The person who has been granted the fikr (concern) about his islah (reformation) has indeed been favored by Allah Azzawajal. When one is concerned about his islah, his path becomes easy. Take an example of a man who is not cared about his health and is just content about his health, any expensive medicine won’t be of any use to him even if it is placed right in front of him as he won’t care to take it. Similarly even if one gets the expensive tips for islah, a person would not mind taking it. The more one has fikr of his islah, easier will be his way.
There is zahiri (apparent) islah and batini (hidden) islah. When a person is exposed to deeni people, zahiri islah is attained to some good extent like growing beard, wearing turban etc. Unlike zahiri islah, batini islah takes more time. When one has fikr of evils within him like jealousy, rancor, attachment to the world etc., he will get the treatment for these diseases. When ones physical ailment is apparent like the eyes changing its color, wound on the hand, the teeth is shaky, pain in the ears and so on; he gets more concerned about his health. Sometimes it so happens that a person has disease inside him which doesn’t show outside and if he doesn’t take any X-ray or other tests, then he will not be aware of this disease. It is observed that there is no secretion of blood, nourishment with the intake of food and no cheerfulness and when tested with X-ray or other equipment, he is found to be afflicted with cancer.
Similarly a person might be doing ibadat outwardly but his eeman may not increase within him, no spirituality and things are just not working for him. This shows that he has been afflicted with some spiritual cancer be it jealousy, rancor or anything because of which there is no progress. Let the person have fikr of both zahiri and batini islah. If one has the fikr, then the path will be easy and if one doesn’t have any fikr, then the path will be very difficult. Sahabah rizwanullah ajmaeen, even though their paths were determined and the best thing was that they had the companionship of the Prophet sallallaahu alihi wasallam but still when they see a minute shortcoming in them, they would be troubled a lot like a Sahabi Hanzala (radhiAllahu anhu) once cried in fear, “Hanzala became a munafiq (hypocrite); Hanzala became a munafiq.”
They used to be very very sensitive when it comes to their islah and eeman just like we are sensitive of our health. We become too sensitive when we see even a small spot on our face. If they feel they are lacking to a very small extent, they would be troubled a lot. As they had too much of fikr of their islah, Allah Azzawajal blessed them more and made their paths easy. The first and foremost of all important things is one gets the fikr of islah. If one is fortunate enough to get this fikr, then there are three basic things in islah.
1) Saving oneself from every single sin
2) Making abundance of duaa to Allah Azzawajal for one’s islah
3) Sohbat (association)
If one doesn’t get the sohbat of a pious person daily then definitely we have masjid. If a person sits in the masjid alone for 15-20 minutes, he will get the sohbat of the Angels if not pious men and his job will be done with the blessings of this sohbat. If you get the fikr that you need islah and you should get the islah done, then Allah Azzawajal will make your path easy and if one is too content of his own self then it will be very difficult. The truth is we don’t just need islah but we need it a lot and in fact this need will remain till we go to our qabr (grave) because there is no limit for islah. Look at our affairs, how we get too emotional over little things losing the control of our tongues and how we fall. The reason is we simply lack islah in our temper and we are in dire need of it. If Allah Azzawajal grants this fikr, then it is indeed the great tawfeeq from Allah Azzawajal and great fadhl from Allah Azzawajal.
One should ask Allah Azzawal for islah as one would ask for anything he is in need. One should allot certain time be it 5 or 10 or 15 minutes asking for islah daily. Sohbat has such a barakah (blessing) that one is in constant fikr that he is lacking something big like one finds his defects looking into the mirror. Even if one doesn’t find sohbat of pious men, sit in masjid after salah for 15 minutes when all the people leave after salah or come to masjid 15 minutes before salah and inshaaAllah one will definitely find the difference. If one has the fikr of islah, then one will embrace all three basic things with courage. If one doesn’t have any fikr, then although these three medicines are very effective, one will not have courage to take that.
When one has the fikr of his health, the courageous steps he takes is stunning like he comes forward to remove his leg to save the rest of his body from disease. How courageous he is! He is doing this willingly and above that he pays the doctor and is thankful to him. He could do this because he is concerned of his health and so is the case of islah that if one has the fikr, then he will get the courage. A person goes to the same job constantly for 30-40 years going in the morning and coming back only in the late evening all because of his concern about his income. So courage is achieved on something when one has the fikr of that thing. Without mujahidah (struggle) and courage, nothing works out. This mujahidah and courage is found only in the person to whom Allah Azzawajal grants the fikr of islah. Take any famous person known for his piety and guidance be it Imam Ghazzali or Rumi or any great person, none achieved the status without mujahidah and courage. They cried waking up during the nights for their islah because this is not a simple thing but very precious.
Islah is not achieved by anyone without struggle and courage except the Prophets (peace be on all of them) where Allah Azzawajal specially bestows this blessings on them. Rest of all of the people can achieve islah only through hardwork. Eventhough Prophets (peace be on all of them) are specially and purely granted this blessings by Allah Azzawajal but still they too are passed through mujahidah because Allah Azzawajal wants to make them an example for the ummat. Prophet Musa (alaihis salam) grazed the sheeps for ten years and he never considered that to be against his spiritual status. He used to run after the sheep after sheep when they try to run away. So without mujahidah nothing is achieved.