Al-Tawakkul: Trusting in Allah
January 26 2017 11:01 PM
A night view of Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Mosque in Doha. PICTURE: Thajudheen
A night view of Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Mosque in Doha. PICTURE: Thajudheen

Khutbah from Masjid Nabawi

All praise is due to Allah. We thank Him and we seek His help, guidance and forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil promptings of our souls and the evil consequences of our deeds. Whomsoever Allah guides, no one can lead him astray and whomsoever Allah leads astray, no one can show him the right path. I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger.
Allah says: “O, you who believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He ordered and abstaining from all that He forbade) as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam,” (Al-i-’Imran, 3:102).
“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate, and from them both scattered many men and women, and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights) and do not cut the relations of the wombs (kinship). Surely Allah is ever a Watcher over you,” (Al-Nisa’, 4:1).
“O, you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, he verily has got a great success,” (Al-Ahzab, 31:70-71).
Dear brothers and sisters in Islam, Allah the Most High has created us of the best stature and granted us many abilities so that we may look after our needs and those of our relatives and fellow Muslims. He (subhanahu wa ta’ala) has invited us to explore the earth and use it for our subsistence: “It is He Who has made the earth subservient to you, so walk in the path thereof and eat of His provision, and to Him will be the resurrection,” (Al-Mulk, 67:15).
Yet, brothers and sisters, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has made it clear in this very verse, as well as in other verses, that had He not made this earth manageable to us, we would not be able to explore it nor benefit from it.
Dear brothers and sisters in faith, the above verse is the starting point of this Khutbah (sermon) which is about tawakkul (trust and complete reliance on Allah). This chapter of the Qur’an is actually – in our humble opinion – a yardstick for understanding tawakkul. Surah Al-Mulk starts and finishes with the same message: To Allah belong all that is in the universe and nothing would happen without His Mercy and constant watchful care. He said in the first verse, “Blessed be He in Whose hands is the Dominion, and He is able to do all things.” He then said in the last verse, “Say: Have you thought, ‘if your water were to disappear into the earth, who then can supply you with clear-flowing water,’” (Al-Mulk, 67:30).
Yes, we can surely explore the earth, look for regions holding water and successfully discover fountain sources and streams. But without Allah’s permission and facilitation, we will not be able to reach this water. Furthermore, what would happen if – all of a sudden – Allah made the sources and springs of our water supply to disappear in the deep undergrounds of the earth. Blessed and Glorified be He! No one will bring it back but He.
Brothers and sisters, there is a hintful touch in the verse mentioned earlier. Allah said, “ walk in the path thereof.” Then He said “...and eat of His provision.” So Allah is telling us that though you are encouraged to strive and work hard, what you produce is not yours; what you earn is not yours. Rather, your production, your earnings and all your subsistence comes from Allah. He made it available to you out of His Mercy and care for you. Hence, if Allah wills, your work and efforts will be fruitless. Similar verses where Allah ascribes subsistence solely to Him are found in many places in the Qur’an. Allah says, “...So seek from Allah (Alone) subsistence and worship Him (Alone), and be grateful to Him. To Him (Alone) will be your return,” (Al-’Ankabut, 29:17).
Those who misunderstood the Plan of Allah and His Wisdom have felt confused by this double command of Allah – to strive and work on the one hand, and rely on Allah to make the actions possible and goals attainable, on the other. Initially, this question was presented before the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. The companions asked: Should we quit working and rely on Al-Qadar (Allah’s  predetermined decree)? The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, answered: “You should initiate and do things. Everyone shall be facilitated towards that for which he was created.” (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim). Consequently, the Companions of the Prophet moved on and initiated righteous deeds while putting their trust in Allah.
The work that is referred to in this Khutbah, brothers and sisters, is not that of the acts of worship (Salah, Zakah, Sawm, Haj, etc). Rather, it is the work pertaining to our subsistence. Furthermore, we do not refer to haram (forbidden) work and haram subsistence – for we believe, insha’ Allah, that the reader is conscious of that. It is the halal (permissible) work and the halal livelihood that we are concerned about in this Khutbah, for it is more tempting to the believer. What are the guidelines and limits of the halal work? How much dedication do we give it? Do we attribute the source of subsistence to our work or to Allah’s bounties? And do we associate the loss and deprivation of wealth, health and success with our loss of job, or with Allah’s universal plan?
