In the last article, we discussed how Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) is the constant Giver of gifts. We mentioned how the nature of a gift is that it is not given in exchange for anything, but rather it is out of love and mercy, and a reminder that we have a Lord who is taking care of us.
Alhamdulilah (all praise be to God), many of us recognize these gifts when they are given. Yet we are plagued by worry for our everyday and future sustenance. The job market is down, how will I get a job? How will I support my kids? How can I get married when I don’t make enough money? Endless thoughts of worry fill our minds. And this is where ar-Razzaq comes in.
What is Rizq?
In order to understand Allah’s Name ar-Razzaq, we need to know what rizq means. Rizq is what has been apportioned for you which benefits you. So Allah (swt) is ar-Razzaq—He is the One who creates your rizq, and takes it upon Himself to deliver what He has apportioned to His servants. And because He is ar-Razzaq, and not ar-Raaziq, He provides this sustenance to everyone: Muslim and non-Muslim, woman and man, humans and animals and plants. It encompasses everything on earth. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:
“And there is no creature on earth but that upon Allah is its provision [rizq], and He knows its place of dwelling and place of storage. All is in a clear register.” (Qur’an, 11:6)
This is a statement from Allah (swt). He says that the provision for His creatures is upon Him. And in case we had doubt, Allah (swt) takes an oath by the heavens and earth. He says:
“And in the heaven is your provision and whatever you are promised. Then by the Lord of the heaven and earth, indeed, it is truth – just as [sure as] it is that you are speaking.” (Qur’an, 51:22-23)
The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) said that a soul will not die until it gets all of the provision that has been apportioned for it (Ibn Hibban). Just looking at the heavens and the earth, and the way that rain falls and plants grow should be enough proof for us. We take it for granted, that this is the natural course of things. But Allah (swt) determined the course that nature will take. So if He created the system in which the rizq of all of the creatures is made, how will He not provide for you when He has said of human beings, “We have certainly honored the children of Adam,” (Qur’an 17:70). So even if you feel that your provision is slow in coming for you, remember that whatever is written for you will come. What rests on you is how strive for it.
So what specifically can be counted as rizq?
When we refer to rizq, many people assume it is just money. But rizq is what benefits you. So it can be money and any material thing in this world. It can also be something emotional. And it can be spiritual rizq. The person who takes it upon himself to attend talks, surround himself with good people and increase in the good that he does is taking the steps to feed his soul. And Allah (swt) will raise his station because of that.
Striving: A Condition of Rizq
This is the crux of our lesson today: the lesson of striving. Your rizq will not come to you if you do not work for it. That is the essential difference between hiba—a gift—and rizq. Your rizq is written for you but in order for you to unlock the door, you need to work as if your rizq depended on how hard you try, but in your heart, you know that nothing will come to you except what Allah (swt) has written for you.
And this is why if we truly believe in ar-Razzaq, we will never ever seek haraam (prohibited) means of living. If we truly believe that what has been written will come to us, then we know that we do not need to seek unethical ways of making a living. We work in whatever way that we can, in a manner that befits us as Muslims, knowing that it is Allah (swt) Who will provide for us. Even if everyone around you is engaging in corruption.
The example of Hajar alayha as-salam (peace be upon her) perfectly shows this. In the midst of the desert, she is stuck. Her infant is crying because he is hungry, and her food supplies have run out. She runs up and down Safa and Marwa 7 times, searching for something, anything. And Allah (swt) rewards that striving with the well of Zamzam that we still benefit from today. When we go on Umrah or Hajj (pilgrimage), we perform the “sa`y”, which means striving, emulating the footsteps of Hajar (as), so we never forget the lesson of working hard with the means around us. And the way that this perfectly illustrates the concept of rizq is that it came from where she did not imagine. She fulfilled her part—and Allah (swt) gave her what He apportioned for her. This is especially a lesson for those of us who say there is nothing for us to do—but there is always something to do. Even working to seek the means to be productive is something we will be rewarded for because it shows we are serious in our striving. And Allah (swt) may give it to you through the channels that you sought or through something completely different. It is simply to show you that your rizq is in His Hands.
