Monday, July 1, 2013

Gettin' Your Soul Swole

Chances are before stumbling upon this blog, you may have recently seen some sort of pop up ad on some fat burning miracle pill or how you can get a six pack in 12 days. Or perhaps you saw a commercial on TV where Shaun T is telling you to get up off your fat bum and get ripped with the Insanity workout. Let's face it man, the world is obsessed with the way we look.

It's the reason fitness centers are chock full of sweaty folks trying to sculpt themselves into their fantasy bodies and the reason why Chuck Norris is still on TV, pimping out Total Gym equipment. Everybody wants to be ripped, everyone wants to be toned, everyone wants to be SWOLE.

Of course that's not totally a bad thing. It's good to be in peak physical condition. It's good for your overall health and wellness, it keeps you more active and gives you more energy, not to mention it does wonders for a person's self esteem when there's muscles bulging out of them every which way.

Me a few years ago when I actually cared. (Lower your gaze sisters!)

I mean, look at that guy up there. That's me back in my younger days. I used to be a stud. People used to say, "Dang Asif! You're swole!" I devoted a lot of my time to training and weightlifting. Now not so much. My idea of exercise these days is bicep curling a candy bar to my mouth or heavylifting a large plate back to my table at a buffet line. InshaAllah, I am making it a goal of mine to get back in shape but there's actually a more crucial fitness regimen that myself and many others need to focus our energy on. And that's our SOUL.

People invest an abundant amount of time and energy and money on their physique and in turn neglect their spiritual side. We can spend all the time in the world hitting the weights and getting ripped but when we die, our body that we worked so diligently on is left in the ground to decompose. It's a complete waste, really. In turn, our life source that powered that physical body--the soul--moves on.

And the place where it moves on can be either extremely unpleasant or the epitome of awesomeness depending on what we've done to exercise it. For many, I'm sure externally they have impressive Herculean physiques but internally, their souls are puny little pansies. Beneath all those muscles, is a not a strong person, but one who is weak and malnourished because their priorities are all mixed up. 

This is illustrated quite nicely by notable scholar Ismail Menk where he describes a true strong swole person is not one who can lift a ton of weights but is one who can lift his blanket up off of himself and get the heck out of bed for the sake of praying the Fajr (Dawn) prayer.

This video really struck a nerve with me because it made me evaluate myself. While trying to place emphasis on getting back in shape by working out at the gym more, eating better and lifting more weights, my soul wasn't getting the necessary exercise. I found myself missing Fajr prayer more and more often and in turn having very unproductive days. Like I said in a previous post, I need Ramadan, I need it bad, I was doing the bare minimum and have been feeling like crap because of it.  Watching this video clip makes me yearn to be a true swole guy who wakes up for Fajr with ease. When most of the world is still snoozing away I can lift up my blanket, hop out of bed and stand in worship.

Getting to this level certainly can't just happen overnight the same way running a triathlon or bench pressing 300 lbs wouldn't. It takes conditioning and training. And the way to get your soul swole is to nourish it with knowledge. Below are a list of things you can do to kickstart a training regimen for your soul and with Ramadan right around the corner now is as good a time as ever to begin this much-needed boot camp to whip your soul into shape!

1)Salat. This first and foremost needs to be re-established. If you're missing them, get back on performing all five every day, on time! The best way to make this routine and stick to it is to refresh yourself on its significance. It's a channel of communication with your creator. Salat was gifted to us by Allah to stay in touch with Him. He's right there in front of you, listening and waiting to hear your grievances. Understand what you're saying and understand who it is you're bowing and prostrating to and why. Make your day revolve around the five daily salat rather than trying to squeeze it into your schedule and soon enough it'll sync with your soul like clockwork.

2)Seeking knowledge. The best way salat can be implemented with perfect concentration and understanding is by equipping yourself with knowledge. The ultimate source of knowledge and the guide to this life is the Holy Qur'an. So getting acquainted with the Qur'an is vital for soul swoleness. Understand and reflect on its verses in your own language. The Qur'an is not a book of dos and donts and ancient stories, its a timeless conversation God is having with the one who reads it. Developing a relationship with this book is key to a strong and fit soul.

3)Reading Expanding upon the step above, reading in general is crucial for the fitness of the soul. Beyond the Qur'an and Hadith (the traditions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad *pbuh). There's commentaries and books to better understand Islam and our purpose. And beyond Islamic books, there's plenty of books on productivity and self-improvement that echo the teachings of the Qu'ran and Hadith.  Reading Fiction, believe it or not, is also great for the soul as it feeds the intellect and increases creativity and awareness of your environment among other benefits. Reading these days have been limited to news headlines and Twitter/Facebook statuses and updates. Once real reading is brought back into your life, things can only get better.

4)Being around positive people Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals is another step to getting your soul swole. A lot of those bodybuilders and athletes in the gym work with a spotter, ie. a partner who assists him during his workout and who he/she assists back. You need spotters in life to connect with and who have the same goal in mind--spiritual fitness--who can encourage you, support you and who you can share experiences with. If you surround yourself with bums and slobs, its highly likely you become a bum and a slob. So evaluate who is around you and who you spend your time with. If they bring you some type of spiritual benefit, keep them around. If they don't, it's best to trim the fat.

5)Cuttin down on Media/distractions. Do you think an athlete who is trying to reach a physical fitness goal is lollygagging around on the computer all day or playing Call of Duty? Does he stay up late hanging out with friends and party constantly? Of course not! Dedicated athletes deprive themselves of certain enjoyments and wake up early and bust their tails. They cut out junk food and excessive media consumption and hang outs because they know they won't ever reach their goals if they decided to chill around. Those bodies don't get swole on their own, they get swole with discipline! Same goes for the soul. How can you feed your intellect, sit down and enjoy a good book, worship your Lord and establish a relationship with the Qur'an if you're distracted all the time with entertaining yourself? Souls don't get swole that way. So a steady diet by cutting down on the media consumption can rev up progress because suddenly you will discover how much time your have in your day when its not being thrown away on unproductive activities.

Before I tell anyone these tips, I'm really telling myself and trying to get my butt into gear. Getting your soul swole is quite a commitment to undertake, but of course when you are seeing results, it'll be worth the effort. Here's to getting that spiritual six pack, everyone!


  1. Thank you very much bro! I appreciate the article. Ramadan Kareem :)

  2. No, thank you for taking the time out to read something my silly butt writes! Ramadan Kareem to you too! Please feel free to share this article and my other blog posts with your friends and anyone who can benefit. Peace!