You know that feeling you get when your life is not going as you dreamed? Or when you are worried about passing your exams, impressing your boss, or providing for your family? A lot of these types of events in our lives bring a feeling of anxiety and worry, and as Muslims, tawakkul is the best way to fight this constant feeling of despondence.
What is Tawakul?
The word tawakkul is from a root word (w-k-l) that literally means to give oneself over to something. With “Tawakkul”, it means to give ourselves over in total reliance on Allah (swt).
This is a bit different from the concept of submission as we know it in Islam. Tawakkul has to do with placing your absolute trust in Allah over all your affairs, not just about submitting to Him in worship.
Remember when Musa (as) was asked to perform a trick in front of real magicians and Allah (swt) told him (Musa) to drop his walking stick to the floor? Musa (as) wasn’t a magician, and he had no idea what would happen if he dropped the stick.
But he relied on the words of his Lord, dropped the stick, and the stick turned to a real snake much to the amazement of the magicians (Al-A’raf 7:117).
Here, Musa (as) demonstrated absolute reliance on Allah (swt). He didn’t know what was going to happen or how, but he did his best and relied on his Lord.
How to Apply Tawakkul to our Daily Lives
It can sometimes be difficult to put your trust solely in Allah (swt) because we humans are addicted to instant gratification. We pray salatul Istikhara today and we start to watch out for obvious signs from Allah (swt) giving us guidance over what is unclear to us. Or even when we know that all matters in our lives have been decreed by Allah (swt), we continue to chase after things that may not be ours, wanting them at all costs.
Believe in the Words of Allah (swt)
Our greatest barrier to absolute reliance in Allah (swt) comes from our belief in His words. Imagine that you had a toothache and the dentist promised that you will be relieved after a tooth extraction. Wouldn’t you believe him?
But the Prophet (saw) already told us “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 full belly at dusk”. (At-Tirmidhi)
So, the first thing that we should strive for in having tawakkul, is to believe what we have been promised by the Qur’an and Sunnah. If Allah (swt) says that he has our backs, then we really need to believe that He does.
Let’s look at another story from the life of Prophet Musa (as) as he was leading his people away from Pharaoh and his army. At the edge of the sea, Musa didn’t know how to take his people across the water, and the army was fast approaching behind.
Again, he was commanded by Allah (swt) to strike the sea with his walking stick. Ordinarily, anyone would wonder how a stick struck on the sea can help them cross the sea. But with absolute reliance on the wisdom of his Lord, Musa (as) struck the sea with his stick.
And the sea parted into two, revealing solid land for Musa (as) and his people to pass across.
Reliance upon Allah is what takes our own little efforts, and turn them into results that are beyond even our own comprehension.
Combine Tawakkul with Action
One of the most common misconceptions about tawakkul is that all that we need in life is reliance upon Allah (swt), and He will direct our affairs even without efforts from us.
For Musa (as) to receive the miracles of Allah (swt), he had to strike his stick on the ground. He had to take his people to escape from Pharaoh.
He had to get up and do something.
As much as we aim for absolute reliance on our Lord, we need to get up and make the first move.
The birds have to leave their nest before they get the food, and we have to get a job and work hard at it before we can rely on our Lord to put His barakah into whatever we do.
Remember that Prophet Muhammad (saw) said to tie your camel and then pray.
Believe in Qadar
What happens when you worked hard for something, put your trust in Allah (swt), and still failed to achieve it?
This is a normal outcome of events in life, but if one is not careful, it can affect your faith. You start thinking that after making efforts on your own and relying on Him, Allah didn’t grant you what you wanted.
You see people who do not even believe in Allah (swt) get all the goodies of life, and you start to wonder why your prayers are not bringing the results that you expect.
But our reliance on Allah (swt) should also include a trust in His decision. If we can trust Him to make a way for us out of a difficulty, we should be able to trust Him when things happen to us that we do not like.
It could be that He has answered your prayers in another form, and it could be that He wants to give you something better.
The earth has been described as a prison for a believer, so we should not despair whenever we feel anxious about our affairs in this life.
The pious predecessors before us were faced with trials that caused them worry and anxiety. What helped them, and what will help us navigate these seasons of worry is our reliance on Allah (swt) as the best disposer of our affairs.
With tawakkul comes a person that strives for what they want. With tawakkul comes a mind that rests assured that their Lord is al-Wakeel (the best disposer of affairs), and with tawakkul comes a soul that understands and believes that whatever is meant for them will never miss them.
Related Video: Trust in Allah – By Mufti Menk