Names of Allah Series: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX | Part XXI | Part XXII | Part XXIII | Part XXIV | Part XXV | Part XXVI
Who do you trust? Who is that one person that gives you an internal tranquility, no matter what you entrust them with? For some of us it might be our mother or father, perhaps a best friend or our spouse. That trust gives us confidence, conviction and peace.
In reality though, we do not trust them in a fully comprehensive sense. We might trust them to be there for us, or trust them not to judge us harshly when we make a mistake. But would we trust our best friend to be our lawyer in court if she is a fashion designer and is not particularly eloquent? So our trust is in regards to certain things. What elements would have to be there in order for someone to have our trust 100%?
There are three main elements:
- The person is an expert in what they do: you might not trust your fashion designer best friend to be your lawyer, but you would trust the Harvard-educated lawyer who is known never to have lost a case (let’s call him “Adam”).
- The person is a moral person: Even if Adam is an amazing lawyer, if you weren’t sure about his moral character, you still wouldn’t be completely at ease. You might be afraid that he would cheat you out of your money for example. But if Adam is also an amazingly upright human being, you would be happier to give him a power-of-attorney.
- The person cares about you specifically: now imagine if Adam happens to be your close uncle who always treated you as his own child. Doesn’t that increase the trust, confidence and certainty? You absolutely know that Uncle Adam will you get you through it all.
While Allah is far above any analogy, the above example just breaks down the concept of trust for us. While I can simply introduce Allah as al-Wakeel, or the Trustee, many of us don’t know what truly trusting in Him means—or what it means when He tells us that He is the Ultimate Trustee. Al-Ghazali explains that al-Wakeel “is the one to whom the matters have been entrusted. But one who has received such a trust may be either one to whom some matters have been entrusted—that one is deficient, or one to whom all matters have been entrusted—and that pertains only to God Most High.”
Trusting someone in that complete sense in all circumstances can be hard. We can’t even trust ourselves that much. But that’s why Allah puts us at ease. He says:
“And to Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.” [Qur’an, 4:132]
Allah is telling us that everything in this world is His. He is reminding us of that fact. He also says:
“And rely upon the Ever-Living who does not die, and exalt [Allah] with His praise.” [Qur’an, 25:58]
As well as:
“[He is] the Lord of the East and the West; there is no deity except Him, so take Him as Disposer of [your] affairs.” [Qur’an, 73:9]
In these verses, Allah is reminding us of His Power. To Allah belongs everything, and moreover, He doesn’t die. Even the human being you trust the most could pass away. Allah does not. So when you trust in Him, don’t worry, “And rely upon Allah; and sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.” [Qur’an, 33:3]
In practical terms, this means two things. Firstly, that we work as hard as we can with the means given to us. This might seem like a reoccurring theme, and it is. Allah is teaching us through His Names and attributes that we need to work. But being intimately acquainted with Allah means that conviction, confidence and internal tranquility as we strive, because we have already surrendered to Allah. And this is the second element. While we work for a particular result through the avenues available to us, we have absolutely no doubt that Allah will get us through to whatever is best, because indeed He is the Trustee. The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) says:
“If you were to rely on Allah as He should be relied on, He would provide for you as He provides for the birds. They go out in the morning hungry and return in the evening full.” [Tirmidhi]
The bird does its part. It flies out in the morning in search for food. Now the bird has no reason to believe that she will find any food. She wakes up without any food at all. But still she leaves her nest. And Allah provides. Most of us stop ourselves from doing the right thing because we are afraid that we won’t be able to follow through, or that something is too difficult. But Allah is telling us to strive and have trust. The result is on Him.
Hajar, the wife of the Prophet Ibrahim `alayhi sallatu wa sallam (may God send his peace and blessings on him), is truly an epitome of what it means to have trust. When Ibrahim left her and their infant son in the desert, she was baffled. But then she asked him, “did Allah command you to do this?” and he (as) responded in the affirmative. So she accepted the decree. She knew God would not leave her or her son. She was a person who knew Allah. This didn’t stop her from striving. When baby Isma’el started crying, she ran back and forth between the mounts of Safa and Marwa seven times. Never once do we hear her bitter or resentful. She continued to search. Because she knew Allah would not leave them. And Allah rewarded that trust with the well of Zamzam, which we still drink from today. And Allah does not want us to forget that lesson, which is why when we go on Hajj [great pilgrimage] or Umrah [lesser pilgrimage], we follow in the steps of Hajar, going seven times between the mounts of Safa and Marwa. It is called the “sa`y”, which means “the striving”.
A question that may be on people’s minds is that what if we work, but after the striving we are in a worse off position—does that mean that Allah has not fulfilled His trust? To answer this question, let’s go back to the example of our seasoned lawyer Uncle Adam. If Uncle Adam tells you to enter into a plea bargain instead of fight, wouldn’t you trust his advice? It might seem like a temporary failure and it definitely isn’t what you want, but in actual fact, that is actually the best way to get you to your goal. Of course, with Uncle Adam it could just be that he can’t help you, and the plea bargain is the best he can do. But you still trust that he knows what he’s doing. With Allah the concept of impossibility does not exist. So our trust in Him should be infinitely greater, because whatever happens is out of His wisdom and has nothing to do with His ability.
