riyada in arabic means "training" or "discipline". It was used by the arabs in relation to horse taming. Sufis refer to their discipline as "riyadat an-nafs": disciplining the soul / training the ego. Today, the word riyada has come to mean "sports". There is an Arabic proverb that says: "The purpose of sports (riyada) is not to win cups, but to discipline the soul". This blog is here to help me discipline my soul and train my body.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Short Trip

well, going to Jordan tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon. Just a 10-day trip, inshalla. Just to visit family, see friends, detox my body from this cairo pollution, buy some supplements.. I also think i'll be swimming a lot every day, inshalla, to get all the tense muscles relaxed and the spine and everything, just in case some parts of me are tighter than others, swimming should reverse things and make everything right again (inshalla).

i'll still be writing some stuff from there (inshalla).


Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Amazing Race

Truly the Righteous (abraar) will be in Bliss...They are given to drink of a sealed nectar. Its seal is musk, and for that let the competitors compete. (Qur'an 83: 22-26)

One of the best ways for Muslims to stay on track with all their duties, and to do more than what is required, is to think of it as a friendly competition. Sayyidna Abu Bakr and Sayyidna Umar, may God be pleased with them, always competed for good deeds. Abu Bakr would always win, and Umar would try to catch up to him- whether in charity or in extra devotions, Umar would constantly try to find out how much Abu Bakr is doing and try to match him. It's a great way to win the pleasure and the Ridwan of Allah.

Race one with another for forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden whereof the breadth is as the breadth of the heavens and the earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His messengers. Such is the bounty of Allah, which He bestoweth upon whom He will, and Allah is of Infinite Bounty. (Qur'an 57: 21)

As one Shaykh puts it, better than I:

...when one carefully looks at peoples’ behavior, he will notice different kinds of competition. Some people do compete over this mundane world as to conquer and hold it in their possession; some compete over the attainment of high positions; some compete to achieve fame and stardom and some compete on building luxurious houses just as if this world is an everlasting one.

Let us leave those people moving directionlessly in their fake pleasures, and ponder over a better and sublime competition; a competition that is encouraged by the Glorious Qur’aan. It is a race towards the Pleasure of Allaah and the Paradise, a competition in the field of righteous deeds. It is a competition in which the participants are wise people who are aware that this life is short hence they compete with one another in investing their lives in acts of obedience to Allaah.

“The Mufarridoon have gone ahead!", said the Prophet one time to his companions. "Who are the Mufarridoon, O Messenger of Allaah?", they asked. “They are those men and women who remember Allaah much.”

He also said,

“Should I teach something with which you can catch up with those who have gone ahead of you and outstrip those who are behind you and none will be better than you except the one who does as you do?’ They said: ‘Yes! O Messenger of Allaah!’ He said: ‘You should glorify Allaah, praise Him, and exalt Him 33 times at the end of every prayer.” (Subhan'Allah x 33, Al hamdu lillah x 33, Allahu Akbar x 33).

"Were people to know the blessing of pronouncing the Adhaan and the standing in the first row in prayer, they would even draw lots to secure these privileges. And were they to realize the reward of performing Salaat early, they would race for it; and were they to know the merits of the Isha and the Fajr Salaat, they would come to them even if they had to crawl."

Competing for these rewards is a great thing, something that the the sahaaba always tried to do... None of them were content to do simply what was required of them. Instead, they wanted to be ahead, to gain the highest rewards in Paradise, and be raised to the highest degrees. If they saw others surpassing them in good deeds, they would do all that they could to catch up or outstrip them.

Some poor companions came to the Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) one day and asked him of what they could do to be ahead of the rich in terms of reward.

They said: ‘O Messenger of Allaah! The rich people have made away with rewards. They pray as we do, fast as we do and spend their excess wealth in charity, and they free slaves.’

He answered: ‘Has Allaah not provided for you what you can do charity with? Indeed, every glorification (Subhaanallaah) that you do is charity, every exaltation (Allaahu Akbar) that you do is charity, every praise that you give (Alhamdulillaah) is charity, every ‘Laailaaha illa Allaah’ that you say is charity, enjoining what is good is charity, preventing evil is charity and even doing marital intercourse with one’s spouse is charity.’

They said: ‘O Messenger of Allaah! How can we enjoy ourselves and still get reward for it?’

He replied: ‘Tell me, if he does it in an unlawful way, is it not going to be a sin? Likewise is when he does it in a lawful way, he is going to get a reward for that.”

The Prophet told them also to do the dhikr in the way mentioned above, thirty three times each for Subhanallaah, Alhamdulillaah, Allaahu Akbar after every prayer.

So, the poor began to catch up with the rich in rewards, by doing the dhikr after prayer, by trying their best to forbid what is wrong and to enjoin what is right. And realize also that dhikr does not only benefit oneself- it is also considered a sadaqa, charity, because every act of worship benefits all of humanity and not just the person who is worshipping. (I wonder, though, if someone tried to catch up in rewards by giving lots of pleasure to his wife). And what do you think happened when the rich people- already ahead of the poor because of giving in charity and the freeing of the slaves- what do you think they did when they found out that the poor are doing this dhikr that the Prophet promised would make them "overtake those who have preceeded them and outstrip those who were behind them and make them better than all except those who do the same"?

The rich started doing this dhikr as well! Why? Because they were not content to just make it to Paradise, because the companions of the Prophet wanted to reach the highest degrees, and no less! So the poor went back and complained to the Prophet, saying: "Our brothers who possess property heard about what we were doing and they have done the same." The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "That is a favour which Allah gives to anyone He wills."

Even for martyrdom the companions competed. Before the Battle of Badr, Sa'd ibn Kaythamah drew lots with his father to see who will go out to fight and who will stay to take care of the women and the children. Sa'd won the lot for battle, but his father said, "My son, give me preference over yourself today". Sa'd replied, "If it was for other than Paradise, I would have", and so he went out to battle, hoping to get the reward of martyrdom, and gained his wish.

Before the Expedition of Tabuk, the Prophet asked his companions to donate all that they could as charity to fund the expedition. Umar found this was his chance to surpass Abu Bakr. "Today, I am going to surpass Abu Bakr," he thought. "So I came with half of my property", as he later told. "The Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) asked: 'What have you left for your family?' I answered: ‘As much as this.’ Then Abu Bakr came with all that he has and the Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) said: ‘What have you left for your family?’ He replied: ‘I left for them Allaah and his Messenger.’ "

I remember this story that a shaykh related one day. Knowing about the competition between Umar and Abu Bakr for good deeds, the Prophet teased Umar once, saying to him: "You will be the one to open the gates of Paradise". "But what about Abu Bakr?" asked Umar. "Abu Bakr and I will be waiting for you inside!" said the Prophet.

