Self-Discipline in Islam

“self-regulation failure is the major social pathology of our time.” (Baumeister, Willpower)

As it often happens during or around the month of Ramadan, I had a conversation with a colleague at work who was interested in understanding why Muslims fast. I explained to him that Muslims fast for a number of reasons, including:

  • Their belief that God has ordered them to fast;
  • It develops their compassion and empathy towards the less fortunate;
  • It improves self-control;
  • It is considered a great spiritual exercise of purification;
  • It is a reminder of the weakness and dependence of our selves on the continuous graces of God;
  • It has intellectual benefits, such as helping with focus and attention;
  • There are important health benefits;
  • Etc.

I did not know it at the time, but the point about self-discipline and control seems to have really spoken to him. As I was leaving work yesterday, we crossed paths again, near the door. He shared with me how our short conversation got him thinking about self-discipline, and its importance in our lives. He even showed me a book that he had started reading 4 days ago (The New Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren), and he was interested in learning more about it, and as a result of our little chat, he ended up asking me whether any local imams gave talks about the topic from an Islamic perspective or even had programs to acquaint non Muslims to Islam…

The truth of the matter is that the topic is incredibly important, and yet our Islamic programs, libraries and institutions lack greatly in this respect. So I thought that I would at least jot down some preliminary thoughts about the topic of self-discipline or self-control in Islam for now – and hopefully this will be the seed for a book or a series of lectures one day…

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D. Miguel Ruiz. 1997. The Four Agreements – A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. A Toltec Wisdom Book

A couple of weeks ago, a colleague at work mentioned having acquired this new book, and then on Friday, mentioned having just finished reading it, thanks to a very long wait at a medical clinic. This is not the type of book I typically spend any time on, so let me tell you why I did.

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A few pointers regarding the daily/ritual prayer when one is travelling

Over the past few years, I have received quite a few questions about the correct way of applying the rules regarding the ritual daily prayers while travelling, so I thought I would write a little post to give an overview that covers most scenarios. Hopefully this will make things a lot clearer than what is found in technical legal works…

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