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The whisperings of the devil: Muslim individuals' experiences of waswaas

Ishaq, S. (2016). The whisperings of the devil: Muslim individuals' experiences of waswaas. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


There is limited research generally in Western nations exploring Muslim explanations regarding mental health. One such explanation is something called waswaas, and the very little research there is on waswaas is quantitative. However, there is no clear explanation readily available from the Western literature describing what waswaas is and how it might impact upon formulations of the psychological distress of Muslim clients who may present to psychological services. In response to the dearth of research, this qualitative study aims to investigate Muslim individuals’ experience of waswaas. The study is conducted using semi-structured interviews with 8 Muslim participants and is analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Three superordinate themes emerged from the data: ‘The Qareen’, which captures participants’ understanding and experience of there being another being whom they believe is responsible for the waswaas, which are unbidden thoughts, and the methods this other being employs to do the whispering. The second superordinate theme ‘Impact and Content of Waswaas’ explores some of the different ways participants experience waswaas and other areas that waswaas might impact on. The third superordinate theme ‘Therapy can be an Asset’ refers to coping mechanisms which might be employed to help deal with the waswaas. The findings suggest a number of implications for Counselling Psychology, including a need for multicultural awareness amongst counselling psychologists, enabling them to work more effectively with Muslim groups, whilst working collaboratively with clients and respecting their subjective experiences and meanings they give to them. The subjective and diverse ways in which participants made sense of waswaas has provided new and richer insights in to the phenomenon and contribute further to the limited knowledge base of Muslim explanatory models for mental health. Both the findings and the limitations of the study are discussed, along with suggestions for future research.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
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