In many countries where Islam is the main religion, Islamic counselling or multicultural counselling is widely practiced by each Muslim counsellor not just because it is an effective method of counselling, but it is also necessary. In a world where many religions, backgrounds, and cultural beliefs exist, it is very hard to connect with other people if one has a closed mind. In counselling though, this is the most important thing to do— connect with the client.
It is because of this that Islamic counselling embraces a multicultural approach to counselling. They accept clients from different backgrounds but still embrace each as a member of the human race. With this, we shall see why embracing religion and diversity is very important, as well as how it is done by most Islamic counselling experts.
Why Embracing Islamic Counselling, Diversity is Very Important
Have you ever wondered why there are so many extremists out there? It is simply because extreme beliefs are the norm. It is in fact, the easiest thing to do based on our natural human instinct. Because of a harsh natural environment, our brains are programmed to make snap decisions and single-mindedly snatch the prey.
Extremists usually have only one goal in mind— to preserve what they believe in since that is what they were taught ever since young. Amidst all the “my religion is right and yours is wrong” protests, extremists will create a lot of enemies out of people whose religions are attacked. These people will then think that others don’t care to respect their beliefs and will end up extremists as well. This is how war starts.However, what if acceptance of different beliefs became the norm? Then the predatory response of people will automatically be to accept others’ beliefs and culture. This is what Muslim counselling is all about.
How a Muslim Counsellor Integrates Cultural Diversity in Counselling
According to the Quran, religion must not be forced upon. Rather, Muslims have the obligation to only pass the message of Allah to other people, not force them to believe in the message. Specifically, the Quran states, “So remind them (O Muhammad, peace and blessing of Allah be upon Him). You are only a one who reminds. You are not a dictator over them (Q88: 21-22)”. This verse alone tells us that Islam does not subscribe to extremist beliefs wherein religion is forced upon and fought wars over. Islam is about acceptance and harmony— that of which is needed when counselling a client from a different background.
There are actually a lot of models that counsellors use for training their interns. One of the most effective is the Sakoon Islamic counselling model, which aims to help counsellors adapt to cultures when it comes to counselling clients. This is why such guidelines are important to follow when counselling a person of a different background. Some of the guidelines can be found below:
- One must be professional and not show any bias.
- One must have respect for the client’s religion.
- One must ensure that the client has respect for the counsellor’s religion.
- One must tell the client of any unavailability of counsellors of the same religion beforehand.
- One must have sound knowledge about his or her client’s beliefs.
As counselling is all about rapport and helping clients open up their feelings, mutual respect is necessary. It is necessary in a sense that the counsellor respects the client’s beliefs and the client respects the counsellor’s beliefs. As what most Muslim counsellors do, they ensure that they are objective and understand their client’s religious beliefs beforehand. That way, even the difference of religion and beliefs won’t be a barrier to help others.