'Our therapeutic direction is towards Light': Transcendence and a non-secular politics of difference in Islamic Counselling training

Sabnum Dharamsi, Giulia Liberatore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The Islamic Counselling training model discussed in this paper first emerged in 1990s multicultural Britain within the newly expanding field of cross-cultural counselling and psychotherapy in the UK. It is informed by classical Sufi notions of the self, the development of an Islamic psychology and decolonial scholarship. Based on ethnographic research on the current training in Islamic Counselling, this article explores the ways in which this model trains students to engage with relational differences, through non-secular notions of reality, the self and its relation to multiple others. Differences are made sense of through notions of ‘worldview’ and ‘journey’ that go beyond categories of culture, religion and race, and while these differences are similarly ‘acknowledged’ (Giordano 2014) there is also the possibility of transcending difference through an experiential process of ‘witnessing’. Islamic counselling’s therapeutic goal, therefore, is not the forging of a pious self, but transcendence: the establishing of a deeply felt understanding of Oneness or Truth. Through this process, Islamic Counselling holds difference and connection simultaneously, while challenging a relativist notion of cultural difference inherent in ethnopsychiatry and cross-cultural counselling. It offers a radically new mode of relating with differences within and beyond the counselling setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2023

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