Lecture to 2nd year medical students on 11th March 2000 at the Kulliyah of Medicine, International Islamic University, Kuantan by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule
1.0 THOUGHT, fikr
A. 'Aql In The Qur'an:
B. Intellectual Processes
C. Human Intellect And Morality:
D. Human Intellect And Creativity:
E. Different Interpretations/Judgment:
2.0 SENSORY PERCEPTION, idraak hissi
A. Empirical Observation
B. Pain Sensation:
C. Extra-Sensory Perception, Idraak La Hissi:
D. Revelation, Wahy:
E. Intellectual Processes
3.0 CONSCIOUSNESS, shu’ur:
A. Conscious In The Qur'an:
B. Levels Of Consciousness:
C. Changes Of Consciousness
D. Intoxicants, Khamr:
4.0 LEARNING, and LANGUAGE, ta’allum & lugghat
A. Intellect & Knowledge
B. Knowledge And Learning
C. Learning And Memory
D. Human Language
5.0 DISORDERS OF THE INTELLECT, khalal/shudhuudh ‘aqli
C. Madness, Junoon:
E. Thought Disorders
1.0 THOUGHT, fikr
A. 'AQL IN THE QUR'AN:
The Qur'an mentions intellect with the heart, qalb & ‘aql,
(p. 962 22:46) an indication that the heart may have intellectual functions. The heart mentioned in the Qur'an is an anatomical
structure of unknown identity but we know that the Qur'anic term qalb does not refer to the anatomical heart that we
know. Intellect is often mentioned with Allah's signs, aql & ayaat (p 819-820 2:73, 2:164, 2:242, 3:118, 13:4,
16:12, 16:68, 23:80, 24:61, 26:28, 29:35, 29:63, 30:24, 30:28, 36:68, 37:137-138, 40:67, 45:5, 57:17). This close relationship
is understandable because the signs can only be interpreted and understood by the intellect. Thinking, tafakkur, is
encouraged by the Qur'an (p. 242 6:50, 7:184, 34:46). The Qur'an calls upon humans to think about the signs of Allah, al
tafakkur fi ayat al Laah (p 53 2;219, 2:266, 3:191, 10:24, 13;3, 16:11, 16:69, 30:8, 38:29, 39:42, 45:13). Thinking is
assisted by observation of creation, al tafakkur bi al nadhar fi al afaq (p. 241
3:191, 7:185, 10:106, 29:20, 30;50, 50:6-7, 80:24, 88:17-24). The Qur'an makes it clear that those with intellect, ulu al albaab, understand Allah's signs (p. 170 2:179, 2:197, 2:269, 3:7, 3:190-194, 5:100, 12:111, 13:19-24,
14:52, 38:43, 39:9, 38:17-18, 39:21, 40:54, 65:10). The Qur’an condemns suppression/ misuse of the intellect, dhamm ta'atwiil al aql ( p 818-819 2:44, 2:76, 2;170-171, 3:65, 5:58, 5:103, 6:32, 7:179, 8:22, 10:16, 10:100,
11:51, 12:109, 21:10, 21:67, 22:46, 25:44, 28:60, 29:63, 36:62, 39:43).
B. INTELLECTUAL PROCESSES
CONCEPTUALISATION AND CATEGORISATION:
Human history started with teaching Adam the names of all things (p. 38-39 2:31, 2;33).This is the basis of knowledge and empirical research. By naming things it becomes possible to classify
them and study the relations among different categories. This leads to concept-formation and general theories. Knowledge and
understanding are in essence reducing many observed isolated phenomena to a few explanatory concepts. There is a neuronal
basis for concept-formation and retention of such concepts for future reference in the cerebrum. With more research in brain
physiology we will be able to understand the neurochemical mechanisms underlying these intellectual processes.
