Resignation

Since some days i have been pondering over the popular idea of 'resignation': 'resign to fate', 'let go, it's what God wanted'. The mass appeal of this philosophy is obvious to me; in a society where individual will is crushed at every juncture of life, it is not surprising that people would believe that their lives are not in their hands. But even adjusting for this social factor, it remains that there are things about a person's life which are beyond his control, dictated apparently by luck or random chance. Like having a day when nothing goes the way you planned it; or when you make your best efforts to do something, but are unable to do so. At such moments, it is comforting to believe 'Maybe it wasn't meant to be'.

What interests me here is that we don't know what Fate is, or what God wants us to do, assuming, of course, that they exist. How do we know that God wants us to give up and doesn't want us to keep fighting for what we want to achieve? The only honest answer is: we don't know. We employ the idea of resignation to justify our giving up on something, to pretend that we are not responsible for our lives, to absolve ourselves from the anguish of knowing that we have a choice. The point at which a person says "It's not meant to be" is the point at which that particular person runs out of energy and courage to fight more. Hence, a person may give up just at the thought of anticipated problems of an action, while another may try for years before giving up, and yet both may employ the justification "It wasn't meant to be". Seen in this way, Resignation is a clear-cut instance of existential bad-faith (mauvaise foi).

I don't mean to say that giving up at any stage is necessarily a wrong decision. It may be the best thing to do in that particular situation. What i am saying is that to justify it by attributing it to God's will is nothing but dil ki tassali, a self-deception employed to make you feel good. And that believing in Resignation may actually prevent one from trying one's best and make someone give up earlier than he would have otherwise.

On another note: without these self-deceptions in life, one is left with little more than an 'unhappy consciousness'.

Comments

I partially agree with you. But the way I see it is that God is a genius... He gave us some control but not all. Human beings are already capable of doing a lot of damage. Imagine what we would do to ourselves and others if we had total control of our lives :-)
Hamza said…
I read this quote by Sheikh Ahmad Khutlee, “If you want to achieve happiness in this life and hereafter, develop a strong faith that everything good or bad is from God so don’t get upset and never harbor ill will against anybody”.

Lately I have been thinking about this a lot as well. I think except for the matters of life and death and things which are absolutely out of human control, we are to strive till the very end and never lose faith. If we do fail; then it is our own shortcoming and it would be productive in a way to accept it. The key is to remain thankful to Him and keep pondering over our mistakes and shortcomings; trying to correct and overcome them.
Uni said…
"It's not meant to be" is the point at which that particular person runs out of energy and courage to fight more.

Not necessarily. People have continued to strive, and when not got something within a certain time-period, often mention this statement (because of their belief, that everything is determined by God - it's their will and effort, combined with Will of God - their own will doesn't work alone). But they haven't stopped struggling till a certain point comes in their lives where they realise that circumstances aren't right for their struggle to continue. That point in time may not have anything to do with 'resignation to will' .. resignation is from the beginning :)

That's why we say Insha Allah anyway.
Butters said…
Hmm, good post.
Anonymous said…
Resignation is just a way of living life; there's nothing overtly philosophical or mystical associated with it. During pursuing a particular objective, if nothing goes your way, what is the best stance? Resign. Don't waste time. It's just not worth it.

Yes God did put this idea into a human brain. The same with Fate. If both these notions didn't exist, there'd be far less productivity on an individual level than would be otherwise.

"Fate" is a pun that offers an explanation for some particular events. It's another way of saying "Move on with life". Every such concept wants you to just continue with life and live it as it presents itself, or if you have the guts, then actively change it by altering your apparent fate.

- Panda
Anonymous said…
101% in accord
sastimasti said…
not that i agree completely, but i do have a question:

if we realise that everything is within our own choices and control, why would we be left with an unhappy conciousness? why would someone at such a level of identification with existential reality be concerned with 'happiness' and 'unhappiness'?
Awais said…
@ Uni

"But they haven't stopped struggling till a certain point comes in their lives where they realise that circumstances aren't right for their struggle to continue. That point in time may not have anything to do with 'resignation to will' .. resignation is from the beginning :)"

The general resignation that whatever happens is from God maybe from the start, but what happens on that certain point is that the person supposes that God doesn't want what the person is struggling to achieve. The point at which person realizes that 'circumstances aren't right' is based on one's judgment and one's determination. Still, there is no way to know that whether God wants u to struggle against all odds or give up :)
Awais said…
@ Panda

That's a valid but sort of non-theistic way of seeing resignation. I was referring to the one involving God or Fate.
Awais said…
@ sastimasti

I believe it is because of the 'existential anguish': we realize that it is we who have to decide or make a choice, and yet we don't know what or how to proceed, and to make matters worse, we would be responsible for whatever consequences it leads to.

I don't really agree with the 100% freedom of choice that existentialism attributes to man. I'll discuss it in detail in some post.