How Acts of Attaining Nearness to God Are Like Working Out:
1. Have a workout plan
The one who enters the gym without a plan and randomly goes to each machine, watches various people
and each of their various goals and tries to imitate them without any objective, will not achieve substantial gains in anything.
But one who decides his goal is aerobic fitness, or muscular size, or muscular toning, or speed, will be able to focus his/her workout on specific areas and grow in this. The same applies to spiritual growth. A person cannot simply say:
"I want to be a better Muslim" and then aimlessly go for it. It is best to say: "I need to improve my
prayers', "I need to improve my relationship with Quran", "I need to grow in knowledge of
Sunnah", " I need to correct my anger problems". Then, using the guidance of the Quran, Sunnah, and knowledgeable advisors, one can do exercises, readings, dhikr, and methods to help him/her gain progress in the target area.
2. Success comes with leaving harmful foods, and eating healthy ones
Anyone who has an exercise plan will tell you that eating foods filled with high transfats,
cholesterol, saturated fats, high amounts of sugar, and insane amounts of sodium - will
constantly be an adversary to your exercise. You will put all this effort into working out and get nowhere.
One who seeks spiritual progress cannot do so without making an effort to abstain from sins. The dhikr, tilaawah (reciting Quran), extra prayers, fasting, will all help the soul grow and purify, but unless one makes an effort to give up sins, one will find growth to be sluggish at best and
non-existent, even regressive at worst. If we want to grow, we have to give up what is bad for us, or at least make an effort.
3. Stretch and warm-up before you workout
Warming up helps to prepare the body for the strains of working out, be it lifting or running. Though you can workout without it, the work out quality is much better if you can get the blood flowing and prepare yourself mentally and physically for the task at hand.
When we are about to begin prayers, recitation, dhikr, or anything else, it is best to begin with
straightening one's niyyah, and if doing dhikr or tilaawah, to begin by praising Allah and sending salawaat (blessings) upon the Prophet (saw). This is the spiritual
equivalent of warming up. If making dua, it is best to also seek forgiveness after sending salawaat upon the Prophet (saw) as they will clear the barrier of sins between your duas and acceptance by Allah
4. Drink lots of water
Need to keep yourself hydrated while you workout. This one I am including in the same way - really, have some water.
Don't let physical discomfort cause you to become lazy so that you don't read as much Quran or pray as much as you could because your room is too hot, too cold, not enough water, etc. Get rid of any distractions, set your thermostat, and leave no excuses to do what
you've set out to do.
5. Do not overstrain
Overtraining is terrible for the muscles because the way that muscles build according to most experts, muscles grow through
micro tears which develop when they are placed under extreme stress. The body then heals these tears during the recovery period by overcompensating (similar to scar tissue), causing the muscle to come back a little stronger than before.
When we overstrain, we push the muscle to a point of damage where it is difficult for it to come back with added strength; or we keep training during the recovery period, never giving it the chance to recover.
Many of us become over enthusiastic about spiritual growth, assigning to ourselves daily regimens of 1 hour of Quran, 1 hour of morning dhikr, 1 hour of evening dhikr, all the nawaafil, added with memorization with iPod throughout the day, and reading and attending lectures. When we are starting from nothing, this is
EXTREMELY destructive, as we will not be able to sustain more than a few days before giving up completely.
Tadarruj - gradualism is the best way. Slowly adding acts of worship and increasing them in practical manners, a few minutes a day or a half hour a day is the best way to grow in our dedication. Focus on the faraaid first, getting your five prayers in, and slowly make the effort to add other things in that you
can SUSTAIN over the long run inshAllah.
6. Having a workout partner
Pages : 1