MEASURING AND COUNTING:
Human civilization made a great stride forward when humans learned how to count, assign a numerical value to a
quantity. This became more sophisticated when they learned arithmetic, the manipulation of numbers. With the ability to count,
it became possible to order and compare magnitudes of different things in a more precise way based on numeracy. Humans learned
measuring and counting time, weight, and distance. These gave even more impetus to more sophisticated thought processes because
thinking must be anchored in space and time for it to be realistic and useful. Measuring and counting became a tool that provided
humans with definable concepts that can be used in reasoning.
CONCRETE AND ABSTRACT THOUGHT:
Simple intellectual processes involve manipulation of concrete ideas. More sophisticated intellectual processes
involve manipulation of abstract ideas and concepts. Though of children is concrete until the age of puberty when they become
able to reason in the abstract.
The Qur’an has given examples of both deductive and inductive reasoning. The human mind is able to understand
causality and the reasons underlying various events and phenomena. The Qur'an has mentioned reason, sabab, in many instances (p 556 2:166, 18:84-85, 18:89, 18:92, 22:15, 38:10, 40:36-37).
Problem solving is a purposive intellectual process. Islam discourages speculative or hypothetical problems.
Allah endows humans with a wide variety of types of intelligence. There is no single index of intelligence that
can cover all of them.
C. HUMAN INTELLECT AND MORALITY:
The human intellect can not reason out moral issues and be right all the time. Guidance on these matters
should be from the revelation. Normative psychology is not accepted in Islam. For example a certain sexual orientation like
sodomy does not become acceptable just because many people behave in a certain way.
D. HUMAN INTELLECT AND CREATIVITY:
The human mind is very creative and imaginative. It is therefore capable of creating illusionary realities. Imagination
is good if it will lead to intellectual manipulation of concepts and ideas to produce some useful empirical facts and applications.
It is useless and often positively dangerous if the illusions and imaginations are treated like reality. The Qur'an severely
condemns dhann and calls for its avoidance,
ijtinab al dhann (p. 69 49:12).
E. DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS/JUDGMENT:
The intellect is the basis of judgment, al hukm al aqli (p. 343 6:136,
10:35, 16:59, 29:4, 37:154, 45:21, 6:36, 6:39). Humans differ in their interpretations of empirical facts. This is due to
different background information, emotions, attitudes, and basic intellectual capability. These differences can be resolved
by recourse to Allah's guidance, shar'a al llah, (p. 77-78 2:123, 2:213, 3:55,
4:65, 4:105, 5:43-44, 5:47-50, 6:164, 10:93, 16:39, 16:92, 16:124, 22:69, 27:76, 32:25, 38:26, 39:3, 39:46, 42:10, 43:63,
2.0 SENSORY PERCEPTION
A. EMPIRICAL OBSERVATION
INTELLECT AND THE SENSES:
The Intellect needed for proper sensory perception: Intellect, 'aql,
is related to the sense of vision ( p 820 2:7, 6:46, 6:110, 7:179, 16:78, 17:36, 23:78, 32:9, 45:23, 46:26).Intellect is also related to the sense of hearing (p 820-1 2:7, 2:75, 2:171, 6:25, 6:46, 7:120, 8:22, 10:42,
16:78, 17:36, 18:57, 23:78, 25:44, 32:9, 45:23, 46:26, 50:37, 67:10, 67:23). The relation between intellect and other sense
modalities is less pronounced because their sensory input into intellectual processes is relatively less. Sensory modalities
that are concerned with autonomic activities have very little input into the intellectual process and the human is not consciously
aware of their functioning.
OBSERVATION, TADABBUR, AND THINKING, TAFAKKUR:
Observation and thinking are closely related. Observation consists of two processes: picking up sensory input from
the environment and perception, interpretation of that information. The brain intellectual functions analyze the information
and uses it in many ways. This analysis is a type of human thought called concrete thought. The thinking mode of children
before adolescence is predominantly concrete ie their thought revolves around real objects or events in the environment. Abstract
thought develops after adolescence yet not all adults are capable of abstract thought. Even those who can think in the abstract,
usually employ the much easier concrete thinking. Humans are encouraged to use their thinking faculties (, 7:184, 34:46).
