Hadhrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (rahmatullah alayh) once mentioned:
A person once wrote a letter to me wherein he requested that I guide him in reforming his condition. In reply, I advised him to read twenty of my discourses and endeavour to practice upon my teachings. I further advised him to write to me after carrying this out so that he may inform me of his condition and whether he finds any change in his life.
After reading twenty of my discourses, he wrote to me saying, “I do not find any improvement and change in my life.” I replied to him saying, “You either read the discourses without the intention of reforming yourself, or either the discourses which you read did not contain any advice pertaining to your self-reformation, or perhaps there are no deficiencies within you which require reformation.”
After reading my reply, he admitted that although he read through the discourses, he did not do so with the intention of reforming himself. I therefore wrote to him saying, “This is the reason for you not finding any change and improvement in your life. Now I ask you to read these discourses again with the intention of Islaah (seeking self-reformation).”
Alhamdulillah, after reading the discourses again with the correct intention, he wrote back informing me that he has derived immense benefit from the discourses and that he finds substantial change and improvement in his life.
(Adapted from Malfoozaat Hakeemul Ummat)