: Free

Other-Student Admission (single session): $10.00

Other-Student Admission (6-Session Package): $45.00

Refund Policy:100% of tuition is refundable up to 48 hours before the program. Within 48 hours of the program, tuition is nonrefundable.

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

Workshop Schedule:

12:00pm – Event Begins

1:30pm – Event Ends


1. al-Ghazali, A. M (2010). Marvels of the heart. (W. J Skellie, Trans.). Louisville, Kentucky: Fons Vitae.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Badri, M. (2013). Translation and annotation of Abu Zayd al-Balkhi’s Sustenance of the Soul. Richmond, VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought.

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

6. Keshavarzi, H. & Haque, A. (2013). Outlining a psychotherapy model for enhancing Muslim mental health within an Islamic context. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 23, 230-249.

7. 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.

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


October 22, 2020
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm CDT
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