Concrete thinking is encouraged by the Qur'an when it calls upon humans to think by looking and seeing (p241 , , 25:9, 27:27, 27:33, 27:41, 37:102, 59:18, 74:21).
Of special relevance to medicine is Allah's call to humans to think by observing their own bodies (p 242 30:8). Humans are
encouraged to think about the signs of Allah (p 532:219, 2:261, 3:191, 10:24,
13:3, 16:11, 16:69, 30:8, 38:29, 39:42, 45:13,). Meditation is a type of ibadat and involves tadabbur. Itikaf is practical mechanism for tadabbur because it ensures relaxation and isolation from the general environment. Relaxation of the mind is needed
for tadabbur. A quiet and stable environment also assist tadabbur. Too much
environmental stimulation makes it difficult to concentrate in the observation and thinking. Salat al tahajjud has its major impact because it is offered at night when everything is quiet and the human can
concentrate as well as think deeply about the creator and His signs.
B. PAIN SENSATION:
The Qur'an has mentioned pain in the hereafter and pain on earth. Pain on earth is of lower magnitude than pain
in the hereafter (p. 146 4:104, 8:32, 9:74, 11:102, 12:25, 24:19, 36:18, 46:24). There are various types of earthly pain sensation:
visceral pain, itching, deep muscle pain, tendon pain, and headache. It is part of the mercy of Allah that humans are for
the most part unaware of visceral pain. Headache is perhaps the commonest form of pain. The sensation of pain has philosophical
and cultural aspects. Pain is not necessarily negative. It is an early warning system about body injury so that necessary
remedial measures may be taken. Perception of pain and reaction to it vary by cultural practice and experience. Some cultures
have rituals, beautification measures, high-heeled shoes, and other costumes that involve pain but are tolerated by the victims.
C. EXTRA-SENSORY PERCEPTION, idraak la
Since time immemorial, there has been talk of sensation outside the known major senses. No empirical evidence for
such sensation has yet been produced
At the theoretical level this seems a plausible idea because Allah could have created other sensory modalities
that human science has not yet discovered or described. Psychologists have developed the specialty of para-psychology which
consists of 2 aspects: Extra-sensory perception, ESP, and psychokinesis. Psychologists recognize ESP as including: telepathy,
clairvoyance, and precognition. Research on ESP is on-going and many issues remain to be resolved. The Qur’an and sunnat have described phenomena of extra-sensory perception as inspiration, ilhaam (p 146 91:8); intuition,
hadas; instincts, jibillat; and imagination,
khiyaal. A very famous story of telepathy is told about Omar Ibn al Khattab who
was in Madina and shouted to the army commander at a far-away battle-field. The commander apparently heard the command and
executed it thus ensuring victory.
D. REVELATION, wahy:
Is a special type of extra-sensory perception that is the privilege of prophets only. Any other human
who claims to get revelation is a liar. According to the hadith of Aisha the Prophet used to get revelation in various ways.
Sometimes Jibril would come in the form of a human and talk to him. Sometimes he got it by inspiration.
E. INTELLECTUAL PROCESSES
Sensory perception is not sufficient. The sensory input must be understood. The source of understanding, fahm, is Allah (p. 909 21:79).Allah has decreed variations in understanding
among people. People do not have the same or equal understanding of the same facts (MB # 105 p 107-108).
Insight is a higher level of perception and understanding. Insight is a bounty from Allah. It varies from individual
to individual. Even within the same individual it varies by the subject matter.
Information from various sources may be apparently contradictory or may have to be combined to reach a reasonable
conclusion. This calls for judgment. Judgment involves critically analyzing each piece of information, weighing and prioritizing
it followed by considering it together with other pieces of information or with previous knowledge. Judgment is a necessity
in a world in which phenomena are complex and multi-facetted. A set of values derived from revelation can guide human judgment
and protect it from colossal mistakes.