And even the generation that came after the sahaaba, the taabi'een, would attempt to catch up with those who went before them. They thought of their egos, their nafs, as riding animals, which one must tame and ride in the pursuit of good deeds, and in the attempt to join with the Messenger of God in Paradise. So they would say:

“The Sahaaba rode behind the Prophet (pbuh) on the backs of perfectly bred race horses and we are riding on the backs of lame donkeys."

Then they would address their own nafs, saying: "Do you then want to hamper our movement so that they (the sahaaba) can win the Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) while we remain on the way? By Allaah, we shall meet up with them even though we have to crawl so that they will know that those they left behind are really men.”

In this way, hopefully I will start to compete with my friends in everything.. In doing what is required of me, and in exceeding that.

"have you done all your prayers on time today"?
"yeah, and I did the zuhr sunna prayers as well!"
"oh yeah? Well i'm gonna do all the sunna prayers, inshalla."
"well, i'm gonna try to do all my prayers in congregation at the mosque."
"I'm also memorizing the Qur'an."
"Where have you reached? I'm beginning my second juz' already".

etc, etc.

Perhaps then, if I turn my ego into a well-trained horse, I could race on ahead and catch up with some of those who went before me, so that I may drink from the raheeq makhtoom, the sealed nectar reserved for the abraar "...and for that let the competitors compete."


Lots of what I quoted came from this link: Competing for the Hereafter...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Looking back at History

I love history. Sometimes I'm just gonna post ancient writings here, just for fun. Today, for example, I'm gonna post some writings with one theme: how different civilizations saw each other a long time ago.

First: The Armenian History attributed to Sebeos, written in the middle of the 7th century, and providing the only substantial non-Muslim account of the initial period of Muslim expansion. This is how the Armenians saw the Muslim expansion (you can see how Sebeos is combining the Islamic conquests, which came after the death of the Prophet, with the message of the Prophet, which is not entirely true):

At that time a certain man from among those same sons of Ismael whose name was Mahmet, a merchant, as if by God's command appeared to them as a preacher [and] the path of truth. He taught them to recognize the God of Abraham, especially because he was learned and informed in the history of Moses. Now because the command was from on high, at a single order they all came together in unity of religion. Abandoning their vain cults, they turned to the living God who had appeared to their father Abraham. So Mahmet legislated for them: not to eat carrion, not to drink wine, not to speak falsely, and not to engage in fornication. He said, "With an oath God promised this land to Abraham and his seed after him for ever. And he brought about as he promised during that time while he loved Israel. But now you are the sons of Abraham, and God is accomplishing his promise to Abraham and his seed for you. Love sincerely only the God of Abraham, and go and seize your land which God gave to your father Abraham. No one will be able to resist you in battle, because God is with you."

The Franks and Their Marital Jealousy, an excerpt from the celebrated autobiography of the amir of Shaizar, Usama bin Munqidh, whose life spanned almost the whole first century of the crusades.

The Franks are without any vestige of a sense of honour and jealousy. If one of them goes along the street with his wife and meets a friend, this man will take the woman's hand and lead her aside to talk, while the husband stands by waiting until she has finished her conversation. If she takes too long about it, he leaves her with the other man and goes on his way. Here is an example of this from my personal experience: while I was in Nablus I stayed with a man called Mu'izz, whose house served as an inn for Muslim travellers. Its windows overlooked the street. On the other side of the road lived a Frank who sold wine for the merchants; he would take a bottle of wine from one of them and publicize it, announcing that such-and-such a merchant had just opened a hogshead of it, and could be found at such-and-such a place by anyone wishing to buy some; '...and I will give him the first right to the wine in this bottle'.

Now this man returned home one day and found a man in bed with his wife. 'What are you doing here with my wife?' he demanded. 'I was tired,' replied the man, 'and so I came in to rest.' 'And how do you come to be in my bed?' 'I found the bed made up, and lay down to sleep.' 'And this woman slept with you, I suppose?' 'The bed,' he replied, 'is hers. How could I prevent her getting into her own bed?' 'I swear if you do it again I shall take you to court!' - and this was his only reaction, the height of his outburst of jealousy!

I heard a similar case from a bath attendant called Salim from Ma'arra, who worked in one of my father's bath-houses. This is his tale: I earned my living in Ma'arra by opening a bath-house. One day a Frankish knight came in. They do not follow our custom of wearing a cloth round their waist while they are at the baths, and this fellow put out his hand, snatched off my loin-cloth, and threw it away. He saw at once that I had just recently shaved my pubic hair. [For those who don't know, Muslim men and women usually shave their armpit and pubic hair every 30-40 days for cleanliness, upon the recommendation of the Prophet]. 'Salim!' he exclaimed. I came toward him and he pointed to that part of me. 'Salim! It's magnificent! You shall certainly do the same for me!' And he lay down flat on his back. His hair there was as long as his beard. I shaved him, and when he had felt the place with his hand and found it agreeably smooth he said: 'Salim, you must certainly do the same for my Dama.' In their language Dama means lady, or wife. He sent his valet to fetch his wife, and when they arrived and the valet had brought her in, she lay down on her back, and he said to me: 'Do to her what you did to me.' so I shaved her pubic hair, while her husband stood by watching me. Then he thanked me and paid me for my services.

You will observe a strange contradiction in their character: they are without jealousy or a sense of honour, and yet at the same time they have the courage that as a rule springs only from the sense of honour and a readiness to take offence.

In the year 1260, Hulegu Khan sent a letter with his envoys to the Mamluks in Egypt. The Mongols back then had Persian viziers with whom they most likely consulted when writing the letter, and so they, despite not being Muslims, quoted two Qur'anic verses in their letter. In the end, the Mamluks refused to surrender, and the great wali of Allah, the Sultan of the Scholars, al-Izz bin Abd al-Salam, told Qutuz that he guaranteed them their victory if they marched against the Mongols. This comforted the Mamluks who knew of the many barakas with which this great aalim was blessed, and they marched out against the Mongols. They won, and it was the first time the Mongols ever lost a battle. Remember, Hulegu was NOT a Muslim and does not believe in the Supreme King and divine guidance or that he was sent by God to punish the sinners..

Here is the Letter from Hulagu to the Mamluks:

From the King of Kings in the East and the West, the mighty Khan:

In your name, O God, You who laid out the earth and raised the skies.

