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Eight Stages of Tawakkul

The following notes are from a lecture series Imam Safi Khan gave at Dar-us-Salaam on the theme of Tawakkul (trust in Allah).

Stages of Tawakkul:

  1. Knowledge
  2. Understanding cause and effect
  3. Tawheed
  4. Dependence on Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala)
  5. Positive thoughts about Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala)
  6. Total submission
  7. Putting all of our affairs in Allah’s hands
  8. To be content with Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala)’s decree

1. Knowledge

  • We have to know who Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is if we want to put our trust in Him.
  • We have to know or recognize Him as our Lord and know His names and attributes.
  • We have to maintain the oneness of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) in our lives. The scholars first classified this Tawheed in two, and then later, three categories:

1. Tawheed in Allah’s Lordship – Ar-Rububiyah: Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is the only One who created us and He plans, provides, maintains and sustains the entire creation.

2. Tawheed in Allah’s names and attributes – Asmaa was Sifaat: Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is One in his names and attributes and there is nothing like Him.  For example, Allah has hands, but they are nothing like our hands.  Some of His names include al-Wakeel (the Disposer of affairs, the One who is relied upon); Al-Qadir (the All-Powerful, the Able); and Al-Qayuum (the Sustainer).

3. Tawheed in our servitude to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) – Al-Uloohiyyah: Once we recognize who Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is, then our objective should be to worship and serve Him alone.

People who don’t believe in Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) as their Lord, or who don’t believe in all of His names and attributes cannot do Tawakkul because they do not know who Allah is.  The scholars say that ‘whoever wants to embark in the world of Tawakkul, the first step is to know Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).

The bottom line: get to know Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).

2. Understanding that there is cause and effect that Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala has put in the universe.

  • There are certain means that you have to take to achieve certain outcomes.  For example, to pass an exam you need to learn and study.  However, it is Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) who causes you to pass or not.
  • Hadith: One day Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it. 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” (Tirmidhi).
  • You have to do your best in terms of taking the appropriate means, and then leave the results up to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).  For example, take medicine when you are sick, but know that it is Allah who allows that medicine to cure you or not.
  • In the Quran, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) commands us to take certain actions in order to achieve particular results:

وَقَالَ رَبُّڪُمُ ٱدۡعُونِىٓ أَسۡتَجِبۡ لَكُمۡۚ إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يَسۡتَكۡبِرُونَ عَنۡ عِبَادَتِى

سَيَدۡخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ

And your Lord has said: Pray unto Me and I will answer your prayer. Lo! those who scorn My service, they will enter hell, disgraced. (40:60)

We have to take the action of making dua with the proper etiquettes in order to for Allah respond.

هُوَ ٱلَّذِى جَعَلَ لَكُمُ ٱلۡأَرۡضَ ذَلُولاً۬ فَٱمۡشُواْ فِى مَنَاكِبِہَا وَكُلُواْ مِن رِّزۡقِهِۦ‌ۖ وَإِلَيۡهِ ٱلنُّشُورُ

He it is Who hath made the earth subservient unto you, so Walk in the paths thereof and eat of His providence. And unto Him will be the resurrection (of the dead). (67:15)

  • We have to take action in seeking sustenance; it’s not just going to pop out of the ground.

يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓاْ إِذَا نُودِىَ لِلصَّلَوٰةِ مِن يَوۡمِ ٱلۡجُمُعَةِ فَٱسۡعَوۡاْ إِلَىٰ ذِكۡرِ ٱللَّهِ وَذَرُواْ ٱلۡبَيۡعَ‌ۚ ذَٲلِكُمۡ خَيۡرٌ۬ لَّكُمۡ إِن كُنتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُونَ

O ye who believe! When the call is heard for the prayer of the day of congregation, haste unto remembrance of Allah and leave your trading. That is better for you if ye did but know. (62:9)

۞ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ يَعۡلَمُ أَنَّكَ تَقُومُ أَدۡنَىٰ مِن ثُلُثَىِ ٱلَّيۡلِ وَنِصۡفَهُ ۥ وَثُلُثَهُ ۥ وَطَآٮِٕفَةٌ۬ مِّنَ ٱلَّذِينَ مَعَكَ‌ۚ وَٱللَّهُ يُقَدِّرُ ٱلَّيۡلَ وَٱلنَّہَارَ‌ۚ عَلِمَ أَن لَّن تُحۡصُوهُ فَتَابَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ‌ۖ فَٱقۡرَءُواْ مَا تَيَسَّرَ مِنَ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانِ‌ۚ عَلِمَ أَن سَيَكُونُ مِنكُم مَّرۡضَىٰ‌ۙ وَءَاخَرُونَ يَضۡرِبُونَ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ يَبۡتَغُونَ مِن فَضۡلِ ٱللَّهِ‌ۙ وَءَاخَرُونَ يُقَـٰتِلُونَ فِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ‌ۖ فَٱقۡرَءُواْ مَا تَيَسَّرَ مِنۡهُ‌ۚ وَأَقِيمُواْ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتُواْ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ وَأَقۡرِضُواْ ٱللَّهَ قَرۡضًا حَسَنً۬ا‌ۚ وَمَا تُقَدِّمُواْ لِأَنفُسِكُم مِّنۡ خَيۡرٍ۬ تَجِدُوهُ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ هُوَ خَيۡرً۬ا وَأَعۡظَمَ أَجۡرً۬ا‌ۚ وَٱسۡتَغۡفِرُواْ ٱللَّهَ‌ۖ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَفُورٌ۬ رَّحِيمُۢ

