Monday, 2 September 2013
READERS' CONTRIBUTION; THE PAIN OF DISCIPLINE BY AMINAT ANOBA
Very few things excite me as much as imparting knowledge does. I feel very happy when I read impressive write-ups from my peers, any well written material lifts my spirits and I always endeavor to be better. May Allah bless the Oloso shukrahs, Abdulmajeed Kabirs, Olagunju sherrifdeens and Aminat Anobas of this world, and increase their knowledge. Ameen. Please relax and enjoy this beautiful article from one of our dear readers, I Hope it inspires you as well as it did me.
The Pain of Discipline
It was one of those weekday mornings when I had to wake up earlier than usual to practice my
Arabic and Quran before going to work. I woke up and all I wanted to do was sleep!, sleep!! and
sleep!!!. I laid there thinking why do I have to do this, “torture” myself by depriving myself of sleep.
For a couple of minutes, I laid down debating “should I”, “should I not” and gave myself every
reason why I should just go back to bed and forget about practising anything.
In the midst of this, I remembered this quote which I once heard- “we must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”
Immediately, I sprung off my bed.
There are many times in our lives when we make a commitment to ourselves to take certain actions
that would make us a better person either spiritually, financially or health wise. But just like in a
race, we start so eagerly and full of energy convincing ourselves we can make it but in the middle of
the way, reality starts kicking and we start getting exhausted. For many of us, this is where the race
to change ends as we are not willing to pay the price and face the pain of discipline. In many cases,
this unwillingness to stick to our end results irrespective of the pains and challenges that come our
way is caused by the lack of discipline.
As Muslim, our lives are centred around being disciplined: we have to wake up early to pray fajr
despite we still want more sleep. During the month of Ramadan, we have to stay away from food,
water and sexual relations. Even when Ramadan falls during the summer months where there is
over 15 hours between Suhoor and Iftaar, we still have to fulfil the obligation to fast. However, many
times consciously or unconsciously we leave the path of discipline for the easy way which is the path
of least resistance, just to avoid the pain of discipline. Indeed, the path of discipline can be truly
painful and excruciating especially at the beginning of the journey however in the end it is always
worthwhile because we become better people. While choosing the path of least resistant seems
easy and pleasurable on face value, it is all a facade and the reality would certainly kick in the future.
More so, whether we like it or not, the reality of life is that we would always have to pay a price; “we
either play now and pay later or pay now and play later. Regardless of the choice we make, life will
demand a payment and when we pay later the price is usually greater”.
Below are some ways of reducing the pain of discipline:
1. Keeping good company and leaving bad company: The company we keep have a subtle but
big impact in our lives. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The
parable of a good friend and a bad friend is that of a carrier of musk and a blacksmith.
The carrier of musk will give you some, or you will buy some, or you will notice a good
smell; but as for the blacksmith, he will burn your clothes or you will notice a bad smell.”
Thus, In order to strengthen one’s discipline, it is extremely important that we associate
ourselves with companions who would constantly support, challenge and motivate us to
stick to the path of discipline. Those are companions who would help us get back on track
especially when the going gets tough. If your goal is to wake up for fajr on time, team up
with someone who you know is consistent in waking up for fajr. lt is equally crucial that we
avoid those companions who try to put us down in our efforts to stay disciplined or who
have such low standards to the extent that we also begin to lower our standards.
2. Rewarding one ’s self: Creating a reward system whereby we promise ourselves a treat if
we successfully stick to our goals can help us persevere through the pains of discipline. This
creates some sort of excitement. According to Imam Ibn Jawzi in his book Disciplining the
Soul, “some of the righteous predecessors would desire a sweet treat and so they would
promise themselves to eat it. If they prayed the night prayer they would allow themselves
3. The “Why” Power: Sometimes, the reason we give up at the slightest pain resulting from
discipline is because we don’t have a very strong reason for maybe deciding to read more
Quran or eat healthily or wake up for tahajud or change bad habits. To successfully achieve
something or make significant improvements in our lives, it is extremely crucial that we have
very strong and empowering reasons in order to successfully pull through. According to
Darren Hardy in the Compound Effect, this is called “The Why Power”. According to him, the
power of your why is what gets you to stick through the gruelling, mundane, and laborious”.
Thus, identifying the why is an important source of motivation and persistence even in the
most difficult times. An example of this can be seen in the life of the Prophet (Peace be upon
him). Despite the pain of losing his uncle and his wife who were his backbone and all the
insults and false accusations made against him, He never gave up in spreading the message
of Islam because he knew what his ultimate goal was. So when next you are slipping back to
the old ways, sit back and ask yourself “why am I doing this”?