Rida (resignation) means showing no rancor
or rebellion against misfortune, and accepting all manifestations
of Destiny without complaint and-even better-peacefully. In
other words, one should welcome all things and events, even
those normally associated with distress and terror. Another
beautiful definition of resignation is having or showing pleased
acceptance of Godís treatment whether it seems agreeable or
disagreeable to us.
Even though believers must adopt resignation
of their free will at the beginning of the spiritual journey,
in reality it is a direct gift of God to those whom He loves.
For this reason, unlike patience, neither God Almighty nor
the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, commanded it;
they only recommended it. Although there is a narration attributed
to the Prophet-Let him who does not endure misfortunes
and show resignation to Divine decrees find another Lord for
himself-the scholars of Traditions did not accept it as
an authentic Prophetic Tradition.
Some saints have considered resignation a
higher station than reliance and surrender, while others have
regarded it, like other states, as a Divine gift or radiance
that sometimes appears and then disappears. Still others,
like Imam Qushayri, have seen it as connected with or dependent
upon the servantís free will in the beginning, and as a state
or condition of the heart in the end. The Tradition: One
who is pleased with God as the Lord and Islam as the religion
and Muhammad as the Prophet has tasted the delight of belief
suggests that a person must exercise his or her free will
to obtain resignation in the beginning, although it is a Divine
gift in the end.
Being pleased with Godís Divinity means loving
and paying due respect to Him, turning to Him in worship and
for help, and expecting everything only from Him. Being pleased
with His Lordship signifies that we welcome His decrees for
us, raise no objection to any misfortune befalling us (no
matter how severe), confide in Him only concerning His treatment
of us, and are pleased with whatever He does. Being pleased
with the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, denotes
unconditional surrender to him, preferring his guidance and
directions over our personal views, and using all of our faculties
to understand-not to criticize-his actions and words and the
Revelations he transmitted. As for being pleased with Islam,
it requires, as declared in: He who seeks a religion other
than Islam, it will not be accepted from him (3:85) accepting
Islam as the ideal set of maxims and norms, and practicing
them in oneís individual, familial, and social life.
In some circumstances, such a degree of resignation
may cause one to feel or be left alone even when in a community.
However, those who have acquired Godís nearness and follow
the way of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, do
not feel such estrangement, and those who have a deep familiarity
with God do not feel lonely. Rather, they feel God as nearer
to themselves and overflow with greater love of and familiarity
with Him when they are alone and pray to Him, saying: O
God, cause me to remain alone more frequently and do not leave
me to the unfairness of the things that will cause me to fall
distant from You. Make me feel Your ever-present company with
As mentioned earlier, resignation is a Divine
gift that can be acquired only by an individualís conscious
decision to exercise free will at the beginning of the journey.
One can attain the rank of resignation through depth of belief,
solemnity in religious actions, and profound consciousness
of worshipping God as if seeing Him. To be favored with the
rank of resignation, one also must transcend the ranks of
reliance, surrender, and commitment. Since it is extremely
difficult to attain the rank of resignation by free will,
God Almighty did not order it; He only advised it and highly
praised those who attained it.
If one sets out on the journey to attain
the rank of resignation at the end, he or she must be solemn
in his or her relations with the Lord; gratefully accept all
bestowed (and unsought) Divine gifts as His blessings; remain
silent about any deprivation; fulfill all religious obligations
even in times of distress, loneliness, and hardship; and pray
in the presence of God Almighty as if entering a bridal chamber.
The most essential foundation of resignation is a continuous
feeling of His company in oneís consciousness and experience,
discovering Him afresh at every moment in oneís heart.
Fear and hope relate to oneís worldly life,
for they render impossible all feelings of despair and security
against Godís punishment while in this world. They have no
relevance to the Hereafter, except for the reward they cause
to be bestowed in the Hereafter. By contrast, being pleased
with God and loving Him continue eternally, and resignation
to His judgment and being pleased with Him is a source of
spiritual peace and happiness in both worlds.
