The importance of having the intention of spiritual rectification
Trans. Mawlana Tameem Ahmadi
Imam Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi (rahimahullah) received a letter from a person requesting spiritual advice. In reply Imam Hakim al-Ummah Thanwi wrote: “Read the transcripts of twenty of my spiritual discourses and practice upon them. Once you have done that, inform me of your condition.” That is, let me know whether or not you feel some spiritual elevation and change within you.
After reading the transcripts of twenty lectures the person replied: “Unfortunately, I do not feel any change within myself at all.” Imam Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi wrote back: “Either you have not read those lectures with the intention of spiritual rectification or the subject matter was not related to spirituality. If that is not so, it could be that there is nothing within you which needs rectification.
The person wrote back admitting that he had not read the lectures with the intention of spiritual rectification, to which Imam Hakim al-Ummah Thanwi replied advising him to read them once again, but with the proper intention of rectification.
Once again the person wrote saying: “Al-Hamdu lillah, I have acquired enormous spiritual elevation and benefit from the lectures. An amazing change has now taken place within me.”
Imam Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi (rahimahullah) comments: “If I had merely prescribed some dhikr, he would not have benefited so much. Truly, if a person does something the right way, fulfilling its rights and conditions, Allah, Most High, will definitely put benefit in that thing. But our problem is that we do things according to our own understanding and deficient conjectures. Due to this we end up frustrated and confused.
Today’s fake pirs and money-making sufi shaykhs have cheated the people, taking money from them and giving them wazífas to read. Is it ever possible to spiritually rectify oneself through wazífas and awrad? Spiritual rectification and elevation can only be acquired through [the proper procedures of] spiritual rectification.”
(Malfuzat-e–Hakim al-Ummat; 8:317)
Translator’s note: This in no way is intended to undermine the need, importance and power of du‘as and adhkar, which also play an essential role in spiritual rectification. Rather, what is intended here is that if a person does not make an effort on leaving sins and working on changing the low and evil qualities within him, and inculcating within himself good qualities, then simply reading a thousand wazifas and awrad without a genuine effort to abstain from evil and do good will not rectify him.