The Levels of Tawakkul: Trust and Reliance on Allah

Since 2012-12-04

{If Allah helps you, none can overcome you; and if He forsakes you, who is there after Him that can help you? And in Allah (Alone) let believers put their trust.} [Al-’Imran 3:160]



Aslom Ullah
Those who have Tawakkul do not abandon material resources, The people of Tawakkul know the balance between action and trust in Allah (The Most High).
All praise is due to Allah and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (Prayers and peace of Allah be upon him). The basis for this paper is the concept of Tawakkul, its levels and its benefits. Tawakkul itself translates as ‘trust and reliance’ which means that in a way, it is quite dualistic and has two different facets which are not independent of each other, but are interlinked. The ayah which first comes to mind when we think of Tawakkul (or trust and reliance in Allah) is,
{And He will provide him from (sources) he could never imagine. And whoever puts their trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Indeed, Allah has set a measure for all things.} [At-Talaq 65:3]
{وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ ۚ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّـهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرًا} الطلاق: 3
Transliteration: Wayarzuqhu min haythu la yahtasibu waman yatawakkal AAala Allahi fahuwahasbuhu inna Allaha balighu amrihi qad jaAAala Allahu likulli shayin qadran
The root of Tawakkul is ‘reliance’ or ‘dependence’. We say that we depend on Allah (The Most High) for everything, and place reliance on Him. This is the reality of Tawakkul in that we place our trust and reliance on Allah (The Most High), in terms of both our worldly affairs, as well as our Deen. As well as utilizing our visceral, or tangible means of attaining that which we want to attain. Tawakkul therefore involves belief, dependence, and action. This is because in order to gain at least some level of Tawakkul, the slave needs to be aware of the fact that all the matters of this world and the Hereafter lie in the Hands of Allah (The Most High). Nothing occurs except by His Permission and His Leave. It is worth noting that depending upon Allah in attaining one’s provision is itself a form of worship, and is from the completion and perfection of one’s Iman. It is a realization of the verse from Umm-ul-Quran, {You (Alone) we worship, and you (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything).} [Al-Fatiha 1:5]
{إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ} الفاتحة: 5
Transliteration: Iyyaka naAAbudu waiyyaka nastaAAeenu
And is a requirement of one’s Iman because depending on other than Allah (The Most High) for that which Allah (The Most High) alone can provide, or (in the case of a tribulation, Allah alone can save a person from), is major Shirk. As Allah (The Most High) says {So worship Him (O Muhammad SAW) and put your trust in Him. And your Lord is not unaware of what you (people) do.} [Hud 11:123]
{فَاعْبُدْهُ وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَيْهِ ۚ وَمَا رَبُّكَ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ} هود: 23
Transliteration: faoAAbudhu watawakkal AAalayhi wamarabbuka bighafilin AAammataAAmaloona
We also know that He states in Surah Al-Anfal, referring to the qualities of Al-Mu’minoon:
{The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts and when His Verses (this Quran) are recited unto them, they (i.e. the Verses) increase their Faith; and they put their trust in their Lord (Alone);} [A-Anfal 8:2]
{إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ اللَّـهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَإِذَا تُلِيَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُهُ زَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ} الأنفال: 2
Transliteration: Innama almuminoona allatheena ithathukira Allahu wajilat quloobuhum waithatuliyat AAalayhim ayatuhu zadathum eemanan waAAala rabbihim yatawakkaloona
Another such reference which we spend our nights reading, is contained in Surah Al-Mulk, {Say: “He is the Most Gracious (Allah) in Him we believe, and in Him we put our trust. So, you will come to know who it is that is in manifest error.} [Al-Mulk 67:29]
{قُلْ هُوَ الرَّحْمَـٰنُ آمَنَّا بِهِ وَعَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْنَا ۖ فَسَتَعْلَمُونَ مَنْ هُوَ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ} الملك: 29
Transliteration: Qul huwa alrrahmanu amanna bihi waAAalayhi tawakkalnafasataAAlamoona man huwa fee dalalin mubeenin
We also have many, many examples from our Prophet Muhammad (Prayers and peace of Allah be upon him) including examples of certain supplications which he made. In an authentic hadith contained in Bukhari and Muslim, Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Prayers and peace of Allah be upon him) used to supplicate: “O Allah! To You I have submitted, and in You do I believe, and in You I put my trust, to You do I turn, and for You I argued...”
«اللهم لك أسلمتُ، وبك آمنتُ، وعليك توكلتُ، وإليك أنبتُ، وبك خاصمتُ...» متفق عليه
What this demonstrates is just how necessary this trust and reliance on Allah is, whereby we make Allah the disposer of our affairs. As it becomes clear from the aforementioned hadith, Tawakkul is interlinked, interfused even, with submission to Allah, and belief in Allah. This becomes apparent in the hadith, ‘O Allah! To You I have submitted, and in You do I believe, and in You I put my trust’. In a single breath the Prophet (Prayers and peace of Allah be upon him) refers to submission, Iman, and Tawakkul. In another hadith showing the importance of Tawakkul and its benefits in this world and the Hereafter, Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (Prayers and peace of Allah be upon him) said, “A group of people (both men and women) whose hearts will be like the hearts of birds, will enter Jannah.” [Muslim]
«يدخل الجنة أقوام أفئدتهم مثل أفئدة الطيرِ» رواه مسلم

