He was devastated. His only source of nourishment had disappeared.
It was all he knew, and now it was gone.
Suddenly, the world grew cold, and only strangers surrounded him.
The newborn child screamed. He thought his life was over.
What the child did not realize was that there was someone taking care of him. There was a plan for him. And in place of everything that had been taken away, his Protector would provide something better.
The nourishment he had once received only through blood would soon come through his mother’s milk. And the lifeless walls of the womb — once thought to be his only protection — would soon be replaced by the comfort of his family’s arms.
But yet, to the newborn child, it would seem he had lost everything.
Many of us find ourselves like this child. There are times when we feel we have lost everything, or things look broken and nothing like we wished they would be. At times we even feel as though we’ve been abandoned and nothing is working out the way we planned.
Tawakkul & Trust in Allah
But just like that newborn child, things are often not what they seem, and tawakkul (putting one’s trust in Allah) is realizing that our Protector has a plan for us. Tawakkul is having complete trust that Allah’s plan is the best plan.
Tawakkul is having full faith that Allah will take care of you — even when things look impossible. It is standing in front of the Red Sea — as Prophet Musa did — with an army behind you, and yet not even flinching, knowing that Allah will get you through. It is having full faith that when Allah takes away the umbilical cord, He will replace it with milk.
There can be no faith without tawakkul; and if there is true faith, tawakkul must always follow. Allah says in the Quran:
For Believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a tremor in their hearts, and when they hear His signs rehearsed, find their faith strengthened, and put (all) their trust in their Lord. (8:2)
If one truly understands the reality and the power of Allah, one will realize that it is in fact an infirmity of the human mind to not rely on Allah. Nothing in the entire universe happens except by the permission of Allah. Not even a leaf falls from a tree without His leave.
Blessed be He in Whose hands is Dominion; and He over all things hath Power. (67:1)
So how could we not but put our entire trust in Him?
Allah tells the believers in the Quran:
Say: “Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us: He is our protector”; and on Allah let the Believers put their trust. (9:51)
The Quran explains that:
And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. (65:3)
And the reality is that there is nothing and nowhere else that will be sufficient.
Whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks. (2:256)
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
If you trust Allah with the right kind of tawakkul, He will provide you sustenance as He provides for the birds: They go out in the morning with empty stomachs and come back in the evening with full stomachs. (At-Tirmithi, 2344)
And just as He does for the birds and the newborn child, Allah provides for us from places we could never imagine.
Hoping and Striving and Letting Go
At first she was terrified. She called out to her husband, who now turned to leave.
“Will you leave us here to die?”
There was no reply. She called after him again. Still there was no reply. Suddenly she called out again:
“Were you commanded by your Lord to bring us here?”
“Yes,” replied Prophet Ibrahim.
It was then that her fear disappeared. Although she suddenly found herself alone in the middle of a desert with her young baby and no sign of water, she knew with full certainty that Allah would never leave her side. Her faith was strong…
But soon after Prophet Ibrahim left, her child, Ismail, began to cry from thirst. And although Hajar had complete tawakkul on Allah, she did not remain sitting, waiting for the water to fall down from the sky.
The reliance on Allah filled Hajar’s heart, but with her limbs she strove with everything she had. She began to run quickly between the mountains of As-Safa and Al-Marwah, looking for any sign of water for her son.
Each time Hajar came to the top of the mountain and found nothing, she did not despair. Her will was unshaken, and she continued to strive. In fact, Hajar strove so hard that her effort was commemorated in the Hajj ritual of Sa’i, which literally means “to strive.”
Many people confuse tawakkul with resignation and the cessation of striving. But by no means does having tawakkul mean ceasing to struggle. The story of Hajar serves as one of the most beautiful examples of this lesson that Prophet Muhammad taught us. One day Prophet Muhammad noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it and he asked the Bedouin:
Why don’t you tie down your camel?
The Bedouin answered:
“I put my trust in Allah.”
The Prophet then said:
Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah. (At-Tirmidhi, 2517)
Tawakkul is not an act of the limbs; it is an act of the heart. And so while the limbs are striving hard, the heart is completely reliant on Allah. This means that whatever the outcome of the limbs’ striving may be, the heart will be completely satisfied, knowing that the outcome is the flawless decision of Allah.
But in order to reach this level, one must hold on to hope, strive with the limbs, and let go with the heart.
(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)