Trust in Allah (tawakkul) and Human Struggles

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Absolute Trust in Allah (Tawakkul) and Human Struggles

What does tawakkul mean?

Absolute trust in Allah (tawakkul) means to completely surrender yourself to Allah’s will. It means to rely only on Allah and no one else. Trust in Allah requires giving up your own will whole heartedly before Allah’s. In fact, trust between Allah and human being is a unique feeling that no word can enclose its meaning. Surely, we can use word “trust” to understand its comprehensiveness. It is an emotion which strengthens the relationship between Allah and humans. Allah is enough for the one whose trust in Allah is firm in every aspect of life.

What Allah says about Trust?

 Allah says in surah al-Talaaq:

  • And whoever puts his trust in Allah, then He (Allah) is Sufficient for him. (65:3)

Allah also says in surah aal-Imran:

  • If Allah helps you, none can overpower you; but if He abandons you taking away all support, then who is it that can help you after Him? And the believers should rely on Allah alone. (3:160)

However, placing absolute trust in Allah requires understanding the significance of courage, hard work, effort and devotion. Placing trust in Allah does not mean to relinquish hard work and struggles. As well as neither one should think of mere hard work and struggles as sufficient. Relation between human struggle and trusting Allah is inseparable. In simple words, Trust in Allah means to ask for Divine favour in the beginning of every matter. Without Divine favour humans are insignificant and have no value. When one completes the task he should not think of it as an outcome of their hard work. Instead one should believe that it is Allah who grants success and ability to complete the task. Allah gets his work done from who He wills and what He wills, whether it is religious affair or worldly.

Therefore, if one is unsuccessful then without being hopeless, he should accept it believing that it is Allah’s will. As granting success or failure is Allah’s will and to make an effort is man’s duty. Since destiny is trial from Allah but accepting it whole heartedly is solely man’s effort.

Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali said, “Trust in Allah is the foundation of Faqr. Divine love demands that every matter should be handed over to Allah completely. Though, physical efforts must be made but inwardly the seeker should withdraw his own will and trust only upon Allah.” (The Spiritual Guides of Sarwari Qadri Order)

What is human endeavour?

Striving to achieve something is principle of universe. Hard workers are the one who reach mountain top and embed their flags of success. It is farmer’s hard work due to which crops grow in fields. It is the rays of sunlight that cut the darkness and beautiful day becomes visible. Only hardworking student succeed in every class. Passion for hard work and struggle is behind every scientific invention. Allama Iqbal said, “Life is made by deeds, heaven and hell too.”

Trial of faith is taken depending upon one’s trust in Allah while they continuously work hard. Even it is a matter of earning livelihood or achievement in exams or a matter of attaining success in both world and religion or an aim for battle preparations. Both struggles in life and trust in Allah go hand in hand. When a person surrenders his esoteric self to Allah and keeps striving exoterically only then it is possible to have an absolute trust in Allah. Placing absolute trust in Allah does not mean to sit idly and expect that Allah will resolve matters automatically. This is laziness and sluggish, not trust in Allah (tawakkul). (Insani Koshish or Takdeer)

Types of ideological sects

In this content, two types of ideological sects are mentioned.

Kadariyya school of thought (مذہبِ قدر)

This sect believes that Allah has given the authority to people to decide among right and wrong deeds. They are not helpless in the hands of destiny rather they are independent. Human struggle and independence is the centre of their religion. (Maslah Jabar-o-Kadar)

Jabriyah school of thought (مذہبِ جبر)

This sect believes that people are helpless in the hands of destiny. Destiny has been coerced on man and not even a single act can be done without Allah’s will. Their ideology is to relinquish hard work for they are helpless before destiny. (Maslah Jabar-o-Kadar)

If we study these two sects, we can see kadariyya sect (مذہبِ قدر) is wholly based upon decision making and scantiness of trust. On the contrary jabriyah sect  (مذہبِ جبر) says to give up human struggle as they are helpless before destiny. These both Ideologies are not acceptable because both human struggle and trust in Allah are interlinked. As in a Muslim life, trust in Allah (tawakkul) is a foundation of faith and human struggle is a deed which is most liked by Allah. Besides, these two sects raise extremism whereas Islam is a moderate religion. Every human body has two aspects, inward and outward. Likewise every Muslim body has two aspects, “trust in Allah” is an expression of inward and “hard work and struggle” is one’s outward. Allah says in Holy Quran:

  • Put your trust in Him if you are (truly) believers. (10:84)

Saying humans are helpless before destiny and giving up on hard work and not even try to change your circumstances, to not desist from sins are evils and deceptions of inner self.

