A tribute to a great scholar and father of modern Islamic psychology

By Aznan Mat Piah

Prof. Malik Badri, a distinguished professor in psychology, who passed away on 8 February 2021 at the age of 89, was an intellectual giant, who devoted the greater part of his life towards the academia leaving behind a legacy that many among academics and scholars from east and west, would cherish him as the father of modern Islamic psychology.

To commemorate his passing, IIUM intends to name a centre of psychology study after him and to establish a scholarship in his name so that his legacy in the field would remain high in the academic world. A collection of books, research works and conference papers authored by the illustrious scholar, which are treasures of knowledge and ideas, will find a suitable place in the university to be kept for reference of scholars, academics and students of psychology all over the world.

This move by the university would be part of the focus on remembering contributions of eminent scholars and thinkers from IIUM who had left us, whose contributions to knowledge would become a legacy to benefit the academia and society. It followed suggestions by IIUM President, Datuk Dr. Mohd. Daud Bakar, at “Remembering a Murabbi Session” held online on Monday (15 February).

“Remembering a Murabbi Session” held online on Monday (15 February)

Late Prof. Malik Badri is remembered as the father of modern Islamic psychology who brought Islamic thoughts that challenged conventional western psychological and human science theories and secular values in the likes of Freud, Skinner, Roger and Watson in cognitive, emotional and behavioural changes.

His earlier book “The Dilemma of Muslim Psychologists” created the first major impetus of Islamisation of psychology movement. His other books are “AIDS Crisis”, “The Contemplation”, “Cyber-Counselling”, and “Cultural and Islamic Adaptation of Psychology”. His latest and final book before his passing titled “The Emotional Aspects in the Life of the Prophets”.

A person of humble personality, of great humility with a good sense of humour, reflective of good characteristics of a down-to-earth scholar, Prof. Malik Badri is remembered by his academic peers and scholars in the east and west as a teacher, a murabbi, a guru as ‘Malik’ or King of Islamisation of modern psychology.

One of his students is Prof. Shukran Abd Rahman who is now the Dean of Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences (KIRKHS).

Joining IIUM as a visiting professor in 1991, Prof. Malik Badri spent almost 23 years in IIUM back and forth making Malaysia his home while travelling to other parts of the world to conduct research and present his views and ideas. Prof. Malik Badri was instrumental in the setting up of the International Association of Islamic Psychology. He had inspired scholars, academics and students as his research in the field was being spread by academics in countries like Russia, Australia, United Kingdom and the USA.

The late Prof. Malik Badri

A tribute to Prof. Malik Badri was held in “Remembering A Murabbi Session” on 15 February via Zoom from 8.30 p.m to 10.00 p.m attended by scholars, close associates and academics in psychology from countries like USA, Australia, Russia, UK and Indonesia.

It was a special session to commemorate his contribution to the development of Islamic psychology and Muslim psychologists. It was to honour his remarkable contributions to the psychology knowledge and practice. The tribute session, organised by KIRKHS, was also watched by many psychology academics, students and alumni on YouTube.

Seven prominent international academic personalities who had been closely associated with Prof. Malik Badri read their tributes at the session which was moderated by Dr. Bagus Riyono, the President of International Association of Muslim Psychologists (IAMP). 

Those who paid their tributes were Dr. Hanan Dover, Vice-President of International Association of Muslim Psychologists (IAMP), Dr. Abdullah Rothman, Executive Director of International Association of Islamic Psychology, Dr. Rania Awaad of Stanford University School of Medicine (USA), Prof. Ibrahim Zein of Hamad bin Khalifa University, Qatar, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Olga Pavlova, Head of Association of Psychological Assistance for Muslims, Russia, and Dr. Habib Chirzin of International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), Indonesia.

From Malaysia, the tributes, among others, came from IIUM President, Datuk Dr. Mohd. Daud Bakar, former Rector, Tan Sri Prof. Emeritus Dr. Kamal Hassan, and present Rector, Tan Sri Prof. Emeritus Dzulkifli Abdul Razak.

The IIUM President described the late Prof. Malik Badri as “a father, a mentor, a great murabbi and an exemplary great educator.” He remembered him as someone who had given great contribution to knowledge and tarbiyah, particularly with his choice of words and his refined behaviour.

He said: “A natural psychologist who was made to become a Muslim psychologist who ignited the foundation of psychology in modern time. With unreserved commitment to almost everyone, he made himself available to all, with amazing insight and great wisdom. His contact hours with students were just priceless.”

Datuk Dr. Mohd. Daud said the late professor in his book “Dilemma of Muslim Psychologists” was brave to articulate the dilemma faced by Muslim psychologists and he was courageous to speak his mind on the subject.   

While Dr. Bagus Riyono described Prof. Malik Badri as possessing the characteristics of a good scholar embedded with the maqasid school of thought in the development of Islamic civilisation versus secular values, Dr. Hanan Dover admitted that “we are indeed his legacy” therefore pledging that she would support any effort that would benefit the future generation of scholars in Islamic psychology.

