Paper Title: Qur’anic approach to the Psychological basis of Human Personality development

BY Nayeem Ahmad Bhat


Qur’an has a strong sense of Human Personality Development. Qur’an adorns human Aqaliyya (mentality) & Nafsiyya (disposition) which act as backbone of human personality. Qur’an directly addresses suluk (conduct) that indicates human elevation or decline. Qur’an explicitly discusses psychological role of all Anbiya (prophets), especially of Muhammad (SAAS) in shaping and rejuvenating human personality & propounds “Tazkiya-e-Nafs” i.e., (purification of mind) as a key philosophy of Islam as Qur’an mentions It is He who has sent among the unlettered a Messenger from themselves reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom – although they were before in clear error“.[1] This paper is an effort to identify the Qur’anic approach to the psychological basis of human personality development and urges Muslim Psychologists/psychiatrists to make thoughtful perusal of psychology which is concealed in theological, ethical, mystical, philosophical and medicinal books of primitive Muslim asset and construct it as per contemporary requirements to attain liberation from western psycho-emotional domination.

Key words: Quran, Personality Development, Suluk (conduct), Tazkiya-e-Nafs (Purification of mind), Western domination.



Personality development is an absorbing theme in psychology. Although it is hard to confine the term “personality” in a universal definition, but plainly personality can be defined as “the collection of external cum internal & acquisitive (intellect, thinking, knowledge etc) cum non-acquisitive (natural attributes i.e., color, race, physical appearance, mental ability etc) personality attributes”. These attributes possess both permanent & non-permanent nature i.e., attributes get modified momentously which segregate one human being from another in every matter. Likewise the term “development” is “to promote both the types of attributes upto an appropriate level”. The most ideal, perfect, optimal personality possessing divine attributes is Hazrat Muhammad (SAAS). Muhammad (SAAS) has given us the divine guidance (Qur’an) to develop our personalities. The crux of Qur’anic teachings is to improve & promote human personality ethically to keep balance between spiritual & material life. The famous Irish Clinical psychologist Ian Roberson identifies psychological basis of human personality attributes in trilateral sense, Firstly, Cognitive components (thoughts, creed, understanding, memory etc), Secondly, Emotional components (love, fear, resentment, jealous, proud etc) & Lastly, Behavioral components (skills, innate potential, ability etc)[2] Qur’an addresses straightforwardly these components of personality development which have essentially a crucial role in keeping balance between the material & spiritual life. Same has been discussed under the following headwords to provide an extensive Qur’anic account in the aforesaid psychological basis of human personality development.


Cognitive components of Personality

Qur’anic teachings are based on truth, justice, moderation & beautiful combination of this world and hereafter. Human being is the recipient of Qur’an. Therefore, his personality development is the central idea of Qur’an. The Qur’an says, “Should not He Who has created know? And He is the Most Kind & Courteous (to his slaves), the Well-Acquainted (with everything)[3].


 Tawheed (monotheism)

The Qur’an vehemently exhorts the subscription of monotheism & escape from polytheism. Aqeedah of Tawheed (monotheism) is an integral part of human disposition which determines the relation between God & human being. Qur’anic concept of personality is God-centered, emphasizes God as the ultimate source of all promotion & development. The Qur’an says, “It is He (Allah) Who is the only Ilah (God to be worshipped) in the heaven & the only Ilah (God to be worshipped) on the earth. And He is the All-Wise, All-Knower”.[4] Qur’an has extensively highlighted the influence of monotheism on human personality in terms of Love of God, fear of God, kind-intention, gratitude, purity, patience, generosity & repentance.


 Risalah (prophecy)

Risalah (prophecy) is an essential part of Islamic faith. Therefore, the whole duteousness is dependent on this part of faith. We believe in Allah, prophets, hereafter, divine books, predestination or we are inclined towards a particular Qur’an-centered worldview; it is integrally based on the creed of Risalah (prophecy). The basic concepts of prophecy are explicitly mentioned in Qur’an.