This does not mean that those who have obtained
resignation and Godís pleasure or approval are free of anxiety,
hardship, and suffering, for there remain many annoying and
displeasing things along their way. However, champions of
resignation regard them as pure mercies, for resignation or
Godís pleasure changes the ďpoisonĒ they drink into ďelixir,Ē
and the troubles they encounter cause them to fall even deeper
in love with the Beloved.
The way of resignation, although difficult
to follow, is safe and direct. It sometimes leads the wayfarer
to the summit of human perfection after a single attempt.
Just as a believer can reach that summit by strenuous effort
in the way of God or by studying the universe (as if it were
a book) in order to feel and find God everywhere (although
He is contained in neither time nor place), the summit can
also be reached through oneís inner suffering and sorrow arising
from personal shortcomings and helplessness upon encountering
difficulties while searching for a way to progress on the
Resignation results in a thrilling joy or
a heavenly breeze from Godís being pleased with the believer
that is proportional to the depth of oneís fear and hope.
It does not come from feeling Godís nearness, worship and
devotion, the struggle against sin and the temptations of
oneís carnal self and Satan. Rather, it is a spiritual delight
merged with hope and expectation, regulated by self-possession,
a direct gift from Him, and a breath of mercy associated only
with this station of being pleased with God.
This station requires the self-regulation
of oneís thoughts, considerations, plans, hopes, expectations,
feelings, and actions according to Godís Will. Thus, seeing
it as a way to experience pleasure and delight in the expectation
of acquiring that pleasure and delight shows oneís disrespect
of this station, which is based on the purity of oneís intention
and sincerity. In reality, this applies to all other states
and stations attained through actions of the heart, or which
are themselves actions of the heart. One must love and pursue
His approval or pleasure for His sake only.
Heroes of the spiritual life have expressed
their views about resignation and being pleased with God since
the early days of Sufism. According to Dhu al-Nun al-Misri,
resignation means preferring Godís wishes over oneís own in
advance, accepting His decree without complaint based on the
realization that what-ever God wills and does is good, and
overflowing with love of Him even while in the grip of misfortune.
ĎAli Zayn al-ĎAbidin describes resignation as an initiateís
determination not to pursue anything opposed to Godís Will
and pleasure. According to Abu ĎUthman, resignation denotes
welcoming with the same mood all Divine decrees and disposals,
regardless of whether they issue from His Grace or His Majesty
or Wrath, and having no conscious preference for one or the
other. Godís Messenger referred to this when he said: I
ask You for resignation after You have decreed something.
Being pleased in advance with Godís decree means being determined
to show resignation, while resignation signifies enduring
calamity when it occurs.
In short, resignation means that an initiate
feels no resentment against or displeasure with whatever issues
from Godís Divinity or Lordship. Rather, the initiate welcomes
it gladly and is ready to accept or endure his or her fate
without complaint. The initiate does not upset the balance
of his or her heart. Rather, he or she preserves personal
integrity and straightforwardness even when confronted with
the most distressing and shocking events, considers Godís
predestination recorded in the Supreme Preserved Tablet, and
thus feels no regret or sorrow for what happens.
For ordinary people, resignation means not
objecting to what God has willed for them. For those with
a deeper spiritual knowledge of God, resignation means welcoming
their individual destinies. For those who live a life of profound
spirituality, resignation means that, without paying attention
to their own considerations, they are always attentive to
what He wants them to do and how He wants them to be. The
verses: O soul at rest, return to your Lord, well pleasing
and pleased. Enter among My servants, and enter My Paradise.
(89:27-30) encompass all degrees of resignation, and contain
responses to the desires of those resigned to the Divine Will
As seen in these same verses, attaining the
station of resignation and pleasing God and being pleased
with Him depend upon oneís turning to God Almighty. This means
complete devotion to, reliance upon, and surrender to Him
and committing all affairs to Him. One who has attained this
station longs for death and meeting with God, dies with a
heart at rest, and is included among the righteous in Paradise.
From another perspective, ordinary people
show their resignation by ordering their lives according to
Godís commandments in willing submission to His Lordship and
administrative authority. This is expressed in the verses:
Say: Shall I seek another than God for Lord, when He is
Lord of all things? (6:165), and: Say: Shall I choose
for a protecting friend other than God, the Originator of
the heavens and the earth, Who feeds and Himself is not fed?
