All praise is due to Allāh and may the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon the Seal of the Prophets, Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam). The basis for this paper is the concept of Tawakkul, its levels and its benefits. Tawakkul itself translates as ‘trust and reliance’ which means that, in a way, it is quite dualistic and has two different facets which are not independent of each other, but are interlinked. The āyah which first comes to mind when we think of Tawakkul (or trust and reliance in Allāh) is,
‘And He will provide him from [sources] he could never imagine. And whoever puts their trust in Allāh, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allāh will accomplish His purpose. Indeed, Allāh has set a measure for all things.’
The root of Tawakkul is ‘reliance’ or ‘dependence’. We say that we depend on Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) for everything, and place reliance on Him. The reality of Tawakkul is that we place our trust and reliance on Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) in terms of both our worldly affairs, as well as our Dīn, as well as utilising our visceral, or tangible means of attaining that which we want to attain. Tawakkul, therefore, involves belief, dependence, and action. This is because in order to gain at least some level of Tawakkul, the slave needs to be aware of the fact that all the matters of this world and the Hereafter lie in the Hands of Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā). Nothing occurs except by His Permission and His Leave. It is worth noting that depending upon Allāh in attaining one’s provision is itself a form of worship, and is from the completion and perfection of one’s īmān. It is a realisation of the verse from Umm-ul-Qur’ān, ‘You alone we worship, You alone we ask for help’ and is a requirement of one’s īmān because depending on other than Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) for that which Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) alone can provide, or (in the case of a tribulation) Allāh alone can save a person from is major Shirk. As Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) says ‘so worship Him and put your trust in Him. And your Lord is not unaware of what you do’. We also know that He states in Sūrah Al-Anfāl, referring to the qualities of Al-Mu’minūn:
‘The believers are only those who, when Allāh is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts and when His Verses are recited to them, they increase their Faith; and they put their trust in their Lord.’
Another such reference which we spend our nights reading, is contained in Sūrah Al-Mulk,
‘Say: “He is the Most Gracious (Allāh) in Him we believe, and in Him we put our trust. So, you will come to know who it is that is in manifest error.’
We also have many, many examples from our Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) including examples of certain supplications which he made. In an authentic ḥadīth contained in Bukhārī and Muslim, Ibn ʿAbbas (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) reported that the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) used to supplicate:
‘O Allāh! To You I have submitted, and in You do I believe, and in You I put my trust, to You do I turn, and for You I argued. O Allāh, I seek refuge with You through Your Power; there is none worthy of worship except You Alone; that You safeguard me against going astray. You are the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists; the One Who never dies, whereas human beings and jinn will all die’.
What this demonstrates is just how necessary this trust and reliance on Allāh is, whereby we make Allāh the disposer of our affairs. As it becomes clear from the aforementioned ḥadīth, Tawakkul is interlinked, fused even, with submission to Allāh, and belief in Allāh. This becomes apparent in the ḥadīth, ‘O Allāh! To You I have submitted, and in You do I believe, and in You I put my trust’. In a single breath the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) refers to submission, īmān, and Tawakkul. In another ḥadīth showing the importance of Tawakkul and its benefits in this world and the Hereafter, Abū Hurairah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) reported,
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, ‘A group of people (both men and women) whose hearts will be like the hearts of birds, will enter Jannah’.
According to the renowned author of Riyādh As Ṣālihīn, this ḥadīth has been interpreted to mean that it is those people who put their trust in Allāh who will be in Jannah. Under this interpretation, there seems to be direct correlation between the way the people of Tawakkul lived their lives in this world, and their reward. It is the people of Tawakkul who would never have worried about their provisions, food, and means of subsistence, and are like the birds who do not collect any food to keep in reserve but go out every morning in search of food, hoping for and believing in Allāh’s provision, and then returning home to their nests fully satisfied.
Those who have Tawakkul do not abandon material resources, the ‘tying of the camel’, as it were. We all know the ḥadīth in which the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said to the Bedouin who had left his camel without tying it to ‘tie your camel and place your trust in Allāh’. The people of Tawakkul know the balance between action and trust in Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā). Before we move onto the next section of this paper, it is worth noting what one of our famous scholars of the past has said about Tawakkul. In Madārij us-Sālikīn, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (raḥimahu Allāhu) notes:
‘The condition of the one who relies on Allāh is like the condition of the one who is given a dirham by a King, then it gets stolen from him; so the King says to him: “I have many times as much as that, so don’t worry. When you come to me, I will give you from my treasures much more than that.” Thus if (this person) knows the truthfulness of the king’s statement, and trusts him, and knows that his treasures are full of that, then what he missed will not make him sad.’
