Early Muslims wrote extensively about human nature and called it ilm-al-nafsiat or self-knowledge. In many cases, their works seems to be original ideas for many modern day psychological theories and practices. What is interesting, however, is that a lot of what the early scholars wrote was blended with Islamic philosophy and religious ideas. They studied and cultivated their knowledge from the roots of the Quran and concepts taught to them by Allah and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to expound the human personality and psychology in detail.
Although the term 'psychology' did not exist at that time and such endeavors were mostly a part of philosophical writings. In writings of Muslim scholars, the term Nafs (self) was used to denote to individual personality and the term fitrah for human nature. Nafs encompasses a broad range of topics including qalb (heart), the ruh (spirit), aql (intellect) an irada (will). Many Muslim scholars directly or indirectly contributed to the study of the 'self'.
One might ask, why is it necessary to explore the contributions of Muslim scholars who lived centuries ago and how such contributions are relevant for the present time. There are in fact, several benefits from this endeavor. Today's Muslims are generally oblivious of the rich legacy of their ancestors whose contributions were generally based on Islamic knowledge was guided by Divine injunctions and thus believed to be free from human errors. In the area of psychology, we also find that it was the early Muslims scholars who originated many psychological theories and practices prevalent today.
I will be starting series of ''Contributions of Early Muslim Scholars and Psychology" to enrich our long lost history!