Anorexia Sufism and My Shaykh




Arabic Logo


فَاذْكُرُونِي أَذْكُرْكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِي وَلَا تَكْفُرُونِ

” Remember me, and I will remember you.” (2:152)

Dear Readers!

“Blessed is the one who has a teacher that helps him to develop his natural abilities and broaden his horizons. The best teacher is the one that instils kindness and generosity into his pupil.”

Please note that the experiences shared of my illness and my recovery is only that of my-own. I share all of this because I know that what I went through is not confined to just me; it relates to others as well.

I have been asked lots of questions about the negative voice of the demon of Eating Disorder, so many of us struggle with this voice in our head and its evilness. How did I recover from this menacing voice, how did I shut out its evil whispers?

I spent many years living under the slavery of this voice. Yes, I prayed, but with an absent mind. There was no concentration in my prayers and my mind was always so tired. At times I felt too tired and would perform my prayers sitting down and sometimes lying down. Anorexia robs you off your physical and mental strength.

My first step to recovery was NHS outpatient therapy. Despite an excellent therapist and a brilliant psychiatrist, I wasn’t getting better. In order to gain weight, I was shipped off to an Eating Disorder Unit. Even after reaching a certain body weight, my mind was still stuck in its disordered phase. Physically I looked fine, but my mental health was another story in itself. (Like many anorexics, I never wanted to go to an Eating Disorder unit).

After discharging myself from the unit, I went back to London to do some voluntary work. It was a difficult time. I spent whole day staring at the computer screen with a blank mind and trying to shut out the negative whispers of the demon of Eating Disorder. Other times I studied lunch menus and planned elaborate lunches. I never once managed to eat properly in London. At a low weight, your mind can switch from being rational to irrational, but with the weight gain, rational mind becomes slightly stronger, and it’s more aware of your thoughts and self-destructive behaviours. It was this coherent spurt of rationality that made me embark on a journey of seeking help for my disordered mind.

I never talked about the negative voice to anyone, even in therapy I never acknowledged or admitted that I had so many thoughts going through my mind. I always gave an illusion that I was perfect and in perfect control of my emotions and my life. I only broke down once in the Day Unit when I had to eat a cold cheese sandwich, but then my treatment team took mercy on me and said that I could have the second option, a grilled cheese sandwich.

So, I started looking for something, any Islamic place that would help me defeat this voice in my head. I tried other methods of recovery as well; I went to Chinese Herbalists, Buddhist group, relaxation classes, and yoga, to no avail. I considered going to Tarim in Yemen, to Damascus, to a remote village in Pakistan, to Egypt, anyplace that would provide relief from the negative Eating Disorder voice in my head.

In 2012, I came across the Sufi School of Teaching on the internet. I contacted my local group and told them of my interest in joining a group for meditation. I told my mother that this could be my chance of healing and recovery from the negative, self-destructive voice of ED.  Even to this day and to my last breath, I will forever be indebted to my parents for supporting me in my decision to join the Sufi School of Teaching.

Me and the Sufi School of Teaching

Sufi Group

The road to eating disorder recovery starts with admitting you have a problem. I acknowledged that my mind was troubled and that my thoughts were irrational. In recovery, therapists and psychiatrists emphasize on changing your brain through positive thoughts, affirmations and behaviours. I wanted to influence my mind with positive thoughts. I wanted to recreate my connection with God and mostly I wanted to silence the negative voice in my mind and fill my heart with the praises of Allah.

At the Sufi school of Teaching, my first practice was to do silent meditation for 45 minutes every morning and evening. The art of meditation in Sufi school is the art of being with yourself, connecting with your heart to connect with Almighty. The meditation is also a way for an individual to realise that they are not in full control of their life, but God is.

The Art of Silent Meditation


sufism 2

You allow the thoughts to flow through your mind. There were many days when I found the practices very difficult. Our actions can never be divorced from the state of mind from which they spring. This is the basic idea behind meditation. As long as our actions are based upon the needs to satisfy the demon of Eating Disorder, they will in the long term reinforce the very feelings of discontent we are trying to avoid, and will keep us stuck in the horrible world of negative living. My Eating Disorder mind which was my subconscious, was 80% of my whole mind, and I hated those negative thoughts so much.

