“Do not be very strict on yourselves for then Allah will be strict upon you. Verily, a group of people were strict upon themselves so Allah was strict upon them. Their remnants are the (ascetic) people living in the hermitages and monasteries. [Then he quoted the verse,] ‘But the monasticism which they invented for themselves, We did not prescribe for them.”‘ Abu Dawud
In explaining this Prophetic saying Shaykh Abdul Haqq Muhadith Dehlawi (Allah have mercy on him) mentioned that Shaykh Ahmed bin Abilhawari approached his teacher Shaykh Suleman Darani (Allah have mercy on them) and inquired that the people of Bani Israel strived with such (physical) endeavors and struggles that their skin became like old worn out leather whereas we eat, drink, clothe ourselves and live with comforts and luxuries. My heart is burdened by this luxurious lifestyle and I worry what will be its end result.
Shaykh Suleman Darani (Allah have mercy on him) replied,
‘O Ahmed! What is demanded from us (by Allah) is truthfulness (sidiq) and sincerity (ikhlas) (in our intentions and actions)
Burning and melting (with strenuous endeavors and struggles) is not demanded from us.
Good deeds performed with sincerity for ten days are better than 10 years of (physical) struggle that burns and melts (the skin).
The real objective and goal is the pleasure of and acceptance by (radha) Allah. (This can only be achieved with sidiq and ikhlaas.)
As the poet says
من لم یکن للوصال اہلا فکل احسانہ ذنوب ‘
Ashaat alelmaat volume 1, page 473 via Basariyet ki rah say taraqqi