TAWAKKUL-Reliance on Allah
By Bilgin Erdogan
As a Muslim, we have to believe that Allah is sufficient for everything. In concept, this is called Tawakkul, which literally means reliance on Allah. It is one of the greatest forms of worship. Not only that tawakkul gives us inner peace and light for our hearts, it is also a means for us to seek nearness towards Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an:
(Az-Zumar, 39:36) “Is not Allah sufficient for His servant?...”
Allah (SWT) says whoever trusted in Him and depended upon Him to fulfill his needs and wants, Allah (SWT) will suffice him in every matter.
(At-Talaq, 65:3) “And whoever places his trust in Allah, Sufficient is He for him, for Allah will surely accomplish His Purpose: For verily, Allah has appointed for all things a due proportion”.
Tawakkul is a fundamental part of the Islamic belief system (Aqidah). It is translated as either trust or dependence. We say that we depend on Allah (SWT) for everything, and place reliance on Him. This is the reality of Tawakkul in that we place our trust and reliance on Allah (SWT). Putting our trust in Allah (SWT) is a matter of faith and contributes to our view regarding this life. In another verse:
(Al-Imran, 3:173) “…Allah (Alone) is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs (for us).”
As we know, faith (iman) means putting trust in Allah. And Islam means to submit ourselves in what we believe in. From that point of view, Tawakkul-reliance on Allah (SWT), is related directly with faith. We cannot have faith without tawakkul. It is all inter-related. If there is true faith then tawakkul must always follow.
(Al-Anfal, 8:2) “The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith; and upon their Lord they rely -”
A person with true faith will always rely on Allah (have tawakkul). Lack of tawakkul indicates lack of true faith.
The Concept of Tawakkul
Tawakkul is a mandatory result of our faith. Because we have faith this means we have trust in Allah and if we trust Allah (SWT) then we will rely on Allah (SWT). Tawakkul is not an option but rather a requirement. It is a religious obligation. Allah (SWT) says:
(Al-Maidah, 5:23) “…So put your trust (in Allah) if ye are indeed believers.”
One scholar said, “Iman (faith) results in tawheed (oneness of God), tawheed bring about tasleem (submission) and tasleem produces tawakkul (reliance), then tawakkul generates peaceful happiness.”
When we think about polytheism (shirk), what’s the main reason behind it? Why do some people worship something else other than Allah (SWT)? Allah (SWT) is the Creator of the earth and the heaven, and they know this but still pagans worship idols, angels, even human being, trees or sun, etc. Why? The main reason is they DO NOT TRUST Allah (SWT). If we really believe in Allah (SWT) we should be certain that nothing is impossible for Allah (SWT). Trust Allah (SWT) that He has the best plan for us.
“If you had all relied on Allah (SWT) as you should rely on Him, then He would have provided for you as He provides for the birds, which wake up hungry in the morning and return with full stomachs at dusk.” [At-Tirmidhi]
Ibn Al-Qayim once said, “Putting trust in Allah is half the religion, and the second half is repentance; because religion is seeking support and worship. As for seeking support it is putting trust in Allah, while worship is repentance. The rank of putting trust in Allah is the supreme and more comprehensive rank, and it still has many servants because of the variety of the affairs that trust may be put in Allah for them and the abundance of the demands of the worlds. The pious servants to Allah put trust in Him for having faith, granting victory to His religion, raising His word, fighting His enemies, loving Him and obeying His orders.”
Notwithstanding though, the real understanding of tawakkul is not to neglect our will of power. Not only tawakkul involves belief and dependence, but also action. Tawakkul without making use of the means provided by Allah (SWT) is total incapacity. People should not just make duas and rely on Allah and at the same time goes into non-action, or regard their non-action as tawakkul. They are supposed to make their tawakkul a part of the means, remembering that no end can ever be achieved unless they are all utilized.
The Importance of Action
In one At-Tirmidhi hadith narrated by Anas ibn Malik; one day the Messenger of Allah (saws) noticed a ‘bedouin’ (desert Arab) leaving his camel without tying it and he asked the ‘bedouin’: “Why don't you tie down your camel?” The ‘bedouin’ answered, “I put my trust in Allah.” The Prophet (saws) then said, “Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah”.
So the real understanding of tawakkul is not to neglect our will of power (iradah). For example, if we have a case we should do our best for our case. We should strive for ourselves and then we should rely on Allah (SWT). If we succeed in our case this comes from Allah (SWT), and if we lose our case it is also coming from Allah (SWT) and trust that this is the best for us. But the important thing here is we should always do our part. To place our reliance on Allah (SWT) solely without any action to achieve our goals is extremely wrong. Relying upon Allah (SWT) does not mean that you abandon the means and entrust all of your affairs to Allah (SWT).
