Chapter Three (Religious Spiritual Cure )
Behavioral Miracle in the Quran and Sunnah
The Glorious Quran includes many scientific allusions and facts discovered by modern natural sciences of physics, astronomy, geology, biology and others. All of which prove that the Quran is a miracle from the Creator of this universe, which made man contemplate on Allah’s creations around him. What confuses me a lot is that many Moslem scholars disregard the fact that what is mentioned regarding the scientific miracle of the Quran only focuses on the studies and researches of natural sciences. It disregards other facets of this miracle found in behavioral sciences such as: psychology, sociology, anthropology, psychiatric treatment, and behavioral reforming in modern psychiatry.
Behavioral miracle is worth studying through comparing the conduct of Allah’s Messenger (PGBUH) in reforming behavior according to modern behavioral psychology and its fields of application, while aiming at the society’s welfare. Also through comparing what is mentioned in the Quran regarding reforming human behavior, and the models and applications set by the prophet. All this proves that the Quran is from Allah, the All-Knowing of the human psyche which He created. Modern studies, which are based and acquired from the environment, prove that the rules of repetition, comparison, and connectivity play a crucial role in forming the individual’s behaviors despite the part played by heredity, genes, and biological factors. All these factors, however, is the result of one’s surroundings and is acquired during childhood. They are also the result of positive or negative support of the parents, relatives, teachers, and models that with which the individual identifies himself and imitates.
Allah, the Almighty, taught the prophet (PGBUH) and was his model from where he acquired the sublime conducts and elevated behavior, despite the fact that he lived in an environment that supported negative and emotional habits, in addition to the fact of being illiterate.
Studies and experiments related to clinical behavioral psychology proved that man is never capable of creating a behavior and custom that does not exist in his original environment. His limited ability can not establish this huge system of behavior rules and change well-established behaviors in his psychological and neurological bases. Man often fails to change the behavior of one of his children or even make his own self relinquish a nasty habit. Then how can this man change the behavior of a whole nation.
The teachings and practical guidance of the prophet (PGBUH) with which he changed his surroundings can not be those of an ordinary, simple man raised in a poor environment where people know nothing about proper human manners.
History indicates that any change in the behavior of any people in a short time can only happen with the use of violence or even tyranny, in which case many people are subject to unjust practices. All revolutions that managed to change societies in just a few years were characterized with strict regulations and harsh rules which destroyed anything that stood in their ways. Islam, however, applied justice and fair deal among people. It supported the weak and the oppressed, liberated slaves, and spread compassion and peace among the society members. Before the advent of Islam, the Arabs were pagan people where polytheism and violence prevailed. However in a few years, after the age of prophet hood, the society turned into a pious and a civilized one. How the behavior patterns and practices of the people did change in such a short period, and how were they able to get rid of their aggression and hatred and learn tolerance and forgiveness? How did they change from greediness and covetousness into generosity and liberality? How did they manage to quit drinking and get rid of their bad characteristics such as tale bearing, defamation, and the ridicule and mocking of others? How did these bad and nasty behaviors turned into good and sublime ones? Undoubtedly, these facts denote a miracle which took place over a short period of time and affected a massive number of people, which is unprecedented in human history.
The prophet (PGBUH) managed to establish peace among the conflicting and warring tribes whose behavior was a barbarous and bloody one. These turned into consolidated groups whose relationships were governed with law, regulations, and fine emotions of love and compassion.
Methods of behavior reform revealed in the Quran and practiced by Allah’s Messenger accords with the recent results of the studies and researches of psychology and the biology of man’s neurological system. They constitute a miracle and a scientific challenge, as well as a basis for an Islamic methodology of reforming human behavior. This methodology can be used in the various fields of psychological health and the treatment of social and psychological problems. It can also be of benefit in social reform through releasing the forces of the human mind tied with the psychological conflicts that stick us to retardation and stagnation.
Following are methods of behavioral reform mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah (prophetic tradition) which constitute a scientific miracle according to modern researches and scientists’ studies:
First: The Prophet’s Personality and Assertiveness
Assertiveness is asserting one’s self and the ability to highly and effectively express thoughts and emotions. This concept gained its scientific importance as a result of the studies conducted by the American scientist Salter in 1994. He indicated the importance of assertiveness as a personal feature or trait like introversion and extroversion.
