Aliya Olga Pavlova: "Our task is to tell about what Islam really is"

Aliya Olga Pavlova: "Our task is to tell about what Islam really is"

Baku is hosting an International Symposium 'Islamic Civilization in the Caucasus', organized by the Azerbaijan Institute of Theology, theResearch Center For Islamic History, Art and Culture of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (IRCICA) and the ANAS Institute of Oriental Studies named after Academician Buniyatov. The forum is addressed by scientists, researchers and experts on Islamic civilization from Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia, Iran, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Moldova, USA, Australia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

On the sidelines of the forum, Chairperson of the Board of the Association of Islamic Psychologists Doctor of Psychology, Associate Professor at Moscow State University of Psychology and Education Aliya Olga Pavlova told Vestnik Kavkaza about Islamic psychology.

- How much is Islamic psychology currently in demand in general?

- This discipline is very much in demand, it is experiencing a kind of resurgence all over the world, getting back to basics, because a large number of Islamic psychological works have been published. Last week, we presented an Azerbaijani-made Russian translation of the book wrote in the 9th century by Islamic scholar Abu Zayd al-Balkhi, which is dedicated to cognitive-behavioral therapy. At the same time, modern studies of the psychological characteristics and psychological specifics of Muslims in different parts of the world are conducted, spiritually-oriented psychological assistance based on a person's belief is organized. The most modern psychotherapy approaches, psychological counselling are used. Studies on psychological characteristics of Muslims, their values and identity that are conducted in the Caucasus help to better understand the psychology of people professing Islam and use it in psychological counseling.

 - European Muslims have a hard time now, because actions of terrorists in the Middle East and in Europe affect them. How can you deal with it?

- Only by peaceful means - showing another face of Islam.

- Can Islamic psychology help with this?

- Of course. The Islamic psychology reveals exactly what is contained in it. It shows what psychological problems contribute to the distortion of religion. In our psychological studies, we demonstrate that those negative manifestations associated with Islam, such as terrorism and extremism, are not linked to Islam, but to the psychological problems of individuals. Of course, our task is to tell people about what Islam really is.

- Should religion play a significant role in the destiny of the people?

- It does play. Religious worldview and everything connected with religion, be it culture, culture of life, everyday practices, is all permeated by Islam. Another thing is that different nations may have different interpretations of certain sociocultural practices, everyday norms associated with Islam. Many features are transformed into ethnoreligious ones, which are precisely connected with the culture of nations. My report at the Baku symposium is an attempt to look at what is ethnic and what is religious in the values of the Muslim peoples, to study this topic by psychological methods. Because in reality there are significant differences between what religion dictates to us and what traditions dictate to us.

- Does your research cover the North Caucasus?

- Yes. Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria.

- Is there a difference between them?

- This is the point, there are common things that unite peoples practicing Islam, but there are significant differences as well.

- Where does Islam prevail over ethnic features?

- The northeastern Caucasus has a more active stance towards Islam. Islam is the most important part of the worldview, lifestyle, all practices there. It is less noticeable in the north-western Caucasus, although there it also exists. Much depends on each individual family, on each particular community.

- How would you assess Azerbaijan in this context?

- So far I can't draw any conclusion. I really like what I see, but I did not conduct any research here, so it is difficult for me to assess.

I am Udi. The Udi people are Christian, but I am Muslim. My ancestors come from Gabala, this is my first time in Azerbaijan and I am very happy, because for me it is reconnecting to the roots. Today I met with the Udi community, it is a very important moment for me. I saw myself that multiculturalism and interaction of different communities, different religions, and various ethnic groups is developed in Azerbaijan. So Azerbaijan is like a mosaic of cultures and peoples.