Monthly Archives: March 2015

Shaykh Ashraf Ali At-thanawi & His Methods of Self-Rectification In The light of Modern Science

Mawlana ASHRAF ALI THANVI (1873-1943)

Ali Thanvi, referred to by many South Asian Muslims as ‘Physician of the Muslims’ [Hakim al-ummat] (blogger: correct translation would be sage) and ‘Reformer of the Nation’ [Mujaddid al-Millat], is a towering figure of Islamic revival and reawakening of South Asia in the Twentieth-Century.

Thanvi was an eminent Muslim theologian, a Sufi mystic, and a prolific author of numerous Islamic texts.

His followers claims that his distinguishing mark and guiding principle was his remarkable sense of balance and straightforwardness–a trait manifested in his speeches, writings, and training of scholars and Sufis.

Thanvi is posited by his followers as a reformer of the masses, an exemplary spiritual guide [shaykh], a successful author, a spiritual jurist, an intellectual sage, and a fortifier of Islamic tradition.

The most famous books of Ashraf Ali Thanvi include the famous “Behishti Zaiver” and “Tarbiyyat-ul-Shalik”

His views are identified by the three titles:

a) Personality Theory
b) Causes and Classification of Disease
C) Treatment or Therapies

(a) Personality Theory: According to Thanvi, a child is born with innocent nature. He learns good and bad things from his environment. Three types of “Nafs” are developed in his personality: (I) Nafs Ammara (turning to evil), (ii) Nafs Lavvama (cursing after sin) and (iii) Nafs Mutmainna (following divines).

(b) Causes and Classification of Diseases:Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi explains the causes of mental diseases as follows:

Causes: When a human being becomes detached from religion and goes away from God it makes him worthless. This also removes distinction between good and bad; greed and material gain becomes all-important goal of one’s life in the world. This worldly gain and greed expose one to mental diseases.

According to the Maulana, there are two forces within a human being: constructive force and destructive force. He lays great emphasis on training of the child so as to strike balance between the two forces. In the early days, parents especially mother plays greater role while bringing up the child on right lines. Wrong training spoils him making him prone to mental diseases.

Kinds of Mental Diseases: 

Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi divided the mental diseases two categories:
Organic and functional disturbances or diseases.

The organic diseases may be cured by medicines but the functional or psychological diseases are to be cured by individual and group therapies. In the individual therapy, the disturbed individual is made to understand his own self-known as right path. Maulana Thanvi cured thousands of persons suffering from organic and functional disturbances through his therapy. He simply provided the reading material and inspired the individuals to develop an insight to communicate with Allah directly.

For the group therapy, Maulana Thanvi invited his patients to his “Khanqah” to stay with other members of the group and assigned them different responsibilities. As they lived together in a group, they were trained and guided to live a normal life.

C) Thanvi’s Therapy Approaches: Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi believed in individual potentialities and qualities of human beings. Before asking an individual to come down for therapy or treatment, he made it absolutely clear that his therapeutic techniques do not lead to the following:

-Miracle and “Kashf”

-Guarantee for forgiveness on the day of judgment

-Promise of material gain or better prospects in life

-Automatic cure through counselor’s attention

-Possibility of action without will

-Promise or surely for inner experiences

Maulana Thanvi emphasized the importance of the patient’s own will and effort in the cure of disease or illness. The counselor (pir) only assists the patient to understand causes of the disease and overcome adverse factors while organizing his own self. The patient should have full faith and confidence in the counselor and do as advised.

Kinds of Therapies: Ashraf Ali Thanvi divided his therapies into two kinds: 

(I) Reading therapy,
(ii) Communication therapy

(I) Reading Therapy: Reading therapy is individual therapy. At the start of treatment session, Ashraf Thanvi asked his patient to write down his problem believing that a strong psychological link existed between the patient and the therapist. This association was developed through an exchange of letters. The patient must be conscious of his anxiety and explain his trouble in writing.

The therapist believed that some individuals needed direct guidance and counseling. After reading the contents of patient’s letter, he put some questions to satisfy and prepare his (patient) for treatment.

More often that not, Maulana Thanvi provided reading material out of religious scholar’s books to his patients. He never failed to let those read and received verses of the Holy Quran.

Reading therapy depends upon the faith in ALLAH. Based on Muslim Philosophy, the reading therapy believes that man is a whole unit. He has a definite purpose of life. His primary concern is fulfilling this aim. All directed towards definite goals of life. These are to purify one’s soul and seek His pleasure and gratification.

(II) Communication Therapy: In this therapy, Maulana Thanvi invited patients to his Khanqah “Imdadia” where people always gathered together. The Maulana used to sermonize on a certain topic which the patients had to listen intently and act upon as advised. He thought the sermon was the best spiritual group therapy. The patients uttered again and again what they heard. Remaining near to the therapist was important for effective treatment.

This way of treatment applied to those who fully believe in religion. Belief relates to purity of thought, uprightness of character, nearness to ALLAH and commitment.

Source :


10 Rules of Bad Studying

Excerpted from A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel in Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra)

by Barbara Oakley, Penguin, July, 2014

Avoid these techniques—they can waste your time even while they fool you into thinking you’re learning!

