I MET A Sister in Islam on a day when I felt so lost, betrayed and humiliated. On that day, I felt that there would never be any end to the pain I was experiencing. This sister taught me and explained to me about a special word, which I would never forget—tawakkul.
This is what happened that day:
“What’s wrong? You look miserable,” she asked.
“I feel so humiliated by what certain people did to me,” I answered, wondering if I should say more. I continued, “Every time I think at last there is someone who understands me and who I can rely on, they seem to turn the other way around, breaking their promise to me.”
She never asked me why I felt humiliated or anything more about my story. She immediately told me, “Oh sister, this is no doubt a test. Seek forgiveness and put your trust only in Allah.”
I protested, “But I did.”
She said, “You depended on Allah’s creation to do something which none would be able to do except for Allah. You feel betrayed because you trusted people. Allah loves us so much that He would never let us down when we have complete trust in Him.”
We spent nearly two hours talking about tawakkul in Allah.
After the conversation, I came home and pondered over the sister’s words. I made salah. I cried. Eventually, I realized the meaning of the beautiful word tawakkul.
Tawakkul means complete trust of the heart in Allah, believing that He is Sufficient, against all others, for His creation.
I felt a deep sense of relief and felt at ease after I made salah and placed my complete trust in Allah. Allah says:
And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose.Verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion. [Sûrat AlṬalaq, 65:3]
Any time the word tawakkul is mentioned, the story of Hajar should come to any Muslim’s mind. The story of Hajar presents every Muslim the most wonderful example of tawakkul. Imam Bukhari reported in his Sahih that
Ibrahim, left her (Hajar) at the Kaʿbah in Makkah, at a time when there were no people and no water in the place. Hajar had no one with her except her infant son Ismail (Ishmael). Hajar followed Ibrahim, and when they reached Kuda, she called him from behind, ‘O Ibrahim! To whom are you leaving us?’ He replied, ‘(I am leaving you) to Allah’s (care).’ She said, ‘I am satisfied to be with Allah.’ Her response reflected her acceptance and optimism.
What happened to her and her son after Ibrahim left them was her calm and wisdom, the creation of the Zamzam well, the rebuilding of the Kaʿbah and the founding of the city of Makkah. These comprise the main elements of a success story that has only a few matches in the history of humanity, a story that is commemorated annually, by the believers in Makkah during the Hajj rites.
Those days were most trying for her, but she neither lost faith nor patience. It was her certainty of faith and her trust in Allah that enabled her to endure such a difficult situation and that allowed her to earn the great honor she enjoys among the faithful. For the believers, her story is a great source of inspiration that teaches us never to lose patience nor hope in Allah under any circumstances. Her story is an amazing example of the tremendous positive impact a deep trust in Allah can have on a believer.
The Prophet’s Assurance
The following ḥadîth, narrated by Ibn Abbas from Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, indicates the merits of trust in Allah,
Seventy thousand people of my followers will enter Paradise without accounts. They are those who do not practice (give) Ruqya and do not see an evil omen in things, and put their trust in their Lord. (Bukhâri)
ʿUmar ibn Al-Khaṭṭâb narrated,
I heard the Messenger of Allah say: If you all had relied on Allah with due reliance, He would have certainly given you provision as He supplies provision to birds who get up hungry in the morning and return with full bellies at dusk. (Tirmidhi and Ibn Mâjah)
Doubting Allah’s Power?
There is no doubt that Allah is sufficient for us. But we tend to lose our patience and sometimes even forget Allah’s great power. Suspicion is one of the strongest of Satan’s weapons to lead a believer astray. When believers hold suspicion in their hearts or doubt Allah’s power, they tend to lose their trust in Allah. Suspicion weakens imân.
Allah warns us about people who doubt His power,
There are among men some who serve Allah, as it were, on the verge: if good befalls them, they are, therewith, well content, but if a trial comes to them, they turn on their faces. They lose both this world and the Hereafter: That is a loss for all to see! [Sûrat Al-Ḥajj, 22:11]
Lack of patience makes one lose peace and tawakkul.
Many of us would reflect on the past and feel that we are going through pain for years and still we haven’t received help from Allah. When we look back on our past, we tend to lose patience and hope.
The Companions of the prophet would never look backward. They always felt that Allah’s help was close to them. When they didn’t get the help they asked for that day, they would always say, “Allah’s help will come to us tomorrow,” and never did they lose hope. Ultimately they got Allah’s help and emerged victorious.
Many of us can say the following story, published on <www.Islamway.com>, reflects our attitude in many of the incidents that have happened in our lives:
The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for Allah to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions. But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. “O Allah! How could you do this to me?” he cried.
Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” asked the weary man of his rescuers. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.
Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of Allah.
The hut is the symbol of our pain, which might seem like a failure for us. We easily tend to lose hope and patience when things don’t seem to be going the way we expect. If it looks like it might a disaster, remember that this may be help from Allah.
Tawakkul is the highest form of worship. Through tawakkul we become Allah’s loved ones; we gain confidence, and that strengthens our faith. Allah guarantees for our risks that the end results would be perfect even if one does not get what he thinks he needs, as Allah would always give us something better.
Tawakkul that Would Not Benefit
There are different kinds of people who use tawakkul according to their situations. Some people turn to Allah only when a disaster strikes them. There are some who would be performing their duties right until a disaster strikes. They would lose patience and peace— because of weak faith—and end up indulging in shirk hoping a to get a solution for their problem.
Allah says in the Quran regarding the people who turn to him only during calamity,
When a wave covers them like the canopy (of clouds), they call to Allah, offering Him sincere devotion. But when He has delivered them safely to land, there are among them those that halt between (right and wrong). But none reject Our Signs except only a perfidious ungrateful (wretch)! [Sûrat Luqmân, 31:32]
Another kind of person is the one who thinks that by putting one’s trust in Allah one can escape from various responsibilities. The following ḥadîth shows that we need to do our duty first and then place our trust in Allah,
One-day Prophet Muhammad noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it and he asked the Bedouin, “Why don’t you tie up your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in Allah.” The Prophet then said, “Tie your camel first, and then put your trust in Allah. (Tirmidhi)
Without taking the right precaution or doing our duty, we cannot expect the help of Allah. Allah says:
And that man can have nothing but what he strives for. [Sûrat Al-Najm, 53:39]
Only when one’s faith is weak will he behave in such a way that he ends up becoming a loser. When such people say they fully trust in Allah, it is their tongues that are proclaiming and not their hearts. Thus, only when the heart is sincere in accepting Allah’s power will one have tawakkul, and sincere tawakkul will be rewarded and honored.
Even now, I do feel gloomy whenever I meet with hardship, but I make sure that I immediately try to pull myself together, and then the talk with the sister on the beauty of tawakkul comes to my mind –and that sure gives me confidence and strength. All praises are due to Allah!
Let us not forget that, Allah, the most Merciful, loves us more than our mothers and therefore He would never let us down. Our efforts will never go to waste.
And never would Allah Make your faith of no effect. For Allah is to all people most surely full of kindness, most Merciful. [Sûrat Al-Baqarah, 2:143]
The Prophet said,
Allah loves His servants more than a woman loves her child. (Muslim)
Therefore, every time a disaster strikes us let us never forget to say,
For us Allah is Sufficient and He is the best Disposer of affairs. [Sûrat Al ʿImran, 3:173]