Philosophy of Science in the Quranic Perspective

Creativity, Mystic, Experience & the Present System of Grading

by Dr. Muhammad Jamil Qalander

There has emerged in recent times a new trend in psychology, namely, personalism, initiated by known physiologists like Ab-Raham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Barry Stevens, Earl C. Kelley, Eugene T. Gendlin, John, M. Shlien & Willson Van Dusen, etc., with its emphasis on the ‘emphatic approach’ to the subjective, inward, and personal dimension of the individual. Maslow has criticized Freud’s approach based on the study of sick persons as a criterion for analyzing and understanding human personality – an approach, which according to the former, is retrospective, negative, nihilistic, and lop-sided, and such cannot claim to serve as a healthy paradigm for the prospective, positivistic, and holistic appreciation of the ‘individual’ as a ‘person’. This new trend especially that expressed in Abraham Maslow’s concept of self-actualizing personality, E.C. Kelley’s Concept of fully functioning selfhood, Arthur W. Combs’ concept of personal adequacy, and Carl Rogers’ client-centered psycho-therapy, marks a radical departure from the so-called scientific and popular approaches in psychology. Having joined its forces with existentialism, humanism, sociologism, and environmental science, it not only completes its revolt against these mechanistic approaches but also indicates a deep-rooted crisis within the contemporary western mind disillusion with the hopes it had placed in the modern civilization and culture of the occident.

                Nothing is surprising in this revolt, as it is the natural and logical outcome of the diabolic game of the modern miss urbanization, derealization, depersonalization, externalization, robotization, alienation, and morbid obsession with the “concrete” at the cost of insight into the machines and dynamics of the individual innermost self – all this being, in turn, the consequence of the theory and practice of and education that has cropped up based on ‘trial and error’ or  ‘hit and miss’ approach; it is concerned only with paperwork, grades, degrees and diplomas to the total neglect of one’s real aptitudes achievements. This stereotype, lop-sided and surface and oriented approach, especially its naivety in the matter of its popular and favorite grading system, has been subjected to a searching criticism by the aforementioned trend in psychology.

                Our aim in the expose of this new trend in psychology, dwelling particularly upon its critique of the prevalent grading system, it’s not so much to favor it as to introduce it as indicative of the course taken by the contemporary thinking disgusted with the abuse of the scientific method in social science, which has led to a kind of technocratic in the environment, where in humans have been robbed of their freedom, choice, privacy, shelter, and even scape; they have been thrown into a situation where in, in Schopenhauer’s worlds as quoted by Allama Iqbal, “The world is one perpetual winter” (1) or “Modern man is in search of sole”- the title of one of Carl Gustav Jung’s books, or in the worlds of Quran,” “Corruption and pollution have invaded lands and oceans” (2), and the twin monster of Fear and Anxiety, as well as Frustration and Aggression, have become the ground and figure of human life – all this being a symptomatic expression of the deep-rooted crisis within the contemporary mind.

Personlogistic Concept of Man:

                John Macmurry (1956) in his book: The Self as Agent approaches the issue of the self from a philosophical viewpoint; he says aptly;

  • The Reconstruction of the Religious Thought in Islam, p.81
  • Sura al-Rum 30:41

“Modern philosophy is characteristically ego-centric …… it takes the self as its starting point, and not God, or the world or the community ….., the self is an individual in isolation, an ego or ‘I’, never a 2’. One wonders if somebody notices in this view a partial replica of Allama Iqbal’s concept of ‘ego’, which he defines as ‘free personal causality’ exhibited in the ‘ element of guidance and directive control is the ego’s activity ‘(2).

