Pre-modern societies put God at the centre and the study of the God was the most important study. People who understood, studied or worshiped that higher power were the elite of the society, the most noble and the most respected of the people, e.g., Pandits in Hindus, Ulema in Islamic tradition. There was focus on the after-life, that everything we do will have consequences in the next life in terms of heaven hell, karma.
So there was a focus on saving one's soul, bettering oneself morally. Taking care of the part of oneself that is inside and that is not physical being rather spiritual entity. The revolution in Europe gave birth to different kinds of philosophies. There was explosion of so many different isms which have few things in common. These are: the focus on the universe instead on God. That is exploring the universe, understanding matter and mechanics, developing physics and chemistry. So whether one believes or not is not important the real important thing is universe. This shift of focus on material is so powerful that the most prestigious people today are those people that hold positions in a particular science. So there is an overwhelming emphasis on science because of its immediate benefits and developments. The focus on here-after-life shifted to this life and to make this life better, advance study of urban development, architecture, sociology, political science, psychology became important. The focus on soul was shifted to the body, so the medicine, physiology, neurology, surgery, i.e., the material part of the human body which is fascinating in itself got emphasized. The spirituality was replaced with modern psychology. The idea of religion being an outdated pre-modern thing is very common now. It is the common atmosphere everywhere in education whatever field we go.
The greatest threat to our worldview comes from the social sciences. Most of the people who end up in these fields become highly agnostics. The influence of psychology is the greatest because it speaks about the nature of man, behaviour, behaviour change which is borrowed and demanded by other fields. Psychology is a hybrid, one leg on the biological and physical sciences and the other on the social sciences. All theories in social sciences are just simplifications of reality. A theory is accepted in social science because of its interestingness and persists even after refutation. But as we are exposed to enough ideas and doubts, that are more than enough to shatter our faith or at least to rattle our foundations in our faith. Freud, the greatest founder of modern secular humanism after the influence of Darwin and the founding father of the Psychoanalysis, famously called as the first force in psychology, declared that religion is a universal obsessional neurosis in his famous work, The Future of an Illusion.
He remarks, "If you want to expel religion from our European civilization, you can only do it by means of another system of doctrines". So the science of psychoanalysis came to expose the delusions of religion. Watson, the founding father of Behaviourism which is regarded as the second force in psychology, believed that man is an animal, different from other animals only in the types of behaviours he displays and regarded the religion, the hereafter, morals, love of children, parents, country and the like something that causes the trouble. He advised psychologists that if they are to remain scientific they must describe the behaviour of man in no other terms than those they would use in describing the behaviour of the ox they slaughter. Obviously, this is the application of Darwin in the field of psychology.
When worldview changes, the ideology automatically changes and accordingly ethical beliefs and behaviours change. The moral ideas of the world are constantly shifting. A society which is based on faith, have a set of values which are revealed by a higher power, therefore they are not subject to change because they are timeless. But when the emphasis shifted, there was no need for the absolute laws anymore. So morality became relative. What was wrong thirty years back is right today and what is wrong today might be right after few years.
We are also going to have serious ethical issues about euthanasia and renting uteruses. When Christianity was in power they were terrible sins. Now it is accepted. We are now being subjected to a more serious kind of ethical onslaught, which is more insidious. Because there is no need of any constant morality, there is a need of something relative, so that as society changes, people should change along with it.
Due to our feelings of weakness we are gradually submitting and accepting the conqueror, which can be simply noticed even in our language. Even if we speak our native language, we speak like an English man. There is no learning of a language without the influence of the culture of that language and gradually people who get into this begin to lose the respect to their own language and this is indeed happening in our community.
In order to establish a worldview, we need heroes, the protagonists and in the western world there are such heroes like Darwin, Freud, Watson, Beck, Ellis, Bertrand Russell, etc., these are the founders of the new religions. We need psychologists, we need to work in groups, and we need to be the leaders not to be political but only to concentrate in giving, keeping and developing our morals. We need to think, what we can contribute as Muslim psychologists. Our role is missing. We are not taking the psychology seriously. When we look at Muslim communities, we have many deep psychological problems and unfortunately we don't know how to treat them. If Muslim psychologists would have researched the contributions of early Muslim scholars, who are really the psychologists, we would have come up with most modern therapies or methods of treatment today. We the Muslim psychologists are discussing the Id and sexuality, just adopting the look-into-the-west approach, copying the western-theory-driven research. It is sad that modern Muslim psychologists are now talking about positive psychology because it has been started in the western world today, but our traditional classical texts are filled with them. We, the Muslim psychologists need to distill those models. We need to create our psychology.
(Eshrat Ara (PhD Psychology) is a Research Scholar from the University of Kashmir)