According to the renowned author of Riyadh As Saliheen, this Hadith has been interpreted to mean that it is those people who put their trust in Allah who will be in Jannah. Under this interpretation, there seems to be direct correlation between the way the people of Tawakkul lived their lives in this world, and their reward. It is the people of Tawakkul who would never have worried about their provisions, food, and means of subsistence, and are like the birds who do not collect any food to keep in reserve but go out every morning in search of food, hoping for and believing in Allah’s provision, and then returning home to their nests fully satisfied.
Those who have Tawakkul do not abandon material resources. The people of Tawakkul know the balance between action and trust in Allah (The Most High). Before we move onto the next section of this paper, it is worth noting what one of our famous scholars of the past has said about Tawakkul. In Madaarij us-Saalikeen, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (may Allah have mercy upon him) notes:
‘The condition of the one who relies on Allah is like the condition of the one who is given a dirham by a King, then it gets stolen from him; so the King says to him: “I have many times as much as that, so don’t worry. When you come to me, I will give you from my treasures much more than that.” Thus if (this person) knows the truthfulness of the king’s statement, and trusts him, and knows that his treasures are full of that, then what he missed will not make him sad.
Levels of Tawakkul
There is much more that can be stated about Tawakkul but for the purposes of succinctness, we will now move onto the levels of Tawakkul. There are said to be levels of Tawakkul and these are easier to understand if we remember that Tawhid itself is the basis for Tawakkul. As for the levels of Tawakkul, then the first level is to know Allah by His qualities and attributes, such as the fact that he is All Capable and Sufficient to rely on; that He is the Sustainer and that He is All–Knowing and that things can only happen with His Will and Decree.
The second level is to believe that every matter has a cause or a means. Some people give up utilizing these means due to their ignorance, and think that this is reliance on Allah (The Most High). This causes people to become like those who wait for ‘the miracle to drop from the sky’ without striving towards it in any way. Such people wait for Allah to send down their provisions, feed them and take care of their concerns and affairs while they do nothing. In Arabic, this is called “tawaakul (تواكل)” the difference may be one letter, but it is significant enough; we should not be complacent or stagnant; we should do everything that’s available to us to reach our goals.
The third level is to remain firm in relying on Allah alone. Indeed, a person’s reliance on Allah cannot be fulfilled until one relies on Him alone. Support for this level can be found in the verse, {If Allah helps you, none can overcome you; and if He forsakes you, who is there after Him that can help you? And in Allah (Alone) let believers put their trust.} [Al-’Imran 3:160]
{إِن يَنصُرْكُمُ اللَّـهُ فَلَا غَالِبَ لَكُمْ ۖ وَإِن يَخْذُلْكُمْ فَمَن ذَا الَّذِي يَنصُرُكُم مِّن بَعْدِهِ ۗ وَعَلَى اللَّـهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ} آل عمران: 160
Transliteration: In yansurkumu Allahu fala ghaliba lakum wain yakhthulkum faman tha allathee yansurukum min baAAdihi waAAalaAllahi falyatawakkali almuminoona
The fourth level is to depend on Allah wholeheartedly and feel tranquility when doing so, to the extent that one does not feel anxious or confused about their provision. Some people do not feel secure until they utilize these means, and if Allah decrees that these means are not available they feel overwrought. Such people’s reliance on Allah is incomplete, because true reliance is when a person does not care if means are available or not, because they know that all matters are in the Hands of Allah. {Verily, His Command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, “Be!” and it is!} [Ya-Sin 36:82]
{إِنَّمَا أَمْرُهُ إِذَا أَرَادَ شَيْئًا أَن يَقُولَ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ} يس: 82
Transliteration: Innama amruhu itha arada shayan an yaqoola lahu kun fayakoonu
Of course, a person will have to utilize all the means available to them also.
The highest level of Tawakkul, towards which we should all strive of course, is to realize that the essence of reliance on Allah is to entrust all matters to him willingly, without feeling forced to do so.
Benefits of Tawakkul
In closing this article on Tawakkul, it is worth pondering the benefits of Tawakkul. There are many, the first of which is of course that as mentioned earlier, it is part of the completion of one’s faith. Secondly and on a more practical note, knowing that our responsibility for what happens is limited is very comforting. We know that as long as we are trying our utmost, we can rely on Him, safe in the knowledge that whatever trial we are going through, Allah has decreed it for us and we will by His Leave be able to bear it. That is the meaning of the verse, {Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope} [Al-Baqarah 2:286]
{لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّـهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا} البقرة: 286
Transliteration: La yukallifu Allahu nafsan illa wusAAahalaha 
Moreover, Tawakkul also gives us a good understanding of the balance to be had between putting our trust and reliance on Allah (The Most High) willingly on the one hand, and our individual responsibility in utilizing the means available on the other.
Another consequence of Tawakkul is that it invites us to connect to a powerful Ally: this is the Lord Himself, Allah (The Most High). The more we rely on Him, the greater the chances that we will try to please Him by following the guidance He has given us.
The third consequence of Tawakkul is that we are not depressed by what we have lost or intoxicated by our success. As Allah (The Most High) states,{In order that you may not grieve at the things over that you fail to get, nor rejoice over that which has been given to you. And Allah likes not every prideful boaster.} [Al-Hadid 57:23]
{لِّكَيْلَا تَأْسَوْا عَلَىٰ مَا فَاتَكُمْ وَلَا تَفْرَحُوا بِمَا آتَاكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ} الحديد: 23
Transliteration: Likayla tasaw AAala ma fatakum walatafrahoo bima atakum waAllahu layuhibbu kulla mukhtalin fakhoorin
In closing, the one who entrusts Allah (The Most High) does so with the certainty that what Allah (The Most High) decrees is best for them, even if it is apparently the opposite of what they believe to be good. Such a person is content with the decrees of Allah (The Most High) as they know whatever is decreed is best for them, whether the benefit is apparent or not.
Relying on Allah (The Most High) can instill an enormous amount of peace and contentment in a person, and we ask Allah (The Most High) that He helps us all attain the highest degree of Tawakkul, in order that by His Permission, we may benefit from that in this world, and in the eternal world of the Hereafter.
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