(6:14) Such a degree of resignation is essential to whoever
aspires to true belief in Godís Unity and true love of God.
Every believer must consciously submit himself or herself
to Godís guidance; associate no partners with Him in belief
and in ordering oneís life; love Him alone as the Lord, Deity,
and Ruler of humanity and the universe; and love others who
are worthy to be loved only in His name and in accordance
with the limits He has established.
The second degree of resignation, that of
those with a certain degree of knowledge of God, is manifested
in their welcoming Godís decrees and ordinances without objection.
It is also seen in the control they have acquired over their
hearts, a control so strong that their hearts do not swerve
even for one moment. Such resignation is regarded as the relation
between God and those hearts furnished with knowledge of Him.
The third degree of resignation is attained
by those purified, saintly scholars who are pleased with what
pleases God. One who has been rewarded with such resignation
feels no personal anger, joy, or grief. Such a person, no
longer feeling, thinking, or desiring for himself or herself,
experiences the pleasure of annihilation in the Lord, for
only His Will and choices remain.
The first degree of resignation, obligatory
upon every believer, is the beginning of the way leading to
nearness to God, for it is related to free will and a requirement
of belief in His Unity. The second degree must be acquired,
both because it is the continuation of the first and the basis
of the third degree, and because it leads one to consider
nearness to God.
The third degree, a Divine gift rather than
a station attain-able by free will and individual effort,
is neither obligatory nor necessary. However, it is commendable
to desire it whole-heartedly. This degree encompasses the
first two, for aspiring after (full) resignation and living
so as to attain it is an essential principle of Islamic life.
However, its full attainment is a gift bestowed in return
for this aspiration. In other words, the first two degrees
relate to Godís Names and Attributes, which can be attained
by journeying in their shadow or their guidance, while the
third is connected with the reward, enlightenment, or radiance
given in return for them.
The verse: Their reward is with their
Lord; Gardens of Eden, beneath which rivers flow; where they
will dwell forever. God is well pleased with them and they
are well pleased with Him. That is for him who fears his Lord
reverently (98:8) points to all of these degrees. This
same truth was expressed by our master, upon him be peace
and blessings, who said: One who is well pleased with God
as Lord, with Islam as religion, and with Muhammad, upon him
be peace and blessings, as Messenger has tasted the pleasure
I hope that the following considerations
will direct the feelings and thoughts of those who desire
to attain resignation, help them to overcome the difficulties
encountered on this path, and to control and resist their
worldly and carnal impulses.
Human beings are only role players
in the Divine drama played out on the stage of this
world. Therefore, they have no right or authority to
interfere with the quality or form of their assigned
part. Whatever happens to an individual has been predetermined
by God, Who considered his or her free will, actions,
and thoughts in this world. Only God can change this.
If one really loves God, whatever comes
from Him must be welcomed. It is very difficult to perceive
the wisdom and good or Godís purpose in some events.
Sometimes what is good for us is hidden in bad happenings:
It may be that you dislike a thing although it is good
for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you.
God knows, but you know not (2:216).
A Muslim is one who has fully submitted
to God. Thus, such an individual cannot be displeased
with Godís actions and operations. A believer has a
good opinion of everybody else, so how can he or she
be suspicious of God? The Qurían forbids us to suspect
other people (48:12); how much worse it would be if
we suspected God and His acts! Since all things and
events were preordained and created by God, and since
whatever He creates is either good in itself or on account
of its result, a Muslim should keep his or her heart
at rest and always be optimistic.
If our obligations or responsibilities,
as well as the misfortunes and difficulties we endure
or seek to overcome, have an essential place in our
training and education to prepare us for the eternal
life of happiness in the Hereafter, then we should fulfill
them or endure them willingly. An individualís resignation
to or being pleased with whatever comes from Him means
that He is also pleased with that particular individual.
Being displeased with the acts and manifestations of
Divine Lordship causes distress, grief, and restlessness,
while living as resigned to Godís decrees gives relief
and exhilaration, even though one has to suffer great
difficulties. In short, the continuous pursuit of resignation
is an invitation to Divine succor.