Let al-Malik al-Muzaffar Qutuz, who is of the race of mamluks who fled before our swords into this country, who enjoyed its comforts and then killed its rulers, let al-Malik al-Muzaffar Qutuz know, as well as the amirs of his state and the people of his realms, in Egypt and in the adjoining countries, that we are the army of God on His earth. He created us from His wrath and urged us against those who incurred His anger. In all lands there are examples to admonish you and to deter you from challenging our resolve. Be warned by the fate of others and hand over your power to us before the veil is torn and you are sorry and your errors rebound upon you. For we do not pity those who weep, nor are we tender to those who complain. You have heard that we have conquered the lands and cleansed the earth of corruption and killed most of the people. Yours to flee; ours to pursue. And what land will shelter you, what road save you; what country protect you? You have no deliverance from our swords, no escape from the terror of our arms. Our horses are swift in pursuit, our arrows piercing, our swords like thunderbolts, our hearts like rocks, our numbers like sand. Fortresses cannot withstand us; armies are of no avail in fighting us. Your prayers against us will not be heard, for you have eaten forbidden things and your speech is foul, you betray oaths and promises, and disobedience and fractiousness prevail among you. Be informed that your lot will be shame and humiliation. "Today you are recompensed with the punishment of humiliation, because you were so proud on earth without right and for your wrongdoing" [Qur'an 46:20]. "Those who have done wrong will know to what end they will revert" [Qur'an 26:227]. Those who make war against us are sorry; those who seek our protection are safe. If you submit to our orders and conditions, then your rights and your duties are the same as ours. If you resist you will be destroyed. Do not, therefore, destroy yourselves with your own hands. He who is warned should be convinced that you are evil-doers. God, who determines all, has urged us against you. Before us, your many are few and your mighty ones are lowly, and your kings have no way to us but that of shame. Do not debate long, and hasten to give us an answer before the fires of war flare up and throw their sparks upon you. Then you will find no dignity, no comfort, no protector, no sanctuary. You will suffer at our hands the most fearful calamity, and your land will be empty of you. By writing to you we have dealt equitably with you and have awakened you by warning you. Now we have no other purpose but you. Peace be with us, with you, and with all those who follow the divine guidance, who fear the consequences of evil, and who obey the Supreme King.

Say to Egypt, Hulegu has come,
with swords unsheathed and sharp.
The mightiest of her people will become humble,
he will send their children to join the aged.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Meltdown, Day 4

I...Am... A Monster...

I eat warriors for dinner.

These thoughts were going through my head, while I was sitting in the gym locker room. Just sitting there, silent, immobile, contemplating. I thought about how close I had come to throwing up, and how on my last set, I literally saw tens and tens of colorful stars popping up all around me... twinkling for some 30 seconds. They kept increasing, and I had taken that as a sign that I was about to faint. But I didn't. I was sitting there, thinking. I had just pushed my body to the maximum limit of what it can endure. My forearm muscles were so exhaused i could barely hold the pen to write down the numbers on the paper. I was thinking of how long it took me to drink that protein shake, and how i could barely finish half of it cause my body was too beat. I almost threw it all up. I was thinking, now that the first week of Meltdown was over, how I'm supposed to increase my mega-sets from 3 to 4. How is that physically possible? My brain was having a hard time even accepting that such a thing is possible. But I was proud of what I had just pushed myself through. I am a monster. I eat warriors for dinner.

But then, I thought to myself, "If I can push myself into such extremes, and if I am willing to put myself through so much pain, then how come I can't even push myself to do all my prayers on time? And that's not even counting fajr!" Even a little girl can get herself to do all the prayers on time, and I can't. I'm no monster. I'm no warrior. I'm weaker than a little girl.

"Is there anything wrong?", asked the locker room attendant, while tapping me on the shoulder. I realized I've just been sitting there, in the locker room, for 10 minutes. Not changing my clothes... Just sitting there, silently thinking to myself what I just wrote above, just trying to breathe normally. I didn't even know how to answer his question. I couldn't even begin to express how tired I was... but I didn't need to, because he saw that I can't even answer him, and I just gave a small laugh at my inability to answer him, and at the pain I was going through. And he laughed as he understood. Then, I got myself to answer him, saying: "if only you've just been through what I've just been through.." but I couldn't get myself to finish the sentence, the "you'd know what's wrong"...

"No thanks," he said while laughing, "it's hard enough for me what I do, bringing people towels and water."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Meltdown, day 3


Early Inscriptions from the Sahaba

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Inscriptions from Mount Sal`, Medina. This is where the Prophet placed most of the Muslim army during the Battle of the Trench (al-Khandaq). (The inscriptions however, if their dating is correct, are from two years before the battle).

There's two sets of inscriptions, large ones on the right, which were written later, and smaller ones on the left. The large inscriptions on the right are cut off and we can only read words or phrases like "Wise" and "Bakr" and "Umar son of.." The ones on the left say the following:

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You can see that "Talib" and "Muadh" and "Sulayman" are spelled in the archaic style of Arabic writing that has changed after the arabic script evolved in Abbasid times. This way of spelling did not change for many words in the Qur'an (such as rahman and others), because the Muslims did not want to add anything to the Qur'an, not even a new letter for the sake of spelling. But it has evolved in all non-Qur'anic words, and we now spell "Talib" and "Muadh" differently. Even "Sulayman" is now spelled differently- in non-Quranic texts- than how it is spelled in the Qur'an and in this inscription.

Some feet below this rock there are other inscriptions such as:

"May God accept Umar!
May God treat Umar with forgiveness!"


"May God make Umar of the people of Paradise..."

Professor Hamidullah is of the opinion that it may be the handwriting of `Umar himself as `Umar was known for his calligraphic skills.

George Miles asserts that these inscriptions are from 1st century of Hijra but associating them to `Umar's own hand is a bit tenuous.

However, Safadi dates this inscription to c. 4 AH (or c. 625 CE).


I tried looking up some of these names. Disregarding the ones I know like Muhammad ibn Abdallah (pbuh), Ali ibn Abi Talib (r.a) or Sa'd ibn Muadh, I only found two:

Umarah son of Hazm:

One day when they were digging the Ditch before the Battle of the Trench the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) fell asleep from sheer exhaustion, and Abu Bakr and Umar stood guard over him keeping the labourers away so that he could sleep in peace. Zayd b. Thabit, who was just sixteen and preparing for his first experience of battle, also fell asleep. Umarah b. Hazm played a practical joke on him, stealing his clothes and tools, and hiding them. Thus Zayd earned the nickname Abu Ruqad ("the Sleepy One").

M[uslim] son of Awsajah: Fought with al-Husayn in Karbala at the age of 70!

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Soul's Best Companion

I finished Martin Lings' Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. I have two more sira books to read (but not right now): Muhammad by Yahiya Emerick, and Dr. Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Buti's The Jurisprudence of the Prophetic Biography- the english translation. I'm not sure if that's the best translation of the title. You see, fiqh means both "understanding" and "jurisprudence". In this case, it applies to both. At the end of every chapter there is an analysis of the events, and lessons are learned and we are told how jurists have come to make certain rulings based on such and such events. So it's both a deeper understanding of the Prophetic biography and an explanation of the jurisprudence based on the biography.

