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UPDATE: The MM Fit Life Competition


UPDATE: I forgot to mention, the deadline to apply is Oct 30th, 2009 at 11:59pm.  Got a lot of applicants already, alhamdulillaah, keep ’em comin’ ;)

Let’s imagine Salman al-Farsi time traveled into the 21st century to visit your hometown, and through your connections at the masjid, you somehow wheeled and dealed with the board to have him brought to your home for dinner.  How awesome!

No doubt, you have a good number of questions you want to ask him.  You probably want to finally know how to move your finger in tashahhud.  Confirmation that calculating the birth of the moon is wrong.  What’s the right length of the beard, the halaalness of Mickey D’s, the requirement of niqaab, the length of the pants, and if he could provide a lengthy refutation of pro-music fatwas.

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The moment finally arrives, he’s knocking at your door, you open it, and before you can wish him salaams, the first thing he says to you (in translation) is, “Verily, your body has a right over you.”

And then it hits you – he just called you fat.

Contemporary Issues:  Lifestyle Imbalances

When Salman al-Farsi advised Abu ad-Darda’ on keeping his life balanced1, he mentioned three basic areas:

  1. The Right of Allah (that we worship Him)
  2. The right of the self (which can be care for the soul or body)
  3. The right of one’s family

You may have noticed that for dealing with the rights of Allah, our soul, and our families, we have double weekend intensive seminars galore, but for the fit body, well, not so much.

In theory, we have all the knowledge we need to lead healthy and fit lives from both the Sunnah of the Prophet as well as contemporary science.  But you know something is wrong when many of the da’ees, students of knowledge, imams, and scholars you encounter are themselves overweight despite their knowledge.  So what’s the problem?

Wondering Why You’re Fat?  Here’s Why

In the time of the Prophet, and after his passing, to see a man who was fat or out of shape was a rarity.  It was recorded that a man with a gut came before ‘Umar, and he pointed at the man’s protruding belly and asked him, “What is that?” to which the man replied, “It’s a blessing from Allah,” to which ‘Umar replied, “It looks like a curse from Allah!”

This trend has flipped in modern society – there are more beer bellies from non-alcohol drinking muslims than there are flat ones among us.  Obesity rates are skyrocketing for all people, and Muslims are no different in this because we’re affected by the same factors that are affecting everyone else – poor eating habits coupled with a relatively sedentary lifestyle.

Such is the price of first world luxuries.

My Story

After marriage and getting heavily involved in daw’ah work, all the weightlifting I did in college went out the door in favor of a physique that indicated I was upon the sunnah of Buddha.  I read many books, tried many systems, and in the end, I found that my main issues, and the main issues of the majority of people who fall off the bandwagon were:

  1. We don’t understand what we’re doing, or why we’re doing it – we’re dependent on the expert and their system rather than being able to make independent, informed choices on our own after the program is done.
  2. We rely on our own internal motivation, which gets us started for a couple of weeks, and may last for a little while before we crash and burn.
  3. We don’t properly calculate into the equation how many areas of life are affected when we try to make the change, so when the life schedule kicks in, the first thing to get triaged out is the health related to do items.
  4. We try to make too many changes at once and
  5. We don’t even know what goal we’re trying to achieve, and how to pick systems that will help us align with the physique we’d like to have.

These past five months, I joined a program that taught me how to eat, how to make informed choices, and how not to depend on internal motivation.  Since that time, I’ve dropped 30 lbs (238 – 208 lbs, and I’m not starving for food), dropped from 24 – 25% body fat to 18 – 19% bodyfat, and I’ve worked out consistently, on my own with no partner for 5 months, 3 – 4 times weekly.  The healthy way of life has become a part of my deen now, alhamdulillaah.

After having gone through the program (and I’m concluding next month), I have a greater appreciation for the Sunnah and what is taught about eating, a greater appreciation on how our religion has been conveyed to us, and I’m preparing to certify as a personal trainer in a few months, insha’Allah.  And with my newfound knowledge and habits, I also want to teach others how to get rid of the fat and lead healthy lives for good, insha’Allah.

