Neuroscience to improve daily Islamic practice

Tarek Kareem Harris


Channel: Tarek Kareem Harris

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Episode Notes

Mindful and enhancing ways of Salat, wudhu, & dhikr


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Assalamu alaikum brothers and sisters,

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it's been a year since I first went on social media. So let me tell you why I do what I do.

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I stopped seeing individual patients some time ago. Now, I have a public mission to help bring mental health, mental strength, and greater well being to people of faith feasibility law.

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One thing that comes up a lot is if there are any mental techniques to improve, everyday Islamic practice, Salah will do and so on.

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People ask me what mind tricks and tips could help.

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These are normal people, not bad Muslims not weaken faith. But nonetheless, the practice is not easy, not up to scratch.

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They tell me they tried to motivate themselves. They try to remember the rewards that they might get. Remember that they're sinners who need forgiveness. But it just doesn't become like clockwork.

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Well, I've looked into this a lot over the past year. And I'm glad to say that I found some very effective ways to make these things automatic. And to make them so automatic that people actually want to pray more.

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Five times suddenly doesn't seem enough, it's so pleasant.

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They can't get enough.

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As an expert in the mind, some of the actual answers were staring me in the face when I found them. And then I had to work out a way to teach them. So I've done that too. Let me tell you my story. I'm a medical doctor of the mind, through my research and connection to Islamic scholars and Islamic knowledge. And through my own doctor, I guess I'm in the business of helping people gain real happiness, to regain their minds, to find their strengths and to go on to succeed in life somehow, to be content.

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I do this by connecting the Islamic with the medical and the scientific, to show techniques, how these things can be achieved.

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Daily Islamic things, if done properly, are designed fundamentally to make us happier, wiser and more content in a very real sense that flows out into every other part of our life.

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Our relationships, our decisions, our resistance to sadness, and drama, and our success in Deen, money, friendships and any other things that we choose to name.

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So this is all about real world Islamic contentment exercises.

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It is something you can't get from the book. It needs something interactive. So it will be one of the sections in the forthcoming app.

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So many of us now look to our phones as part of our tools for daily life. Why not use them for something really useful?

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Let me tell you why I'm hyped up about these Islamic contentment exercises. Most people wish for a strong mind, a sense of direction and purpose and a sense of contentment and inner peace.

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We are told that Islam is the source for it. That Islamic practice is rich in such things.

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So what do we know so far? Well, having religion certainly helps mental health. When times are difficult. We people of religion have a sense of direction. We can reach out to a God who knows what we're going through.

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But this is an impact when times are tough. Many of us tend to allow when times are tough anyway. But what about the good times?

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Is it possible that Salah does be thicker we do all these daily things could help make us happier in peacetime when we're not ill or struggling when we are just people who would like to feel happier, more confident, more alive.

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In truth, many people come to me privately saying they don't feel right, because they can't get to that life enhancing connection between say salah and happiness.

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They say look, we're believers. And we really do believe when we're told and promised that Islam is the way to happiness. But in truth, we feel like we go through the motions of Salah with fear and blind hope. We don't have actual insight. Is there a way to pray like the Sahabi and the prophets to be totally strengthened, enhanced, addicted, attracted whatever you want to call it? Because we don't quite know how to find those positive things. Some of us might practice the Salah, and we do every day,

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but we don't emerge enhanced.

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Then I asked them well what makes you pray? Well, they say well, we pray for a LASIK.

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We pray for the reasons we're told as children, we are sinful. So we pray to wash the sins away. And we pray to ask him to fix things that go wrong or to make problems go away.

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That sounds okay on the surface. But it hardly seems like the heavenly experience of Islam that lead our Prophet and many of his followers to want to pray all through the night, as if they derived some intense kind of goodness, some kind of spiritual gift from it.

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Indeed, as kids, many of us are told that we should tell you about deeds, good versus bad, like mental accountants, anxiously praying this or that do are in order to gain x many 1000 blessings. And we do all that. And when we leave the masjid, we leave with the feeling of relieving the anxiety for a while. But we don't actually feel enhanced, fortified.

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I think this may even be a majority of ordinary Muslims. And I say that, because I noticed that when people ask questions of our Muslim leaders, the majority of these questions seem technical. They're obsessed with questions of minor details in our practice, worried that they might be getting some technical detail wrong.