Brothers and sisters, Islam is a dynamic religion. Not only does it not condone passiveness, but also, it strongly rejects laziness and dependency on others. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Begging is forbidden except when there is great debt, suffering, injury, or abasing poverty.” (Related by Abu Dawud and Al-Bayhaqi). He, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, also said, “It is much better for one of you to take his rope and go to chop some wood (for his livelihood) than to beg from people, whether they give him anything or deny him.” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Ibn Majah, and others). The Prophet himself, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, worked hard for his living. He spent his boyhood as a shepherd and took to trade in manhood. He carried people’s goods to Syria and other places and shared the profits with them.
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, used to constantly seek refuge with Allah from laziness as reported by Zayed Ibn Arqam: “O Allah! I seek refuge in You from incapacity, from laziness, from cowardice, from miserliness, from ineptitude and from the torment of the grave...” (Related by Muslim).
However, brothers and sisters, though we might strive hard to secure our livelihood, we should not attribute our achievements solely in the work we do, but in Allah. We should not put our reliance on our work, our possessions, our wealth, our position, etc. Neither should we rely on our manager, our employer, our friends and our families. The only one on Whom we should rely is Allah. He subhanahu wa ta’ala said, “...And rely on the Living One (Allah), Who will never die, and celebrate His praises and thanks. And sufficient is He to be acquainted with the sins of His slaves,” (Al-Furqan, 25:58). Whoever attaches his/her heart to his job, or to his/her employer or to any created beings in order for them to provide him/her with sustenance or to make him/her prosperous and successful, and so on, he/she has submitted to them. And the more one relies on the created beings, the weaker becomes one’s submission to Allah.
Hence, brothers and sisters, as much as Allah wants from us to initiate actions and seek and use all permissible means to secure our needs and those of our families, He also wants us not to depend on these means as the source of our sustenance. This is the genuine understanding of tawakkul.
Those who deviated from the right concept of tawakkul have fallen into two extremes. The first group of people are those, attracted by the temptations of this world, and have gone so far as to forget their relationship with Allah. Their heart has become so attracted to these temptations that they became subservient to their desires. Such people have become – knowingly or unknowingly – slaves of their own desires. Such people will ultimately claim that all their achievements are but the result of their own work and that Allah had no involvement whatsoever. They do not rely on Allah. Allah says, “Have you then seen the sort of man who rejects Our signs, yet says: ‘I shall certainly be given wealth and children.’” Allah rejects their arrogant claim by saying, “Has he penetrated to the unseen, or has he taken a promise with Allah?” (Maryam, 19:77-78). This type of man who rejects Allah and denies His bounties regards himself as “self-sufficient” and thus, cannot be expected to rely on Allah.
The second group of people are those who understood the reliance on Allah as meaning to completely break away from all mundane affairs. They regarded piety and the pursuit of any material interests as contradictory. For them, reliance on Allah would mean not to take any initiatives for securing one’s subsistence. Consequently, they renounce the world and retire themselves to remote areas or secluded spots and cut themselves from daily life.
Both of these two groups, brothers and sisters, have not understood the meaning of tawakkul according to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Had they attempted to understand the Book of Allah, according to the understanding and implementation of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and his honourable companions, they would have found that tawakkul is far removed from how they conceived it. Through the instinctive behaviour of some of His creatures and the sublime conduct of His prophets and righteous slaves, Allah has set out in His Book the genuine tawakkul. First, let us look at the fascinating life of the bee.
Allah says: “And your Lord taught the bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in men’s habitation; then to eat of all the produce of the earth, and follow the way of your Lord made smooth: There issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours, wherein is healing for men: Verily in this is a sign for those who give thought,” (Al-Nahl, 16:68-69).
Look at the gigantic work that the bee has to do in order to produce its honey: The bee finds out the most inaccessible places, in the hills, in the trees, and even among the habitation of men. It assimilates the juice of various kinds of flowers and fruit, and forms within its body the honey which it stores in its cells of wax. The different kinds of food from which it makes its honey give different colours to the honey. Now, brothers and sisters, could not Allah provide for the bees their sustenance without them going through all this labour? Of course He could! Could not Allah create springs and rivers of honey as he created springs and rivers of water? Of course He could! But by observing the work cycle of the bee and by tasting its sweet and wholesome honey, one can understand and appreciate better the nature and behaviour of the bee. A  behaviour whose ingredients are hard work and complete trust in Allah: And that is the real tawakkul.