Look at the example of the Prophet Yusuf (as). He went to jail for years. ‘Where was Allah?’ Some may ask. Allah was there all along. Allah brought to Yusuf (as) the two prisoners. It was through the prison that he then interpreted the dream of the king, everyone knew he was innocent, and then he was reunited with his family. While from the outside it seems like a punishment, it is simply one of the stops on the road. The journey hasn’t ended. Having tawakkul (trust in God) is the difference between despairing in those moments and pushing through with a tranquil soul and hopefulness.
Moreover, sometimes we make mistakes in our striving. Uncle Adam can still win the case, but we also have to deal with the consequences of our mistakes and learn from them. So if we miscalculated in our striving, it does not mean that Allah will leave us. When some of the Muslims disobeyed the Prophet ﷺ in the Battle of Uhud and as a result suffered severe losses, that wasn’t the end for them. It was a setback. But they learned. So don’t let your own mistakes make you lose hope—but don’t ignore the fact that you made a mistake either. Learn from it, move on, and have trust.
The Signs of Tawakkul
Amr Khaled mentions some of the signs of tawakkul:
- The remembrance of Allah, even in difficult circumstances.
A person who has tawakkul is a person who is connected to His Lord. The remembrance of Allah is a constant, whether that person is in situations of ease or hardship. Look at the Prophet Ibrahim (as). He was sixteen years old when his people were going to throw him in the fire. Ibrahim (as) was calm; he simply said, “Allah is sufficient for me, and He is the Best Trustee.” He was always with Allah. So Allah said “O fire, be coolness and safety upon Abraham” [Surat al-Anbiya, 21:69]. This wouldn’t have been possible if Ibrahim (as) was not a person who remembered Allah.
- Your hope does not decrease when your means do.
Sometimes our hope is dependent to our means. If we see that we have few means, then we do not strive. We lose hope. But tawakkul means that the conviction in our hearts does not falter even when our means do. Imagine someone who was so hopeful in Egypt after the January 25th revolution, yet is now faced with another military government. Tawakkul means this person is still hopeful, despite the odds. When Allah took Khadija radi Allahu `anha (may Allah be pleased with her) and his uncle Abu Talib from the Prophet ﷺ, he didn’t give up. He went to Ta’if to seek shelter. Even after he was kicked out, he sought help from the tribes during the Hajj season. The means had to change, there was a period of waiting, but in his heart, the Prophet ﷺ still had complete trust in Allah. Ten years after having to leave Makkah, he returned to it victorious and merciful.
- You do not use sin as your means.
Your income has to be halaal (from permissible means). If you pursue haraam livelihood (i.e. by the forbidden means), you don’t truly have trust in Allah because you do not believe that He can provide for you from halaal means. The only exception is in circumstances of dire need (a technical term that has its own conditions in Islamic jurisprudence).
- You are not excessive in your fear of the future.
All of us worry a little, and that is natural. But some people are paralyzed by that fear, constantly in a state of worry about their future, whether it is fear for their livelihoods, children and so on. That is not healthy for us. Worry will not help us in any practical sense. If we do have a problem with our livelihoods, for instance, being in a state of agitation simply adds another problem. Why have two problems instead of one? Allah reminds that “Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.” [Qur’an, 13:28]
- Striving with the limbs, submitting with the heart.
The Prophet ﷺ planned and worked hard. He put Ali (ra) in his bed as decoy when he was going to migrate to Madina. He waited until the evening so that they could leave discreetly. They covered their tracks. This is the external effort that is required of all of us when we undertake a task. At the same time, he knew that only Allah could save them. This is where the internal component comes in. Allah shows us what happened when they were in the cave as they were hiding from Quriesh, and Abu Bakr (ra) was worried that they would see them:
“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…” [Qur’an, 9:40]
See which of these five signs you can tick off, and work on strengthening them and adding to them. The result will be a content heart and wise actions, insha’Allah.
Some Du`a’ (Supplications)
The Prophet ﷺ trains us to have this trust in some supplications that he used to make:
The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever says, when he leaves his house,
بسم الله توكلنا على الله و لا حول ولا قوة الا بالله
Bismillah tawakalna `ala Allah wa la hawla wala quwwata ila billah
‘In the name of Allah. I have relied on Allah and there is no power nor strength except by Allah’
will be told, ‘You have been guided, spared and protected,’ and Shaytan will be kept far from him.” [Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasa'i and others]
The Prophet ﷺ said whoever says:
حسبي الله لا اله الا هو عليه توكلت وهو رب العرش العظيم
Hasby Allah, la ilaha ila huwa, ‘alayhi tawakalt wa huwa Rabb al-’arsh al-’adheem
Sufficient is Allah for me, in Him I put my trust and He is the Lord of the formidable throne
seven times in the morning and evening, Allah will spare him what worries him. [Abu Dawud]
Make Allah make us of those who embody true trust in him, like Muhammad ﷺ, Ibrahim (as), and Hajar (as).