Enter the MM Fit Life Competition

So here’s how it works – I’m going to select up to 20 readers from MM who are interested (10 brothers, 10 sisters max), and for the next 6 months, I’ll help them lose a bunch nasty fat – not just weight – fat.  The program is free as far as my instruction goes, though you’ll probably have to pay for any equipment and supplies required.  There are potentially other fees, but I’ll discuss that in more detail with interested applicants.

At the end of this program, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners will receive a really awesome prize (as if losing all that gunk and goo on your body isn’t prize enough already).  In return, as I’m teaching these twenty folks and providing them with more personalized treatment, I’ll write articles discussing what the participants are learning and doing, and common questions that come up and how they were dealt with.

I’m Interested – What Should I Do?

Send an email to out to with your name, age, your life status (still in school or not, marital status, work status, etc), questions you have, and in one sentence, what’s the main thing you want to accomplish in this competition, and why?

Talk to you soon, insha’Allah!


  1. Narrated Abu Juhaifa:  The Prophet established a bond of brotherhood between Salman and Abu Darda’.  Salman paid a visit to Abu ad-Darda and found Um Ad-Darda’ dressed in shabby clothes and asked her why she was in that state.  She replied, “Your brother, Abu Ad-Darda is not interested in the luxuries of this world.”  In the meantime, Abu Ad-Darda came and prepared a meal for him (Salman), and said to him, “(Please) eat for I am fasting.”  Salman said, “I am not going to eat, unless you eat.”   So Abu Ad-Darda’ ate.  When it was night, Abu Ad-Darda’ got up (for the night prayer).   Salman said (to him), “Sleep,” and he slept.  Again Abu-Ad-Darda’ got up (for the prayer), and Salman said (to him), “Sleep.”  When it was the last part of the night, Salman said to him, “Get up now (for the prayer).”  So both of them offered their prayers and Salman said to Abu Ad-Darda’, “Your Lord has a right on you, and your self has a right on you, and your family has a right on you, so you should give the rights of all those who have a right on you.”  Later, Abu Ad-Darda’ visited the Prophet and mentioned that (what Salman said) to him.  The Prophet said, “Salman has spoken the truth.” [Bukhaari and Tirmidhi]

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Siraaj is the Executive Director of MuslimMatters. He's spent over two decades working in dawah organizations, starting with his university MSA and going on to lead efforts with AlMaghrib Institute, MuslimMatters, and AlJumuah magazine. He's very married with wonderful children



  1. Siraaj

    October 29, 2009 at 11:54 AM

    Alhamdulillaah, people writing in already! Keep it coming :D


    • Kanika

      October 29, 2009 at 11:58 AM

      Is this on first come first serve basis or will you be choosing participants from the applications you receive ? and if so, what is the criteria for selection ? btw Jazzak Allah khair ! – the program sounds awesome

      • Siraaj

        October 30, 2009 at 1:19 AM

        Salaam alaykum Kanika,

        A bit of both – I’ll explain tomorrow night at the conclusion of receiving admissions.


    • Anonymous

      October 30, 2009 at 12:23 AM

      As-salamu alaykum,

      “These past five months, I joined a program that taught me how to eat, how to make informed choices, and how not to depend on internal motivation”.

      Siraaj, could you please elaborate on what you mean by internal motivation.

      And I was wondering if you could recommend any books or sources that could inform me about how to eat right and make more informed choices. I’m not looking to loose any weight, but just am interested in leading a healthy lifestyle so I don’t end up with a “beer” belly.

      • Siraaj

        October 30, 2009 at 1:27 AM

        Internal motivation lasts for only so long – someone fires you up, or you yourself get fired up in the beginning, and you’re moving and grooving and then…all of a sudden, you’re not sure why you’re doing this, you’re not seeing results, your friends want to take you out, it’s getting harder and harder, and you putter out.

        Motivation is very short-lived. A habit on the other hand, once established, is difficult to break. If you deviate, habit naturally pulls you back in because the pain of deviation is too much. So that motivation needs to be transform into a good habit, and something needs to be established that keeps the person persevering long enough well past the death of motivation so that the habit is established.

        There are many ways to do this, and I have one method which will be covered in this program.