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Moving the hand this way, or praying on this day at this hour? No wonder they see Islam as a set of obligations. Not a life enhancing activity for them. Just hard and fast rules.

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So a big reason for this problem is, I think, because when we learned about Islam as children, we were too young to understand that the actual intention, the symbolism and deeper meanings of Islam, behind those actions is why we do them. And we were too young because the true inner self, symbolized by the club, or the heart of the mind, it only starts to show up in our early teenage years as part of our mental development. And that's too late. It's sometime after we've learned the basics of Islam.

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The heart is the true sense of self, as a moral being. You know, you have freewill, maturity, wisdom,

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higher purpose of luck. Without the heart, we can learn the mechanical side of things, but we are too young to understand the value of meaning, well being, spirituality and so on. Remember, that our beloved Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam himself first received the notice of prophethood at the age of 40. Allah did not give him any signs whilst he was a child, because he was like us, a human being, and the child's mind is not designed to carry such weight.

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If our Prophet himself learned about Islam only as an adult, we should have no hesitancy in relearning it as adults for ourselves. Because as we will discover, the payoffs are immense.

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So this series is all about claiming those real benefits, benefits to well being from daily Islamic practice.

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And there's everything that the modern psychologist or therapist or Zen master will teach you about mindfulness and meditation, self awareness and gratitude. But this is that an A whole level above it.

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This is Islam after all. This isn't just Islam, ified meditation.

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Islam contains all the ingredients of mental well being and much more.

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And it turns out, it was always there.

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If you read my last book Diab, you understand how the rules for eating responsibly and sourcing our food have always been there in Islam.

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We will just learn where to look. And when we find it, it will seem so obvious that it will seem like we've been looking for water in the middle of the ocean. We stand to gain a lot.

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I can promise you this. If you actually practiced every day Salah with you, and vigor with real meaning in the way they will always intended. They can enhance your mind at a really deep psychological level. You will never think of them as chores ever again. In fact, you will look forward to them like someone looks forward to a time at a luxury spa or a delightful break away from the hustle and bustle of life. And yet more because you are going to be in the Presence of Allah. It'll become hard not to do them.

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You'll be living with the heart in charge, your highest self in charge.

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Look, peace, contentment and happiness are to be found in the very things that we do as Muslims. And we will step by step look at the neuroscience, the psychology and the spiritual connections and symbolism behind the Islamic practice. Each step of so

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Allah will do Vicar goosal, and so on, and applying that know how, in real time to enhance our experience of it.

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Those who struggle with mental illness, stress or burnout, will find relief and rescue, you'll find room to breathe.

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Those who are trying to connect with Allah to really feel Islam coursing through their veins will finally find that way, inshallah,

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those who want to improve their minds to be more alert, more engaged in life, making better decisions, they will also be able to do those things.

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And I understand that these sound like lofty promises, but I don't make them lightly. I mean, on the one hand, Islam promises these things, so we can take that as reassurance. But we will be looking at what the Islamic guidance actually means in practice, the mindset for praying for will do for remembrance,

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the imagery, the breathing, the movements, the setting, the place, all of it. As a doctor, I'm interested in evidence, real scientific evidence, not just opinion. So I will bring that side to the table,

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I will help us to get to the wellness, the constellation, the mindfulness, the inner peace, that Islamic goodness that is promised to us.

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We will be starting with Lulu

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looks like a simple procedure on the surface. And if you do it right, performing with you should give you a mental high, it would give you that composure that you would hope to see in a supremely confident judge or a high priest.

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I look forward to telling you about it more in the app.

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The app packs all of this know how into an interactive thing which works out how you're doing, and gives you bite sized tips and exercises that will help directly the moment you do them. It's cost me a lot of money to develop. But this is just material cost. And I'm quite happy to spend in its way. But I believe very strongly that this work will help many people. And I do need your support. If I want to make this stuff free.

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Your continual messages and requests confirm that you benefit from this work or at least you seem to need it. And I encourage you to keep sending. Tell me what you like what you need. This is all for you. Click the link in my Instagram profile to get to the books. Donate to our GoFundMe. There's a link button that comes up after you click the main link. But let's get back to the main message. My aim is to help us make the app a reality for all Muslims who have a smartphone because I believe in this and if you have listened this far, I'm sure you believe in it too.

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I hope and pray that Allah blesses all of us with keen eyes, sharp minds and happy hearts.

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I mean