I used to think, what happens if I stop, if I take time out from doing anything other than serving the needs of the demon of Eating Disorder? I was petrified of the possible outcome, and then I learned that:

Miracles happen, your mind changes, and you become aware of yourself.

One evening I was meditating and all of a sudden negative menacing voice was there; the words were:

“You worthless, no-good piece; Why don’t you die? The world will be a better place without you”.

And to this day I will never forget how I responded to that voice in my head, “No! I am not worthless!  Allah made me, He made me special, He never creates anything that is worthless, Allah mentions me in the Holy Qur’an, I am special, so go away”.

That was it! From that day, every time a thought crossed my mind, anything that was negative, I would talk back. I became increasingly aware of myself, my mind and my thoughts. As days turned into weeks and weeks into months, I realised that I was changing, my appearance was changing, my thinking was changing, there was a glimmer of hope in my eyes, and my mind was becoming free. Through the practices, meditation, Dhikr, Durood your mind slowly changes and makes you realize the greatness and grandeur of Almighty Allah . Contentment surrounds your heart, and your heart becomes engaged in singing praises of its beloved Almighty Allah. This positive change enabled me to build up a strong emotional positive attitude to life and those around me.

Me and My Shaykh

sufim 678


I met Shaykh Hamid Hasan for the first time in London in October, 2012.  Shaykh Hamid Hasan leads the Institute of Search for Truth and the School of Sufi Teaching worldwide. He guided me through my troubled times, my anxieties and my fears. He taught me to connect with Allah, have faith in Allah, and to let go of the rigid control I wanted to exercise over my life and my future. Since joining this path of self-discovery, I have never looked back. I am very fortunate and very blessed to have found a path that helps me in my spiritual development and helps me to say No to the demon of Eating Disorder.

Every time I find an obstacle in my way, or I fear relapse, or the whispers of the demon of Eating Disorder are getting stronger, I turn to my Lord, I seek guidance from my Shaykh and I increase in my supplication to Allah, and how lucky am I to have such an opportunity to keep turning back to my Lord. My search in life has come to an end. I understand my disease and I understand myself now.

P.S.:  We all are different. Our experiences are different. Recovery means different things to different people. Some people recover with the outpatient therapy, some recover in the inpatient settings and some recover at home, but for some, recovery is a long arduous journey, full of trials and tribulations. Please seek help for your Eating Disorder. Embark on the journey that you feel is best for you. A journey to recovery is a unique one; it’s a journey of self-discovery and ultimate happiness. How many of us are provided with this ample opportunity to rediscover ourselves in this world? Not many, I believe.


sufism 6

Sufi Message

“Fret not where the road will take you. Instead concentrate on the first step. That’s the hardest part and that’s what you are responsible for. Once you take that step let everything do what it naturally does and the rest will follow. Do not go with the flow. Be the flow.” Elif Shafak Forty Rules of Love

فَاذْكُرُونِي أَذْكُرْكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِي وَلَا تَكْفُرُونِ

” Remember me, and I will remember you.” (2:152)


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. Very good post dearest Maha, I admire your courage and strength to fight this, and what better way to do this than connecting with your *real* inner self and God. By the way, great picks from “40 Rules of Love”, you inspired me to re-read it again ;] And that reminds me to share with you few other quotes I’ve collected on illness and liberation:

    “To know your own illness is the proper remedy. When you repent you feel humility. That is the time to obey the Prophet’s command “Have mercy.” Why do you presume to be safe and fortunate? Don’t you remember God’s solace, “Do not fear”?”~Jalaluddin Rumi

    “Each patient carries his own doctor inside him.” ~ Norman Cousins

    “Be kind to your sleeping heart.Take it out in the vast field of light and let it breathe.” ~Hafez

    “Feelings are something you have; not something you are.” ~ Shannon L. Alder

    Lots of love

Leave A Reply