Say that when we travel we will bring some luggage with us. But if we don’t bring our luggage when we are travelling we will create problem for ourselves. From this example we understand that we should do our part the best we could and after that we trust the outcome on Allah (SWT) whichever way it goes.
In the time of Umar Al-Khattab, there were some people who claimed they were people of tawakkul but neglected the means. Umar (ra) asked them, “Who are you?” They replied, “We are the Mutawakkiloon (those who put their trust in Allah)”. To this he said, “No. You are all Muta’akkiloon (those who look to be fed)” – meaning: They want to be dependent upon the people.
(Al-Ankabut, 29:17) “…So seek from Allah provision and worship Him and be grateful to Him…”
We must set about on the means when seeking after sustenance or knowledge, whilst at the same time putting our trust in Allah (SWT) to achieve our objective. Allah (SWT) has placed means for all things. It must a combination of the two; embarking on the means and, while relying upon Allah (SWT).
If we plan a crop, whilst we put our trust on Allah for the crop to grow and bear fruit, we must also toil the soil, sow the seed, water them, and protect the crop from any threats. Only then can we reap the benefits from the crop, with Allah’s permission.
Our religion is not a kind of religion where we neglect our will of power. When we look at the Messenger’s (saw) life, we see that he and the companions faced a lot of difficulties. They invited people to the truth and they were scorned, tortured and some killed in the process. They could have relied on Allah (SWT) and asked for His protection solely. But no, they fulfilled their part and completed their obligations while putting their trust in Allah (SWT).
(At-Tawbah, 9:128-129) “There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer; [he is] concerned over you and to the believers is kind and merciful. But if they turn away, [O Muhammad], say, “Sufficient for me is Allah; there is no deity except Him. On Him I have relied, and He is the Lord of the Great Throne.”
The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, “Were you to put your complete trust and reliance on Allah, He would provide for you as He provides for the birds. They issue forth hungry in the morning and return filled in the evening”. (At-Tirmidhi)
Pillars of Tawakkul
1. The first pillar is knowledge. The knowledge is get to know Allah’s qualities and attributes, for example the fact that he is All-Capable and sufficient to rely on; that He is the Sustainer and that He is All–Knowing and that things can only happen with His Will and Decree.
For example we know our parents. Because we know them, we trust them to have the best decision on our lives. Only when we truly know someone that we can trust them. Thus, when we make ourselves familiar with Allah’s qualities and attributes, we will feel all the more assured and peaceful to put our trust in Allah (SWT).
2. The second is to do our best in our part. Every matter has a cause or a means. It is our obligation to use any appropriate means made available to us by Allah (SWT) to achieve our objectives. We cannot just sit tight and wait for a miracle to fall from the sky without striving towards it. This is simply laziness. Allah (SWT) despises such behavior. We are required to work hard and actively, leaving behind laziness. Allah says:
(Al-Mulk, 65:15) “It is He who made the earth tame for you - so walk among its slopes and eat of His provision - and to Him is the resurrection.”
The Messenger (saw) also had said, “Nobody has ever eaten a meal better than that which he has earned from working with his own hands. The prophet of Allah, Dawood (David), would eat from the work of his own hands.” [Al-Bukhaari] He was also reported to say, “Cherish that which gives you benefit [in the Hereafter], seek help from Allah and do not lose heart.” [Muslim]
Even a bird sitting in his nest, praising Allah (SWT) will not have his stomach filled. It has to go out to seek food. It is only the one that goes out and does its best to find food, comes back full.
3. The third is to always remember the power of Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT), Al-Qadir (The Omnipotent), is able to do all things and has power over all things. He is able to do anything in the way He wills.
(Al-Anfal, 8:41) “…Allah has power over all things.”
(Al-Maidah, 5:17) “…And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them. He creates what He wills, and Allah is over all things competent.”
(Ar-Rum, 30:54) “Allah is the one who created you from weakness, then made after weakness strength, then made after strength weakness and white hair. He creates what He wills, and He is the Knowing, the Competent.”
Because of that it is such a comforting thought knowing that Allah (SWT) is on our side. We feel at peace and reassured that we are in Allah’s good hand. Whatever the outcome is Allah (SWT) has willed it for us whichever is the best for us.
(Al-Imran, 5:160) “If Allah should help you, no one can overcome you; but if He should forsake you, who is there that can help you after Him? And upon Allah let the believers rely.”
