ASSOCIATION OF PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSISTANCE TO MUSLIMS
The Association of Psychological Assistance to Muslims (APAM) was created in Russia on 29 September 2017, at the first scientific-practical conference “Islam: psychological stability as the basis of personal and social well-being”, which took place in Moscow.
The Association is an all-Russian organization that deals with solving problems of practical, empirical, theoretical and educational nature. Psychological counseling for Muslims is a professional psychological assistance, which relies on the knowledge about the peculiarities of the client’s faith significant to his personality. These are religious beliefs, religious language, sacred stories and legends, ritual practices, traditions and customs of Muslim peoples.
29 September 2017, the first scientific-practical conference “Islam: psychological stability as the basis of personal and social well-being”, Moscow.
The intensive development of Islamic thought in Russia and the needs of Muslims have led to the necessity of establishing a professional psychological community whose activities are related to maintaining Muslims’ psychological health.
In order to generalize the practical experience and theoretical knowledge about the psychological characteristics of Muslims accumulated in the regions of the Russian Federation by psychologists, teachers, imams, theologians, philosophers, Islamic scholars and ethnographers the Association of Psychological Assistance to Muslims (APAM) was established.
As the unified coordinating centre, it provides systematic professional and spiritually oriented psychological assistance to Muslims.
Goals and objectives of the Association of Psychology Assistance to Muslims:
The APAM aims to coordinate the activities of all interested specialists (psychologists, imams, teachers, etc.) in the development of the psychology of Islam as the applied field of the psychology of religion for the successful resolution of the actual psychological problems of Russian Muslims and the provision of spiritually oriented psychological assistance.
In it practice APAM is based on the scientific legacy of the great Muslim scholars: Abu Zajd Al-Balhi, Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariya ar-Razi, Abu Hamid al-Gazali, Ibn Kaiim al-Dzhauziiya, as well as modern Islamic psychologists M. Badri, B. Riyono, G. H. Rassool, M.М. Amer, A. Utz, M. Daneshpour, Sh. Ijaz, M. T. Khalily, I.Ahmad, C. York Al-Karam, R. Skinner and others.
There are five main objectives of APAM activities:
1. Study, identification, generalization of advanced Russian and foreign Islamic and psychological experience accumulated in the field of the psychology of religion
2. Provision of network interaction of specialists in different areas in the complex work on implementation of various programs and directions of the Association, positive experience exchange of the regions of the Russian Federation
3. Realization of programs of professional development of specialists through courses, round tables, seminars, scientific and practical conferences
4. Development, adaptation and definition of optimal psychological methods, forms and methods of spiritually oriented psychological assistance to Muslims
5. Provide timely professional psychological assistance to Muslims, taking into account and applying Islamic knowledge through means of various forms and methods of work, including the helpline.
The example APAM scientific activity is an annual conference of science and practical work “Islam: psychological stability as the basis of personal and social well-being” or round tables on the most critical issues, as well as refresher courses and seminars, webinars and online discussions. It’s important to carefully select research tools and interpret results of an empirical research accurately, since the vast majority of modern psychological methods for studying religion, religious identity and religious fundamentalism are created for a Christian research sample or consider religion from a secular point of view. In this regard, the methods must be adapted for the Muslim research sample and when interpreting the results, the Islamic view of a Muslim person should be taken into account.
The APAM in Russia aims to solve the problem of applying scientific approaches to the psychological counselling of Muslims. For a deep understanding of the psychology of a Muslim and the implementation of psychological counseling in the Islamic paradigm, it is necessary to rely on the ideas of the personality development that have been formed in Islam.
Psychologists, who share the religious views of their clients, use sources of the psychological stability of believers in the fundamentals of faith.
Second All-Russian Scientific and Practical Conference with International Participation “Islam: Psychological Stability is the Basis of Personaland Social Well-Being” Subject of the conference: “Islam: A Conscious Choice or Following the Tradition?”
In spite of theoretical issues, APAM provides different research. Association scientists study the accumulated Russian and foreign experience both in the field of the psychology of religion in general and in the field of the psychology of Islam, also the contribution of Muslim scholars to the development of psychology is studied.
Research work includes the following approaches:
1. Analysis and study of Russian and foreign experience in the field of the psychology of religion.
2. Correlation of existing knowledge and experience in the field of psychology with the canons of Islam.
3. Conducting scientific psychological empirical studies aimed at studying the psychological characteristics of Muslims.
4. Analysis of the results of domestic and foreign empirical research for the implementation of scientifically based psychological assistance by Muslims of the Russian Federation.