Oh yeah, I also need to buy ash-Shifa by Qadi Iyad (translated by Aisha Bewley). I should read the arabic versions one day I suppose but for now I'm reading the english. I've also read Allama Shibli Nu'mani's biography of the Prophet some 3 years ago. It's the longest and most indepth one (5 volumes) but the translation is horrible and full of typos and all kinds of mistakes. I also need to get the audio CD's of Amr Khalid's recounting of the biography which he did this Ramadan, In the Footsteps of the Beloved. He tells it so good he makes you cry in shame of your laziness in comparison to the companions of the Prophet (pbuh), and in love of the Prophet.

"Without doubt, whenever you sit with someone and are with him, you will take on his disposition. On whom have you been gazing that tightness should have come into you? If you look at green herbs and flowers, freshness will come. The sitting companion pulls you into his own world. That is why reciting the Koran purifies the heart, for you remember the prophets and their states. The form of the prophets comes together in your spirit and becomes its sitting companion."

- Shams Tabrizi

Here, Shams is explaining the benefit of making the Qur'an our constant sitting companion, so that we begin to take in the form and disposition of the prophets, to have them mixed into our souls.. so we can become more like them.

Personally, I believe it is more important to make the Prophetic biography our constant sitting companion. If reading about the Prophets in the Qur'an makes us more like them, then reading about Allah's beloved will make us more like him, peace be upon him. The more we read about him, the more we understand the way he thought. The more we see how he dealt with certain situations, the more we begin to act like him in similar situations. The more we see his personality, the more we take on his attributes and his personality.

And by understanding the Prophet's life, and the Prophet's character, we will arrive at a better understanding of the Qur'an. Furthermore, by studying the sira, we learn why this or that verse of the Qur'an was revealed and when, and we gain a deeper understanding of the Qur'an. By making the biography of the Prophet our constant sitting companion, we become far better Muslims because we understand the Qur'an better, and the vessel who carried this Qur'an to us.

Sayyida Aisha (r.a) was asked about the Prophet's character, peace be upon him. She said, "His character was that of the Qur'an." The Prophet, as the vessel of the Qur'an, in a way was the Qur'an. It was infused in his soul so that he personified its ideals and values. To make the Prophet our constant companion in every thought and action until, that is the basis of what is called al Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya.

Next up for me to read, inshalla, is Prayer Fashions Man, a collection of all that Frithjof Schuon (Shaykh Isa Nur ad-Din) wrote about the importance of prayer. I have other books for Schuon but none of them ever "called to me". They just sit there on the shelf, and I just leave them alone. This was like that, but yesterday it finally "called out to me". I just had this sudden attraction to it, and so I'm gonna read it (this is how I always determine what book I'm gonna read).


As for the exercise front, today I jumped back into the fire. Yep, I decided no matter how painful Meltdown Training is, I'm gonna stick with it. We're not here to be happy all the time. We're here for work and discipline. And I have a poor diet, so what? Imagine what would have happened if Abu Dujana didn't fight at Uhud because he hadn't been eating well lately. One thing about bodybuilders: their diets are too good. Life's just not like that.... It's not perfect. Bodybuilders have absolutely perfect diets and basically pamper their muscles. Ancient warriors were never like that. Their bodies had to adapt so that they grow stronger and bigger with less food, so that the body becomes more efficient at processing food and getting benefits out of it. The body itself becomes tougher.

I decided to change one thing, though, with my diet. I'm gonna stop drinking water, and replace it with milk. Milk is 80% water, and so by drinking milk all day my body is still getting all the water it needs, as well as proteins and tons of other good stuff. If I drank water, I'd fill myself up. By replacing it with milk, I'm being more efficient and getting more into me. Since yesterday I've been drinking 1.5-2 kg of skimmed milk a day. In fact only time I drink water is at night with the ZMA so that calcium doesn't intefere with its absorption. Hopefully this will improve my gains and make up somewhat for the bad diet. My main problem as a vegetarian in Egypt is I end up eating lots and lots of processed carbs. Two or three plates of koshari (Egyptian dish made of: rice, pasta, lentils, chilli) for lunch. My belly is growing again. I'm not sure the Meltdown Training will keep it in check. Gotta find a solution.

Well that's it for now. Time for isha. Wassalam.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Forget Dante's Inferno, I've actually been there!

"Death Circuit". That's what Don Alessi's elite athletes call his Meltdown Training program. Death Circuit. That name is so misleading, I could sue him. Death circuit made me think it would be so bad I'd die after I finished. This was far far worse. This was so bad I was dead by the second super-set. After that, I was roasting in jahannam. I had to stop half-way through the third super-set. It all took 10 minutes. 10 minutes. 10 MINUTES! 10 Minutes. Then it took me some 15 minutes until i can breathe normally again. And I started to sweat like crazy. The whole exercise should have taken 15 minutes maybe 17. That's it. I'm used to spending an hour at the gym, maybe a little more.

I only started today because I took an extra day off after the end of my last program, and then i got sick for two days, having really high fever and puking all over the dining room table and floor. Pleasant. For the past two days i've eaten nothing but one plate of rice and 2 kilograms (!!) of fresh guava and strawberry juice. Today I had a small plate of fish. Wasn't too good.

Anyway, maybe I just hadn't eaten well enough to start this program. But I doubt it. I'm not going anywhere near this program until I have a PERFECT, flawless diet, and MEGA-DOSE BCAA's (branched chain amino acids) for recovery (or steroids). haha, jk about the steroids. Now i'll have to find me a new program.

On the religious front, I've slipped back into spiritual jahannam. 4 days i havent prayed. First two days, I was supposed to make up for all prayers at night time but i ended up writing papers until the next morning. Then came two days of severe illness, and one day where I really dont have any excuse whatsoever (not that the previous days I had enough of an excuse). I feel horrible about this. Today it ends, inshalla. If only I could get up from this chair now to go do wudu I would. But I'm afraid my legs would fail me half way through the prayer. Death Circuit ??!!! Inshalla I'll do the prayers in an hour or two. I can't believe i slipped less than 10 days (i tihnk) since I started praying again.

I must not let a single day go by without prayer. Not a single day. Not for any excuse in the world.. You always think you'll go back the next day and you don't. And no more joining prayers. I'm gonna start doing them all in their proper time. If my hands start getting chapped again or whatever from all the wudu then I'd cut back. Until then, then inshalla I'll do them all in their proper time..

Gotta be honest about all this. That's what this blog is for. To push me into doing everything I should be doing. Everytime I slip I have to blog about it. Can't stay quiet about it.

"Account yourselves before you are taken into account and weigh your actions before they are weighed for you!" -Umar Ibn al-Khattab (r.a)


Wow. I had some amaazing dreams last night. Amazing. I mean, I've been having great dreams every night for a while now (and I'll you'll soon find out why), but yesterday's were just.. brilliant. I have the most amazing director up in that head. Anyway, I thought I'd share this info about ZMA with you all so you can have those dreams if you wished to (I don't guarantee however that they'd be as good as mine, depends on the quality of that director).

