Fighting the evil within us is more difficult than fighting in a battlefield. Ibn Qayyim mentions in Za’d Al-Ma’ad the four states of Jihad against the self:
First: To strive in learning guidance and the religion of truth, without which there will be no success. Indeed, there can be no true happiness, nor any delight in this world and in the Hereafter, except through it.
Second: Striving to act upon what has been learnt, since knowledge without action will not benefit, rather it will cause harm.
Third: Striving to invite others towards it and to teach those who do not know, otherwise you may be considered among those who hide what Allah has revealed of guidance and clear explanation. Such knowledge will neither benefit, nor save a person from the punishment of Allah.
Fourth: Striving to be patient and persevering against those who oppose this da’wah (call) to Allah and those who seek to cause harm – patiently bearing all these hardships for the sake of Allah.
When a person succeeds in all these four stages, he is considered to be amongst the Rabbaniyyun (Allah’s men). Early scholars have agreed that a scholar does not deserve the title of Rabbani until he recognizes and knows the truth, acts upon it, and teaches it to others. So whosoever has knowledge, acts upon it, and teaches this knowledge to others, is considered among the “Rabbaniyyun.”