3.0 CONSCIOUSNESS, shu’ur:
A. CONSCIOUS IN THE QUR'AN:
The Qur'an has discussed consciousness, shu’ur, in several versees (p 632-633 2:9, 2:12, 2:154, 3:69,
6:26, 6:109, 6:123, 7:95, 12:15, 12:107, 16:21, 16:26, 16:45, 18:19, 23:56, 26:113, 26:202, 27:18, 27:50, 27:65, 28:9, 28:11,
39:25, 39:55, 43:66, 49:2). Shu’ur has both physical and moral dimensions. People in full possession of their
sensory faculties may not be fully conscious of the evil and immorality around them.
B. LEVELS OF CONCIOUSNESS:
Dissociation: actions that have become so regularly practiced that they are repeated without actively thinking
about them like car driving.
SPECIAL CASE OF SLEEP
C. PHARMACOLOGICAL CHANGES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
HYPNOTICS AND SEDATIVES
Disturb both REM and NREM sleep. Hypnotics lead to drowsiness and sleep. Sedatives calm anxiety and restlessness.
Prolonged use of drugs leads to dependence.
D. PSYCHOLOGICAL CHANGES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
In the depths of prayer
Too much fear like in pre accident can lead to loss of consciousness
E. INTOXICANTS, khamr:
The Qur'an discussed intoxication in various verses (p. 579 4:43, 15:72, 16:67, 22:2). It was also discussed in
the books of sunnat (KS p. 217-221). The Qur’anic term khamr refers to any
intoxicant be it solid, liquid or gaseous (Muslim #4956, 4957, 4958, 4959, 4960, 4961, 4062, 4963, 4964, 4966, 4967, 4968,
4969, 4970). All intoxicants must be avoided, ijtinab al khamr (p. 69 5:90). Use
of khamr is forbidden for medicinal purposes (Muslim #4892). The Qur'an mentioned that alcohol has benefits and harms but
that the harm is more than the benefit (p. 405 2;219, 16:67). The prohibition of alcohol came in stages, al tadarruj fi tahrim al khamr (p. 405 2:219, 4:43, 16:67) until it was finally prohibited (p. 405 5:90-91). The
reason for prohibition is predominance ot the evil (p. 405 4:43).
Ethanol, the commonest intoxicant used by humans down the ages, is not a stimulant but a general depressant like
GA. It depresses the reticular formation which in turn stops stimulating the cortex. Alcohol starts by depressing previous
training and experience thatusually leads to self-restraint. It then impairs
motor performance. In moderate doses it is useful in removing inhibitions. With higher intake judgment, observation, and attention
are impaired. Still higher intake results into loss of control and childish behavior, motor and sensory impairment and finally
sleep. Excessive intake causes medullary paralysis and eventually death. Alcohol has effects outside CNS: CVS, GIT, kidney.
SOCIAL PHARMACOLOGY & ADDICTION.
Drug dependence: physical and psychological. The classification of legal and illegal is arbitrary for example heroine
is forbidden but alcohol is allowed. Drugs that are socially acceptable: tobacco, caffeine (tea, coffee, cocoa). Cannabis
is in three forms: marijuana, indian cannabis (bhang, ganja, vharas) and hashish. Sedative hynotics are either barbiturates
or non-barbiturates. Volatile solvents/aneshetics. Opiates (opium and siamorphine). Coca and cocaine. Amphetamine.
4.0 LEARNING, and LANGUAGE
A. INTELLECT & KNOWLEDGE
'Ilm is knowledge of the signs of Allah (p. 54 6:37, 6:97, 7:32, 9:11, 10:5, 27:52, 29:49, 30:22). It is
also understanding those signs, fiqh al ayat (p. 54 6:65, 6:98). Intellect is needed
for knowledge, ilm & ‘aql (p. 821 29:43). The heart also has a role in
knowledge and learning, ‘ilm & qalb (p 962 2:97, 2:118, 9:93, 16:78, 26:192-195, 29:49, 30:59, 47:24).
