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.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Assalamu Alaykum,

Egypt's heat is killing me... I haven't been able to write anything in a while because this heat just takes all the power out of you, and you just can't do anything. The problem is, I have a great disliking for air conditioners, I prefer to melt in the heat than to turn one on. I also want to get used to the heat. I feel like we're pampering our bodies too much, keeping the temperature perfect all year long, and I decided last summer in Egypt that I will never use the air conditioning, but make my body get used to the heat. One draw back of course is that it takes me a very long time to fall asleep, I wake up with a wet t-shirt and pillow from the sweat, and i'm probably losing lots of water and minerals from the sweating. Too bad I ran out of ZMA and have no multi-vitamin or mineral around.

Well, I woke up and fall asleep again at lest 5 times today. In one of those times I dragged myself out of bed, gravity pulling me down and the sun pushing down at me from above, and sat to watch the Iqra' channel, and to my luck found a discussion with the shaykh Habeeb Ali al-Jafri whose very existence always reminds me that all is not lost in the ummah and that there is much hope and much goodness around.

Well, today they were discussing where the education of the du'aat, those who call and invite the Muslims to guidance, went wrong. The discussion then branched off for the rest of the episode to talk about the importance of suhba in the education of the du'at and the teachers of Islam. Nowadays the word suhba usually refers to a certain talk that a Shaykh says, but its true meaning is companionship. Suhba was the way students accompanied their teachers wherever they went and served them in order to benefit from them and learn from them. Well, Shaykh Habeeb gave lots of examples from the Qur'an and the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (the way he acted toward his shaykh Imam al-Shafi'i), may God be pleased with them both. I'm not going to try to recount what he said because it was so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes, but I will only say that I finally, for the first time, truly and sincerely asked God to send me a shaykh that I can accompany, a wali to purify me and help fix me upon the path of the Prophet (pbuh).

I don't know why but I've never really wanted it before. I would think about it, and I might even pray for it, but I'd know deep down that I wasn't being sincere about it, because it would conflict with my own desires. But now I realized I'd be willing to give anything up for accompanying a good shaykh who will strengthen me and guide me upon the path. I realized that I would be willing to give up anything that I liked in order to purify me heart and move upon the path to Allah.

So please pray for me, right now, and ask Allah that he send me a good shaykh, amen.

As I said before, I'm reading The Hundred Letters by shaykh Maneri, which are wonderful, and I finally decided to go to the bookstore and buy On Disciplining the Soul and Breaking the Two Desires, a translation of two books from Imam al-Ghazali's Ihyaa. The first one is called Kitaab Riyaadat an-Nafs (like the name of this blog), and the other is about breaking the two main desires: gluttony and sexual desire. (There is an excerpt in the link above, from the chapter on the importance of good character, which I wish everyone would read).

My own cousin told me how much he benefitted from applying the Ihyaa. He used to be a very unruly young man, always getting angry quickly, shouting at his parents, doing some drugs, etc. His main problem was his anger and temper. He bought the Ihyaa and read it all and applied everything he learned from it and truly changed his personality.

I ask Allah that I benefit from the works of the great Imam as well. Aameen.


Blogger Elizabeth said...

Everything should be enjoyed in moderation...if you try to rid yourself of your desires, you will only find that you become obsessed with them.

If all else fails, you could try Prozac. I guarantee, your gluttony and sexual desire will greatly diminish or perhaps disappear entirely.

July 3, 2006 at 2:53 AM

Blogger Silencer said...

lol! elizabeth have you tried prozac?

anyway, i have no gluttony problems, and in any case the sufis dont say to completely rid yourself of your desires but to curb them, because all desires have some important function and cannot be gotten rid of completely.

here's what the back cover says about it,

"In the second part, entitled Breaking the Two Desires, he focuses on the question of gluttony and sexual desire, concluding with the words of the Prophet that 'the best of all matters is the middle way.'"

but i do need to discipline my soul.

July 3, 2006 at 8:55 AM

Blogger Silencer said...

(i remembered that you're a psychotherapist after writing my comment so never mind the "did u take prozac" question). by the way, does this mean all these thousands of people who are taking prozac to be happy are having no sex?

July 3, 2006 at 12:02 PM

Blogger Elizabeth said...

Well, some of them lose their sexual desire completely. Others don't. A lot of men will have prolonged erections as a result of taking SSRIs (the class of antidepressant Prozac is in). For some men, this is a good thing. For most, it becomes tiresome.

July 4, 2006 at 4:53 AM

Anonymous koonj said...

may Allah help you find a shaikh. i remember my days of praying for one too. allahumma salli wa sallim ala sayyidina Muhammad, wa dullanee ilaa man yudilluni ilaik.

July 13, 2006 at 9:57 PM

Blogger Silencer said...

amin. thanks for the prayer.

July 13, 2006 at 10:40 PM


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home