Sometimes God might withhold from you the causes, the means and take from you, your power so that you return to Him and rely on Him.
By Jasser Auda
In his well-known book, Al-Hikam (Words of Wisdom), Sheikh Ahmad Ibn Ataa’illah As-Sakandari says: “Save yourself from worrying. Somebody else already took care of your affairs for you.”
Relying on Allah (tawakkul) is one of the important Islamic concepts that may be misunderstood and therefore might lead to undesirable results. This misunderstanding might also lead to some forms of deviation and introducing innovations in religion. Likewise, it might result in a state of failure in both religious affairs and worldly affairs. When you leave worldly affairs to unreliable people, neglect the means, or quit your work completely, you are deviating from the path of relying on Allah and practising apathy (tawaakul) not relying on Allah (tawakkul).
What is meant by tadbir? Tadbir, in Arabic, means considering the results and outcomes of a certain action. Therefore, tadbir is closely connected with outcomes. In their turn, the outcomes are connected with the concept of relying on Allah. Allah says: “”¦ so that they answered, ‘God is enough for us; and how excellent a guardian is He’!” (Qur’an, 3:173).
“Then, when you have decided upon a course of action, place your trust in God: for, verily, God loves those who place their trust in Him.” (Qur’an, 3:159)
There is a considerable difference between relying on Allah and worrying, which is the same difference between the means and outcomes. By this I mean that there is a difference between work represented in striving to achieve the goals, exerting efforts and devoting time and the outcome of this work represented in events, figures, and results. Your role is to strive and rely on Allah. You do not have to worry about the process of governing such affairs. It is Allah who governs everything. “And who is it that governs all that exists?” (Qur’an, 10:31), this is a clear question raised in the Qur’an.
Allah governs all that exists. You have to take the means and leave the outcomes to Allah because taking the means and causes is part of relying on Allah. When the Prophet (Pbuh) wanted to give an example of relying on Allah, he said: “If you had all relied on Allah as you should rely on Him, then He would have provided for you as He provides for the birds, who wake up hungry in the morning and return with full stomachs at dusk.” (Authenticated by Al-Albani)
You are like the bird. The bird does not stand on one branch of a tree all the time waiting for the grains. But it moves from one branch to another until it gets the grains. The bird has to do its best to get the grains, and providing the bird with the grains is Allah’s work.
Therefore, you should take the means and leave out the outcomes to Allah. Some Muslims, even those who are on the path to Allah, do not take the means, stay at the mosque all the time and ask people for food and clothes.
It is reported that a man used to stay at the mosque all the time arguing that he is devoting himself and his time to worship Allah. The Prophet asked about the one who takes care of him. The Prophet was told that the man’s brother takes care of him. The Prophet replied: “His brother is better than him.”
If one cannot attain success after having recourse to every necessary means, this is a proper situation to really rely on Allah. If the means you have taken fail you, you might say: O Allah, I have done my best and I left no stone unturned, what should I do? At this point, you are indeed putting your trust in Allah.
What is not conformable with relying on Allah is not to do anything or not to have recourse to every kind of means and causes of success. Some ignorant people ignore taking the necessary means intentionally. What is needed from you is to take all the means, and then rely on Allah.
Sometimes Allah might withhold from you the causes, the means and take from you, your power so that you return to Him and rely on Him. This is a valuable God-given gift.
Relying on Allah is not inconsistent with what we call nowadays planning, making a feasibility study, studying the market, etc. All this is part of relying on Allah because by planning, organizing, studying, etc. we are having recourse to the means of success. If you are a trader, you have to make a feasibility study and do your calculations. If you lose, this is Allah’s decree. If you win, it is also Allah’s decree. You do not have to worry about the outcomes. To lose or to win, to succeed or to fail, is not your business.
Even in religious issues whether they have to do daw’ah, you do the thing and leave the rest to Allah. He also says: “Verily, you cannot guide aright everyone whom you love: but it is God who guides him that wills [to be guided]; and He is fully aware of all who would let themselves be guided.” (Qur’an, 28:56)
Ibn Ataillah says: “Save yourself from worrying. Somebody else already took care of your affairs for you.) What is meant by “somebody else?” Who provides you with the means of living? Who plans for your success? Who decides on the outcomes? It is Allah the Almighty.