        If I were to recommend anything, I’d recommend


        • Anonymous

          October 30, 2009 at 11:23 AM

          Jazakallah Khair bro, I totally understand what you mean by motivation versus habit now. And that website looks gnarley, I will check out.

          Btw, thumbs up on posting all these health related articles. Barely anyone pays any attention to this issue. (I was a bit late on reading your ramadan workout article, but inshallah next ramadan I’m definitely going to try to apply some of the stuff you talked about.)

    • Ibn Masood

      November 1, 2009 at 1:02 PM

      Assalamualaikum bro,

      What cert are you getting? I recommend the NSCA-CPT. It might be the best one for you. (Just note the NSCA certs are professional and require quite a substantial amount of study)

  2. iMuslim

    October 29, 2009 at 12:08 PM

    Aww man… after today, I feel like I am in need of such training… {bloats} :( I look forward to the series!

    Btw, as soon as bro Siraaj posted his idea to the MM team, we all wanted a piece of the action! Do the readers want to see the MM Staff get fit? hehe :)

  3. Olivia

    October 29, 2009 at 12:23 PM

    After marriage and getting heavily involved in daw’ah work, all the weightlifting I did in college went out the door in favor of a physique that indicated I was upon the Sunnah of Buddha

    Excuuuuse me? Ricky, you got some splainin’ to do! That’s a bit simplistic blaming the bond, no? =) After all, I’ve been married to you too and never got fat (and after 3 kids).

    By the way, akhi, will you advise any of your participants to use the S.W.? =)

    • Yasir Qadhi

      October 29, 2009 at 12:34 PM


      Siraaj, let’s see you get out of this one :D

      • Holly Garza

        November 1, 2009 at 4:58 PM

        hahahhahahahahaha Liv gotcha!

        In all fairness I gained a little bit of weight after marriage too though

    • iMuslim

      October 29, 2009 at 12:40 PM

      Hmm, not sure if I should get involved here! But don’t men typically gain weight after marriage? :) Especially if they were living alone prior.

      Whereas women tend to go either way: some gain weight if they become sedentary house wives; others lose weight through the stress of child rearing!

    • BintKhalil

      October 29, 2009 at 12:57 PM

      Assalamu alaikum

      Honestly, why is it that men go into instant uncle-mode a couple weeks after their marriage? It gets so bad that you hear of a couple that is expecting a baby a few months after their marriage and you gotta wonder which one of them is in their second trimester…

    • Olivia

      October 29, 2009 at 1:21 PM

      i accept your plea wholeheartedly =)

      *coughs* enough sidetracking! continue, continue….l

    • iMuslim

      October 29, 2009 at 2:35 PM

      Wow, nice save, masha’Allah! :)

      • Nahyan

        October 30, 2009 at 3:59 PM

        “nice save” was exactly what i was thinking as well

    • Mehreen

      October 29, 2009 at 11:31 PM

      Aw Olivia, haha :)

    • Holly Garza

      November 1, 2009 at 5:00 PM

      hahahahah I agree Great save and answer very VERY smart man!

  4. PD

    October 29, 2009 at 12:47 PM

    Sigh… currently eating a cheese bread while reading this. :/

    • Siraaj

      October 29, 2009 at 1:33 PM

      Two nights ago, I took my family out to eat one of the greasiest, unhealthiest, tastiest pizzas around – eating bad foods ain’t bad if done in moderation – if done as the norm, well…


    • Hassan

      October 29, 2009 at 2:16 PM

      While I just came back from dimassis

      • Siraaj

        October 29, 2009 at 2:47 PM

        Ah Houston, Dimassis is aight, but I’ve had better in chi-town ;)


        • Muadh

          October 29, 2009 at 9:39 PM

          DP in New Brunswick, NJ… so good… but so bad…. :)

  5. Czech Wala

    October 29, 2009 at 1:16 PM

    What of us who would like to trade in our Ibn Mas’ood like physique for the Umar look? Are we allowed to apply for your program? Or is it for fatties only?


    • Siraaj

      October 29, 2009 at 1:34 PM

      Well, it’s not a muscle building program so much as it is a fat-cutting program, but when you do cut fat, you’ll be more muscular and have a better foundation to work with when doing muscle building – do you know what your fat percentage is?