1. Passive rereading:

Sitting passively and running your eyes back over a page. Unless you can prove that the material is moving into your brain by recalling the main ideas without looking at the page, rereading is a waste of time.

2. Letting highlights overwhelm you:

Highlighting your text can fool your mind into thinking you are putting something in your brain, when all you’re really doing is moving your hand. A little highlighting here and there is okay—sometimes it can be helpful in flagging important points. But if you are using highlighting as a memory tool, make sure that what you mark is also going into your brain.

3. Merely glancing at a problem’s solution and thinking you know how to do it.

This is one of the worst errors students make while studying. You need to be able to solve a problem step-by-step, without looking at the solution.

4. Waiting until the last minute to study.

Would you cram at the last minute if you were practicing for a track meet? Your brain is like a muscle—it can handle only a limited amount of exercise on one subject at a time.

5. Repeatedly solving problems of the same type that you already know how to solve.

If you just sit around solving similar problems during your practice, you’re not actually preparing for a test—it’s like preparing for a big basketball game by just practicing your dribbling.

6. Letting study sessions with friends turn into chat sessions.

Checking your problem solving with friends, and quizzing one another on what you know, can make learning more enjoyable, expose flaws in your thinking, and deepen your learning. But if your joint study sessions turn to fun before the work is done, you’re wasting your time and should find another study group.

7. Neglecting to read the textbook before you start working problems.

Would you dive into a pool before you knew how to swim? The textbook is your swimming instructor—it guides you toward the answers. You will flounder and waste your time if you don’t bother to read it. Before you begin to read, however, take a quick glance over the chapter or section to get a sense of what it’s about.

8. Not checking with your instructors or classmates to clear up points of confusion.

Professors are used to lost students coming in for guidance—it’s our job to help you. The students we worry about are the ones who don’t come in. Don’t be one of those students.

9. Thinking you can learn deeply when you are being constantly distracted.

Every tiny pull toward an instant message or conversation means you have less brain power to devote to learning. Every tug of interrupted attention pulls out tiny neural roots before they can grow.

10. Not getting enough sleep.

Your brain pieces together problem-solving techniques when you sleep, and it also practices and repeats whatever you put in mind before you go to sleep. Prolonged fatigue allows toxins to build up in the brain that disrupt the neural connections you need to think quickly and well. If you don’t get a good sleep before a test, NOTHING ELSE YOU HAVE DONE WILL MATTER.

Four Essential Parts to Ta’lim (Islamic Education)

“Ta’lim (Educating Muslims about Islamic knowledge) is a very broad concept that encompasses many entities, which are all necessary… thus when it has a broad-spectrum and divisions within it, which are all required, and scholars are only fulfilling the responsibilities of only one division, then has this obligation of ta’lim reached its aim and is it absolved?

Most definitely this is a weakness you will agree upon. Whatever the case, you must admit to your deficiency.

So now isn’t it important to absolve this issue? Without a doubt it is very necessary.

What I am saying is, Ta’lim is a very broad concept, and all the parts of this concept are required [for the Muslim community by Shari’ah].

Now let us understand the different areas [of ta’lim], some are in my head at this moment, I inductively present to you four main divisions of ta’lim [translator: which can be further divided into subdivisions]:

1 – Delivering speech/sermon publicly
2 – Teaching
3 – Privately advising people (amr bil ma’roof bi khitaab al-khaas)
4 – Writing

Religious scholars should focus on these 4 areas.

These are easily achieved [in the first two points] when you teach in front of students, and when you speak in front of the general masses.

And when you selectively approach individuals or groups and advise them privately (the third point is achieved).

What I mean by ‘selectively’ is where your influence can have a positive outcome, because advice is not gladly accepted everywhere and sometimes it has a confrontational effect and in consequence enmity between the individual increases and not everyone can tolerate that.

If someone is able to tolerate opposition whilst advising him then SubhaanAllah! He should carry on. However it is important not to be harsh and ruthless when advising but be gentle. If confrontations persist, then carry on tolerating. But if you cannot tolerate this, then stop trying to advise him selectively and just advise him generally without any details.

Basically, advise people where you sense your influence.

Sadly, this practice of amr bil ma’roof is completely ignored today. Father and son, Teacher and student, Spiritual Mentor and votary, employer and employee and wife and husband all seldom advise each other. Moreover these are such connections through which humans take influence and give inspirations.
This is a very big religious error, which we will be questioned about.

So these are three points explained.

The fourth point is writing. When a situation arises they will be a need for scholars to write. This does not necessarily mean every scholar of the community becomes a professional writer or speaker, but it does mean that according to the needs of the community, a number of scholars should be proficient and talented in writing and speaking.”


Shaykh Mawlana Ashraf ali Thanwi Rahimahullah (May Allahs mercy Descend upon his soul), Huqooq wa Faraaidh Page 114, as cited by Mufti Zayd Nadwi in Adaab Taqreer wa Tasnif pg 19, Ashrafiyyah Multan, Shaban 1415