                In the first phase of the present philosophical thought, the self has been conceived on “ the analogy of the material world”, i.e., in terms of physical events or chemical processes, while in its second phase the emphases shifted from the ‘material’ to the ‘living’ since the phenomena of life in general and process of evolution in a particular exhibit of the spontaneous process of “inner self-determination and directed development”, whose major concept is an organism rather than substance. Again there is noticeable a remarkable similarity of the view presented here to Allama Iqbal’s afore-mentioned concept of ego, especially in consideration of John Macmurray’s definition of ‘organism’ as a harmonious and balanced coexistence of difference, and “a tension of opposites” on its purest level (3)– a view which seems to the nothing but the echo of what Allah Iqbal has said; “The life of ego is a kind of tension caused by the ego invading the environment and environment invading the ego. The ego does not stand outside the arena of the mutual invasion” and “at the present stage of its organization it is unable to mention the continuity of its tension without constant relaxation of sleep” (4). In mystic parlance, this ego–tension is a kind of mujhida (continuous inner struggle against odds), which, in the words of

  • P.31
  • The Reconstruction of the Religious Thought in Islam, p.108.
  • John Macmurry, Op. Cit., p.33.
  • Op. Cit, p.102, p.98.

Hazrat Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani, “is an ocean of observation and vision”

  • Macmurry goes on saying;

Since the time factor-like growth, development of becoming – is the essence of life, the full form of the organic is represented as a dynamic equilibrium of functions maintained through a progressive differentiation of elements within the whole. (2)

Life manifests itself in a biological-organismic and psycho-somatic gestalt; it is an existential whole characterized by an inward movement of self-actualization and its tendency is progressive rather than retrogressive, i.e., in its journey of becoming towards being, it is moving away further and further from ‘materiality’ and drawing nearer and nearer to ‘spirituality’. Because of this trend of life, the above writer is optimistic that “the emergence of a scientific psychology would be paralleled by the transition from an organic to a personal” (3) – a philosophy that happens to be the theme of an essay in Carl Rogers book; On Becoming a Person.

The first chapter of Macmurry’s book ends with the following imperative:

We must introduce the second person as the necessary correlative of the first and do our thinking not to form the standpoint of the ‘I’ alone, but of ‘u and I’. (4)

It is this ‘I-Though’ relationship – a relationship with the second person-that is the essence of Carl Rogers ‘client-centered therapy’; it is meeting of ‘self-other’ in an atmosphere of “insight in to, recognition of, and

  • Op. Cit., p.31
  • Ibid, p.37.
  • Ibid, p.38.

And acceptance of self”, wherein a person is discovered as he is, and which forms the basis of the classic room dynamics as well as the warp and woof of Motivation.

                Macmurray says: “The Self is neither a substance nor an organism, but a person”. (1) Rogers ‘theory of personality is grounded in this concept of self, around which his ‘Personal Philosophic’ revolves. Like Abraham Maslow he pours all dignity on men, Carl, Rogers says:

The essence of the deepest part of the therapy seems to be a unity of experiencing. When there is this complete unity, singleness, fullness of experiencing in the relationship, then it requires the ‘out-of-this-world’ quality, which many therapists have remarked upon, a sort of trancelike feeling the relationship from which both the client and I emerge at the end of hour ….. In these moments, there is, to borrow Buber’s phrase, a real I Though relationship, a timely living-in experience, which is between the client and me. (3)

It is in this therapeutic I Though (self-other) relationship that a strange type of unthought learning occurs, the core which is the aspect of SELF-DISCOVERY. Kierkegaard, as Rogers tells us’ views this type of learning as incommunicable, true subjectivity, which Rogers regards as the essence of men. Even in mental heeling through body language, therapists consider self-discovery the ultimate aim of the therapeutic process. It is to this effect that Julius fact fast writes in his thought-provocative book: Body Language

  • John Wild and James M. Edie, phenomenology in psychology and Psychiatry.  P.151.
  • Op. Cit. p.37.

The basic technique of Gestalt therapy, according to Dr. Peris, is not to explain things to the patient, but to provide him with the opportunity to understand and discover him. To do this, Dr. Paris says: ‘I disregard most of the content of what the patient says and concentrate mostly on the non-verbal level, as this is the only one less subject to self-deception. The non-verbal level, of course, is the level of body language. (1).