Levels of Tawakkul
There is much more that can be stated about Tawakkul but for the purposes of succinctness, we will now move onto the levels of Tawakkul. There are said to be levels of Tawakkul and these are easier to understand if we remember that Tawḥīd itself is the basis for Tawakkul. As for the levels of Tawakkul, then the first level is to know Allāh by His qualities and attributes, such as the fact that He is all capable and sufficient to rely on; that He is the Sustainer and that He is All–Knowing and that things can only happen with His Will and Decree.
The second level is to believe that every matter has a cause or a means. Some people give up utilising these means due to their ignorance, and think that this is reliance on Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā). This causes people to become like those who wait for ‘the miracle to drop from the sky’ without striving towards it in any way. Such people wait for Allāh to send down their provisions, feed them and take care of their concerns and affairs while they do nothing. In Arabic, this is called “tawākul” (تواكل); the difference may be one letter, but it is significant enough; we should not be complacent or stagnant; we should do everything that is available to us to reach our goals.
The third level is to remain firm in relying on Allāh alone. Indeed, a person’s reliance on Allāh cannot be fulfilled until one relies on Him alone. Support for this level can be found in the verse,
‘If Allāh helps you, none can overcome you; and if He forsakes you, who is there after Him that can help you? And in Allāh (Alone) let the believers put their trust’.
The fourth level is to depend on Allāh wholeheartedly and feel tranquillity when doing so, to the extent that one does not feel anxious or confused about their provision. Some people do not feel secure until they utilise certain means, and if Allāh decrees that these means are not available they feel overwrought. Such people’s reliance on Allāh is incomplete, because true reliance is when a person does not care if means are available or not, because they know that all matters are in the Hands of Allāh. All Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) has to do for a matter to occur is say ‘Be! And it becomes’. Of course, a person will have to utilise all the means available to them also.
The highest level of Tawakkul, towards which we should all strive of course, is to realise that the essence of reliance on Allāh is to entrust all matters to Him willingly, without feeling forced to do so.
Benefits of Tawakkul
In closing this article on Tawakkul, it is worth pondering the benefits of Tawakkul. There are many, the first of which is, of course, that, as mentioned earlier, it is part of the completion of one’s faith. Secondly, and on a more practical note, knowing that our responsibility for what happens is limited is very comforting. We know that as long as we are trying our utmost, we can rely on Him, safe in the knowledge that whatever trial we are going through, Allāh has decreed it for us and we will by His Leave be able to bear it. That is the meaning of the verse, ‘Allāh burdens not a person beyond his scope’. Moreover, Tawakkul also gives us a good understanding of the balance to be had between putting our trust and reliance on Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) willingly on the one hand, and our individual responsibility in utilising the means available on the other.
Another consequence of Tawakkul is that it invites us to connect to a powerful Ally: this is the Lord Himself, Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā). The more we rely on Him, the greater the chances that we will try to please Him by following the guidance He has given us.
The fourth consequence of Tawakkul is that we are not depressed by what we have lost or intoxicated by our success. As Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) states, ‘In order that you may not grieve at the things over that you fail to get, nor rejoice over that which has been given to you. And Allāh likes not every prideful boaster.’
In closing, the one who entrusts Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) does so with the certainty that what Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) decrees is best for them, whether the benefit is apparent or not.
Relying on Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) can instil an enormous amount of peace and contentment in a person, and we ask Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) that He helps us all attain the highest degree of Tawakkul, in order that, by His Permission, we may benefit from that in this world, and in the eternal world of the Hereafter.
 Al-Qur’ān, 65:3.
 Al-Qur’ān, 11:23.
 Al-Qur’ān, 8:2.
 Al-Qur’ān, 67:29.
 Al-Qur’ān, 3:160.
 Al-Qur’ān, 36:82.
 Al-Qur’ān, 57:23.