Islam, in general, has three dimensions – Islam, Iman, and Ihsan, or law, theology, and spirituality. In other words, it may be said that the foundations of Islam are submission, faith, and spiritual perfection (Spevack, 2012). The first dimension is based on five pillars of ritual and practice of the Islamic religions such as the comprehensive belief in and worship of Allah and his Messenger Muhammad, praying five times a day in a particular condition of mind and at particular times, fasting during Ramadan, giving more than two percent of stoned wealth to those in need, and once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca. These pillars deal with the control of a human body. The second dimension, Iman, controls the mind and contributes six primary beliefs such as the faith in the one and only God, Allah, his messengers and prophets, divine books, angels, the Day of Judgment, and destiny. This dimension defines what is the way of thinking of the true Islamic believer.
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Finally, the third dimension, Ihsan, is about the perfection of faith. It is the very essence of Islamic spirituality as it teaches that one should worship Allah as if he or she sees him, and even if not the nature of worshipping should be such as if Allah is watching every individual and knows about every deed and thought. It can be reached only by “purifying the soul of base traits such as lying, envy, pride, and arrogance and adorning the soul with meritorious traits such as patience, reliance on Allah, sincerity, and love of Allah” (Spevack, 2012, p. xxvi).
One can achieve the state of perfect spirituality by remembering Allah that means knowing most of his names, reading Quran, praying, etc., keeping to the master-disciple model of relationships with a spiritual guide, and struggling against the egotistical part of one’s self, i.e. fasting often and leading a simple style of life with the strive for helping others. This dimension is about controlling the souls of the believer.
The significance of Islamic spirituality, Ihsan, cannot be underestimated because it is the way of reaching internal and external peace and harmony. Intrinsic peace is with the one’s self, his or her body, mind, and soul. Extrinsic harmony is with everyone surrounding the believer with a focus on mutual help and understanding. Because the believers of Islam have faith in the eternal soul and life after death, it is the Islamic spirituality that helps them reach peace in eternity and life (Abolfathi Momtaz et al., 2012). Moreover, it is significant because it teaches people to have faith in Allah and destiny that is why it helps them take life as it is with all its hardships and injustice as well as the moments of beauty and joy.
There have been many researches focusing on investigating whether spirituality and religiousness help reach psychological well-being even bringing to life such an area of science as the psychology of religion. The result of most of them is that the higher the level of a person’s spirituality is, the higher is the level of his/her psychological well-being. It should be said that when we speak about mental well-being, we refer to overall happiness, seeing meaning in life, actualizing one’s potentials, self-esteem, etc. (Kashdan & Nezlek, 2012).
There is one more approach towards defining it separating six components of psychological well-being including “self-acceptance, personal growth, purpose in life, positive relations with others, environmental mastery, and autonomy” (Joshanloo, 2011, p. 917). In this paper, I will try to adapt the principles of Islamic spirituality to the dimensions of psychological well-being mentioned above. It should be stressed, however, that I will consider the case of spiritual perfection, the state of reaching the maximum levels of the principles of Islamic spirituality.
Because believers of Islam have faith in destiny and that everything they have is sent from Allah, and they deserve it, it can be said that they accept themselves and their lives the way they are. Moreover, they have the purpose in life and see it in worshipping Allah and keeping to all other principles of Islam because it is the only way to reach eternal peace and harmony. As of personal growth, it is easy to reach it if an individual follows all the rules. The only issues here are the dimensions of environmental mastery and autonomy. Because Islamic spirituality is a set of strict rules, the one who has chosen to follow them, can feel a little bit limited in these two areas as they surrender themselves to the will of Allah and destiny.
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On can speak about the positive impact of Islamic spirituality on mental well-being very long but it is better to point some statistical data that proves the hypothesis. Abolfathi Momtaz, Hamid, Ibrahim, Yahaya, & Abdullah (2012) conducted a study in which they analyzed the selection of almost 1,500 older Muslims, who suffered from chronic diseases. The authors have proved that those who lived in conformity with the principles of Islamic spirituality namely giving their lives in the hands of Allah and surrendering themselves to worship him were less stressed and more content. The reason for this finding is that they believed that Allah some purpose for them and that physical death is not the end of life but just a transition towards eternity. So, it is proved that Islamic spirituality has a positive impact on the state of the mental health of true Islamic believers.
Abolfathi Momtaz, Y. A., Hamid, T. A., Ibrahim, R., Yahaya, N., & Abdullah, S. S. (2012). Moderating effect of Islamic religiosity on the relationship between chronic medical conditions and psychological well-being among elderly Malays. Psychogeriatrics, 12(1), 43-53.
Joshanloo, M. (2011). Investigation of the contribution of spirituality and religiousness to hedonic and eudaimonic well-being in Iranian young adults. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12(6), 915-930.
Kashdan, T. B., & Nezlek, J. B. (2012). Whether, when, and how is spirituality related to well-being? Moving beyond single occasion questionnaires to understanding the daily process. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38(11), 1523-1535.
Spevack, A. (2012). Ghazali on the principles of Islamic Spirituality: Selections from the forty foundations of religion – Annotated & Explained. Woodstock, Vermont: Skylight Paths Publishing.