The following is an excerpt taken from a private session between Shaykh Mendes and Sout Ilaahi volunteers.
Healing the Body
You need to do certain things to sustain yourself and nourish yourself. So of course you need to take care of your health, make sure you’re eating well, don’t eat your KFC every night. [Laughter] I don’t think I’ve had KFC since 2004 [Laughs] So when I saw it last night, I was like subhanAllah, that’s what KFC looks like?
So take care of your health. Exercise, get the right amount of sleep, so you can have the energy and the vitality to give your all. Take care of your mind. Read, learn. Don’t just be a volunteer that serves the cause of knowledge, but be a person of knowledge. Have classes that you attend, scholars that you go to.
Healing the Mind & Soul
You need to have a spiritual program. Take care of your body, your mind and your soul. I’m not saying that you need to join a tariqah, I’m not saying that you have to give bai’ah, pledge allegiance to a Shaykh. What I’m saying is that you need to have daily spiritual practices that you do, that feed your soul.
In Islam we have a holistic approach to spiritual practice that is easy for everyone to do. Basically, at the very minimum, after the 5 pillars of Islam—declaring your faith and establishing your prayer at the 5 sacred times of the day, fasting (Ramadan is coming), zakat (if you have wealth that reaches a threshold and you’ve had it for a lunar year) and hajj (if you’re able)—after these, or rather in addition to these, you want to have a daily practice in the mornings of supplication, invocation, recitation of the Qur’an, and meditation. These four, every morning.
Talking to God: Supplication
What I recommend for people, especially if you’re not used to doing these, is to just start off 10 mins each. Over time, you can increase it. But you want to just spend 10 mins just praying, supplicating to God, talking to God like we spoke about on Sunday—munajat: intimate whispering between you and your Beloved, because God is your ultimate beloved. So you raise your hands, you lower your head, and you just go. You don’t have to read it from a book, just let it come from this book [points to heart]. This is the real book, right here. All of the other books are just indications of the book that’s inside you.
So supplicate, ask God for the things that you want, ask God for the things that you need. Thank Him for the blessings He’s given you. Ask Him for the good of this world and the Ultimate Supreme Abode, and seek protection from the harm that’s in this world and the harm of life after physical death.
Connecting with God: Remembrance
And then spend 10 mins at least, or more, doing remembrance of God. Chanting the names of God, chanting the formulas of praise that come from the Prophet SAW. If you don’t have a spiritual guide who’s given you a set of prescription, a dosage to do, then go to books like Imam an Nawawi’s al Maqasid. You can get it at Wardah Books. At the end of that book, there are prayers that Prophet Muhammad used to do in the mornings and in the evenings.
So do those. They will connect you with God, they will connect you with Prophet Muhammad SAW, and they will bring you to incredible good. You will see your whole life just change for the better.
Being in the Presence of God: Qur’an
Then have time for the recitation of Qur’an. Read Surah Yaseen, or half a juz of the Qur’an, or one juz, just spend 10 mins reading the Qur’an. Even if you don’t read a whole hizb or a whole juz, read the words of God. The great Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse, Allah be pleased with Him, he said, “When you read the Qur’an, you are in the presence of Allah.” Whether or not you can perceive it, you are in the presence of Allah when you read the Qur’an.
Contemplating God: Meditation
Lastly, do meditation. Muslims don’t meditate enough. Even though Prophet Muhammad SAW, one of his first spiritual practices that we know of was to meditate, contemplate, reflect, spend time in nature among the mountains. So spend time meditating, 10 mins a day, and do the same thing at night, after ‘Asr, after Isha’ or after Maghrib, or before you go to bed.
Guarding the Limbs
So spend time doing 10 minutes of each a day: supplication, invocation, recitation and meditation. Other than that, your spiritual practice should be guarding your limbs. The human being is a city. There’s a really great book by Shaykh Muhyiddeen ibn Arabi called “Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom”. He describes the human being as a city. You are a city. The city has gates, you know like the old cities that have gates around them, the city walls. The gates to your city are your eyes, ears, tongue, hands, stomach, private parts, and your feet. And inside the city is the king or the queen. The sovereign of your city is your heart.
So part of your spiritual practice, in addition to reciting Qur’an, dhikr, meditation and supplication, is guarding the gates. So protect your 7 gates, the 7 limbs, from anything that will displease God. Se careful about the kind of things you watch, the kind of things you listen to, the kind of things you say, the kind of things you touch, what you put in your stomach, the places that you go—so that your heart will not be under attack. Once you let an enemy through the gate, then your heart is at risk of being under attack.
Join us for a series of lectures with Shaykh Mendes on 1 & 2 April in Singapore!