What is ZMA? It's one of the cheapest and most effective supplements out there.. Simply nothing but Zinc and Magnesium, with a bit of vitamin B6 to maximize absorption. Now MOST (up to 75%) of all Americans (and i'm betting more than 50% of Europeans and other people) are deficient in Zinc and Magnesium. Furthermore, studies show that almost 100% of all athletes are deficient in both Zinc and Magnesium. Yeah, that's 100%. Not only that, but anyone who sweats a lot is (most likely) deficient in both. Vegetarian or vegan? You're deficient as well.

What does it do? One study showed that it increases free testosterone in professional athletes by 33% and significantly increases their strength and power in 8 weeks. Charles Poliquin also has said his athletes really start to feel the difference after 6 weeks of use. Also increases growth hormone release during your sleep. Basically it restores all those hormones that you need for being strong and healthy and losing fat, to normal levels. People who also have less zinc also have weaker immune systems.

But even better than that- more restful, deeper sleep and of course, the amaaazing dreams. The dreams alone are worth the cheap price of ZMA.

Why can't you just get your zinc and magensium from a multivitamin/mineral formula? Because these formulas have calcium in them, and then there's even more calcium that's not mentioned and is used to bind together the vitamins and minerals. And calcium interferes with the absorption of zinc and magnesium. So even if you're taking a multi formula, you're not really getting zinc and magnesium into you because of the calcium.

Anyway, that was my first supplement review here.
You can find ZMA for about 10 bucks for a month's supply. I recommend at least two months use for athletes.

Friday, May 12, 2006

It only takes one hour...

"You can be a world class expert in anything you choose just by studying the subject one hour a day for the next five years."

- Alwyn Cosgrove

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Pushing Oneself to the Limit.

When I see something like this, I feel dissapointed in myself and in humanity that only a tiny number of people can do this.... I mean, we have the potential to do this. Why then are most of us so completely and horribly out of shape? This body of ours, it's amazing. It can do amaaaazing things. But we completely waste its potential.... Most people are weak.

you will probably disagree once you see this, but I believe that a human should strive to be able to do that. People should train their bodies to the maximum physical fitness possible so that they are warriors in both mind and body. Most of this is not even about physical fitness,... it's about hard, disciplined training.

behold what the body and mind can do. subhana rabbia'l khaaliq

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Numbers

ok, just had my weight, fat percentage, etc tested.. It's one of those long machines you see infront of pharmacies.. tis called Keito K-6... I hear this type of machine is not accurate, but I dont care about accuracy as much as i care about consistency. As long as it accurately shows me how much I'm improving in regards to lean body mass, i'm happy.


Today: May 9, 2006

Height: 170 cm
Weight: 87.2 kg
Fat percentage: 16.3 %
Lean Body Mass: 73 kg

the machine printout also says the optimal fat percentage for a male of my height and age is 14-20%...

So these are my numbers currently with which I will compare future numbers after the end of every program.

As for comparing them to my numbers from before starting this last program, I cannot use these same numbers because the last time the machine measured my height at 169 cm, which changes things a bit. So I had to retake the measurements and stood a bit slouched on purpose so that it would measure my height at 169. This is just so i can compare accurately with last month's measurements (unless I grew 1 cm since then which is highly unlikely).


Numbers from April 8, 2006

Height: 169 cm
Weight: 87.3 kg
Fat percentage: 16.9 %
Lean Body Mass: 72.6 kg

Numbers from Today May 9, 2006 (at 169 cm)

Height: 169 cm
Weight: 87.2 kg
Fat percentage: 16.8 %
Lean Body Mass: 72.6 kg

According to these numbers, I lost a negligible amount of fat (but that's not really what I care about).. What I care about is lean body mass and it hasn't changed at all!!! I dunno how that's possible, I mean I really feel bigger and my lats looks bigger. I dunno. Well, this was a strength-focused program and they usually don't do much in regard to changing body composition. The main point of them is just to increase my strength. (That or the machine isn't consistent. Maybe I should start taking pics of myself as well). [Edit: I was told this machine is not consistent at all because it relies on consistent water weight and that is obviously impossible.]

The Next Program

Next up I'm gonna do Don Alessi's Meltdown Training program. It's main purpose is fat loss, but it can also cause muscle gains as well because of the "anabolic shock" of this program.

If you read the article, it gives a great summary of why using weightlifting is far better than aerobic endurance training for weight loss.. MUCH better. Don't get me started on aerobic endurance training.

BUT Don Alessi says that this program works by inducing large amounts of lactic acid release which leads to Growth Hormone release which leads to fat loss and muscle gain. That's not entirely true. While growth hormone release does help, it doesn't give the radical improvements that such a program causes. People supplementing with Growth Hormone supplements take far larger amounts of growth hormone to see the same changes than any amount your body could ever produce, and so the fat loss cannot really be attributed to the growth hormone release.. not all of it anyway.

The real cause is that this type of program really really gets your heart pumping. Now aerobic endurance exercises like running get your heart pumping too, but they have so many negatives that go along with them that they're bad for you. Really bad for you (unless you do less than 20 minutes a day, and you need it- i.e. you're fat). On the other hand, you might not want to touch it even if you were fat.

From a cortisol perspective, aerobics just plain sucks. Charles states that Diana Schwarzbien, the guru of adrenal disorders, forbids even her morbidly obese clients from performing steady state aerobic work for this reason.

- From the report on the 2005 Society of Weight Training Specialists symposium.

[Charles Poliquin, who is quoting Diana Schwarzbien is probably the world's most respected strength coach and is such an expert on the human body and it's hormones that he developed a whole new method of measuring a person's hormone levels, simply through skinfold measurements in different locations! He taught this Biosignature Modulation method to hundreds of doctors too. In short, listen to what he says.]

But sorry for getting off topic there. Anyway, the Meltdown Training article has a great breakdown of why "aerobic weightlifting" is far superior to aerobic endurance work such as running.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to trying this killer program. Killer in more than one sense of the word:

This training has been nicknamed "death circuit" and "projectile speed training" by those who’ve survived it. This is because blood lactate levels rise to 20 mmol/l. You may want a partner to manually force you through all the prescribed sets — or help you clean up!

Yep. This will be so intense it might actually make me throw up.