  • Every Ummah had a prophet (Guide)

The Qur’an says, “For every Ummah (community), there is a guide”[5]

  • Prophet bestow humans with their wisdom

The Qur’an says, “and we gave each of them (Dawood & Suleiman) Hukm (right judgment of affairs & prophet hood).”[6]

  • They (prophets) convey divine message to human beings

The Qur’an says, “And verily, we have sent among every Ummah (community), a Messenger (proclaiming); Worship Allah alone & avoid Taghut (all false deities).”[7]

To believe in Risalah, one achieves a corpus of reference to differ truth from false. Human personality get pragmatic guide to implement all the elements of faith seems to be idealistic. It is impossible to cherish, promote & develop ones personality unless & until there is a guide in the form of Rasool (prophet) who acts as a role-model for whole humanity to be conferred with the divine spark i.e., Hidayah.




  Eschatology (Aakhirah) or Hereafter

This element of faith also has deep & stiff influence over human personality & its development. Aqeedah of Aakhirah consists of various parts;

  • Everything in this universe is mortal

The Qur’an says, “We created not the heavens & the earth & all that is between them except with truth, & for an appointed term”.[8]

  • There will be new life after the day of judgment

The Qur’an says, “On the day when the earth will be changed to another earth & so will be the heavens, & they (all creatures) will appear before Allah, the One, the Irresistible.”[9]

  • Worldly life is essentially a preface of life hereafter, this life is temporary, incomplete, test-home & life hereafter is home of retributory (Dar ul Amal).

The Qur’an says, “And the life of the world is only amusement & play! Verily, the home of the Hereafter—that is the life indeed (i.e. the eternal life that will never end), if they but knew.”[10]

The belief in Aakhirah let everyone to become a responsible human being. It prepares one to obey the orders of Allah, refraining from His prohibitions, doing good deeds, thus, attaining the consent of Allah, that is, by leading a complete Islamic life to promote personality development.


Other Cognitive components



Intelligence is a natural spark found in human disposition & it can be promoted upto a suitable level if used properly, the Qur’an says, “it is He Who brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers when you knew nothing; & He gave you hearing & sight & intelligence & affections, that you may give thanks to Allah.”[11]

One should apply all the methods & exercises to gain more & more intelligence to promote personality development.



It comes from experiments & is not specified to age. Intelligent people do experiments, scientists do experiments, and one can remove faults from experiments to attain maturity. The Qur’an says, “He shall speak to the people in childhood & in maturity. And He shall be (of the company) of the righteous”[12]


     Scientific temper

There are only two ways enhance this temper i.e. observation & experiment. Muhammad (SAAS) used to supplicate for the augmentation of knowledge. Observation & experiment help us to increase the scientific temper & attitude. The Qur’an says, “Do they not observe the birds above them, spreading their wings & folding them in? None can uphold them except Allah.”[13] Quran adorns the scientific attitude provided that, proud shouldn’t dominate ones psyche.



To strengthen ones confidence & credibility, encouragement & suggestions are needed. The Qur’an says, “He replied, “I saw what they saw not: so I took a handful (of dust) from the footprint of the Messenger, & threw it (into the calf): thus did my soul suggest to me”[14]


     Love of Justice

It is necessary to justice (put everything in its proper place) if one needs to promote ones personality. Justice is so emphasized & injustice is so vehemently discouraged that even religious opponents aren’t exempted. The Qur’an says, “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to for dealing, & not the hatred of others (religious opponents) to you make you swerve & depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: & fear Allah. ”[15]


               Success dedication

If the dedication is lost personality development will become monotonous. One should ponder over divine scheme & assume that both failure & success are two faces of life. But one should always be dedicative as the Quran says, “The man can have nothing but what he strives for.”[16]



Emotional components of Human personality

Emotions can have a great role in decorating ones personality. A man has to respond psychologically to various interactional elements. Therefore emotions necessarily should be in control to promote personality.


