The Maulana always likened these exercises to medical remedies administered by Doctors. Their purpose was to get someone healthy and able to carry out his tasks. They were not viewed as the objectives or virtuous in themselves, but they only serve as catalysts for the Muslim to perform good deeds and excel in them. Thus, the label of 'bidah' bestowed on these exercises by some over-enthusiastic groups are unfounded and betray a lack of understanding of the term on the part of these pseudo-Mufti's.
Now, for those who don't think much of these disputes, I'll come to the point. Maulana Thanvi, I always say, is the peoples Shaikh. Everyone from the local postman to the Aalim in your Mosque can act on his easy instructions and bring themselves closer to Allah, and today as well I'd like to share with you a particular piece I came across that is particularly relevant to todays great-results-with-zilch-effort world.
'Sleep less' is an acknowledged Sufi principle, and it comes from the Shari'ah. However, the point is not to stay up all night and do nothing (or worse, watch Sky Movies) but to worship Allah Subhanahu wa ta'ala. Tahajjud, the night prayer, is prescribed for this aim and the Quran describes Allah's righteous servants as
'They used to sleep but little of the night' 51:17and
'Who forsake their beds to cry unto their Lord in fear and hope,' 32:16.
OK, so you've tried a zillion times to get up and read tahajjud but your bed is much too warm in that part of the night and you can't. Pathetic yes, but all is not lost.
The word يَدْعُونَ is unspecific. It means 'cry unto' or 'call upon' and it could also point to zikr and remembrance as well as salaah. So if, in some part of the night we wake up and say a few SubhanAllah's then it should insha Allah get us counted amongst those 'who cry unto their Lord in fear and hope'. We should hold high hopes from the Bounty of Allah.
So, if at 2 or 3 in the morning you are awakened then rememember to do some Zikr. Perhaps those few words may prove to be the source of your salvation.
Any excuse for the Mercy of Allah
No price is asked for the Mercy of Allah
(my awkward translation of a Faarsi couplet)
(this piece was taken from Hazrat Thanvi's speech entitled 'Taqleel manaam bi suratil Qiyaam', page 120-121, Maktaba Thanvi, Office of Al-Ibqa, Karachi)