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.

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would not cancel water in favor of milk! I understand your wish for protein and being vegeterian does not make gaining weight easier, but especially with that hard of a training in the climate you are in you need to drink enough water to flush the toxins that build up while exercising out of your system. Not drinking water may have the unwanted effect of your body accumulating liquid, because it stores what it thinks is rare and needed.
Maybe have milk AND water !?
Good luck

May 16, 2006 at 11:33 PM

Blogger Silencer said...

but milk is 80% water. My body should find all the water it needs in there. I dunno. Anyway i drink some at night.

Well, I'll ask some more ppl to make sure.

May 16, 2006 at 11:47 PM

Blogger Silencer said...

you're right it seems, i need to get more liquid into me anyway, and its good to get more water.. so i'll be adding lots of water too, its doable.

May 17, 2006 at 12:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alhamdulillah! Yes, water is always of great benefit, the purest of all fluids !

May 17, 2006 at 2:04 PM


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