B. KNOWLEDGE and LEARNING
TEACHING AND LEARNING:
Knowledge for the most part is not passively-acquired, it has to be learned. Some people teach while others learn.
The search for knowledge, talab al ‘ilm, is a noble pursuit.
FORMS OF LEARNING:
Habituation, sensitization, conditioning. The Qur’an talked about a dog that barks in all conditions without
learning and drawing conclusions. A conditioned reflex is a type of learning.
DIVINE GRACE IN LEARNING:
Prophet prayed for Ibn Abbas to get knowledge (KS p. 50). Allah put the truth on Omar Ibn al Khattab’s toungue,
ja’ala al llaahu al haqqa ala lisaan ‘Omar (KS p. 397) and the Qur’an in many cases confirmed his
opinions (KS p. 399).
C. LEARNING and MEMORY
LEARNING IS MEMORY:
Memory is the basis for learning. What is not retained is not learned. There are differences in types of memory
involved in learning. Learning history involves retaining facts and their interpretation. The memory involved in learning
driving is unconscious.
BIOLOGICAL BASIS FOR LEARNING AND MEMORY:
There is a neuronal basis for learning and memory. New facts added to the memory caused changes in the architecture
of neuronal and synaptic connections in the brain in a process akin to computer memory.
PARITY IN MEMORY
Each hemisphere can act independently in learning and memory can be transferred between hemispheres. This indicates
that facts memorized are stored in both hemispheres.
SHORT-TERM and LONG-TERM MEMORY
Short-term memory can be abolished by trauma. Long-term memory can not be destroyed easily. The elderly have better
long-term memory than short-term memory. New facts added to the memory bank are structured by existing facts. They also can
restructure the existing facts.
D. HUMAN LANGUAGE
PURPOSE OF HUMAN LANGUAGE:
Language is the primary means of communication. Learning is closely related to language because humans think and
manipulate verbal symbols.
ORIGIN OF HUMAN LANGUAGES:
There are 2 theories about the origin of human languages: de novo and evolutionary theories. Some linguists think
that there was a primordial language which has now disappeared. As people spread in the world changes occurred in the language
progressively until there were several dialects. With time each dialect became a distinct language with no apparent resemblance
to other languages. The evolutionary theory asserts that the first humans had little communication. Their communication was
limited to a series of sounds and grunts. With time these became more sophisticated and became words. The de novo theory seems
more tenable in view of the Qur'anic story of the creation of Adam. It is most likely that there was a promordial language
spoken by Adam that is the mother of all human languages.
VARIATION OF HUMAN LANGUAGES:
The variation in human language is a deliberate design by Allah. It is a sign of his majesty and power.
LEVELS OF LANGUAGES:
Speech sounds such as the letters of the Qur’an alif-lam-mim have a meaning that we do not know. Human sounds
like grunts can communicate messages. Speech sounds can be put together to make words, prefixes, suffixes that do not on themselves
convey a complete thought. Words can be put together to make phrases and sentences.
UNDERSTANDING OF LANGUAGE:
Context helps understand language. Previous knowledge and experience also help in the understanding. Shared concepts
between the two people communicating make the communication more effective. There are specialized languages like professional
jargons eg journalese.
Human civilization has been able to grow because of the ability of humans to exchange ideas and to discuss, al hiwar al insani ( p. 348-351 5:27-30, 12:43-55, 12:58-67, 12:69-100, 18:80-82,
27:29-35, 28:15-28, 37:101-102, 38:21-24). Communication facilitates family and social functioning. Communication helps in
problem solving. It also helps in acquisition of new knowledge.
5.0 DISORDERS OF THE INTELLECT, shudhuudh ‘aqli
Denying the creator, kufr, is considered an intellectual aberration.
A person with a sound mind should be able to appreciate naturally that there is a creator for all the signs in the universe.
