The Difference Between Surrender and Apathy

What is the difference between surrender and apathy?

At the heart, soul and essence of spiritual growth and development is the cultivation of the capacity to surrender. Islam, by name and by definition, is surrender. Yet often, spiritual surrender becomes confused with apathy.

In this article entitled the Difference Between Surrender and Apathy, I will define both “surrender” and “apathy,” explain how they relate to success, growth and development in both the spiritual and the practical dimensions of our lives, and how failing to clearly make the distinction in the difference between surrender and apathy can lead to failure in both this life and the next.

By learning to surrender without becoming apathetic, we progressively develop our ability to act with effectiveness and to succeed. Yet if we do not learn to surrender to Divine Will in our lives, we will increasingly meet with resistance from the Universe, leading to ever escalating force and frustration.

Furthermore, if we succumb to apathy as a result of not surrendering and aligning our will with that of the Divine, we become increasingly numb, dead and lifeless.

Only by understanding the difference between surrender and apathy, and consciously choosing surrender do we progress both practically and spiritually, all the while returning to our innate state of fitra, or wholeness and health.


Verily, the religion before God is al-Islam — Surrender.

Surah Al Imran [Holy Qur’an, 3:19]


The Difference Between Surrender and Apathy: What is Surrender?

The Difference Between Surrender and Apathy : Stillness

To “surrender,” and to thus grow and develop in al-Islam, is in progressively developing the ability to submit and relinquish resistance to the manifestation of Divine Will in the present moment.

It means existing in a state of spiritual and emotional surrender to what has manifested as destiny by submitting the self to the absolute dominion and lordship of God, the Creator.

The opposite of surrender is resistance, and this becomes experienced in the self as negative emotions that arise when we are not in a state of submission to Divine Will in the present moment, i.e. when we are not in a state of islam, and thus when we fail to be muslim.

When negative emotions such as anger, fear, frustration, envy and so on arise in our hearts, they do so directly as a result of resistance to Divine Will.

It is important to note that surrender requires a balance and processing of emotions, and is not the suppression of our emotions, but rather the progressive transcendence of them.

Surrender is the ability to let go of and transcend that which does not serve us and that is in resistance and rebellion to the manifestation of Divine Will on a moment by moment basis.

Surrender is in essence the stilling of the mind, and thus results in an awakening to the present moment and the imminent Divine Presence of God.


What is the difference between surrender and apathy? Surrender is to transcend.


The Difference Between Surrender and Apathy: What is Apathy?

The Difference Between Surrender and Apathy : Clarity

“Apathy” can be defined by indifference and numbness, and is fundamentally different from surrender in that it results in a loss of life and a diminishment of consciousness.

To the contrary, surrender results in an awakening of one’s senses and experience of life, for as the mind becomes still, the senses and our capacity for perception awaken and become pronounced.

While apathy is the result of suppressing one’s innate nature, emotions and desires, surrender is achieved not by suppressing, but by fully experiencing and surrendering to what is in a state of stillness, and thus transcending the world and the self.

From this elevated state of consciousness and perspective in which you can now see clearly, you become infinitely more capable of taking effective action and actually moving towards your goals rather than perpetuating current circumstances through unconscious resistance.

Because the apathetic individual has not learned how to work with the Universe and the Will of the Divine, but rather has been perpetually suppressed as a result of an unenlightened approach towards life and living, he or she has learned to not dream, to not hope and to not feel in order to avoid pain and suffering.

Yet he or she who has discovered the key and light of surrender has not become stuck in a suppressed state of being, but rather has evolved and is able to feel and flow in a divine dance with life that is both invigorating and liberating. Such an individual has not diminished, but has awakened.

This is why “dancing” is used often to represent the spiritual path, such as in the subtle and sublime dance of the whirling dervishes, for it is a symbol of perfect flow, engagement and alignment with the manifestation of Divine Will in the present moment. Such a symbol represents the harmony that is the essence of the state of al-Islam.


What is the difference between surrender and apathy? Apathy is to suppress.


The Difference Between Surrender and Apathy: Surrender to Succeed

The Difference Between Surrender and Apathy : Success

There is a fundamental and critical difference between “surrender” and “apathy.” If we do not learn to surrender, we will eventually become numb and indifferent in order to avoid pain and suffering due to not being able to forcefully exert our will in a futile attempt to control our circumstances.

Paradoxically, you must let go of “control” to gain “mastery”, and empowerment is only truly achieved through surrender, for in surrender, the self is transcended and a living connection with the Lord of Power is developed.

The development of the capacity and ability to surrender is the realization of submission to destiny, for what is and what has been is by definition what has been willed and ordained by the Divine.

It is interesting to note that in Arabic, the word of destiny (qadr) and power (qudrah) are both derived from the same root — QDR. The deeper implication is that true empowerment is not achieved through force, for there is no force in religion, [2:256], but rather is experienced as a result of becoming one with the Will of the Divine.

It is thus that the spiritual path of surrender, which is the essence of jihad an-nafs, or the struggle against the self, is the way of the spiritual warrior of light.

Such are they who have become one with the Force through surrender, and so have become a pure and true manifestation of Divine Will. Such are not apathetic, but rather are fully engaged with life.

In a state of internal spiritual surrender never opposing the Will of the Force, operating through continual connectedness in a relaxed state of true service and servanthood to God, the One, such holy and spiritual warriors draw their light and power.

In order to truly succeed, it thus becomes clear that spiritual growth, development and awakening is fundamentally and absolutely necessary. And towards this end, both learning and practice are essential.

To your divine and eternal success.

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