Ibn Daud, an IT Management Consultant by profession, talks to Natasha Syed, Editorial Director, about his journey to self-publishing ‘A Handbook of Spiritual Medicine’ and how it may benefit those yearning to address common illnesses of the heart such as anger, envy, extravagance and negative feelings, in the current modern, time-constrained and hi-tech era.
Tell me about your new book?
This spiritual guide to the self is a handbook of ‘self-purification’ or tazkiyah. It illustrates the maladies of the human spiritual condition, recognising the struggles and insecurities we all succumb to from time to time, and prescribes the remedies for common illnesses of the heart such as anger, boasting, envy, extravagance, fear of poverty, love of the world, negative feelings, vanity, and many more.
Why is spiritual well-being so important?
Just as we seek the best medical treatment to avoid illnesses and improve our physical health and wellbeing, whether that be paracetamol to treat a mere headache or something more substantial like chemotherapy to treat cancer, our souls can also suffer from spiritual illnesses.
However, our spiritual health is fundamentally different, and in some respects more important. Why is this?
“The science of the states of the heart (‘ilm ahwāl al-qalb) is an individual obligation, not just a collective one.”
(Imām Al-Ghazālī )
In other words, it is a responsibility for every adult Muslim (fard‘ayn), according to capacity, and not a responsibility left to specially qualified individuals within the community (fard al-kifāyah).
My journey has been about making the traditional science of ‘self-purification’ or tazkiyah accessible. By presenting this science in a contemporary format using modern management techniques, I am hoping that symptoms can be recognised more easily and remedies applied in a practical way across 26 diseases of the heart.
The book’s tabular design and colourful traffic light approach should make it easier to reference for a new generation that is evermore time-constrained. I’ve also included the real and potential negative impact that social media has on our spiritual growth, and compared this with practical ways that its influence can be harnessed for our benefit.
How did this idea come about?
It was back in my university days when I stumbled across ‘Purification of the Heart’ by Hamza Yusuf Hanson. Reading about and personally experiencing emotions back then such as boasting, love of the world, mockery and vanity shook my conscience, gripping me with a directive to seek a solution to the illnesses of my own heart. Roughly around the same time, I lived with a medic whose particular habit was to reference the ‘Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine’ with zeal. It is the memory of the practicality of his small reference manual coupled with my long-term preoccupation with the concept of ‘self-purification’ which brought me to the idea of compiling a spiritual guide to the self.
“But it had to be something accessible, easy to pick up during our busy lives in this modern, high-tech era. It needed to address the struggles and insecurities we all face and offer the antidotes to those ailments, using evidence from the Qurān and authentic ahādīth (Prophetic sayings).”
Do you provide references to the symptoms and remedies?
I’ve worked alongside qualified scholars to include and validate 1000+ Qur’ānic verses and authentic ahādīth, inspiring mindfulness of the Almighty Cherisher and His Beloved Prophet , as well as drawing on the 11th and 12th Century works of the ‘Proof of Islam’ and wondrous sage, Imām Abū Hāmid Al-Ghazālī .
Tell me about yourself?
I am married with four children, and an IT Management Consultant by profession. My work takes me around the UK. The ideas for the book were borne almost 20 years ago, yet it was only 3 years ago when I began my journey in earnest, stealing time during evenings when working away from home, and weekends in and around work and family commitments.
Recent events however have allowed me to dedicate more time, and after a long and challenging self-publishing journey, with the help of some very special people (the editing team), including my dear wife and children, and with the duas of my dear mother and the inspiration of my late father, I managed to complete the book during the blessed month of Ramadan this year, al-Ḥamdu lillāh.
What ‘self–publishing’ advice would you give?
Not being a scholar or a professional writer, the journey of self-publishing was an enlightening one and I’m indebted to the kind people who guided me along the way. Here some hints and tips for anyone interesting in treading this path:
SELF-PUBLISHING HINTS & TIPS
Purify and check your intention along the way
My wife and mother have helped me to stay true to my original intention, which is to benefit myself as well as others in sha’ Allah
There’s good in everything
I was knocked back by a publisher in my early days, however the journey of self-publishing has meant that I have had to work very closely alongside some very blessed people, and this has profoundly enriched me
Stick to what you know best
Reach out for help because you’ll need a team of good people working alongside you doing what they do best (e.g. editing, designing, referencing, marketing), and taking the advice and guidance of our respected elders, scholars and other ‘subject matter experts’
Don’t hold back on quality
I’ve put a lot of effort into this because I want to reach or attract folks that perhaps wouldn’t normally pick up a book or even contemplate reading this kind of material
Be consistent by taking small steps on a regular basis
Stealing an hour at every opportunity meant that I was in some small way contributing to the betterment of myself and perhaps others, which further fuelled my passion to continue
“A beautifully structured and well-presented work, highlighting one of the most important aspects of Islamic teachings.”
(Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam Al-Kawthari, Director of the Institute of Islamic Jurisprudence, Darul Iftaa, Leicester, UK)