In your heart is a struggle between Allah and everything else. We were not created except to worship Allah both inwardly and outwardly. Your heart’s turning to other than Allah is worshiping other than Allah and it is a form of shirk. Of course, this does not refer to the shirk that takes one out of Islam. Rather, it is a lesser shirk. Furthermore, sins are not the real problem. Rather, they are a manifestation of a greater problem of attachment of the heart to other than Allah. The outward sin is merely a bitter fruit of the terrible root of attachment to the dunya. The solution to this is to weaken the nafs and strengthen the soul.
Weakening the nafs is done by training it. The sufis would often eat lighter foods such as vegetables as opposed to heavier meets. Sleeping too much also strengthens the nafs. “Whoever wants to reach the heights should stay up at nights.” This means that one should wake up earlier and do some worship. Much of bad character also comes from, what is called in America, “sleeping in.” In general, one should simply not indulge in desires. This is especially true for sinful desires. This is best done through gradualism.
As for strengthening the soul, this is done through worship of Allah. However, one should be wary of worship. Worship is the antidote and the poison. If one does worship out of showing off, then this is a form of indulging the lower-self and this will set the traveler on the path back. Sheik Muhammed al-Yaqoubi made a specific example of how someone who cries in front of people and his happy with himself because of that can be really a sinner. What helps is consistency and taking a spiritual guide. And guidance is only from Allah.
By strengthening the soul and weakening the lower-self, the salik can take everything out of his heart except Allah and he will find that everything he desired is in Allah. There is so much more to be said but I can only say so much. Sheik Ahmed Khatib gave me a ride back home and with him was Sheik Maher Hindi. They were discussing the lessons and there was so much insight that came with it. Come to Damascus and drink from the rivers of paradise whose sources are the mouths of our scholars!
Other news: I found a screw in my ice-cream and a bird pooped on me in the Hamadiyya Market.