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RIDA (RESIGNATION)

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 me.

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 path.

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 and Destiny.

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 of faith.

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 (9:72).

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 Godís pleasure.

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 of delight,
I will be one who, like a nightingale, always groans or sighs.
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 You.
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.

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Last Updated on April 6, 2002

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