Lo! thy Lord knoweth how thou keepest vigil sometimes nearly two-thirds of the night, or (sometimes) half or a third thereof, as do a party of those with thee. Allah measureth the night and the day. He knoweth that ye count it not, and turneth unto you in mercy. Recite, then, of the Qur’an that which is easy for you. He knoweth that there are sick folk among you, while others travel in the land in search of Allah’s bounty, and others (still) are fighting for the cause of Allah. So recite of it that which is easy (for you), and establish worship and pay the poor-due, and (so) lend unto Allah a goodly loan. Whatsoever good ye send before you for your souls, ye will surely find it with Allah, better and greater in the recompense. And seek forgiveness of Allah. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (73:20)

لَيۡسَ عَلَيۡڪُمۡ جُنَاحٌ أَن تَبۡتَغُواْ فَضۡلاً۬ مِّن رَّبِّڪُمۡ‌ۚ فَإِذَآ أَفَضۡتُم مِّنۡ عَرَفَـٰتٍ۬ فَٱذۡڪُرُواْ ٱللَّهَ عِندَ ٱلۡمَشۡعَرِ ٱلۡحَرَامِ‌ۖ وَٱذۡڪُرُوهُ كَمَا هَدَٮٰڪُمۡ وَإِن ڪُنتُم مِّن قَبۡلِهِۦ لَمِنَ ٱلضَّآلِّينَ

It is no sin for you that ye seek the bounty of your Lord (by trading). But, when ye press on in the multitude from ‘Arafat, remember Allah by the sacred monument. Remember Him as He hath guided you, although before ye were of those astray. (2:198)

  • Hadith: “No one has ever eaten any food that is better than eating what his hands have earned. And indeed the Prophet of Allah, Dawud, would eat from the earnings of his hands.” (Bukhari).
  • Don’t just sit around doing nothing and say, “Allah will provide.”  Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) will provide as long as you do your work.
  • The Sahabah used to work very hard, they did their own work in the fields and in business radiAllahu anhum.  For example, we know that Abu Bakr radiAllahu anhu gave all of his wealth for the sake of Allah several times, how do you think he got his wealth each time after giving it up – he worked hard to earn it each time!
  • Taking the appropriate means doesn’t negate your Tawakkul.

3. Tawheed

  • Your heart is to be firmly grounded in Tawheed.
  • No matter what you do, it is sincerely for the sake of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).
  • Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is most important in your life.

إِنَّمَا ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ ٱلَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ ٱللَّهُ وَجِلَتۡ قُلُوبُہُمۡ وَإِذَا تُلِيَتۡ عَلَيۡہِمۡ ءَايَـٰتُهُ ۥ زَادَتۡہُمۡ إِيمَـٰنً۬ا وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمۡ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ

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)

The believers feel a tremor because of fear for whether or not they are sincere in their actions.

قُلۡ إِنَّ صَلَاتِى وَنُسُكِى وَمَحۡيَاىَ وَمَمَاتِى لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ

Say: “Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds: (6:162)

  • Everything is dedicated only to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).
  • The higher the degree of purity of sincerity, the more enriching the Tawakkul will be and your heart will not be affected by whether or not you have the means.