Final Note: I'll also be taking Universal's Thermo Green Tea supplement for the month. This will help with the fat loss BUT it will screw up any way for me to determine the effectiveness of either the Green Tea or the Meltdown Training on its own! When someone wants to try a new supplement or a new program, he's supposed to keep everything else the same so that he could properly evaluate the effects of the new variable. But now that I'm introducing two variables at once, I won't be able to find out how much each of these works for me. On the other hand as long as I reach my goals, I'll be happy enough. (Hey at least I'll know for sure that the combination of both things works, haha!) Inshalla.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Green Tea

i'm taking 6 caps daily of Universal's Thermo Green Tea... that's 2250mgs... which is a lot, but that's what the bottle says and it has been shown to increase thermogenesis by up to 43%, apparently. It's actually like 5 times the recommended dosage i see on other green tea bottles!

it's also got tons of health benefits such as being a powerful antioxidant, great for digestive health (helps reduce harmful bacteria in the gut while keeping/helping the good bacteria)... and tons of other stuff that would take a long list. Also drank a cup today and basically rinsed my teeth with it before swallowing it, cause its been proven to prevent cavities or gingivitis or something.

anyway, now i find out green tea is anti-androgenic!! that means less testosterone, that means less muscle!!! ghaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYY??!?!?!?!?!?! WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?!?!?!?!

oh well, since my next program will be a fat-loss program, i'll just finish these two bottles of Universal Thermo Green.. together, they'll last me a month. I mean, Green Tea has so many health benefits and will really help me cut, that i'm willing to slow down (but hopefully not reverse) muscle growth for this one month. damnit.. is this why i feel like my muscles got smaller the past two days?!?!?


Sunday, May 07, 2006

The end of my strength program.

I enabled anonymous commenting so that anyone can comment. But because of that I added the word verification thingy so I don't get spammed or whatever.

Also, today was the last day of my 5-week exercise program. I'm gonna wait another two days for the last bit of muscle repair and growth before I measure myself, and then I'll post the numbers from before I began the program and the new numbers to see what changed, etc, and track my progess. Then i'll be starting a new program which i'll discuss when it's time.

If anyone cares, this is what the program was like... I took it from a book published by the Men's Health people that I had bought long ago called The Testosterone Advantage Plan (a plan that I never used and never will, hehe, but the book had tons of useful info and this great program so it kinda made up for the purchase price). This specific program was geared toward strength gains and testosterone release, not muscle size. There is a big difference between the two when it comes to program design and results. And this was the first time I try a strength program and do very low reps with much heavier weight... it was great! And much to my surprise, I feel like I gained more muscle on this strength program that I did on hypertrophy (muscle size) programs... but i'll find out if that's true or not when I see the numbers.

Anyway, the program is three days a week, 4 exercises a day. The first three exercises are compound, whole-body testosterone-releasing, mass-building exercises and the fourth exercise was usually an isolation exercise focusing on the legs only or the abs so i cancelled the fourth exercise of every day... I was not gonna do any isolation exercises on a strength program.. Plus I was doing kung fu three days a week as well and it would have been too much for my poor abs and legs. A note about the kung fu thing: I didn't do any for the last two weeks cause of the trip to Lebanon and Jordan and being really busy with studies after coming back. Hope to get back into that in a couple days.

Day 1:

* Deadlift. Warm up set: 7 reps. Second set: 6 reps. Sets 3-5: 4 reps (real heavy).
* Bench Press: same set and rep ranges as above.
* One-arm row (elbow out). Set 1: 7 reps. Set 2-4: 6-4 reps.

Day 2:

* Assisted pullups: Same set and rep ranges as Deadlifts, Bench Press.
* Pulldowns: Two sets of 8 reps as soon as I finish the assisted pullups to fry every last muscle fiber I had. This was supposed to be "dumbbell stepups" but like I said i'm already getting lots of leg exercise from the squats, deadlifts, and kung fu.
* Dips: Three sets of 8. This was supposed to be "overhead tricep extension" but I thought I'd do a compound tricep exercise like the dips instead, to give more stimulation to my chest and whole body as well, and more testosterone release... This is the only exercise in the program that had a hypertrophy set-rep range instead of a strength one. I wonder if it was wrong for me to do that, but I dont see why it would be.

Day 3:

* Back Squats: Same rep ranges as Deadlift, Bench Press, Assisted Pullups, etc.
* Seated Military Press: Same as above.
* Assisted chin-ups: 4 sets, each set a little less assistance than the first, until the last one there was barely any assistance. This was supposed to be "preacher curls" but chin-ups are a superior biceps exercise and it does the entire body as well and releases more testosterone, etc.

We'll find out two days from now what the results are like. I repeat, this is a strength-focused program, and they usually do not stimulate much muscle growth compared to hypertrophy-focused programs, so I'm not really expecting much difference in body composition.. Yet for some reason I feel like I gained a lot more muscle. There's also those 2 kilos of fat (well hopefully some muscle in there too) that I gained from my 11 days in Beirut & Amman, cause I was trying to get as much protein into me as possible before I went back to Egypt where my eating habits suck.

Whatever the results are like though, I really enjoyed this strength-focused program and I'm looking forward to more such programs.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

That Little Candle

Islam is a religion for all mankind, and currently has one fifth of the world as its followers...Now the Arab countries only represent a minority among Muslims, being themselves home to one fifth of all Muslims worldwide, but they are at the heartland of Islam, the birthplace of Islam... and in most cases they are the representatives of Islam. Martin Lings once gave a lecture a long time ago at an International Islamic Congress in Cairo. He was talking about the importance of returning "to that noble civilization whose function it is to create a worthy setting for the spirit of the religion". "But this return," he said, "can be accomplished only by the widespread setting of examples. Arabs, you are in the abode of Islam... and we look toward you from outside that abode and place our hopes in you. Do not disappoint us."[1]

The point is, even though the Arabs do not represent the majority of Muslims, they matter and they matter a lot. And so when I will be discussing what I see to be one of the biggest reasons for the decline of the ummah, do not take it lightly for the fact that this problem exists mostly in the Arab countries. Yes it exists mostly there and in some other places as well, but it is enough to be absolutely devastating to the Islamic community in its entirety, and sadly most Muslims are completely unaware of this.

Have you ever wondered why there are not many great Muslim thinkers out there? And why there are so many ignorant shaykhs and muftis out there, giving out ridiculous fatwas? Why, just why aren't there any sensible shaykhs and muftis out there? Why must we suffer while the ummah looks to incompetent fools for guidance? I can tell you one of the most important reasons, if not THE most important reason, but I do not know if this problem exists outside the Arab world as well. It's a widespread problem in the Arab world, but by the looks of some fatwas out there, I'm willing to bet this same problems happens in the most populous Muslim countries of the world as well (Indonesia, Pakistan, and India which, while not a Muslim country, has the second largest Muslim population in the world). Someone let me know if I'm right.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "By Allah, it is not poverty that I fear for you, but I fear that this world will be spread out in front of you as it was spread out in front of those before you, and then you will vie for it as they vied for it, and it will destroy you as it destroyed them".[2]

And, "Part of what I fear for you after I have gone is the beauty and attraction of this world which will be opened up to you."[3]

(No this is not it, just wait a sec).

