Contributed by Mustafa Mawjee,
There are times when we feel we have lost everything, or things look broken and nothing like how we wished they would be. At times we even feel as though we’ve been abandoned and nothing is working out the way we planned. But things are often not what they seem, and tawakkul (trusting in Allah) is realizing that our Protector has a plan for us which is the best. Tawakkul is having full faith that Allah will take care of you—even when things look impossible.
There can be no faith without tawakkul. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: “The faithful are only those whose hearts tremble (with awe)when Allah is mentioned, and when His signs are recited to them, they increase their faith, and who put their trust in their Lord.” (8:2).
The word tawakkul has been derived from (wakalat), meaning ‘taking for oneself a representative’, and a good representative generally possesses the following four characteristics: Awareness, Trustworthiness, Strength and Sympathy. In the eyes of a true believer, Allah (s.w.t.) is the source of all strength and power. Nothing in the entire universe happens except by the permission of Allah (s.w.t.). Not even a leaf falls from a tree but He knows it. The Qur’an even says that only those, who possess faith and tawakkul, shall be able to exhibit resistance from satanic whisperings and not be influenced by them.
“Surely he has no authority over those who believe and rely on their Lord.” (Surah An-Nahl 16:99)
So how can we not put our entire trust in Him? Allah(s.w.t.) in Surah at-Tawbah tells the believers:
Say,” Nothing will befall us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is our master, and in Allah let all the faithful put their trust.”( 9:51 )
When Bibi Hajra (s.a.) found herself alone in the middle of a desert, with her newborn child and no sign of water, she knew with full certainty that Allah was there. But just after Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) left, her child, Ismail (a.s.) began to cry. He was thirsty. And although Bibi Hajra had complete tawakkul (trust and reliance) in Allah, she did not remain sitting, waiting for the water to fall down from the sky.
Reliance on Allah filled Bibi Hajra’s heart and she strove with everything she had. She began to run quickly between the mountains of Al-Safa and Al-Marwa, looking for any sign of water for her son. Each time she came to the top of the mountain and found nothing, she did not despair nor did she lose hope, she continued to strive. In fact, Bibi Hajra strove so hard that the ritual itself became known as Sa’ee—which literally means “to strive.” Tawakkul is not an act of the limbs—it is an act of the heart. And so while the limbs are striving hard, the heart is completely reliant on Allah.
It has been narrated that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) said: I asked Jibrail: “What is ‘tawakkul’?” He replied: “Cognizance (of the fact) that the creation (of Allah) can neither cause harm nor yield benefit; neither can it grant nor withhold (a bounty); (one must) sever all expectations from the creation (of Allah). When a person becomes such, he shall never work for anyone other than Allah (s.w.t.) and shall never hope and expect from anyone other than Him, and this is the reality of ‘tawakkul’ (Bihar al-Anwar Vol. 15, Part 2, pg. 14)
But in order to reach this level, one must hold on to hope, strive with the limbs, and let go with the heart. And just like He does for all the creatures of the universe, Allah(s.w.t.) will provide for us from places we could never imagine.