Let us look at another creature of Allah: the bird. Allah says, “Do they not observe the birds above them, spreading their wings and folding them in? None can uphold them except the Most Gracious: Truly it is He that watches over all things,” (Al-Mulk 67:19). As He did for all of His creatures, our Lord subhanahu wa ta’ala provided for the birds just those conditions that are best for their lives; He subhanahu wa ta’ala also inspired them to use their physical shapes and unique movements to take off, fly and land.
Thus, in order to fly, birds would have to move their wings upwards and downwards, spread them and fold them. However, the birds know that the One Who upholds them in the air, is not their upward and downward move, nor the spreading and folding of their wings, but rather Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. They have understood that they have to exert effort and rely on Allah alone to uphold them high. As opposed to many rebellious men, birds recognise and exercise total tawakkul on Allah without giving up the work. In pursuing this way of life, the birds have become the example to follow for how the tawakkul should be and how Allah would reward the one who exercises tawakkul as the birds do.
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said, “Were you to put your complete trust in 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.” (Related by Al-Tirmidhi). Did the birds remain in their nest waiting for Allah’s provision? Of course not! Did they claim that since they were engaged in tasbeeh (praising of Allah), they would not have to strive for their subsistence? Of course not! So praised is Allah, brothers and sisters, Who inspired the birds to set forth to seek provisions for themselves and for their little ones. Praised is He Who taught them tawakkul so they would not expect provision but from Him.
Now back to the world of mankind. Brothers and sisters, here is an ultimate example of tawakkul. This is the story of an expectant mother who retired with her conceived baby to a remote area. The pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree. She was alone with no one to attend her. She was hungry, thirsty. She cried: “Ah! would that I had died before this! Would that I had been forgotten and out of sight!” (Maryam, 19:23). But a voice cried to her from beneath the palm-tree: “Grieve not! for your Lord has provided a water stream beneath you,” (Maryam, 19:24).
She knew now that Allah would deliver her from her hunger and thirst and release the pain of her pangs. But the Most High wanted her to initiate an action to benefit from Allah’s provisions: “And shake towards yourself the trunk of the palm-tree: it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon you.” (Maryam, 19:25). Now that she fulfilled the physical part of her duties – by shaking the tree, she had to fulfil the spiritual part – trusting Allah for deliverance. Allah’s help was prompt: the fresh dates were now falling upon her: “So eat and drink and be glad!...,” (Maryam, 19:26).
This is the story of Maryam (Mary) whom Allah had destined to be the mother of Prophet ‘Isa (Jesus). And when she conceived her baby and entered the pains of childbirth with no one to attend her; when she got hungry and thirsty with no visible help for food and drink; when she became weak and anguished; she was asked to shake a palm-tree for her provision. A weak, tired, hungry and thirsty woman shaking a strong, deeply rooted palm-tree. Could not Allah send with Jibreel (Angel Gabriel) enough food and drink for her? Could not Allah send down from the heavens a ready-to-eat plate of dates? Or could not Allah say to the dates ‘fall upon Mary!’, upon which they would? After all, is not Allah the only One Who, when He wills a thing, only says to it, “Be” – and it is? Yes, yes, yes, brothers and sisters, He is! But Allah’s way is that the effort has to be made, and the trust has to be complete; the tawakkul has to be fulfilled.
Brothers and Sisters in Islam, these were some examples of Allah’s creatures putting their trust in Him. The wisest course for us, therefore, is to follow their example. So let us use all lawful means and exert reasonable effort to secure our needs, and let us remain faithful to Allah by putting all our affairs in His Hands and hope and expect for the best outcome. Let us say like the early believers said: “Say, ‘He is the Most Beneficent (Allah), in Him we believe, and in Him we put our trust,” (Al-Mulk, 67:29).
Allah also says: “And put your trust in Allah, and sufficient is Allah as a Trustee (Disposer of Affairs),” (Al-Ahzab, 33:3).
O Allah! Make us among those who believe in You and put their trust in You. O Allah! Provide for us as You provide for the birds, the bees and all Your creatures. O Allah! grant us the real tawakkul like that of Maryam, Your prophets and all Your righteous servants. O Allah! count us among those whose hearts are smitten with awe when Your Name is mentioned and whose faith is strengthened when Your Signs are recited to them, and who put their trust in their Lord. O Allah! send Your Grace, Honour and Mercy on Muhammad, his family, his followers and on all those who follow his Path until the Last Day.

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