Now the early Muslims cared not for this world, and money meant nothing for them, so that they did not worry themselves with acquirining it. The Muslims did not care for becoming merchants or bankers- they left that for the Jews. They did not care for becoming scribes or bureaucrats- they left that for the Christians. The highest possible goal for the Muslims were to become scholars, thinkers, philosophers.

"Allah will make the path to the Garden easy for anyone who travels a path in search of knowledge. Angels spread their wings for the seeker of knowledge out of pleasure for what he is doing. Everyone in the heavens and everyone in the earth ask forgiveness for a man of knowledge, even the fish in the water. The superiority of the man of knowledge (aalim) to the man of worship (aabid) is like the superiority of the full moon over the stars. The men of knowledge are the heirs of the Prophets. The Prophets bequeath neither dinar nor dirham; they bequeath knowledge. Whoever takes it has taken an ample portion."

- Prophet Muhammad [4]

Today, you see people envying movie stars and actors, and the way they live.. And envying the millionaire lifestyle... What they envy is nothing but distraction and play in a world that will eventually end.. What they envy and strive for is a life that leads to torment in the grave and in the hereafter. Why do they not envy the great scholars, or the awliya of Allah- why do they not envy those men who will have eternal bliss in the hereafter?

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "You may only have envy for two things: for a man to whom Allah has given wealth which he spends in the way of the truth, and for a man to whom Allah has given wisdom and he acts by it and teaches it."[5]

Look at the time in which Islam was the beacon of light in the world, how many great scholars and thinkers they had! Why? Because they knew that the pursuit of religious knowledge, and of wisdom, was the noblest of all pursuits. This is what they occupied themseleves with, and they did not worry about money. In order to make some money, thought, to survive, they chose one of the noblest of professions: Medicine- so that they could help mankind. Thus these very same people who wrote countless books on Philosophy, Religion, Mathematics and Astronomoy also wrote books on Medicine, and many of them were great poets to boot!

Truly a great scholar will make the Prophet proud. Abu'l Hassan ash-Shadhili, founder of the Shadhili tariqa, had a dream vision in which he saw the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) standing with Moses and Jesus (pbut), and pointing at Imam al-Ghazali. The Prophet was boasting to Moses and Jesus, saying, "Have either of your your ummah's produced a scholar as great as him?" and they said "No."

But now that all everyone strives for is material gains, what do they study? This brings us back to the situation in the Arab World. In most Arab countries, there comes a point either at the beginning or in the middle of high school where students are seperated and follow different streams: if you are an A or a B student, you take the Sciences stream... But if you are a C student or below, you may not take the Sciences and must study the "lower" stream, that of the Arts, like History or the Social Sciences or Literature. If only the Arabs would look at how the West calls these the "Fine Arts" while we nowadays look at them as the inferior sciences, to be taken only by those who are not smart enough to go into the Sciences!

So what happens to all the intelligent minds of the ummah (in the Arab world)? They get lost in pursuit of their business degrees and MBA's and their money and finances and that's how they come to forget about their religion. And what happens to all the bad students? They become the "thinkers" of the Arab World!

Ok, so now these students who are in the Arts stream are ready to go to college and take their tawjihi exams (or whatever the final diploma exams are called in their country)... Based on the grades that they get on these exams, they are told what they are allowed to learn and what they are not allowed to learn in University. If you have really good grades, you can still hope to go into something like Accounting.... But the lower the grades that you got, the less options are allowed for you to choose from.... And what is the lowest option possible? The option that takes in all the worst students in high school? The only option that you can take if you are not good enough to go into anything else? SHARI'A!!! O God, have mercy on your people for they do not know! SHARI'A!!!! Does it all make sense now? Why all the imams in our mosques are so close-minded? Why all our muftis are embarassingly stupid? Why the Muslim umma is kept so far behind? Because all (ok, most) our religious leaders went into sharia studies because they were too stupid to go into anything else!! That's why! And judging by the fatwas coming from scholars in other countries like India and Pakistan, I'm willing to bet it's the same. And even if they do not have that system in their education system, the same problem exists: the more intelligent and well-off people are not concerned with gaining a religious education.

But there is still much hope, do you know why? Because even if all these scholars are enshrouding the ummah in darkness, in their own darkness and ignorance, all it takes to light a dark room is one little candle. Subhanallah! You have vast spaces of complete darkness that are lit by the light of one candle, or one light bulb! And if the good Muslim worshipper is like a star, giving off a small amount of light (faith and knowledge), then the true scholar, the true possessor of knowledge, is like a moon, giving light to all those on the surface of the earth! Subhanallah!. When one Muhammad Iqbal emerges, or one Muhammad Asad, these thinkers of such great genius, their light is enough to give wisdom to all those who were covered in darkness. When a Nuh Keller or a Martin Lings emerges, shaykhs of such spiritual magnitude and such knowledge, their light is enough to give guidance to all those who were lost in the dark. When a Hamza Yusuf or a Zaid Shakir emerges, those who have such passion for their religion, their light is enough to arouse the passions of all those who were asleep in the darkness. When intelligent, sometimes genius people, dedicate themselves to their religion, they spread so much light that it does not matter how many ignorant shaykhs or mullahs are out there anymore. Be there one hundred or one million ignorant scholars sitting in the dark, when the light of that moon shines, it reaches all who are on the surface of the earth (on that side of the earth that is dark, i know, i know, but you get the point).

And why did such great minds dedicate themselves to their religion? Because they did not care about wordly possessions... They wanted the noble sciences that elevate one's mind and spirit far above the seven heavens.. And they became moons, and the inheritors of the Prophets. May God guide us upon the path of His Prophets and give us knowledge! Ya Nur!

So I implore all intelligent Muslims to try and gain as much religious knowledge as possible, and God's Messenger has promissed that "Allah will make the path to the Garden easy for anyone who travels a path in search of knowledge." [6]

And I ask especially those who have been given wealth by the grace of Allah, that they thank Allah for that blessing by dedicating their life to upholding his religion and spreading its proper teachings. If you already have been given wealth, why seek for more, when you can be doing the most noble thing that God created man to do?

"Your striving for what has already been guaranteed to you and your negligence of what is demanded of you are signs of the loss of your deep spiritual insight (baseera)."

So said the great Ibn Ata'Allah al-Iskandari, that scholar and wali whose hikam (wise sayings) are taught in every corner of the Muslim world! If you have been provided enough material wealth to live, then instead of striving for more of what has already been provided for you, strive for that which is a religious obligation (fareeda) for you : "Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim" [7]. Other versions of this hadith say, "Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim, man and woman."

What do you think this 'Ilm is, that the Prophet is talking about in all these ahadith, this knowledge? Do you think that all the sciences and arts of the Islamic Civilization had existed at the time of the Prophet? No, they came later. There was only one 'ilm, one science, one type of knowledge, that the Prophet meant in all these ahadith encouraging us to acquire it and teach it: religious knowledge.

