Every human being comes into this world by decree of Allah, and with him or her, carries a life journey that has been pre-ordained, written and endorsed by Allah Himself.
Each one of us has a unique path, a journey throughout a temporary abode – one that is full of obstacles, challenges, punishments and plenty of rewards.
For Muslims la-ilaha-ill-Allah (the phrase that denotes that there is no deity, save for Allah), is more than just a saying of conviction, rather it embodies the entirety of being Muslim.
And put your trust in Allah, if you are believers indeed. (5:23)
When a Muslim says this first part of the shahadah, (the testimonial of faith for Muslims), he or she is submitting in totality to the will of Allah, for the simple reason, there is no deity worthy of worship, save for Allah.
This may sound simple for some: just eliminate, for example, statues of worship, or do not submit to any other religious structure.
Unfortunately, the human being is easily tempted and one can sometimes perceive other forms of worship, such as a career-path, money, power, a relationship even, or the coveting of a worldly prize.
When this happens, this person’s focus of worship changes into one that is geared towards worldly pleasures and instead of seeking Allah’s pleasures in life, he or she may become overly focused on his or her object of obsession.
But sufficient is your Lord as a Guide and Helper. (25: 31)
For a person who forgets the belief in one single God, it is easier for him or her to fall into sadness, and even clinical depression when the going gets tough.
But believers are reminded that:
Nothing shall ever happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us. (9:51)
And are often reminded that there will always be challenges in life that will force them to think and reflect and each challenge has actually been uniquely tailored to fit each person’s situation, surroundings, personality and physical /spiritual or mental strength.
Whether it is the short-change of a promotion, another failed IVF cycle, a difficult final year exam paper, a falling out with a friend, a horrible illness, an attack on a Masjid or the loss of a loved one, those who practice tawakkul – the complete trust in Allah – will be able to handle the situation in a more positive light, as compared to someone who did not have that trust.
There are many ways to achieve tawakkul. And even if one is certain of his or her trust in Allah, a booster shot would never hurt the heart or soul.
Spend Time to Reflect, Shed Tears if Need Be
No human being can escape sadness.
But in Islam, there is a way to feel less sorrow or grief, by invoking Allah to provide strength and patience.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) described his tears over the death of his son, Ibrahim, as part of his humanness.
Verily with hardship, there is relief. (96:6)
Tears that come from the eyes and the heart are from Allah, as with that come sincerity. Shedding tears allows negative emotions to be released rather than transforming into self-consuming anger or bitterness that could eventually destroy one’s tawakkul.
However, crying alone is not enough if it is not accompanied with reflective wisdom. Although Allah catches every tear of a true believer, an overdose of sadness can lead to depression, which is also dangerously self-consuming.
Remember Me, by praying, glorifying, and I will remember you. (2:152)
Within the realm of sadness, Muslims need to remember that there are ways of remembering Allah – may it be through du’a (invocations), prayers such as istikarah (the prayer for guidance), and even dhikr (constant remembrance of Allah).
Allah promises: for those who are resolute, He will send down calmness and tranquility upon them.
Although some prayers are best done during certain times of the day or night, invocations have no time limits, and one can continue strengthening his or her relationship with God while carrying out the normal errands or chores.
It is said that Allah thinks about those who think about Him the most, so by constantly remembering Allah in times of difficulty, a Muslim solidifies the belief that with every adversity comes a reward.
Remember that what Allah takes away from a person, there is a plan behind it – most of the time, Allah rewards a Muslim, especially a patient one, with something better – because Allah knows best.
Get a Grip of the Situation and Plan for the Next Step of Action
Although tawakkul denotes complete trust in Allah, every Muslim needs to plan for the next course of action when a challenge presents itself.
Sitting back in anger or frustration is akin to giving up in many situations.
Allah loves those who help themselves, who better themselves and who are constantly striving to achieve their goals or overcome problems for His sake.
Getting a grip of the situation allows a person to understand why he or she is facing a certain obstacle. Prophet Muhammad once said:
“He who Allah wishes for good, He will firstly inflict him with hardship.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Thus a believing Muslim picks up from calamities and constructively embraces the situation in stride.
One could ask constructively: Why did this happen to me? If I have made any mistakes that may have angered Allah, how shall I repent?
What could have I done to avoid this situation?
What should I do now that would please Allah? What valuable lessons can I learn from this problem? How shall I make myself a better Muslim for the sake of Allah?
Repentance is an important practice by those who practice tawakkul.
Repentance allows a Muslim to recognize his or her wrongdoings, weaknesses and the sheer magnitude of grace that Allah has bestowed upon him or her.
Repenting cleans the heart and allows a believer to move on.
Noah said to them: ‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord. He is Oft-Forgiving. He will send you rain in abundance, and give you increase in wealth and children; and bestow on you gardens; bestow on you rivers. (71:10-2)