     Sexual desire

Sexual lust is quite natural tendency in human beings like thirst & appetite. If one loses control over sexual desire, it can lead to indecency, sexual problems & ailments. Homosexualism & Lesbianism, Bestiality, Paedophilia, Trans-sexualism, Exhibitionism, Sadism & Masochism are some disorders & problems one can face in uncontrolled lust. The Qur’an says, “And don’t approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality & is evil as a way.”[17]


     Offence & Wrath

This personality component is generated when a man faces hindrance in his target & can have frequent disadvantages. The Quran guides us to have control over wrath, it says, “Who spend (in the cause of good) during ease & hardship & who restrain anger & who pardon the people – & Allah loves the doers of good.”[18]



It is caused when having no alternative while losing a target. Having extreme desire & hope on others increases frustration. Quran has commanded us to despair not of His mercy, it says, “Say: O my servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins.”[19]


Love and Aversion

The two important aspects of life play key role in personality development if reach at extreme level can pave the way for unexpected dangers. These emotions have to turn to right direction for promotion of personality development i.e. moderation. The Qur’an says, “And those who, when they spend, do so not excessively or sparingly but are ever, between that, (justly) moderate.”[20]


        Fear & Apprehension

The Qur’anic supervision in this matter is quite commendable that one should fear Allah in order to His gratification to promote his personality. The Quran says, “And if they had believed & feared Allah, then the reward from Allah would have been better, if they only knew.”[21]


        Curiosity & Perplexity

An important tendency of human personality is perplexity, when a man is unable to explain anything clearly, it leads to curiosity. Optimistic curiosity can enhance aptitude & increase knowledge. Pessimistic curiosity is very disastrous for individual as well as for society. The Qur’an says, “O believers! Avoid suspicion as much as possible: for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not each other behind their backs.” [22]


       Patience & Gratitude

Every human being confronts misfortune, calamities & comfort both in hard times & good times in life respectively. Patience & gratitude have great influence on our personality as Qur’an commands us to have patience in hard times & be grateful in blissfulness, it says, “Who say, when afflicted with calamity: “To Allah we belong, & to Him is our return”[23]


       Behavioral components of personality

Behavioral components in human personality consist of particular practices, skills, methods, abilities, aptitudes & competence which decorate human personality. Quran has never emphasized stagnant, weak (morally), disabled (in character) personality.



Human beings have particular aptitude to perform any task. To suppress this aptitude, problems would arise & our personality can choose unnatural methods to explore this world if not applied the divine guidance to promote ones personality. The Qur’an says, “Say, “Everyone acts according to his own disposition: But your Lord knows best who it is that is best guided on the way.”[24]



Creativity helps one to create new ideas to live. Unfortunately, creative thinking is discouraged in our society. There are three elements of creative thinking: (1) Originality & Novelty, (2) Ability & (3) particular purpose. The Quran says, “And similarly, we awakened them to question each other”[25] Quran adorns creative thinking by questioning to reach at reality; hence, creativity promotes ones personality.



This aspect of human personality is significant if one wishes to uplift his image before others. Society will never accept the inefficient nature of man. To promote ones personality, one has to be responsible in every matter. The Qur’an says, “O you who believe, upon you is responsibility for yourselves.”[26]



To live a luxury & tense less life, skills have importance economically on ones personality. To promote ones personality, one should utilize all the skills to explore one’s tendencies. Qur’an has used this term for the skills of Qaum e Samud, it says, “And you carve out of the mountains, homes, with skill.”[27]


       Team Spirit

It is said, “Only the teams can win.” Undoubtedly, man cannot stand alone. To perform a big task, one may not possess all the competencies. Combined effort is adequate for promotion of one’s personality development. The Qur’an says, “Help you one another in righteousness & piety. Help you not one another in sin & rancor.”[28]




