Your desire to withdraw from everything
when Allah has involved you in the world of means
is a hidden appetite.
Your desire for involvement with the world of means
when Allah has withdrawn you from it
is a fall from high aspiration.
Tajrid linguistically means “taking off and removing”. One uses the term for things like removing a garment and shedding a skin. The Sufis fall into three categories: those who strip away only the outward, those who strip away only the inward, or those who strip away both. Outward divestment is to abandon worldly causes and break physical habits. Inward divestment is to abandon psychological and illusory attachments.
To withdraw from both of them is to abandon both inward attachments and physical habits. You could say that outward tajrid is abandoning all that distracts the limbs from obeying Allah; inward tajrid is abandoning all that distracts the heart from presence with Allah, and doing both is the isolation of the heart and the vessel for Allah. Perfect tajrid outwardly to abandon causes and divest the body of normal clothes, and inwardly it is to divest the heart of every blameworthy quality and adorn it with every noble quality. That is the perfect tajrid.
When someone divests his outward and not his inward, he is a liar, like someone who calls copper silver. His inward is ugly and his outward pleasing. If someone divests his inward and not his outward, he is like someone who calls silver copper. That is rare since usually when someone is involved with his outward, he is also involved with his inward. If someone’s outward is occupied with the physical, his inward is occupied with it, and strength cannot go in two directions. The one who divests both his inward his outward is the perfect truthful one. He is the pure gold which is proper for the treasuries of kings.
Shaykh Abu’l-Hasan ash-Shadhili said, “The adab of the divested faqir consists of four: respect for the old, mercy for the young, justice for yourself and not helping your self. The adab of the faqir using causes consists of four: befriending the pious, avoiding the impious, attending prayers in the group, and comforting the poor and wretched by what he one possesses. The faqir must also take on the adab of the divested since it is perfection for him. Part of the adab of someone employing causes is that he is established in what Allah establishes him of the use of causes until Allah Almighty is the One who moves him from that by the tongue of his shaykh or by a clear indication, like its impossibility in every aspect. Then he moves to tajrid.”
His desire to withdraw when Allah has established means for him is a hidden appetite because the self desires rest by that and does not have enough certainty to endure the hardships of poverty. When poverty descends on him, he is shaken and upset and resorts to means, and so that is uglier than remaining with them. This is an aspect which is appetite, and it is hidden because inwardly he displays cutting off and asceticism, which is a noble state and sublime state, while inwardly he conceals his portion of rest, honour, wilaya or whatever. He did not intend to achieve slavedom and certainty.
He also lacks adab with Allah when he wants to leave without remaining patient until he is given permission. The sign of him remaining constantly in causes is that he has results, lack of attachments which cut him off from the deen and obtains sufficiency, but if he were to abandon that, he would look to people and be worried about provision. When these conditions cease to exist, then he moves to tajrid.
We read in at-Tanwir, “That which Allah demands of you is that you remain where He establishes you until Allah is the One to remove you as He brought you in. It is not your concern to abandon means. Your concern is that the means abandon you.”
One of them said, “Once I abandoned a certain means and then I returned to it and then the means left me and I did not return to it. I went to Shaykh Abu’l-‘Abbas al-Mursi when I had resolved to take on tajrid. I told myself, ‘It is unlikely that I will reach Allah Almighty if the state I have which is occupation with outward knowledge and socialising with people.’ Before I even spoke to him, he told me, ‘A man who was occupied with outward knowledges and advanced in them kept my company and tasted something of this Path. He came to me and told me, “Sidi, I will leave what I am doing and devote myself to your company.” I told him, “The business is not that. Rather remain in what you are in and what Allah has allotted you from us will reach you.”‘ Then the shaykh looked at me and said, ‘That is how the true men (siddiqun) are. They do not leave anything until Allah is the One to remove them.’ So I left him and Allah washed away those thoughts from my heart and I found rest in submission to Allah Almighty. Nonetheless they, as the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, stated, ‘are people whose companion is not wretched.'”
He said, “He forbade him tajrid because the greed of his nafs for it. When the self is greedy for something, it is easy for it, and that which is easy for it is not good. What is easy for it is only because it has a share in it.”
And he also said, “The murid does not divest himself in a state of strength until it passes. If you want your self to benefit, if it is divested in a state of strength, then weakness will comes to it which is followed by opponents who will unsettle it and tempt in a way which a master would not perceive because of his kindness and generosity in his company. Then he will revert to what he left and harbour a bad opinion of the people of divestment and say, ‘They are based on nothing! We entered the land and did not see anything.’
The one who is for whom tajrid is heavy at first is the one who must divest himself because it is only heavy for him since he has realised that his neck is under the sword and if he moves his head at all, his vein will be severed.
As for the one who is divested, when he wants to return to using means without clear permission, that is a fall from high aspiration to low aspiration or a fall from great wilaya to lesser wilaya. The shaykh of our shaykh, Sidi ‘Ali, said that his shaykh Sidi al-‘Arabi said to him, “If I had seen anything higher, nearer and more beneficial than tajrid, I would have chosen it, but with the people of this Path it has in the position of the elixir: a qirat of it would fill what is between the east and west with gold. That is how tajrid is in this Path.”
I heard the shaykh of our shaykh say, “The gnosis of the one divested is better and his thought clearer because purity comes from purity and turbidity comes from turbidity. The purity of the inward comes from the purity of the outward and the turbidity of the inward comes from the turbidity of the outward. Whenever you increase in the sensory, you decrease in the meaning.”
In one report, “When a scholar takes something of this world, his rank is decreased with Allah, even if He is noble with Allah. As for the one who is permitted means, he is like the one who is divested since then his cause is actually slavedom. So tajrid without permission is a means, and means with permission is tajrid. Success is by Allah.”