    October 29, 2009 at 1:21 PM

    As your college roomie and best friend for 11 years, I demand a personalized plan !

    great blog akhi !

    For all you other readers; I used to weigh 271 & dropped all the way to 192 (79lb!!) in 1.5 years by trial and error with a lot of sincere advice Siraaj shared with me.

    Gaining 13 lb of the total I lost, I will honestly stand by Siraaj’s guidance and encourage everyone to give it a go!

    • Siraaj

      October 29, 2009 at 2:08 PM

      Jazakallaah khayr for that unsolicited testimonial (meaning I didn’t put him up to that, he just said if himself, that’s awesome!) :D

      Btw, you know I have another brother on this program as well, and he’s been on it for just a month now and has lost 10 lbs – he sent me his before and after pictures, and masha’Allah, world of a difference. He’s got 5 months to go, by the end of it, I think he’s going to see the six pack he always wanted ;)


      • ummaasiyah

        October 30, 2009 at 8:34 AM

        I’m guessing you wouldn’t need before and after pics from the sisters though, right?

        • Siraaj

          October 30, 2009 at 9:14 AM

          Absolutely not – however, I will require that you take before pics for yourself because as changes start to happen over 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, it’s easy to wonder if you’re really changing – before and after pics are a reality check, so I will require them, but to be kept privately.


          • ummaasiyah

            October 30, 2009 at 11:07 AM

            LOL. I was joking. I knew that pics of sisters are not necessary, it was merely me being, as they say here in the UK, cheeky :)

            But good idea about taking pictures over 3-6 months…alas, if only I lasted that long with any sort of lifestyle change undertaken :(

            Mind you, I will be going on Hajj, inshallah, so I do wonder if it’s a good idea to take pictures before and after Hajj, because I have a feeling (and partly a hope) that I will come back having lost LOTS of weight due to walking and not eating much (I refuse to use the toilets in Mina!) :D

  7. Yousuf

    October 29, 2009 at 1:45 PM

    Nice idea!!! but it won’t work for me!!! i’m the other way :)

    • Siraaj

      October 29, 2009 at 1:55 PM

      yeah, I used to be that way in high school, 6’0″ and 161 lbs my senior year – age a bit, and no more PE, and voila, the senior 50 – 60 lbs!


  8. Shura463

    October 29, 2009 at 2:21 PM

    i so wanna get rolling with this plan, Insha’Allah!
    i lost 40lbs once but regained 20lbs.. so i need to lose tht again Insha’Allah AND maintain it Insha’Allah :)

  9. Danish

    October 29, 2009 at 2:24 PM

    Is the program gona be ‘public’ or only for the twenty ppl getting selected would know the program?

    • Siraaj

      October 29, 2009 at 2:44 PM

      What we do will be public – what is private is the help you’ll get from me, as well as the way I hold you accountable and check up on you. I will also not be sharing any names of participants who wish to remain private, and those who wish to put their names out there publicly to lock themselves down for stronger accountability may do so.


      • Danish

        November 2, 2009 at 10:31 PM

        Jazak Allah for the response

  10. Sayf

    October 29, 2009 at 2:44 PM

    I challenge Siraaj to an arm wrestle :D

    • Siraaj

      October 29, 2009 at 2:45 PM

      If there’s one thing I hate, it’s arm wrestling – even when I win, I lose because of the ensuing sore elbows (which leads to extended hot showers to get circulation moving again) :(


      • Sayf

        October 29, 2009 at 9:44 PM

        Translation : I beat Siraaj in an arm-wrestle from Canada.

        aha just kidding, I love your articles and what you do man mashAllah.

  11. Amad

    October 29, 2009 at 3:05 PM

    i hope you can get one of our US/UK/Can/Aus shayookh to join in… for once they’ll have to listen to you instead of the other way around!

    • Siraaj

      October 29, 2009 at 4:01 PM

      I would *highly* encourage shuyookh to get into this program – the better shape the teachers are in, the better received they are – even if they aren’t mastadons, I know brothers sometimes have trouble when a teacher says, “We need to control our nafs,” and its clear that the teacher is struggling with weight issues.