The crux of this research paper is the Qur’anic approach that we relinquished to promote human personality. In this matter Quran provides basic foundations as it directly addresses the basic problems of philosophy when we talk of purpose of life. Now the question arises, despite having divine guidance (Qur’an), why Muslim societies are demoralized, declined, unsatisfied & socio-ethically paralyzed?  Apparently, this is a multidimensional problem, but the core & essential cause is having no pragmatic approach to Qur’anic teachings & themes in terms of individualism. This paper appeals;

  • To reorganize modern education & curriculum on the basis of Qur’anic themes.
  • To instigate the ideological education of teachers along with technical education.
  • To add moral education as basic theme to the curricular & co-curricular activities.
  • To teach Muslim psychology at every stage of education, from schools to the universities.
  • To make Arabic language compulsory at every stage to have access to primary sources of Muslim psychology.
  • To make critical analysis of western concept of psychology.
  • To establish sectors of Occidentalism in universities.



  1. Al –Qur’an
  2. Dr Mohammad amin, Islam aur Tazkiya Nafs, new A’wan printers, Lahore
  3. Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tazkiya Nafs, Faran Foundations, Lahore
  4. Ashraf Ali Thanvi, Tarbiyat al-saalik, Maktaba Zakariya, Karachi
  5. Mohammad Yusuf Islahi, Qur’ani Ta’limat, Islamic publications limited, Lahore
  6. Dr Zafar Afaq Ansari, Nafs i Insani ke Qur’ani Tasawurat, Aalami Idara, Islamabad
  7. Rafeeq Ja’far, Nafsiyat ka irtiqa’ Izhar sons, Lahore
  8. Barbara Englar, theories of personality, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1979
  9. Jung C.G., Modern man in search of soul, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York, 1933
  10. Moinul Haq, Islamic thought & movement, Pakistan historical society, Karachi, 1979




(The writer if Research Scholar Shah I Hamadan Institute of Islamic Studies Kashmir University

And can be reached at Email:













[1]Al-Qur’an, 62 Surah al-juma’ah, verse no. 02

[2] Robertson, Sociology, p:115

[3] Al-Qur’an, 67 surah al-mulk , verse no 14

[4] Al-Qur’an, 43 surah al-zukhruf, verse no 84

[5] Al-Qur’an, 13 surah al-ra’d, verse no 07

[6] Al-Qur’an, 21 surah al-anbiya, verse no 79

[7] Al-Qur’an, 16 surah al-nahl, verse no 36

[8] Al-Qur’an, 46 surah al-ahqaf, verse no 03

[9] Al-Qur’an, 14 surah al-Ibrahim, verse no 48

[10] Al-Qur’an, 29 surah al-ankaboot, verse no 64

[11] Al-Qur’an, 16 surah al-nahl, verse no 78

[12] A-Qur’an, 03 surah aal-imran, verse no 46

[13] Al-Qur’an, 69 surah al-mulk, verse no 19

[14] Al-Qur’an, 20 surah Taha, verse no 96

[15] Al-Qur’an, 05 surah al-maidah, verse no 08

[16] Al-Qur’an, 53 surah al-najm, verse no 39

[17] Al-Qur’an, 17 surah al-isra, verse no 32

[18] Al-Qur’an, 03 surah aal-imran, verse no 134

[19] Al-Quran, 53 surah al-zumar, verse no 39

[20] Al-Quran, 25 surah al-furqan, verse no 67

[21] Al-Qur’an, 02 surah al-baqarah, verse no 103

[22] Al-Qur’an, 49 surah al-Hujurat, verse no 12

[23] Al-Qur’an, 02 surah al-baqarah, verse no 156

[24] Al-Qur’an, 17 surah al-isra, verse no 84

[25] Al-Qur’an, 18 surah al-kahf, verse no 19

[26] Al-Qur’an, 05 surah al-maidah, verse no 105

[27] Al-Qur’an, 26 surah al-shu’ara, verse no 149