I knew someone who really needed a job but didn’t want to ‘sell-out’ by applying to something just for the money. This friend applied everywhere that seemed to be ethical and in line with his interests. But it was one rejection after another. This continued for months, but masha’Allah (what God wills), this friend never lost hope. And out of nowhere, an organization contacted him even though he had not applied. One could take the lesson that he didn’t even need to apply to all the other places, but he did. Because that showed he was serious. And Allah (swt) brought down his rizq in the form of a job offer he did not apply for, just to show that rizq comes from Him.
So knowing that rizq is guaranteed is not an excuse to be lazy. No one knew ar-Razzaq better than the Prophet ﷺ, but there is not one moment in his seerah (life) where we see a defeatist attitude. His example is the best example, because he shows us what it means to have full trust that he will receive what Allah (swt) has written for him, and yet work in a way that shows he planned, thought deeply and sought people’s opinions.
What about people who don’t seem to get their rizq? Why are people starving?
It may be easy for someone to believe that Allah (swt) does not provide. We see pictures of children freezing in Afghanistan and starving in Somalia. “Where is their rizq?,” someone might ask. Yet we need to understand that there are consequences for our actions. Allah (swt) reminds us that if we do not rule with justice then there will be corruption on earth. Overusing resources, abusing human beings and hoarding wealth are things that are despised in our religion and Allah (swt) warns us severely against them. We cannot blame Allah (swt) when we have created a system which goes precisely against the way Allah (swt) has ordered us to live. So their test is this hardship in this life, though ar-Razzaq may manifest Himself in ways that we cannot imagine, and our test is failing to help them out of it.
One of the things that prevents our rizq from reaching us is our sins. But some may say that many seemingly sinful people appear to receive rizq, so is there even a correlation? Yet if that is all we see then we are being superficial. They may have received their material rizq, but Allah (swt) may deny them their spiritual rizq. And this is far worse. This is especially so when the bounty we have been given is used in illegitimate ways.
Now that we know ar-Razzaq, how can we live the meaning of this attribute?
We alluded to two things that we should do in order to receive our provision. We should not seek haraam means, as that also prevents our du`a’ (supplication) from being responded to by Allah (swt). The second is the key, which is to work hard. But there is a third component that is equally crucial. And that is the internal action: redha. Redha is contentment with what Allah (swt) has given us. We talked about this previously in the series on how to achieve tranquility of the heart. The basic gist of it is that we should not harbor any resentment or bitterness towards Allah (swt) for what we have been given. If we work hard and find that there seem to be no fruits to our striving, there is no anger in our hearts towards Allah (swt). We are content with what He has written for us—and what we have is more than enough. The Prophet ﷺ reminds us of why we should be content when he says, “Whoever wakes up safely in his home and is healthy in his body and has provisions for his day, would have acquired all the worldly possessions he is in need of,” (Tirmidhi). We should avoid being of the people whom Allah (swt) describes:
“And of the people is he who worships Allah on an edge. If he is touched by good, he is reassured by it; but if he is struck by trial, he turns on his face [to the other direction]. He has lost [this] world and the Hereafter. That is what is the manifest loss.” (Qur’an, 22:11)
How to Increase Rizq
Sheikh Ratib an-Nabulsi lists a number of ways in which we can increase our provision. I have summarized them below:
Tawakul (reliance on God): “And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.” (Qur’an, 65:3)
Keeping good relations with family: The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Whoever would like his rizq (provision) to be increased and his life to be extended, should uphold the ties of kinship.’ (Bukhari)
Thankfulness: “And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.’ ” (Qur’an, 14:7)
Asking forgiveness and tawba (repentance): “And said, ‘Ask forgiveness of your Lord. Indeed, He is ever a Perpetual Forgiver. He will send [rain from] the sky upon you in [continuing] showers. And give you increase in wealth and children and provide for you gardens and provide for you rivers.” (Qur’an, 71:10-12)
Charity: “Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He may multiply it for him many times over?” (Qur’an, 2:245)
Reciting Qur’an: The Prophet ﷺ said: “The house in which Qur’an is recited is increased in good, and the house in which Qur’an is not recited is decreased in good.” (al-Bazzar)
Migrating for the sake of Allah: “And whoever emigrates for the cause of Allah will find on the earth many [alternative] locations and abundance.” (Qur’an, 4:100)
May Allah (swt) make us of those who know Him, who work hard for His sake, and who taste the paradise of contentment on earth.