Alhamdulilaahi Robil Al’amin; It feels like yesterday when we were all anxious about how we would survive Ramadan in isolation but Allah’s plan prevailed. This Month of Mercy will be gracing us in a few days and we pray that Almighty Allah grants us the opportunity to witness it. While we are preparing and looking forward to this beautiful Month of Purification, it is important to learn the act of disciplining our souls. Ibn Jawzi stated

“every breath we take is taking us closer to death. The time we spend in this world is short, the time we are held in our graves is long, and the punishment for following our lowly desires is calamitous”

May Almighty Allah protect us from earning His wrath. In this journey of ours, we are all going through a test and our soul travels between the left and right side of the extreme. To be able to hold unto what Allah commanded, there is a need to be consistently seeking purification and disciplining our struggling souls.

every breath we take is taking us closer to death

Being MINDFUL should be a goal for every Muslim, as this means one is taking proper care of oneself. Within every human, there are three capacities: a lingual capacity, a lustful capacity, and anger capacity. He who Allah honors, and bestows on him the love for knowledge, he should care for perfecting his “Lingual self” by which Allah favored him over all animals. He cannot attain this awareness without disciplining the soul.

To effectively discipline our souls, we need to continuously nurture our mind with the right knowledge. Our mind is what triggers how we observe, our knowledge and actions. It is what affects our inclination. The excellence of the mind is what differentiates us from animals.  Ramadan is another golden opportunity for us to connect our mind to that which benefits our purpose of existence. As we prepare for this glorious month, let us be intentional about being mindful and focused Allah loves those who are mindful of Him. Endeavour to gather your mind to that which benefits you. Allah loves Excellence and He has blessed humans with intellectual ability.

Ways of Disciplining the Soul:

  1. Identifying One’s Flaws

Iyas ibn Mu’awiyah said

, “He who does not know his demerit is a fool!” He was asked what was his. He said, “excessive talking”.

Although people usually hide their flaws, but a person of sound mind recognizes his flaws. Concealed flaws are like internal diseases, they eat one up if one is not aware of them. A person’s love for himself may not let him know of his flaws as it prevents him from viewing it as flaw, it is usually hidden. Honest reflection helps in identifying these flaws and disciplining oneself. Ramadan is the month of Reflection and we can utilize it, by doing a thoughtful and intentional purification by assessing ourselves.

He who does not know his demerit is a fool!

  1. Avoiding the Disease of Lust

One of the filths that affect our soul is lust and the cure is lowering the gaze, and patient restraint. To discipline oneself from this disease means that one has been able to prevent and protect oneself before it becomes rooted. The fear of Allah, self-restraint and strength are said to be the best of cure for any disease.

  1. Avoiding Gluttony

Too much of everything is unhealthy. As Allah has blessed us all with food and water to help us thrive, it is important to note that excessive eating is discouraged and dangerous for our overall wellness.  There is a saying that the wise person eats to survive, while the ignorant live to eat.

In essence, excessive eating, excessive sexual desire, hoarding of wealth, extravagance is regarded as Gluttony in Islam. To discipline our soul means we need to avoid these acts and strive to attain moderation.  The cure is to reflect on the consequences of these actions. As Ramadan is a Mercy of Allah to act in moderation and detoxify ourselves of soul stretching activities and distractions. Maximize this glorious month to curb gluttony and excessiveness.

  1. Controlling Anger

Anger is a natural human emotion; it is said to be placed in our nature to keep harm away from us and to avenge harm. However, excessive anger is detested as it turns one’s soundness around. An excessively angered person can turn all they have toiled hard for into ruins within seconds. It makes one imbalanced and loses moderation. Disciplining our soul includes trying hard to avoid anger. The heat of anger provokes and makes one’s blood boil for revenge. The root and cause of such is arrogance

. “….and who restrain anger and pardon the people. Allah loves the doer of good.”{Al-Imran 3:134).

In this verse, Allah reminds us of the reward of disciplining ourselves to attain His Love by staying away from anger and pardon others as we would love that He pardons us.

Many people have hurt others because of excessive anger, and they have regret for the rest of their lives. Ramadan is a reminder on practicing to retrain from anger purposely as it is said that when insulted while fasting, one should say “I am fasting; I am fasting”. This is to remind oneself and others that provocation is dangerous and should be stopped by walking away from what can trigger anger, reflect on the excellence of regressing anger; for Allah praise those who repress anger. This is a high level of disciplining our souls. Our predecessors when angered, they would forgive and seek excellence of regressing anger. Some of them believed that they were angered because of their sins or they are being tested. So, when angered, remember Allah.

and who restrain anger and pardon the people. Allah loves the doer of good.”{Al-Imran 3:134).

  1. Avoid Excessive Thinking

Excessive thinking exhausts the body and mind especially if it is not fruitful. A wise person is said to be thoughtful and think about what he can attain but thinking while being idle is endangering to the body and soul. Scholars are of the opinion that a person should work to attain what he can achieve of his wants and think of what he can achieve, and what he can attain from good deeds, and think about his struggle against bad deeds. This is the thinking that is beneficial to disciplining the soul. Ibn Abbas stated (may Allah bless him),

praying two rak’at with contemplation is better than praying all night while the heart is heedless”.

Thoughtfulness benefits scholars, who are intentional and disciplined as to what they think about. Ramadan is an opportunity to discipline oneself to attain this level of discipline, In Shaa Allah.

Other acts to avoid fora disciplined soul include:

  1. Avoiding Arrogance. Read more on how to avoid arrogance here
  2. Avoiding Insincerity and Pretence
  3. Avoiding Excessive Sadness
  4. Avoiding Excessive Grief
  5. Avoiding Excessive Fear
  6. Avoiding Excessive Happiness
  7. Avoiding Indolence

self discipline

Self-discipline is achieved through lenience and gradual reform. It should not be done with harshness rather; one should strive within FEAR and HOPE as our life is in Allah’s finger. While we try our best, we should always remember to pray to Allah and hope that He makes it easier on us. Strengthening our life with keeping good company that embraces our inclination towards discipline, studying Qur’an, Reading and listening to beneficial stories, thinking about Paradise and Hell, reading about the biographies of wise people, and continuously praying and remembering Allah.

Being lenient with one’s soul helps own and subjugate it. If your body knows what you are inclined to, it will submit to it. May our body not be our Master. May we be able to bring ourselves to account for every sin, every action, every statement, and negligence, as this is the best approach to disciplining the soul.

May Allah Grant us Purification and Steadfastness.