From the field of Renunciation the field of Disengagement (and detachment) is born. God, the Most High, says, “Nor strain your eyes in longing (for the things We have given for enjoyment to parties of them, the splendor of the life of this world…) 20:131
The Quranic verse counsels us not to ‘strain our eyes,’ meaning not to waste our spiritual vision, our faculties of perception and our life in desiring what is not given to us. The spiritual path educates us to focus clearly on the most desirable, which is Allah, and the beautiful sunnah of Allah, and on the pure gifts that Allah bestows upon us. We are taught not to desire material wealth and luxury but rather to enjoy the beauty of simplicity. And yet if material means are given they should not be denigrated but rather used for the good of self and others. Effendi taught us to have money in our pockets so we can give it to those in need.
The aim of disengagement is to save our life and our spiritual energy for what is fruitful and eternally beneficial. It means that we look at the inner meaning of things and we look to their end, what things mean and where they take us.
Disengagement is concerning three things: the nafs, the heart, and the inner consciousness (sirr).
Disengagement of nafs is the way of the reciters of the Quran (qarayyan), disengagement of the heart is the way of Sufis, and disengagement of the inner consciousness (sirr) is the way of the gnostics.
The reciters of the Quran (qarayyan) according to the notes of Nahid Angha the translator, means “those who recite and study the Quran for the sake of understanding. The word is a derivative of the word iqra (read).” It could also mean those who dedicate their life to studying mystic texts rather than involving themselves in worldly affairs.
Disengagement of the nafs involves three things: not seeking the world, not regretting the loss of material riches, and leaving alone what has already passed.
Disengagement of the heart also involves three things: not getting one’s hopes up over what is non-existent, not considering as any great worth what is presently existent, and not being fearful at the prospect of renouncing.
Disengagement of the inner consciousness involves three things: not remaining at ease with secondary causes (asbab), not seeing one’s self as significant on the path towards God and not seeking anything from God except God.
‘Secondary causes (asbab),’ means all the cause and effects we normally believe in.
In spiritual language ‘causes’ are called ‘secondary causes’ because the primary and only cause and mover of all events is Allah. The secondary causes are only appearance. Clear awareness that Allah alone is the sole power behind all events is a level of spiritual maturity. And this is what ‘not remaining at ease with secondary causes’ means. Yet, the correct adab is to conform oneself to Allah’s creation, so we do not go around the secondary causes and act like super heroes. We modestly clothe our self in them. Muzaffer Effendi demonstrated this when he was supposed to meet Shaykh Nur in Spring Valley one afternoon. He was coming from our home in New York City. He knew already that Nur had arrived but nevertheless he had one of his dervishes call Spring Valley, and he used this as a teaching example for us.
“Not seeking anything from God except God…”
Imagine you have children whom you love, or beloveds whom you love, and they keep asking you for the things you own and not for your self…
Here are two paraphrased hadiths qudsi on the subject:
“O humanity, I have created you for my Self and I have created the Universe for you. Do not damage what I have created for my Self with what I have created for you.”
“O humanity, if you run after the world the world will run away from you until you become exhausted and depleted. If you run after Me the world will follow you and you will flourish.”
Ya Hu Ya Hu Ya Hu, not the world but You