      What’s needed is simply a practical way to put the advice of the sunnah to good use, and people will be good to go, insha’Allah, and this program’s foundation will be on the Prophet’s Sunnah (though just so we’re clear, you won’t be hungry and tying stones to your stomach to deal with it, insha’Allah :) ).


  12. Abu Abdillah

    October 29, 2009 at 3:22 PM

    Bismillah was salaatu wa salamu ‘ala rasulillah,

    Ibn ‘Umar narrated that the prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salam) said: “The believer eats with one stomach whilst the kaafir eats with seven.” [Bukhaari and Muslim]

    He also said (‘alayhi salaatu wa salam): “The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat a few mouthfuls, to keep him going. If he must do that (fill his stomach), then let him fill one third with food, one third with drink and one third with air.” [al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Maajah, and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah (2265)]

    May Allah make us of those who are sincere in following His guidance, strong in practicing it, wise in calling to it, and patient in what befalls us.

  13. mystrugglewithin

    October 29, 2009 at 4:01 PM

    Any plans for thin people willing to gain a little weight?! : )

    • Siraaj

      October 29, 2009 at 4:02 PM

      Yes, insha’Allah, but only after this program :D


      • Ikhlas

        October 29, 2009 at 4:21 PM

        What about those who dont need to lose weight rather just develop a healthy life style to maintain?

        • Siraaj

          October 29, 2009 at 4:23 PM

          Write me at the email address and tell me about your situation specifically, and I’ll tell you if the program would be good for you or not, insha’Allah.


    • Umm Ibraheem

      October 29, 2009 at 10:39 PM

      I’d be interested in a program that teaches underweight people to eat healther and gain a few pounds.

  14. Safi

    October 29, 2009 at 5:06 PM

    Excellent initiative Siraaj! May Allah grant it success!
    Btw, I recommended Sh. Shpendim to talk to you about exercise : )

  15. Faiez

    October 29, 2009 at 6:37 PM

    So if by losing weight you become an expert at it enough to teach people, I think I’m gonna start teaching people how to gain weight.

    Where are all the anorexics? Feel free to enter my “Fat Life Competition”.

    • Siraaj

      October 29, 2009 at 6:54 PM

      So if by losing weight you become an expert at it enough to teach people

      Absolutely not! Anorexics and yo-yo dieters prove that point easy enough.


  16. nexuses

    October 29, 2009 at 10:47 PM

    I love this…. (fowarded it quickly)

    Last time I checked my bodyfat it was around 8% :-D (15% is normal) The dietation actually told me to me put on a few.

    But for the last few months if decided to be more aware the things i eat, because the image of the prophet’s stomach (saw) not going beyond his chest, even at his age, made me wanna me be like him, so here are a few things i did:
    – less meat (instead of 2 or 3 pieces of chicken, 1 or none)
    – instead 1 or 2 pieces of fruit a week, to 2 á 3 a day (i put everything in the blender and eat of drink it over 2 or 3 days, really easy)
    – compensate, when i do eat good 1 day, i try to eat less the other, or just fruits and vegetables
    – less rice, sometimes just vegetables and fish
    – i don’t wanna throw away food and always try to finish it, but NOW when i get to my 1/3 i.e. 2/3, i just put it away and finish it off later in the day or the next (yes, i can eat rice for breakfast)

    I did loose some weight, but not as much as i thought i would. That could be because i also stopped playing soccer ones a week.

    Oh yeah, I think the occassional zit that i would get isn’t from the chocolate or candy i regularly eat, but caused by the meat and the fats in it. Also waking up for nightprayer has become more easy (ramadan helped me with finding my rhythm) and i think i have a bit more energy.

    I could be all in my head, but i’m loving the results :-D

    Good luck to you guys and girls,


  17. Mohamed Ibrahim

    October 30, 2009 at 10:52 AM

    My 2 cents…

    I started on a program based on the advices and practices of the prophet PBUH but it required consistency which the prophet PBUH advocates on all life’s actions. The program is simple.

    First: Fast Mondays and Thursdays. Beside the many good benefits and hasanat one gets from fasting, it serves as a good breaker. It brakes the food-eating-binges we usually fall into. That, along with the eating program brother Siraaj talked about could get one a long way towards the fit life.