The Association pays great attention to the development of scientific activities in Russia. For this aim, empirical studies are conducted, with their results published in the international peer-reviewed journal “Minbar. Islamic Studies "and in the Association’s journal "Islam: personality and society".
There are some examples of exploratory topics:
• Spirituality as a source of individual resilience: results of the psychological study.
• The End of Life Concept and its Development among Russian Children (aged 6 to 8 years).
• Conversion to Islam: Its Motives and Consequences Through the Looking Glass of Social and Psychological Research.
• Value Orientations of Muslim Youth in the North-Western Caucasus.
• The Role of the Perceptional Aspect of Communication in the Professional Activity of a Muslim Cleric.
• Islamic Psychology: from the monotheistic paradigm to a personality theory.
• Psychological Counseling for Muslims: the Analysis of Foreign Literature.
• Religious Group Identification and Ethno-National Attitudes in Buddhist, Muslim and Orthodox Youth.
Association’s journal "Islam: personality and society"
The logical continuation of the chosen line of development for the Association becomes Educational and methodical activity. It is important to improve the professional qualifications of specialists through courses, round tables, seminars, scientific and practical conferences.
We suggest the following subjects:
1. Development and creation of educational programs and manuals aimed at developing and improving the professional competencies of specialists.
2. Organization and conduct of refresher courses, webinars for psychologists, teachers, imams and other interested specialists.
3. Consultation and support of specialists in the implementation of the programs of the Association of Islamic Psychologists.
4. Development of methodological guides on the psychology of Islam for regional centres of psychological assistance, madrassas, educational institutions.
5. Publication of the results of conducted research in the scientific peer reviewed journal «Minbar. Islamic Studies», the scientific and educational journal «Islam: personality and society».
Another perspective vector of development is Master’s Program “Psychology of the East: Ethnicity, Religion and Intercultural Communication” based on the educational platform of Moscow State University of Psychology & Education (MSUPE) is one of the top universities of psychological and pedagogical studies in Russia. Founded under the initiative of the Moscow Government, the University trains high qualified specialists in the field of education, healthcare and social protection. Apart from getting a strong theoretical foundation, the students of the University acquire necessary practical skills by working in psychological centers and educational institutions.
In 2019, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education in cooperation with the Association of Psychological Assistance to Muslims have created a Master’s programme “Psychology of the East: ethnicity, religion and intercultural communication”.
The programme aims to train psychologists in the field of cross-cultural communication with representatives of the East, taking into consideration their ethnic and religious characteristics. Geographically, it mainly focuses on the Middle East, East Asia, Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Ural-Volga region.
Presentation of Master’s programme “Psychology of the East: ethnicity, religion and intercultural communication”, 20 february 2019, Moscow
The Association provides the educational program for further training called “Psychological counselling to Muslims”. The main goal of this program is to form the following competencies:
1. The knowledge of religion and religious consciousness (the concept and components of religious identity, individual psychological characteristics of a person, which can influence the choice of a destructive sector trend, types of religious manipulations and others).
2. Cross-cultural psychological competencies (knowledge about the specifics of the ethnic culture of Muslim clients, which has a significant impact on the nature of psychological assistance).
3. Methodological competence in the field of psychological counselling (theability to make qualified judgments, form hypotheses, test, make decisions in each situation, achieving results). This program introduces work in such approaches as systemic family therapy, gestalt method, existential approach and monodrama capabilities.
4. Differential psychological competence in determining client’s psycho type and individual organization level. Psychological counselling for Muslims is a professional psychological assistance using knowledge about the peculiarities of the client’s faith that are significant to his personality. These are religious beliefs, religious language, sacred stories and legends, ritual practices, traditions and customs of Muslim peoples.
Сompletion of study programme on "Psychological counselling to Muslims”, 26 December 2019, Kazan
The main disciplines of the course “Psychological counselling of Muslims» are:
• Introduction to Islamic Psychology;
• The development of Islamic psychological thought in the Russian Federation;
• Fundamentals of religious identity (analysis of the psychological aspects of faith);
• Methods of studying religious consciousness;
• Psychology of fanaticism. Destructive sects (theory, practice);
• The radicalization of women in modern society;
• The main directions of work with people in destructive sects;
• Ethnic and cultural specificity of a Muslim client;
• Counselling of parent-child relationships in Muslim families (age-related psychology in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah, the dif erence between religious education and religious breeding, the responsibility of parents in matters of upbringing, practical techniques for working with children and parents);
• Systematic family counselling for Muslim families (including the main types of violation of beliefs that lead to dysfunctions, working with divorce facts,with married couples, practical techniques);
• Gestalt approach in psychological counselling of Muslims (the basis of the
method, practical techniques for work);
• Work with dreams in the practice of a Muslim psychologist;
• Islamic view of the monodrama method. Monodrama as a tool for a psychologist;
• The concept of “cleansing the heart” as part of the Ghazali teachings. Definition of the concepts of “ruh” and “nafs”. Types of nafs.
