T. Javed’s The Hidden World: Quranic Code and Human Psychology aims to analyze the Quran from a psychological perspective.
In introductory chapters, Javed notes that he will examine the Quran’s teachings through the lens of how it provides psychological guidance to its readers. He looks at the Quran with the assumption that the agency of change resides within the individual and that the notions of “good” and “evil,” as well as unseen beings, reside within the human psyche.
In the book’s first part, Javed explains how he draws meaning from relevant verses to interpret various sets of Quranic terms. Some of these interpretations are outside of the mainstream; for example, Nisa, usually translated as “women,” is interpreted as “urges” here. Rijal, usually translated as “men,” is interpreted as “self-determination.”
The second part discusses contemporary psychological theories, then attempts to connect elements of these theories to Quranic teachings. For instance, the chapter on wars starts with a discussion of the battles we wage within ourselves. It then envisions Jihad as striving against negative inclinations; Zakah as cleansing, or purifying, thoughts from harmful influences; Qitaal as overcoming negative inclinations, and Harb as vigilance against negativity. Unfortunately, the author doesn’t address how to recognize “positive” or “negative” thoughts or inclinations; thus, there’s no clear guidance on how to evaluate if we’re becoming better people or delving deeper into “negativity.”
The book assumes familiarity with Quranic concepts, which may challenge readers without background in Quranic terminology and concepts. Those well versed in the Quran will find Javed’s arguments for his interpretations uneven and not always persuasive. For instance, his translation of “the Messenger” as “inner voice” (or conscience) assumes that our inner voices always guide us towards self-improvement. Empirical evidence from psychology would seem to refute that assertion.
Although it can sometimes seem that Javed is force-fitting modern psychology into his interpretation of the Quran, his book should nonetheless spark debate and introspection among readers.
Also available in hardcover and paperback.