The Qur'an therefore describes the disbelievers as people who are suspending the use of their intellect, ta'atwill aql al kafir (p 1006 2:7, 2:170, 6:36, 6:50, 6:104, 6:122, 7:179, 8:22-23, 8:55, 10:42-43, 11;24, 13:16,
13:19, 17:72, 18:53, 21:45, 22:46, 25:44, 27:80-81, 30:52-53, 31:7, 35:19-22, 36:9-10, 40:58, 41:44, 43:40, 47:23-24).
Shirk is contrary to human nature, fitrat (p 629 7:172-173, 30:28,
30:30, 39:29).Shirk is wahm (p.
629 6:148, 10:66, 12:40, 13:33, 29:41, 45:24, 53: 23, 53:28). Shirk is a failure of human thought due to blind following
of forefathers, taqlid al aaba (p. 621 2:170, 5:103-104, 7:28, 7:70-71, 7:173,
10:78, 11:62, 11:87, 11:109, 12:40, 14;10, 21:52-54, 23:24, 26:72-77, 28:36, 31:21, 34:43, 38:5-7, 43:22-24, 53:23), ignorance,
jahl (p. 622 10:68, 12:40, 18:5, 19:43, 22:71, 23:117, 29:8, 30:29, 31:15, 39:29,
39:14, 40:66, 46:4), and obeying shaitan, ta'aat al shaitan (p 622 16:63, 19:44-45,
19:81-84, 27:24, 29:38).
C. MADNESS, junoon:
The term madness is a vague term that can be used to mean different things to different people. It
generally refers to a person whose behavior is different from what is common or average. Thus prophets were called mad because
they lived clean lives amidst evil (p. 297 15:6, 26:27, 37:36, 44:14, 51:39, 51:52, 52:29, 54:9, 68:2, 68:51, 81:22). Madness
or insanity as a psychiatric condition is an organic or psychological disorder leading to abnormal thoughts, emotions, and
D. IGNORANCE, jahal
Ignorance has two meanings and could be moral or cognitive. Moral ignorance, jahiliyyat,
is failure to ‘see’ the right moral choices or the moral implications
of observed empirical phenomena. This blindness may be deliberate in some cases.:
The Qur'an relates moral ignorance to kufr (p. 309-310 2:22, 3:154, 5;50, 5:104, 6:100, 6:108, 6:111, 6:140, 6:144, 6:148,
7:28, 7:138, 11:29, 16:56, 16:75, 19:43, 21:24, 22;3, 22:71, 27:55, 27:84, 30:29, 39:29, 39:64, 40:42, 46:23, 48:26, 53:27-30,
53;33-35). Cognitive ignorance, jahl (p 309 2:273, 4:17, 6:54, 12:89, 16:119, 49:6).
E. THOUGHT DISORDERS, shudhuudh fikri
STERILE ARGUMENTATION, jidaal:
Arguments that lead to no useful purposes especially about the signs of Allah are a misuse of human intellect and
have been condemned by the Qur'an (p. 44 40:4, 40:35, 40:56, 40:69, 42:35).
Doubt, shakk: Doubt can be positive in scientific investigation when
it propels the scientist to look for new explanations and never rest. It can be negative if there is doubt of absolute fundamentals
like the attributes of Allah (SWT).
SELF-DELUSION, adhamat al insan al wahamiyat:
The human intellect can deceive a person in thinking that he is more important than he really is (p. 813 28:79,
43:31). This occurs when a human forgets that it is Allah who gives all honor. A person who knows the power of Allah will
never entertain delusions of grandeur. Pharaoh and Nimrod suffered from this disease.
Shakk is denying existing facts without definitely adopting alternative facts. It was condemned by the Qur’an
(p 639-640 2:282 … 74:31). It leads to instability of ideas. Clear thinking and reaching conclusions become impaired.
Action is not possible.
This is the opposite of shakk. It involves creation of new facts that are not real. It was condemned by the Qur’an
(p 766-767 2:78 .. 84:14).
This is a fixed suspicion that is not based on any facts.