And if you are not wealthy and need to work in something, then know that being a writer or a thinker, or a da'i or a scholar does not prevent you from having a job to earn a living. The great thinker and writer Muhammad Iqbal dedicated his life to the cause of Islam, but worked as a lawyer on the side to earn a living. He was a lawyer AND he had enough time to inspire millions of Muslims and to help create the country of Pakistan, for it was his dream to create a country based on nothing but Islam (the fact that Pakistan has fallen far from that ideal is not his fault!!) My favorite Muslim da'i in the Arab World, Shaykh Muhammad bin Musa al-Shareef, other than spending a lot of time giving lectures on Islamic tv channels and teaching students, works as a pilot for the Saudi airlines to earn a living! Muhammad Asad was a journalist and then became a Pakistani ambassador (despite the fact that he was Austrian!)

If you are living outside the predominantly Muslim countries and cannot find someone to give you a proper traditional Islamic education, and you can afford it, please go here--> Sunni Path. If you are living in a predominantly Muslim country, go find a famous shaykh or scholar and learn from them.. In many cases it's completely free, and you can do it on the weekends!

You don't have to become another Muhammad Asad or some great Muslim philosopher. You just need to become a smart, educated, open-minded possessor of Islamic knowledge... I'm not asking you to be a moon... All you have to be is a little tiny candle to spread your light to the corners of a room in the dark!

And Muslim governments, and Arab nations... Do you want to significantly reduce that "religious fanaticism" you fear so much? Stop putting the knowledge of Islam in the hands of the worst thinkers in your country!!! Raise the standards for those wishing to learn Shari'a... Stop idiots and high school failures from becoming the leaders of their communities and the distributers of knowledge, for it is because of their ignorance that fanaticism can spread so easily. Fight fanaticism with knowledge. That is what we need to do.

What we need to do is to emulate our ancestors who made the Islamic civilization shine like a beacon for all the world... All these great geniuses, they where greatly versed in religious knowledge and in many other fields as well. That's what we should strive for. We need to go back to the age in which the brightest minds of the ummah are Philosopher-Shaykhs, Historian-Shaykhs, Astronomer-Shaykhs, Mathematician-Shaykhs, Surgeon-Shaykhs, Healer-Shaykhs, and yes, even sometimes Merchant-Shaykhs, etc. And we need to go back to a time when just being a Shaykh, or a religious scholar, was held in the highest esteem. Back then, parents used to sell their houses and live in the street in order for their children to learn at the hands of Shaykhs and become great scholars. What we need is that our most brilliant minds leave their hopes of money and riches, and start working to gain the Gardens of the heareafter... We need our most brilliant minds to want to become, to aspire to become, the inheritors of the Prophets. Only that would bring about a change in the Muslim World.

“Verily Allah and His angels, even the ant in its hole and the fish in the sea, verily they all pray for he who teaches people good.” [8]

1. "What is the Spiritual Significance of Civilization?
2. Agreed Upon. Riyad as-Salihin: On the Excellence of making do with little of this world and the encouragement to have little of it and the excellence of poverty
3. Ibid.
4. Narrated by Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah. Riyad as-Salihin: The Excellence of knowledge
5. Agreed Upon. Ibid.
6. Sahih Muslim. Ibid.
7. Authentic. Reported by Bayhaqi.
8. Authentic. Reported by Tabarani. Why Should I Study (Islamic Knowledge)? Note: The "Muhammad al-Shareef" who wrote this article is NOT the same Muhammad b. Musa al-Shareef that I mention in the blog.

The Sword of Freewill

Freewill is as the salt to piety,
Otherwise heaven itself were matter of compulsion.
In its revolutions reward and punishment were needless,
For tis freewill that has merit at the great reckoning.
If the whole world were framed to praise God,
There would be no merit in praising God.
Place a sword in his hand and remove his impotence,
To see if he turns out a warrior or a robber.

Because freewill is that wherewith "We honor Adam"[1]

- Rumi. The Mathnawi (Abridged), pg 224.

[1] Quran 17:72: And surely We have honored the children of Adam, and We carry them in the land and the sea, and We have given them of the good things, and We have made them to excel by an appropriate excellence over most of those whom We have created.

See The Work of Men

Friday, May 05, 2006

Exercise and Spirituality

i really recommend reading this article on Paul Chek.
Very informative. ok well just the first part is about exercise and spirituality, the rest is about healthy nutrition.

As a mirror image of our scientific practices and people worshipping science, we've also compartmentalized our lives to such a degree that we actually segregate our weightlifting, exercise, and food from the church. Yet all the really ancient philosophies that still exist today – yoga, tai chi, chi gong, and many of the martial arts with deep spiritual foundations – those were all practices that integrated lifestyle, philosophy, religion, and exercise. They were complete holistic symptoms.

He does have some crazy ideas though.. for example:

When you're working on the knee of a Hindu, it might look like the knee of a Christian or a Muslim, but it isn't. The software that drives it is completely different. In order to be an effective therapist and trainer and coach, I've had to study world religion. The physical body is like a vehicle, but your spiritual beliefs are your software by which you navigate life.

well, who knows.

Anyway I really agree about this part:

I'm working to usher in what used to be. And that is to see the body as the church of health and well-being, and to see the gym as the temple where one exercises, listens to good music, thinks, and has commune with people of like mind.

I want to turn the gyms back into sacred spaces. The gym needs to be a spot where we merge science with spirit.


"You go back to the 1940s and a lot of your champion bodybuilders were also competitive weightlifters. They were Olympic lifting on Saturday and posing on Sunday.

Most bodybuilders were not only world class athletes, they were a health cult. There was a lot of spirituality in bodybuilding – that striving toward something better. We've lost that component of it."

And that wasn't only the 1940s... Frank Zane (Mr Olympia 1977-1979.. see pics in last post) is a very spiritual person and thought of bodybuilding as a very spiritual affair. In fact he was criticized for focusing too much on meditation and relaxation as part of bodybuilding and putting too many of his spiritual poems in his bodybuilding books instead of just talking about lifting weights like most idiots want.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Classic Physiques

Elizabeth commented on how the massive bodybuilders of today don't look too good (on the "Silencer 3, Nafs 0" thread). I completely agree.

My ideal physique comes from the golden age of bodybuilding... So here's a few of my favourite oldschool physiques:

(at first I had posted the pics themselves on the blog, but then i decided i'd put their links instead. You see a man in islam should not show any part between his knees and his navel to other people. I also personally believe men should be more conservative than that when it comes to women. Anyway, instead of posting three large pictures of men in "bikinis" on an islam-themed blog, i thought i'd provide the links instead for those who wished to see.)

1) Steve Reeves (the guy who played Hercules)

2) Frank Zane

please don't give me any of "the veins! the veins!" comments.... they only show like that when they're really pumped for the sake of the pics....

3) Bill Pearl (he was vegetarian!)