Chapter Three (Religious Spiritual Cure )
Practical Applications of the Prophet’s Method
During the last years, a large number of studies and experimental researches indicated that human behavior can not be changed through moral guidance and virtue advice. Despite their importance, their actual effect in changing thought and behavior patterns is limited unless they are related to long lasting practical applications. This is quite true in our present time where speed, haste, and mental confusion prevail due to the effect of cultures and behaviors coming from the east and west. The present situation is that of imbalance and inability to identify proper objectives and attempting to achieve them. This indicates the fact that the aspired positive change can hardly be achieved through sermons and theoretical lectures not related to the real world. For that would make people live in an endless pattern of duplicity and contradictions. Behaviors and customs last and become relatively fixed through practical methods and applications capable of turning moral concepts into stable patterns of behavior. These behaviors should be based on positive concepts and beliefs, which are supported and rewarded by the society, in order to last.
The advices and teachings directed to youngsters quickly evaporate from their minds due to mental distractions, life stresses, unclear vision of future goals, and the satellite stimulants world wide. Thus, changing thoughts, discarding negative ideas, and adopting sound and positive behavior patterns, can only be achieved through practical applications and training of modern Islamic behavior sciences.
The Quran and prophetic tradition include an enormous number of practical behavioral models and applications as to how to behave in life’s different situations and stresses, and under the varied social and psychological conditions. Thus it is necessary to study and analyze these models and behavioral skills and practice them. Also new sciences studying and dealing with behavior patterns need to be set according to the needs and conditions of the present age, and within experimental scientific methods of thinking.We need to benefit from psychology, psychiatry, social and psychological medicine, and rules of behavioral sciences. In addition to that, a training should be provided on behavior amendment, and using the rewarding method to fix the desired behavior patterns and positive habits.
The prophet (Peace and Grace be Upon Him) and earlier messengers introduced great behavior models in life’s different situations which are mentioned in the Sunnah (Prophetic Tradition) and our religious heritage. These behaviors should be restudied to set a kind of behavioral models that analyze and study behavior skills. This should include not only the speech and the wordings- which are quite important- but also the skills and steps of behavior according to the accompanying circumstances. There are a number of means to learn the different behaviors patterns and fix them to be of use such as learning through modeling, repetition, simulation, means of self discipline, ect. The prophet presented live practical models with an educational nature known in psychology as inherent modeling which is one of the ways of amending behavior in modern psychology.
Undoubtedly, many modern studies and experimental research asserts that human behavior can not be changed once one knew his problem as Freud and the traditional school of psychology used to believe.
Despite the importance of advising, guiding, and instructions, they are not enough to amend behavior or fix the new behavioral patterns and characteristics. It is thus high time to turn from the sermonizing and preaching methods to more modern applicable methods. While amending behavior is difficult, acquiring certain habits is even more difficult. Islam presents a number of effective means in this respect which accords with modern researches and scientists’ views. In his book ”Reviving religion sciences”, Al-Gazali refers to a number of methods in our Islamic heritage that amends behavior. He used the term ”self exercise” to stress the importance of constant practical training to acquire and fix the desired behaviors. For example, he explains how to control anger and learn patience instead through the training which could require faking if necessary for a certain period; the prophet (PGBUH) said: ”Knowledge is achieved through learning and tolerance by being tolerant”. This needs gradually ascending steps while abiding by a strict and continuous system.
Allah’s Messenger (PGBUH) presented practical patterns that recommend social skills and communication which support social harmony and psychological soundness. He used to greet people he met with a smiling face where he used to salute and shake hands with them. In his meetings, he used to pay his attention to those who were present, and he would behave in a humble and modest manner. Allah says in describing His Messengers manners (PGBUH) saying ”It is part of the Mercy of God that thou dost deal gently with them. Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee”.
The prophet himself used to repeat to his companions that ”Smiling in your brother’s face is a charity”.
Following is a summary of his distinguished characteristics:
– Smiling in the face of others. There is a western saying ” If you want to live happily, smile in the face of the people you meet.
– Saluting people a lot where he used to start with hand shaking.
– Giving his attention to those sitting and conversing with him.
– Being kind-hearted in dealing with people.
– Saying good words to people without feeling any hatred.
– Training him self on forgiveness and tolerance for they are the keys to happiness, success, and a healthy psychology.