Resignation to Destiny and the manifestations
of God, the Truth, is a very important means of obtaining
happiness. The truthful and confirmed one, upon him
be peace and blessings, illuminates this: It is fortunate
for man to show resignation to what God decrees, while
it is unfortunate for him to feel indignation against
what God decrees. Being resigned to Godís decrees
and operations fills oneís heart with breezes from the
Divine Realm, while displeasure with them fills it with
whims and suspicions coming from Satan. Those who resign
themselves to His decrees make their lives into an ďembroideryĒ
of golden threads of thankfulness, while those who are
displeased with them grind even their most positive
works into nothing between the millstones of ingratitude.
Showing such displeasure, an all-to-common attitude
on the part of many, is one of Satanís most effective
ways of invading oneís soul.
A believer may join the inhabitants
of the heavens by welcoming Godís treatment, which is
an honor bestowed by God. One who is pleased with God
is following the right guidance, while one who is not
pleased follows nothing more than personal fancies.
Resignation to Godís judgments or decrees means preferring
His wishes to our own. It hardly needs saying what the
opposite attitude implies.
Resignation is like an orchard whose
trees yield the fruits of worship and devotion; sins
and offenses are the results of being deprived of it.
Resignation prevents personal conflicts with God in
the believerís inner world, and means respecting the
principle expressed in the supplication of the Prophet,
upon him be peace and blessings: It is pure justice
in whatever way You judge about me. The first sin was
committed when Satan did not resign himself to what
God had decreed for him.
One can have no greater reward or higher
rank than Godís being pleased with him or her, which
is only attainable by personal resignation to what He
has decreed. This is also the greatest reward that one
can receive in Paradise: God has promised the believers,
men and women, Gardens beneath which rivers flow, to
dwell therein forever, and beautiful mansions in Gardens
of Eden. But Godís good pleasure [His being pleased
with them] is greater still. That is the supreme triumph
Resignation is based on the most important
essential of religion: reliance upon God. Its essential
quality can be perceived by means of certainty about
Godís existence and Unity. It is embedded in love of
God, and causes one to gain eternal happiness. It is
rooted in loyalty to God and truthfulness, and denotes
actual thankfulness. Resignation is such a magical lift
that those who obtain it will reach their destination
quickly. Love and sincerity, as well as penitence and
contrition, are flowers growing in the climate of resignation.
It is useless to search for such virtues or qualities
in hearts that are not set on resignation and obtaining
However numerous those rewards given
in return for acting and speaking to attain Godís pleasure
may be, they can be counted and are therefore limited.
The rewards given for such actions as resignation, which
is done with the heart, are proportional to the heartís
depth and so cannot be estimated.
As the greatest rank in Godís sight, resignation
or Godís pleasure is a final target that has been sought by
the greatest members of humanity, from the glory of creation,
upon him be peace and blessings, to all other Prophets, saints,
and purified scholars who have passed the final test through
sincerity, certainty, reliance, surrender, and confidence.
They have surmounted many difficulties and obstacles, and
bore many unendurable sufferings and pains. The following
verses seek to describe the sighs of such people:
The suffering You cause is more pleasing
than having fortune,
And Your vengeance is lovelier to me than my own soul.
I am in love with both His torment and His favor;
How strange it is that I am in love with things opposite
to each other.
By God, if I go from this thorn of affliction to the garden
I will be one who, like a nightingale, always groans or
How strange it is that when a nightingale starts to sing,
It sings melodies of both the thorn and the rose.
The following verses of Nasimi are also beautiful:
I am a suffering lover, O dear One, I
will not abandon You;
Even if You cut through my chest with a dagger, I will
not abandon You.
Even if they cut me into two from head to foot like Zachariah,
Put your saw on my head, O Carpenter, I will not abandon
Even if they burn me into ashes and blow away my ashes,
They will hear my ashes sigh: O Veiler (of sins), I will
not abandon You.
The rank or station of resignation, of being
pleased with God and obtaining His pleasure, includes all
other ranks. The melodies sung in it are: Whatever You do
to me or however You treat me, it is good.
O God! Guide us to what You will love and
be pleased with, and bestow peace and blessings upon our Master
and the Master of the Messengers.