Riyazah and Mujahadah : A diet for the soul

The concepts of riyazah and mujahada are two instruments for Taqwa, both related with Islamic tasawwuf.

Since for all Sufis, taqwa is the ultimate be-end-goal for all and since Holy Quran has many, rich flavors of different definitions of taqwa, every concept related to taqwa should be studies thoroughly if one is in deed interested in studying Islamic Sufism, in other words tasawwuf.

Different definitions of taqwa found in Holy Quran should be sole subject of another article but here we should note that these differences only enriched the different semantic layers of the word, far from bring contradiction to the term. This issue is something that most “orientalists” fail to comprehend while studying Quranic terms and Sufism history.

Therefore, every single term related to Sufism is derived from Quran one way or another, these divergences are like the multiple facades or portals of Islamic faith, allowing the questers freedom of choice when they make inquiries about the religion itself.

Riyazah is like the “diet of the soul and intellect”. It is about giving worldly possessions of all sort during one’s journey to reach Allah(j.j).

It doesn’t mean just about distributing one’s wealth for the poor and needy. One should also questions his “connection” and “dependency” on the things he is fond of mostly.

Riyazah means eating less, buying less, talking less. Engaging in worldly matters less.

The purpose of such “sacrifice” should also be stressed. When one goes on a diet it is usually for some sort of “worldly” benefit. In Islamic tasawwuf, the sufi applies a diet for his soul for the sole purpose of “becoming ahl-i taqwa”, in other words, belonging to those fortunate folks who has mastered deep meanings of taqwa.

We use the term “deep meaning” not to portray as if “Islamic tasawwuf” is some sort of elitist closed circle only the privileged ones can enter.

It is not. Islamic tasawwuf welcomes anyone, nobody needs an intermediary party to enter.

Anybody who wants to “tame his soul” has already set foot on the path of taqwa.

Riyazah, however is one long road, full of many obstacles and temptations. Mujahadah is to change the “framework of one’s mentality of ethics”. If one adheres to materialistic worldview ethic’s framework, where every possible gain and benefit is highly encourages and worldly successes are celebrated in crazy fashion without any consent to other people’s choices and rights, one can never practices riyazah.

Because then, riyazah should only feel like “torturing one’s soul”.

It is not. In lslamic tasawwuf, one can never practices extreme styles of “riyazah” like “not eating anything for 40 days and living like a shut-in.

Riyazah is strongly connected to Mujahadah. If one doesn’t want to change their perception of ethics, every practice of riyazah would sound like “something monks should do only”.

No, we can practices riyazah through mujahadah for our souls in modern world, and keep a “low profile of ordinary citizens”

The reward would be a diet for the soul, something we need desperately for ourselves in today’s cutt-throat capitalist world.



One Response to Riyazah and Mujahadah : A diet for the soul

  1. Pingback: Ashrafoglu Rumi : An awliya from Nicaea | Islamoformation

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