Mostly all APAM activities are practically oriented. It includes:
1. Approbation of various psychological technologies with reliance on religious aspects (Islam).
2. Carrying out the events (training, master classes, round tables, discussion meetings, counselling, etc.) aimed at socialization and adaptation of Muslims in modern society.
3. Carrying out the activities aimed at rehabilitation of Muslims who occurred in difficulties.
4. Psychological rehabilitation of those who experienced extremist propaganda, recruitment, as well as those who entered extremist organizations.
5. Working with Muslim prisoners, especially susceptible to extremist propaganda.
6. Coordinating and searching specialists needed creating a special database of Islamic psychologists.
7. Online psychological counselling through the website islampsiholog.ru.
There is a very specific area of activity provided by the Association. It is Muslim Psychological Aid Association Hotline Phone. The first call to the Hotline took place on March 27, 2018. During the year and a half of the hotline operation, 306 calls were received from different regions of Russia, as well as from Turkey, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the USA, the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Saudi Arabia. Here is some statistics to make a picture clear. Out of the total number of calls, 77.6% come from women and 22.3% from men. 62.2% receive instant psychological assistance, 37.8% of calls are redirected to the Association’s specialists, who provide assistance both online and offline. The age of those who seek psychological help is from 23 to 65 years.
Requests for psychological assistance are received on the phone, as well as through e-mail, different kinds of messengers and social networks.
One of the most important issues is that APAM provides Psychological assistance to Muslim migrants. For modern Russia, the solution to the migration problem is one of the basic priorities. The Association’s specialists are implementing the project called “Socio-psychological adaptation of migrants in a metropolis” the purpose of which is to adapt migrants to live in large cities dealing with the difficulties in integration, as well as reducing conflicts in communities where ethnic groups of different origin come into contact.
The Association of Psychological Assistance to Muslims conducts work among migrants and has qualified specialists in various regions of the Russian Federation. Our specialists have knowledge and experience in the work with representatives of different ethnic groups professing Islam.
Implementation of the project “Socio-psychological adaptation of migrants in a metropolis” allows to:
• provide regular psychological assistance to Muslim migrants on a free basis. It contributes to the harmonization of inter-religious and cross-cultural relations, reduce the confrontation between society and migrants;
• improve the psychological state of migrants, which will contribute to successful adaptation and socialization in the new region of residence;
• form skills of positive self-presentation in a new region of residence based on positive cultural, ethnic, religious features of the social group in which the migrant previously lived, together with a new host country culture. Specialists participating in the project have higher professional education and experience in the field of psychology, pedagogics, medicine (neurology); theological (Islamic) knowledge, knowledge of the psychological characteristics of the cultures of Central Asia; have experience of communication with migrants from Central Asia.
1. The formation of the psychological adaptation of migrants to a new cultural environment.
2. Formation of intercultural interaction skills.
3. Informing migrant communities about the possibility of receiving psychological assistance and adaptation in the metropolis by solving psychological problems.
4. Educational work among migrants which aims to explain the need to comply with the law and theological justification of the importance of compliance with Russian laws.
5. Informing specialists and government agencies about the specifics and content of work with Muslim migrants from Central Asia.
Implementation will contribute to the socio-cultural adaptation of migrants, reduce the risk of extremism and radicalism, prevent religious extremism and domestic conflicts, and develop intercultural communication skills. The combination of psychological and theological work will allow for an integrated approach to the problem of migrant integration.
The Association of Psychological Assistance to Muslims attaches great importance to interaction with religious organizations: The Spiritual administration of Muslims in various regions of Russia, Islamic educational institutions, and mosques. This activity is carried out in various directions.
1. The joint provision of psychological and theological assistance to Muslims.
2. Lectures on Islamic psychology for imams.
By the invitation of the Spiritual administration of Muslims of the Russian regions, as well as Islamic educational institutions such as The Bulgarian Islamic Academy, the Russian Islamic Institute, the Moscow Islamic Institute many psychologists of the Association participate in training courses for imams. Lectures on various psychological topics are very popular among religious figures.