From the foregoing two important points come to the focus. Firstly, the contemporary thinking in the domain of psychology, psychotherapy, and psychiatry in particular and in the domain of empirical and social science, in general, is struggling hard to get out of the rigid and narrow confines of the classical structuralistic, functionalistic, behavioristic and mechanistic juggernauts so characteristic of the western culture. Secondly, it has moved away from its occidental obsession with ‘IT’(i.e., sense-data and the concrete) and has drawn nearer to our oriental tradition of mysticism with its I-Thou (self-other) relationship in terms of murshid-murid (master-seeker) and with its emphasis on the non-verbal level of this relationship culminating into ‘out-of-body-and-out-of-this-world’ transcendental experience of self-discovery. In the Quran, the story of Khidr and Moses with its three irrational episodes rationally interpreted later on by Khidr symbolizes this kind of relationship so much needed, as supplementary and complementary to the inductive method of learning, to probe and understand the realm of the ‘irrational’. Recently, an explosion of literature in the west on parapsychology, psychic-paranormal phenomena, and occultism indicates that the human mind with its innate urge and curiosity for the ‘unknown’ can no longer be kept imprisoned within a narrow shell of phenomenalism; it is all over human to transcend ‘phenomena’ towards comprehending the realm of ‘noumena’ with its creative and directive intelligent force working

(1) P.173

Behind the show of ‘phenomena’ like a play-back operator. This urge for knowing the ‘unknown’ in the realms of ‘anfus’ and ‘afaq’ has naturally and logically led to the emergence of the Science of Subliminal Self and Trance-empirical Reality, which as the Science of Sciences or the Ultimate Science is known as mysticism or Sufism.

Allama Iqbal who regards mystic experience as a key to prophetic experience says: “Modern psychology has only recently begun to realize the importance of a careful study of the contents of mystic consciousness, and we are not yet in possession of an effective method to analyze the contents of non-rational modes of consciousness”(1). He puts forward a few very important points on the nature of mystic experience:-

  • The first point that deserves attention is the ‘immediacy’ of mystic experience, which means that we do have knowledge of God exactly as we have knowledge of other things.
  • The second point is ‘ the unanalyzable wholeness of mystic experience which brings the mystic “ into contact with the total passage of Reality in which all the diverse of stimuli merge into one another and form a single unanalyzable unity in which the ordinary distinction of subject and object does not exist”(2)
  1. The Reconstruction of Religious thought in Islam, p.17
  2. Ibid, pp. 18-19
  3. The third point worth-nothing is that the mystic state as experienced by the mystic is a moment of close contact with a ‘Unique Other Self’ which transcends, engulfs and fugitively inhibits ‘the private personality ‘of the experiencing subject.
  4. The fourth point is the incommunicability of mystic experience due to its being a realm of ‘inarticulate feeling, untouched by discursive intellect’, which has a cognitive element too, due to which it allows itself to be expressed in thought and translated into categories of understanding.
  5. The fifth point is that during the mystic’s direct encounter with the ‘eternal’ it dawns on him that serial time is unreal, yet he does not part completely with serial time and his mystic state, in regard to its uniqueness, remains somehow in touch with common experience, and it leaves a deep authoritative impression on his personality after it soon fades away. Both the prophet and the mystic come back to the normal states of consciousness, but with the difference that the prophet’s ‘mystic consciousness’ is of the type wherein ‘unitary experience tends to overflow its boundaries and seeks opportunities’ of immense creative self-expression in terms of creating a new world of ideals as well as reorienting or remolding the forces of history and collective life (1)
  6. The six point to note is that the mystic experience, which is not qualitatively different from prophetic experience, continues and shall continue to exist as a ‘vital fact’, for God reveals His signs in both ‘Anfus’ and ‘Afaq’ (the realms of inner and outer experience) regarded by the Quran as sources of knowledge, and it is man’s obligation to explore all avenues of experience, full of knowledge-yielding potential. (2)
  7. The seventh point is that cognitively the domain of mystic experience is as real as any other domain of human experience and cannot be dismissed or ignored simply on the grounds that it is not traceable to sense perception, nor is it logically possible to undo or discredit the spiritual value of mystic experience and state as a revelation of truth by assuming the postulate of psycho-physical parallelism to be true. (3)
  • The eighth point is that mysticism has made a special study of mystic experience and has discovered new realms of the self. (4)
  1. Ibid, pp. 124-125
  2. Ibid, pp. 124-127
  3. Ibid, pp. 23
  4. Ibid, pp. 90