Dr. Habib Chirzin of IIIT Indonesia shared his personal reflection on the long process of learning, unlearning and relearning following his interaction and association with the late professor which he described as “touching deeply on human happiness” that brought about “a new paradigm of human security and well-being”.

“Herein lies the integration of knowledge through Islamic approach advocated by the late Prof. Malik Badri,” Dr. Habib said.

Meanwhile, Prof. Malik Badri’s thoughts and values of Islamic psychology has also spread to Russia through translation of his books in the local language, according to Dr. Ologa Pavlova who claimed that this “reflected Islamic psychology movement in the country”.

Former Dean of KIRKHS, Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Zein, who is now teaching in a university in Qatar, had known Prof. Malik personally for so many years in both Sudan and Malaysia whom he described as a person with great humility.

He said “coming from a family of learned background and an intellectual life he could be inclined to be arrogant but he wasn’t like that”. “Those who knew him would testify to that as humility is the best word to describe about the man,” Dr. Ibrahim said, as he recalled that late Prof. Malik Badri was born in Sudan to a respected scholar, Sheikh Babikir Badri, who pioneered the women’s university in Sudan.

Meanwhile, Dr. Rania Awaad of Stanford University (USA) said she was inspired by Prof. Malik by his Islamic principles in psychology which she was able to introduce the course at the university’s school of medicine she is currently teaching in the USA. She said she saw the human side and the human touch that make a difference in our daily life.

Dr. Abdullah Rothman from UK said that the late professor was modelled on the characters of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who played many important roles in his life. He was impressed by the connection of spiritual brotherhood and spiritual path carried out by the late professor which he recognised as representing the true understanding of Islam and psychology. This was shown by the professor’s “heart-to-heart’ teaching” which Abdullah admitted that “we are his legacy, and we should carry in the best of the way.”

Tan Sri Prof. Emeritus Kamal Hassan, who was responsible for bringing Prof. Malik Badri to serve in IIUM, said he came into contact with the late professor when he was studying for his PhD in the USA in 1972 where he described the relationship as “murid and guru”. He said through the Association of Muslim Social Scientists he could recognise the problems of western social sciences “if we were to follow blindly”.

Quoting the metaphor of falling into the lizard’s hole, Prof. Kamal said he thought of the idea of the Islamisation of knowledge if only we could learn the language of the hadith of the prophet. “Islamic legacy has so much to offer if only we know the language as the rise of Islamic intellectual legacy had earlier contributed to the renaissance in Europe,” he said.

Reading his prayers at the end of the session, Dr. Alizi Alias, expressed the hope that the Islamic psychology and secular psychology will be on par with each other; that it will achieve full victory against secular psychology, at least in its theoretical sense. “Spreading the Islamic psychology to the east and the west just like Prophet Muhammad has spread Islam to Persia and Rome and bring rahmah or mercy to humankind,” he said.

Dr. Alizi Alias, a student of the late professor, who is now a consultant of Organisational Psychologist Malaysia, said it is crucial for students of Prof. Malik to play the role in the Islamisation of psychology mission and for Islamic psychology to be the leader in the world of modern psychology.

During the tribute session, the audience also had the opportunity to listen to Prof. Malik’s wife, Dr. Fatimah Abdullah, who shared her personal experience of being a wife to the great professor.

Dr. Fatimah Abdullah spoke about the late professor having the akhlaq of the prophet, having a big heart and always leading by example. She said this was shown in his interaction with his students where he gave advice through story telling and jokes. She said the professor always made himself available to his students; he would never delay in answering emails or messages on phone.

In his closing remarks, the Rector, Tan Sri Prof. Emeritus Dzulkifli Abdul Razak welcomed the ideas expressed by the president and the views shared by the others during the tribute session. He said IIUM would take the necessary steps to commemorate the intellectual contributions of scholars in the like of Prof. Malik Badri who had departed, but whose vast legacy of knowledge and ideas should be remembered and added on to the corpus of knowledge for reference of future generation. This is part and parcel of moving forward in the academia, the Rector concluded, promising to turn the ideas into reality. ***

One Reply to “A tribute to a great scholar and father of modern Islamic psychology”

  1. I am Prof. Suleyman Derin, teaching sufims and spirituality in Istanbul, I met the late Ustadh when he was in Turkey in his last two years, we made some radio and TV programs together, what I have seen in him even in his very old age, suffering from a mulititde of serious diseases, a mathchless dedication to spread Islamic Psychology and very friendly with all and easy going a real father of knowledge, so modest that you would feel very honoured in his side, a good muslim using all kinds of chances to invite people to Islam, I pray for him and happy to share my experience with him. Jazakumullahu hayr for this information.
    Prof. Suleyman Derin

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