Eating Disorder V.s. Sufism

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يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ

“Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship.”

(Qur’an, 2:185)

Mysticism is a manifestation of the essence that underlies all religions. Every Faith has its inner, spiritual dimensions. In Islam, this dimension, is known as Sufism or Tasawwuf. Hazrat Azad Rasool

Sufi Light

 Letting Go- The Power of Letting Go of your Limiting ED Beliefs.

Do not allow anyone to oppress your soul.

Where part of you goes, the rest of you will eventually follow. Rabi’a

Dear Readers,

When one walks the path of connecting with Almighty, one has to let go of ED, the rigid control,  one has to surrender, and once surrendered, what is left? That’s the answer one has to find for himself.

The distinctive aspect of mysticism is something that cannot be understood by study, but only by dhawq [tasting / immediate experience]… There is a big difference between knowing the meaning and the causes of health and satiety, and being healthy and satisfied.. Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali

ED beliefs, when held onto, become part of the attachments of dark world with no-way out. Though physically you are living in this world, mentally you are a inhabitant of a dark world of ED, where numbers take precedence over everything and everyone.

ED In Conflict with Sufism

I loathe Sufism, Eating Disorder (ED) screams. Have you ever come across something as rigid and as controlling as Sufism? Yes I have! I silently murmur to myself, and that’s you. You’re killing me, can’t you see that? I weep to ED, look at me? Look how bad I look? Everyone is telling me I’m ill and you’re telling me I need to do more to please you. How much more exercise do you want me to do? My body is hurting and begging for respite, for relief. I’ve spent my lifetime pleasing you, but your never happy, never satisfied. What more do you want?

The lower self is preoccupied with showing itself in ways that will gain other people’s good opinions.

The lower self quickly gets bored of things. If it in someway is successful in getting what it wants, it will still not be satisfied. The lower self is unstable. Kashani

In the year 2009 my psychiatrist told me “you need to heal your heart.” I remember thinking ‘everything will heal, once I’m out of this hospital’. In 2010, I was forced into hospital for feeding. Months later,  I made a worst mistake of my life and discharged my self from the unit. The treatment team was unhappy, but my ED was happy. I decided to reclaim my  life and went back to the world I once knew. It was a shock to learn that world had changed rapidly since my hospitalization, recession, riots, uprooting of regimes and wars this was now the new world.

I walked around in London in daze with a very disordered mind. I couldn’t have cared less about Olympics. I covered Iran as a Volunteer Journalist with a dead mind. Everything became a struggle from Youth Work to Journalism to being a College Governor. I felt cheated. All that food I consumed, all those full fat snacks, to what avail? why I wasn’t functioning? Why I was exhausted and so brain dead?  And then I remembered the words of my psychiatrist “your heart needs deep healing”. So I went on a quest and traveled around London for healing.

Joining Sufism

Sufism has its roots in the Qur’anic revelations and in the Sunnah (example and teachings) of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Hazrat Azad Rasool

I never knew what I was getting myself into when I joined this path. I just wanted to connect with Allah and become a better person (In my mind that was a perfect human being).

The Human body comprises not only a body of flesh, but another aspect, commonly refereed to as “I” or “the self” (described in Sufi terms as nafs). Mystical experience activates the “I”. Like an electrical current, it runs through an individual, bringing forth untapped potentials. With the activation of self comes a certain degree of consciousness and insight. A person starts to sense that his or her “I” reflects another “I”- the “I” of a Supreme Being. He or she becomes conscious of God acting in and through creation.  Hazrat Azad Rasool

I never knew the price of joining this path was killing my ED, the other secret and most cherished part of myself.

According to Sufi teachings, the path to experiencing the Divine Sublime starts within. It is said that one who realizes oneself realizes the Lord. Hazrat Azad Rasool

ED was always in conflict with my faith, the demon just wanted me to know the world of numbers and calories and no other world. Weak in mind, heart, body and soul,  all I could do was cry and wait patiently for my departure from this world.

يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ أَنْ يُخَفِّفَ عَنْكُمْ وَخُلِقَ الْإِنْسَانُ ضَعِيفًا

“And Allah wants to lighten for you [your difficulties]; and mankind was created weak.” (Qur’an, 4:28).

I joined this path, because it was time to accept defeat and  turn to Allah for help and Mercy. Now this path I travel, is a path of lifetime.

I searched for God, and found only myself. I searched for myself, and found only God. Sufi Proverb

There’s a huge price attached to this path and that’s letting go of the world of ED. Don’t worry, no one is ever going to tell you your rules around food, exercise are wrong or need changing, it’s your heart that will tell you how wrong and limiting and controlling ED beliefs are.

Eating Disorder vs. Sufism

The average person is ego-centered. Only after he or she has polished the heart and purified the self will the curtains lift, the rust fall away, and the eyes become able to see God. Hazrat Azad Rasool

In ED you want control, you want to know what’s happening, what’s going to happen next and you want to control the outcome. In Sufism it’s all with Allah. Only Allah is in control.