4. The fourth is to implement what you believe in whole-heartedly. We should depend on Allah (SWT) totally, and when doing so to feel at peace with it. If we believe Allah is Al-Wakeel (The Trustee) therefore we make Allah Wakeel in our heart and trust Him alone. But remember we must utilize all the means available first.
5. The fifth is to prove our faith by trusting Allah (SWT) in all affairs. The best way for us to prove and increase our faith is to completely submit our will to Allah (SWT) and have full trust in him. By submitting it means that we must follow every command in the Qur’an and live by the examples in the Sunnah to the best of our effort. Then we must turn to Allah (SWT) and be patience with whatever outcomes that comes our way and trust Him to have the best plan for us that He has ordained for us. This is faith and trust.
(At-Tawbah, 9:51) “Say, "Never will we be struck except by what Allah has decreed for us; He is our protector." And upon Allah let the believers rely.”
(Al-Imran, 3:159) “…And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely (upon Him).”
Benefits of Tawakkul
Adopting the belief and practice of Tawakkul has many benefits five of which are as follow:
1. It gives peace to our heart. Ibn Taymiyah said, “What can my enemies do to me? If they put me in a dungeon I am thankful for I have the solitude (khalwah) to be close to Allah. If they exile me, I am also thankful because it is a holy migration (hijrah) for me. If they execute me, it is matyrdom (shahadah) for me, thus I am most thankful too.”
So we should not be upset or depressed when things do not go our way. We shall do our part and let the rest to Allah (SWT) for He is All-Knowing and All-Capable.
2. It causes the pleasure of Allah (SWT). We will gain the love of Allah (SWT). Allah says, “Innallaha yuhibbul mutawakkilin (indeed, Allah loves those who rely (upon Him))”.
We were put on this earth for one main purpose that is to be the servant of Allah. Consequently, this is meant to attain the pleasure of Allah (SWT). If we live our life as a true servant of Allah; complying with all His commands, He surely is pleased with us. According to Qur’an, tawakkul is one kind of worship that very much pleases Allah (SWT).
3. It causes us to appreciate the real meaning of success. The real success or the true objective of our life is not to be successful in worldly affairs but to do our best as a servant of Allah.
Amir ibn Fuhayra demonstrated this when in his last dying breath he said, “Alhamdulillah! I’m the successful one”, even though he was stabbed at that time. What he meant was, he had achieved his life purpose of being a good servant of Allah (SWT) and thanked God that to his last breath he had lived his life to that fact.
4. It makes us feel stronger and fearless. In our endeavor, when we believe that nothing is impossible for Allah, we will feel empowered to strive for our cause because Allah (SWT) is on our side. We know that everything is in Allah’s will. Thus, it will make us hopeful and never back down when any difficulties arise.
This was the motivation that fueled the spirit of Musa (as) and his people, few that they were. So were the case with Ibrahim (as) and the Messenger (saw). Though the situation seemed grim and hopeless, they knew that they were going to be successful with Allah (SWT) on their side.
And so is the same with our lives, we should take lesson from these stories and make this motivation encouraged us to do our best in our lives and trust Allah (SWT) to give the best result in the end.
5. It can relieve us from unnecessary worries and depression from the challenges that we are facing. Worrying about the future will only rob us the joy of the present moments. The future lies with Allah (SWT). We trust Him to give us the best plan. The only thing that we are supposed to do is to utilize any available means and all of our faculties.
For example, after we make an order with the waiter in a restaurant, we don’t go in to the kitchen to make sure the chef is cooking our order correctly. It is the same thing after we make an effort we should not be worrying or questioning about the outcome, whether it will be successful or not. We must the trust Allah (SWT) to give the best outcome befitting our effort. With tawakkul, it releases us of constant worrying and questioning which will be become a paralyzing effect and a hindrance for us to continue on with our lives.
As a believer we trust the power of Word (Qur’an) but not power itself. Therefore, we will follow the word of Allah (SWT); fully abide by His rules and commands. History has shown that the power of Word defeated the power of men. Namrood had the power but Ibrahim (as) had the Word. Similarly, Musa (as) with the power of Word was triumphant against the powerful Pharoah.
The Prophet Muhammad (saw) was an illiterate orphan but with the power of Word revealed to him, against all odds, he overcame the challenges and managed to bring about a united Ummah. This success was then preceded by his companions after his passing, with Al-Qur’an and As-Sunnah as their reference to further spread the word of Allah (SWT).
Here we can see that when we put our full trust in Allah (SWT), rely and depend on His Power, He will give us the worthy success. It gives us the objective and the motivation at the same time. Tawakkul, in essence, bring us closer to Allah (SWT). It makes us a true servant of Allah SWT). And that fact itself is much more rewarding and a true success for a believer.
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