Psychiatry / Psychology in Islam

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Did you know that the first mental wards were actually founded in Muslim countries?

During the early Islamic era, many hospitals were founded. Where did this idea of care in an institutionalised manner come from?

Ibn Sina, the founder of modern medicine, was of the opinion that mental disorders are physiologically based. From this, the first psychiatric Bimaristan was founded in Baghdad, Iraq in 705 CE by Razi (one of the greatest Islamic physicians). This was the first of its kind.

Mental illness in Islam

According to al Razi, mental disorders were considered medical conditions, and were treated by using psychotherapy and drug treatments.

Muslim physicians termed psychology as a separate branch in medicine. From then on, they would refer to it as ‘‘ilaadj un-nafs’ (the treatment of the soul) or ‘tibbul-qalb’ (medicine of the heart). These physicians wrote about many mental diseases like anxiety, depression, melancholia, epilepsy, schizophrenia, among other mental illnesses.

Physicians from Islamic countries during the late Middle Ages enjoyed great respect. Their reputation was well deserved, for the study and practice of medicine was then led by Muslim societies across immense territories, which extended from modern-day Spain to Iran.

In Islamic cities which largely benefited from drier, warmer climates, hospitals were set up to encourage the movement of light and air. Patients’ dietary inclinations were taken into consideration, and where possible, accommodated into their treatment.

This level and system of support was both in accordance to the accepted medical theory and praxis of the time and its synthesis with Islamic morals and ideals, a system of medicine incorporating a balance of spiritual, physical, and mental care.

“Today, it seems that modern medicine lacks both a heart and a soul.”

Today, the secular practice of medicine, especially in the field of mental health care and treatment has found that religious beliefs can benefit and support a person’s recovery.

But is that conclusion satisfactory? Does it lead to adequate and substantive care and treatment? Do mental health patients recover and rehabilitate as part of the process or endlessly repeat a series of non-effective procedures? Today, it seems that modern medicine lacks both a heart and a soul.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. I found this very interesting that it has been part of Muslim culture for centuries to take care of mental health by acknowledging the heart and soul and wholistic health. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. Yes sister, a very eye opening article! Islam started a vast range of healthcare to mathematics (the concept of zero was invented by Muslims). Muslims throughout history gave played a great part in the growth an advancement of all earth’s people.

    Yet I feel that due to the loss of faith over time, Muslims have become lazy and unproductive in the present. Our beloved prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him), set us guideline to how we should live and die, but we just can’t see it anymore.

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  3. Modern medicine couldn’t compare to the love and quality it had in the beginning. Jzk for giving me insight into what the people of early Islamic era had to offer and share.
    The treatment of the soul and medicine of the heart!

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  4. “Today, it seems that modern medicine lacks both a heart and soul” wow.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article, jazakAllah 💙

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