Conventional opinion hampers our souls. Rumi

In ED there’s no light, only darkness and panic. In Sufism, there’s a light that illuminates heart, mind and soul.

You already possess the powerful mixture that will make you well—use it. Rumi

In ED your born imperfect, from your speech to your body is all imperfect, you as a person can never be good enough. There’s a vain pursuit for perfection. In Sufism, you were born perfect, so perfect that even Allah’s Angels were in awe of you.

 

In ED get to know your darker side of ED. In Sufism get to know yourself to know God to know the path of Light.

We are in this world, but not of it. Sufi Proverb

In ED follow the dangerous self-destructive rules and submit your will, your self to no one but the demon of ED. In Sufism let go of all rigid rules and submit your will to Allah. No one has power over you but your Lord.

You yourself are your own obstacle—rise above yourself. Hafiz

In ED just hold onto sadness, grief, fears, insecurities, anger, and all the other limiting emotions. In Sufism set yourself free from such limiting emotions.

Never be enslaved to principles. Sufi Proverb

In ED there’s a relentless pursuit for perfection. In Sufism only perfection is Allah.

 Ah! Joyous is the soul that saw its own faults. Rumi

In ED there’s no present only past or looking into uncertain future.  In Sufism  just be present in the moment.

Grasp the moment; you can’t power a mill with water that has already passed by. Sufi Proverb

Your with Allah, so let go of the past and the pain.

Behind every adversity lies a hidden possibility. Sufi Proverb


In ED negativity, self-destruction, self-hatred are the key words. In Sufism, self- love, kindness and  gentleness are the mantra.

The treasure of joy is closer to you than you are to yourself—so why should you go searching from door to door? Sufi Proverb

In ED no sharing with anyone. ED hates it when you share anything with anyone. In Sufism sharing is caring.

In ED exercise, restricting, binging purging is very important. In Sufism prayer is more important.

Prayer clears the mist and brings back peace to the soul. Rumi

In ED you eat with no one, you restrict and binge in the company of the demon of ED. In Sufism you bless your meal by sharing your meal, your bread with everyone.

The food of two persons suffices for three persons, and the food of three persons suffices for four persons.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

In ED there’s extreme. In Sufism there’s moderation, a balance.

The secret of life is balance, and the absence of balance is life’s destruction. Hazrat Inayat Khan

 

In ED only existence is ego. In Sufism only existence is God.

Allah said to Musa and Harun (as):

قَالَ لَا تَخَافَا إِنَّنِي مَعَكُمَا أَسْمَعُ وَأَرَى

“(Allah) said, ‘Fear not. Indeed, I am with you both; I hear and I see.’” (Qur’an, 20:46)

 

In ED you believe you have no power over your negative emotions. In Sufism power is with Allah, power is within you and you are in control of your emotions.

No one should allow his mind to be a vehicle for others to use; he who does not direct his own mind lacks mastery. Hazrat Inayat Khan

In ED peace disappears. In Sufism peace prevails.

Life is an opportunity, and it is a great pity if man realizes this when it is too late. Hazrat Inayat Khan

 

Just Let it Go

In ED you relentlessly try to control everything for so long. You manipulate yourself, your loved ones and everyone to get your way. You see your loved ones when your ED wants you to see them. Your relationships are about what your ED could get from the other person, what needs of ED they could fill.

In Sufism, letting go means accepting whatever life throws your way and knowing you don’t need to act on irrational thought, fear, or insecurity.

I know one thing now, we are stronger, more powerful, and more resilient than ED wants us to think. All that we need is directly there inside of us. In infinite proportions. ED wants us to hold on dearly to all the emotions that can make us a slave to it. Letting go is about freeing our souls so we can turn to Allah, feeling secure, loved, and in control.

You have the ability to sit with and conquer whatever life throws your way. The more you give that power to ED, your insecurities, the more you lose yourself. You don’t need to do that anymore.

Focus on the Present

ED makes you think you are not strong enough or good enough to handle the present.

The worries about the future take you out the present as well. All you have is now. This moment. And it is your duty to be the best version of yourself in this moment.

Each moment is an opportunity for growth. You are okay in this moment. That is all that matters. The more you focus on this, the more the fears subside and you can be the person you were put here to be.

Take it All In 

Enjoy the little things little blessings. The more you get in touch with yourself, the more connected you become. And the more connected you become, the more closer you are to Allah.

 

Become your own fortune… Seek the bounty within yourself. Rumi

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About Author

Islam and Eating Disorders founded in 2012 – run by Maha Khan, the blog creates awareness of Eating Disorders in the Muslim world, offers information and support for sufferers and their loved ones.

1 Comment

  1. The past seems to plague many people, specially those with eating problems. I still remember this girl at school commenting on all the “beautiful girls” in the class are sitting in the front row while me, and one other girl were in the back row. It made me feel worthless. That was in 5th grade! I still remember the girl who said it too. It is amazing how the mind can back trace bad events easier than good ones. The past needs to stay where it is and we all need to love, live and breathe in the present.

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