4. Depend on Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) for the results

فَإِن تَوَلَّوۡاْ فَقُلۡ حَسۡبِىَ ٱللَّهُ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ‌ۖ عَلَيۡهِ تَوَڪَّلۡتُ‌ۖ وَهُوَ رَبُّ ٱلۡعَرۡشِ ٱلۡعَظِيمِ

But if they turn away, Say : “Allah sufficeth me: There is not god but He: On Him is my trust – He the Lord of the Throne (of Glory) Supreme! (129)

كَذَٲلِكَ أَرۡسَلۡنَـٰكَ فِىٓ أُمَّةٍ۬ قَدۡ خَلَتۡ مِن قَبۡلِهَآ أُمَمٌ۬ لِّتَتۡلُوَاْ عَلَيۡہِمُ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَوۡحَيۡنَآ إِلَيۡكَ وَهُمۡ يَكۡفُرُونَ بِٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ‌ۚ قُلۡ هُوَ رَبِّى لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ عَلَيۡهِ تَوَڪَّلۡتُ وَإِلَيۡهِ مَتَابِ

Thus have We sent thee amongst a People before whom (long since) have (other) Peoples (gone and) passed away; in order that thou mightest rehearse unto them what We send down unto thee by inspiration; yet do they reject (Him), the Most Gracious! Say: “He is my Lord! There is no god but He! On Him is my trust and to Him do I turn!” (30)

  • One of the signs of this dependence is that if the means are available or not, it is OK and your heart does not depend on the means.  So, you don’t get frustrated nor do you give up; rather, you keep pressing forwards depending totally on Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala for the results.

5. Have positive and good thoughts about Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala)

  • Hadith Qudsi: On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Prophet salAllahu alayhi wa sallam said: Allah the Almighty said:“I am as My servant expects Me to be. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me a hand’s span, I draw near to him an arm’s length; and if he draws near to me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.”
  • Hadith: The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wassalam) said: “None of you should die unless you have a good opinion about Allah (the most high)” (Imam Ahmad).
  • Know that whatever Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) has ordained for you is the best thing for you.

6. Total submission of your heart to Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala

  • Don’t ever contend or argue with the decree of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).

فَلَا وَرَبِّكَ لَا يُؤۡمِنُونَ حَتَّىٰ يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيۡنَهُمۡ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُواْ فِىٓ أَنفُسِہِمۡ حَرَجً۬ا مِّمَّا قَضَيۡتَ وَيُسَلِّمُواْ تَسۡلِيمً۬ا

But no, by thy Lord, they can have no (real) Faith, until they make thee judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction. (4:65)

  • Once Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala)has decided something, we have no choice in the matter.  Our response should be “we hear and we obey.”

وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤۡمِنٍ۬ وَلَا مُؤۡمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى ٱللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ ۥۤ أَمۡرًا أَن يَكُونَ لَهُمُ ٱلۡخِيَرَةُ مِنۡ أَمۡرِهِمۡۗ وَمَن يَعۡصِ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۥ فَقَدۡ ضَلَّ ضَلَـٰلاً۬ مُّبِينً۬ا

It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger, to have any option about their decision: if anyone disobeys Allah and His Messenger he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path. (33:36)

7. Putting all of your affairs in Allah’s hands

فَسَتَذۡكُرُونَ مَآ أَقُولُ لَڪُمۡۚ وَأُفَوِّضُ أَمۡرِىٓ إِلَى ٱللَّهِۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ بَصِيرُۢ بِٱلۡعِبَادِ

“Soon will ye remember what I say to you (now) My (own) affair I commit to Allah: for Allah (ever) watches over His Servants.” (40:44)

  • Whatever Allah wills, we don’t complain at all.  Rather, we have confidence that this is the best thing.

وَيَرۡزُقۡهُ مِنۡ حَيۡثُ لَا يَحۡتَسِبُ‌ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلۡ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسۡبُهُ ۥۤ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ بَـٰلِغُ أَمۡرِهِۦ‌ۚ قَدۡ جَعَلَ ٱللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ قَدۡرً۬ا

And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish His purpose: verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion. (65:3)

8. Being content with whatever Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) decrees

  • This is actually a fruit of Tawakkul.  Tawakkul comes before the action/outcome, and contentment (Ridaa) comes after of the action/outcome.
  • The dua of Istikhara is a prime example of Tawakkul because is contains all of the stages.  At the end of the dua you ask Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) to make you content with His decree.  Make this dua for ALL decisions and strive to memorize it Insha’Allah!

On the authority of Jaabir Ibn ‘Abdullah he said: The Prophet (S) would instruct us to pray for guidance in all of our concerns, just as he would teach us a chapter from the Qur’an. He (S) would say ‘if any of you intends to undertake a mater then let him pray two supererogatory units (two rak’ah naafilah) of prayer and after which he should supplicate:

‘O Allah, I seek Your counsel by Your knowledge and by Your power I seek strength and I ask You from Your immense favor, for verily You are able while I am not and verily You know while I do not and You are the Knower of the unseen. O Allah, if You know this affair -and here he mentions his need- to be good for me in relation to my religion, my life, and end, then decree and facilitate it for me, and bless me with it, and if You know this affair to be ill for me towards my religion, my life, and end, then remove it from me and remove me from it, and decree for me what is good wherever it be and make me satisfied with such.’

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