FOLLOW IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE ONE’S WHO LED BY EXAMPLE

The Qur’an and Sunnah are replete with accounts and valuable lessons about tawakkul, illustrating how our greatest role models understood and implemented it in their lives. Ibrāhīm (as) found coolness and tranquility in the middle of the fire when he placed his trust in Allah, reciting the words, “Allah (Alone) is sufficient for us and He is the Best Disposer of affairs.” These were also the words of the Prophet ﷺ when he and his companions were informed of a great army gathering against them at Uhud.[1] He ﷺ made sure to take the necessary means available—strategic planning, armor, and duʿāʾ as the means to seek the help and protection of Allah.

When faced with the imminent danger of migrating to Medina (hijrah), the Prophet ﷺ placed his complete trust in Allah to guide him to safety. He then meticulously carried out protective measures to achieve it. Along with his companion, Abū Bakr, he escaped from Makkah, taking a guide with them, and choosing an alternate route to avoid capture. They made arrangements for sufficient provision and sought refuge in a cave until it was safe to resume the journey to Medina. Seeing Abū Bakr’s concern for his safety, the Prophet ﷺ reassured Abū Bakr of their unwavering trust in Allah to protect them.

If you do not aid the Prophet—Allah has already aided him when those who disbelieved had driven him out [of Makkah] as one of two, when they were in the cave and he said to his companion, “Do not grieve; indeed Allah is with us.” And Allah sent down his tranquility upon him and supported him with angels you did not see and made the word of those who disbelieved the lowest, while the word of Allah—that is the highest. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.[2]

The sea itself was made the path to safety for Mūsá (as) when he was commanded to strike it with his staff. We see the certainty and tawakkul of Mūsá (as) when he said, “Nay, surely! With me is my Lord, He will guide me.”[3] As difficult as it is to imagine, the mother of Mūsá (as) was divinely inspired to place her infant in a river in order to save his life. How amazing is His wisdom that Allah then kept Mūsá (as) safe, raising him in the home of the very same tyrant from whom she was desperate to secure his escape.[4] These are historic accounts. Although we may be blessed with the comforts of life and, therefore, not fully comprehend the extent of the adversity these exemplary believers overcame with tawakkul, they provide consolation and hope to us all. To those among us who find themselves in the midst of a storm, be it calamity, injustice, loss of life or provision, place your trust in Allah and stay the course with hope and confidence to weather the storm, and know that Allah is with you too.

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Life lessons
We can extract many life lessons from the beautiful hadith in which the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “If you all depend on Allah with due reliance, He would certainly give you provision as He gives it to birds who go forth hungry in the morning and return with [a] full belly at dusk.”[5] This hadith teaches us that tawakkul begins with the heart’s firm reliance on Allah. Strengthened with tawakkul, the believer sets forth on the path to attain his goal, be it safety, sustenance, knowledge, etc. One may not know where that path will take him, nor have the knowledge of how or when he will reach his goal, but his reliance on Allah keeps him steadfast with the certainty that Allah will provide, just as He does for the birds. No doubt this example depicts heightened vulnerability and need. The nest appears feeble and unable to withstand harsh weather and predators. The eggs are fragile and the bird has limited capacity and significant responsibility to shoulder. Yet, we see Allah’s perfection in His plan, His mercy, and generosity for all of His creation such that none who seeks from Him is returned empty-handed.

Tawakkul involves the coming together of both one’s spiritual and material means.[6] Abū Ḥātim Al-Rāzī noted that this hadith teaches us that not only is tawakkul an essential component of faith, but it is also of the utmost importance in acquiring sustenance.[7] It begins in the heart, and manifests in action, be it for survival, well-being, or any benefit. The means are those actions that are within the bounds of permissibility, beginning with seeking the help of Allah through acts of worship along with practical steps within one’s capacity. This may include seeking counsel and the help of trustworthy people: family, friends, and specialists in a particular field, such as medical professionals, for example, who are currently serving on the frontlines to help save lives during this crisis. Placing one’s trust in another person is called tawkīl, which is a category of the means one takes, while relying on Allah to provide both the means and the end result.

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And cooperate [assist one another] in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression.[8]

Thus, one carries out the actions while the heart remains firmly reliant on Allah. Trust that your provision is guaranteed, but you may have to struggle and strive for it. Every action and effort exerted with tawakkul is an action on the Path of Allah and is being recorded and rewarded. Hence, tawakkul supports the believer’s confidence, courage, strength, motivation and productivity because of their reliance on Allah to help them achieve their goals.

And when the prayer has been concluded, disperse within the land and seek from the bounty of Allah, and remember Allah often that you may succeed.[9]

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[1] Riyāḍ al-ṣālihīn, bk. 1, hadith 76, https://sunnah.com/riyadussaliheen/1/76; also reported by al-Bukhārī.

[2] Qur’an 9:40.

[3] Qur’an 26:62.

[4] See Qur’an 28:7–13.

[5] Riyāḍ al-ṣālihīn, bk. 1, hadith 79, https://sunnah.com/riyadussaliheen/1/79; also reported by at-Tirmidhi.

[6] Abū Bakr Jābir al-Jazāirī, Minhāj Al-Muslim: A Book of Creed, Manners, Character, Acts of Worship and Other Deeds, vol. 1 (Riyadh: Darussalam, 2001), 301.

[7] Farid, Purification of the Soul, 105.

[8] Qur’an 5:2.

[9] Qur’an 62:10.

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