Subjects of lectures and workshops for imams:
• Islamic psychology: theoretical foundations and practical implementation;
• The importance of psychological knowledge in the work of religious leaders;
• Psychological stability as the basis of spiritual and moral self-improvement of a person;
• Practical work of an imam and psychologist with Muslims;
• Psychology in Islamic enlightenment;
• Fundamentals of family psychology for imams;
• Psychological causes and prevention of religiously motivated extremism;
• Psychological aspects of de-radicalization and re-socialization of adherents of extremist and terrorist ideologies;
• External and internal religiosity: causes, manifestations, technology of work;
• Conflict free communication techniques for imams;
• Training imams to work with Muslims with experience in the use of psychoactive substances (drugs).
3. Psychological assistance to religious leaders. Imams, being in constant contact with Muslims, often experience great stress and problems of emotional burnout in their activities. That is why imams need psychological technology to relieve emotional stress.
The association offers the following topics of psychological workshops for imams:
• Psychological stability of a religious figure;
• Application of the procedural method of psychology in the work of religious leaders;
• The role of self-regulation and mental relaxation in religious activities;
• ART therapy in the Islamic environment: the transformation of destructive feelings into creative ideas;
• Psychodrama through the prism of Islam: Sharia-approved therapy formats.
The Association of Psychological Assistance to Muslims works closely with foreign experts in the field of Islamic psychology. For example, in October 2018, the specialists of the Association took part in an international conference in Istanbul, where the International Association of Islamic Psychology was established. There we met with experts in the theory and practice of Islamic psychology from many countries of the world and three specialists from Russia became members of the International Association of Islamic Psychology.
The most important aspect of the Association activities in Russia is the interaction with the International Institute of Islamic Thought, which we carry out through the Idrak Public Association (Baku, Azerbaijan). In October 2019, the association’s specialists took part in the III Forum of CIS Scholars from Revealed Knowledge and Social Sciences Faculties “Islamic Intellectual Thought in the CIS Countries: Past, Present and the Way Forward” in Istanbul. The main idea of the IIIT activity on the integration of scientific knowledge and Islam expressed by the Secretary-General of IIIT Forum Dr Omar Hasan Kasule: “Muslims should be part of a science and develop their approaches to an intellectual heritage, thus the integration of a common civilizational heritage and Islamic values is necessary”.
Together with the Idrak Public Association, in 2019 we published in Russian a book by the famous Muslim scientist of the 9th century Abu Zayd al-Balkhi’s “Sustenance of the Soul: The Cognitive Behavior Therapy of A Ninth Century”. It became very popular in Russia and throughout the Russian-speaking space immediately.
One of the most important stages in the development of the Association of Psychological Assistance to Muslims in Russia is the collaboration with the International Association of Muslim Psychologists and our esteemed colleagues from Indonesia. In October 2018, President of the International Association of Muslim Psychologists Dr Bagus Riyono and Dr Phil. Emi Zulaifah, (M. Sc. Vice Dean of the Faculty of Psychology, Social Science and Humanities of the Indonesian Islamic University; Indonesian Representative of the International Association of Muslim Psychologists in Indonesia) attended the Second All-Russian Scientific and Practical Conference “ Islam: Psychological Stability is the Basis of Personal and Social Well-Being ” in Moscow. Dr Bagus Riyono delivered a lecture at MSUPE Islamic Psychology as a fundamental and integrated approach in psychology.
In July 2019 8 scientists from Indonesia and students from Islamic University of Indonesia (Yogyakarta) took part at the Third All-Russian Scientific and Practical Conference with International Participation “Islam: Psychological Stability as the Basis of Personal and Social Well-Being”. The reports of Indonesian experts made a great impression on the conference participants.
Dr Bagus Riyono and Dr Phil. Emi Zulaifah took part in the XVI European Congress of Psychology in Moscow, where the symposium “Psychology and Religion” was held for the first time, which discussed issues of Christian and Islamic psychology. This issue is very important in the context of the Christian (Orthodox) highest level psychologists’ activity in Russia.
The most important stage of the cooperation was signing an agreement between MSUPE and the International Association of Muslim Psychologists. Due to this fact, there is an opportunity for students and members of the Association of Psychological Assistance to Muslims to participate in an educational programme in Islamic psychology at the Indonesia Islam University (UII).
In conclusion, we would like to mention the practical importance of APAM activities. It is aimed at carrying out measures for the prevention and detection of extremist tendency, preventing intra-family and interethnic conflict situations, as well as for carrying out educational activities aimed at harmonization and successful personal development of Muslims.