[In a gathering Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi rehmatullah alayh said]
I wrote a letter to a certain Maulana Saheb that in this path af’āl (actions) are intended and not Infi’āl (self occurrence)*. In these two terms I have summed up the whole spirit of Tasawwuf and explained it. But Maulana Saheb did not pay heed.
I am astonished that a person of knowledge could not understand this. It is the same thing which I say all the time. Everyone wants that the work gets done and one does not have to move a finger; some buzurg (saintly person) will simply inspire into my heart (and I will reach the stations of love). One should first inquire as to what these buzurg went through to acquire these stations. How can you acquire them by simply sitting at home and doing nothing? You will have to fix someone’s shoes, rub your nose somewhere and after all that IF you get something, consider even that a lot. In this path you will only get something by annihilating yourself.
Malfuzaat Hakeemul Ummat Malfuz # 343 – vol. 1 pg. 260
* The term Infi’āl is from the Arabic Etymology. Infi’āl (انفعال) form of the verb has the specialty of “self happening” (لزوم). This means that the act of the verb occurs by itself without the Salik being a means for it. Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi rehmatullah alayh made a subtle indication to this form of the verb, and hoped that a person of knowledge would understand it better than a layman. It is a common misunderstanding among the laymen that the darajāt in tasawwuf are majorly due to the tasarruf (intervention) of the shuyukh. Maulana Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi rehmatullahi alayh rehmatullahi alayh is clarifying this misconception that although tasarufaat could occur bi’idhnillah (with the permission of Allah) but these are not the aim of tasawwuf, instead the aim is to work on oneself and struggle towards the closeness of Allah and purify oneself in the path.