Similarly, the scientists Wolpe and Lazarus also denoted a few years earlier that this characteristic can lead to a high degree of psychological health through proper training. Through studying this trait, it would be possible to understand and treat the psychological and social problems. Thus, a large number of scientists created programs capable of developing and training this ability.
Assertiveness is more than just a social skill to express oneself and to defend personal rights. It has other meanings including the skill to behave wisely according to the needs of each situation. The individual who wants to acquire and practice this skill should have productive and positive character traits. Dolard and Miller denote that it requires long-term training since childhood time and from one’s environment. For example, repetitive connections of stimulants and responses that eventually forms a group of habits or regular response methods that the individual has learned over the years from the people around him and supported by his environment.
Studying the behavior of Allah’s Messenger (PGBUH) in the different situations indicates the concept of assertiveness as defined by modern studies. It is a combination of social skills, wise defense of rights, tolerance, compassion, and gentle preaching. However, his knowledge and positive behavior are not from the people around or his environment. Then, from where did he get his learning? Only Allah taught him all that as well as the skills and capabilities that were not found in his aggressive and violent community. Indeed this is a true miracle.
One of the bases of assertiveness, which is the right method for psychological health, is what is being said by the prophet (PGBUH). He said: ” No one should be an idle person who says: ‘ if people do well, I will do well and if they do badly then I will do the same”’.
The prophet embodied self-confidence, strong faith and fixed belief. Ibn Abbas narrated that Allah’s Messenger (PGBUH) said: ” He who causes Allah’s resentment to please people then Allah will be resentful with him”.
The Moslem should ignore other people’s follies and criticism when he refuses to follow the wrong path. He should rather express his opinion without fear or blame, and follow his right path, having strong confidence in Allah’s Help and Support.
Second: Reforming Behavior through Meditation
The behavioral miracle of the Quran and Sunnah is that it accords with modern psychological studies and treatment as well as human behavioral reform. It also agrees with the schools of ”Cognitive Behavioral Therapy”, established by Aaron Beck and that of ”Rational Emotive Therapy”, established by Albert-Ellis, and well as others. It revealed many of the false assumptions of the traditional schools of psychoanalysis. Most modern trends depend on changing the wrong beliefs and concepts by reforming the individual’s behavior.
The psychologist, Kanfer, who works in Illinois University claimed that reforming human behavior depends mainly on mental and intellectual factors. Wolpe asserted that positive changes in behavior are often the result of assertiveness that includes a change in one’s thinking method and his estimation of things. He also stated that the individual’s fears are, in most cases, exaggerations and distortions of one’s reality. The above diagram indicates relation between cognitive events, mood changes and behavioral changes. It is a connected circular relation that includes neurological circles, which controls the body’s neuro-endocrine activity. The Glorious Quran calls upon man to think, meditate, and learn; this approach was adopted by the prophet (PGBUH) in his thought and in his behavior.
The Quran’s first verse calls upon man to learn and ”Read” and also to think and contemplate. Allah says: ”Do they not reflect in their own minds? Not but for just ends and for a term appointed, did God create the heavens and the earth, and all between them”; and ”As also in your own selves: will ye not then see?”.
The first thing Allah taught Adam (Peace be upon Him) was the names of things ”And He taught Adam the nature of all things”. Modern studies indicate that learning the names means to know the concepts and symbols of things and to be able to thinking impartially. This is the most important step of learning to think using analysis, comparison, differentiation, decision making, and problem solving.
Third: Modeling and Assimilation
Allah’s Messenger (PGBUH) used overt modeling in his life situations, which could be one of the reasons that the Quran was revealed in accordance with the events and situations that represents the best and most effective methods of teaching. The prophet represented the right model and symbol through his correct behavior and sound conduct in all contexts. He also made use of imaging, embodiment, imagination, narration, sayings, as well as oral and practical proofs to explain the educational situations. These facilitate the learning process and help the individual change his behavior and relinquish bad habits.
That allowed Moslems to learn through observation which is one of the methods of learning and behavior change mentioned in recent studies. This includes the study conducted by Albert Banadora and the researches of the theorists of ”Social Observational Learning”.