    Second: only eat when you feel hungry (reduces snaking) and when you eat, don’t go until you feel full. There is a Hadith by the prophet PBUH with the same thing.

    Went from overweight BMI (29.3) to upper normal (24.8) within few months.

    Make this you life style, not just a program that you get off of once you lose little weight.

    May Allah make our intentions pure.

  18. Hassan

    October 30, 2009 at 12:47 PM

    BTW, one of the first book/booklet Sh Waleed Basyouni wrote was about zuhhad of ummah (plurarl of zahid, austere) that were overweight. And its interesting that some of famous salaf known for piety and keen worshipers were overweight. I can remember Hasan Basri only at this time

    • Anonymous

      October 31, 2009 at 4:03 PM

      True, but not everyone is overweight because they eat too much, etc. Some people have thyroid problems, etc., which cause them to be overweight.

  19. Algebra

    November 1, 2009 at 1:57 AM

    WOW!!!!!! this is interesting……….
    Nice start on a much needed program……….

  20. Tanveer

    November 1, 2009 at 7:35 AM


    is it possible to follow the program without entering the competition?

    If so, where can I find details?
    Apologies if the links already been published.

    JazakAllah khairun

  21. Ibn Masood

    November 1, 2009 at 1:08 PM

    I would join but living in a house where everyone eats junk makes it VERY difficult to eat clean.. I remember when I was living alone and bought all my own food I was almost in the best shape I had ever been in..

    Yo Siraaj… how much do you squat? Lol.

  22. Holly Garza

    November 1, 2009 at 5:06 PM

    Asalaamu Alaikum-Sorry if I ask a repeat or dumb question but I’m just know seeing this blog as I was at the Quran conference-is it still open? Can women join? I’m have Fatty” deposit issues and i want to control it before it controls me.

  23. muhajjirah

    November 3, 2009 at 9:57 PM

    asalaam alaikum warahmat Allah,

    would love to join- but would be more comfortable discussing anything with a sis..if your wife is involved in this training, plz let us sisters know! cuz im thining im not the only one who feels this way..
    jazakAllah kheir.

    • Siraaj

      November 4, 2009 at 7:36 AM

      Yes, that’s one drawback, unfortunately. Since it is a time commitment to help out, and it’s free, it’s basically all me at this point.

      However, I have created a sisters only section where they can discuss among themselves what they wish, and the questions I’ll be taking will be in regards to explaining the habits I teach and the workouts the participants are doing.


      • muhajjirah

        November 4, 2009 at 10:34 AM

        jazakAllah kheir. may Allah reward you for your efforts.

  24. HaUK

    November 4, 2009 at 7:11 AM

    Salaam bro, I guess its too late to squeeze into this round. At 240lbs the precision website you gave out earlier is a boon to us all. Are there any other little treasures you have on the web, books or videos? Do you recommend joining the 6-month precision programme?

    • Siraaj

      November 4, 2009 at 7:38 AM

      If you have $97 a month to spend, then yes, I would recommend it. Otherwise, I’ll be posting what I teach there over here – the difference is that I’ll be spending more time answering questions on the other side, and I’ll also be holding everyone accountable there.


      • HaUK

        November 4, 2009 at 12:13 PM

        OK Siraaj, I wish I had signed up in time; a great idea and great effort. Jazak’Allah’Khair.


  25. Salma

    November 4, 2009 at 2:47 PM

    As salaamu alaikum

    where can I find the details?


  26. saleem

    November 13, 2009 at 2:11 PM

    Yeah I’m Interested as well

  27. sabah

    November 19, 2009 at 8:28 AM

    Mohammed Ibrahim

    That is excellent advice. J/A/K. I hope that people will listen to it and follow it. Also remember this quote (about how much food we should be eating): “just enough to keep your back straight”. Best dietary advice from the Prophet (saws) ever!

  28. muslimah

    March 10, 2010 at 1:29 PM

    i know i’m late reading this article, but great point about the rights of you body. the fitter we are, the better we are able to fulfill our other obligations (work, chores, prayers, etc). since its been a few months since this post, when can we expect the rest of the articles explaining how to stay fit and healthy? i hope its soon, because i need some help too. :)

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