Islam and Freedom of human will

Doctor Tahir-ul-Qadri writes in his book “Islam and Freedom of human will”:

Taftazani also discusses the concept of creation of human acts: “It is said that the disbeliever is bound to disbelieve and other wrong doers (are bound) to commit wrong, then how are they legally supposed to adopt faith and submission (to Allah). We will say in reply that Allah already knows that they will adopt ‘Kufr’ and ‘Fisq’ on the basis of their own free choice. Therefore, there is no determinism because God already knew that they would adopt the wrong path by their own free will and intention, without being forced or motivated by any prior decision.” (pg 37)

Authority to separate right from wrong

One cannot give up on hard work thinking that Allah had already written in destiny that he will commit such sin. This is not the case at all. Indeed Allah is All-Knowing, He knows what path one will adopt. Yet, Allah has also given the authority to choose among right and wrong. On the day of Judgement, reward and punishment shall be decided on the basis of human struggle and deeds. One who does righteous deeds shall be rewarded and one who chooses the ways of evil shall be punished accordingly.

Once a person asked Ali (ra) about destiny, “How helpless and free humans are before destiny?” Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) replied, “Lift up your one leg.” That person raised his one leg. Ali (ra) said, “This is how free humans are.” Again he said, “Lift up your other leg” (which was impossible) then he said, “This is how helpless humans are.”

This saying of Hazrat Ali, the lion of Allah, shows two aspects. One, Islam is a moderate religion. Second, Allah has given us the authority to work hard. So one should work hard with good intentions instead of thinking what Allah has written in destiny. Now the question arises that what should be our purpose of life? And for what matters should we work hard for?

My perfect spiritual guide Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman says, “Allah has written all matters of human nature (i.e. sustenance, marriage, children, wealth) in the book of destiny. Instead of worrying about these things, make Divine vision and gnosis of Allah your first and foremost purpose of life. In fact, this is the purpose which was said to seek for. As this is the trial of people from Allah. Whoever succeeds in this purpose succeeds in both religion and hereafter.

Trust in Allah and human struggle are interlinked

Allah Almighty says:

  • Surely, We created man from a fertilized ovum that We keep turning and examining (from one stage to the next till birth). So We have made him (in the order of) hearing (then) seeing. (76:2)

In aforementioned verse, hearing and seeing means that Allah has given us the power and understanding so we could choose right from wrong. So we can succeed in trials sent from Allah.

Moderation in human personality can only develop if one trusts in Allah esoterically and works hard exoterically. If trust in Allah is a sun then human struggles are rays of sunshine, if trust in Allah is a flower then its fragrance is human struggle, if trust in Allah is a vision then eyes are human struggle and if trust in Allah is a soul then body is human struggle.

Meaning of trust in Allah and human struggle can also be exemplified as: If a person goes to a doctor due to his ailing health. He gets himself treated and uses prescribed medicines regularly. He takes care of his diet and health. Then this person is fighting against his sickness which will be called hard work and struggle. Trust in Allah (tawakkul) will be his firm faith in Allah that He is the one who cures all illness. On the other hand, if a person sits idly in sickness putting his trust in Allah and does not even try to fight against his illness. Then this is not trust in Allah (tawakkul).

Allah the Sustainer

As a servant of Allah we should have faith in eternal truth whole heartedly that God is Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Indeed, God is our Sustainer who provides sustenance to a child in a mother’s womb. He is the One who does not even leave insects hidden in the stones hungry. He is the Sustainer of all animals, birds, plants and all living beings. Woe to those who are disbelievers and depend upon creation instead of the Creator. As Allah said:

  • And He gives him sustenance from a source which he can never think of. And whoever puts his trust in Allah, then He (Allah) is Sufficient for him. Surely, Allah accomplishes His work entirely. He has certainly appointed a measure for everything. (65:3)
  • And that man (according to justice) will get only that for which he strives. (53:39)

However, being a slave of desires of inner self and struggling for halal earnings are two different acts. Allah Almighty also said:

  • Have you seen him who has made his desire his god. (45:23)

Purpose of life is definitely not just satisfying your stomach or worrying about provisions day and night. Having a breakfast then fretting about dinner. After having dinner then worrying about next day and making sustenance your purpose of life. It is indeed opposite of trusting Allah (tawakkul).

Sustenance seeks man

Abu Darda al-Ansari (ra) narrated that Prophet Mohammad said, “Sustenance seeks a man just as Azrael- Archangel seeks dying man.”

Omar (ra) expressed that Holy Prophet said, “If you Trust in Allah (tawakkul) just as He deserves then He will provide you sustenance as He provides birds, which goes out empty stomach and comes back at noon with sated stomach.” (Ibn Majah)

Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) said, “Do not fret about your sustenance because it seeks you more than you seek it. When you get your today’s fill then do not fret for tomorrow’s sustenance. Do not worry about tomorrow as you do not know if it will come or not, just as you left worrying about yesterday. So stay focused in today.” (Al-Fatah Rabbani Majlis-17)

People as mediation of sustenance

In present era, people have forgotten about halal and haram in manners of earning livelihood. While in every matter Islam has ordered human beings to put their trust in Allah (tawakkul). Allah has made every single person a source of sustenance for other people. For example; He made father a mediator who earns money and provides for his wife and children. A single contractor is a source of livelihood for many labourers. He made well-endowed and wealthy man mediator to provide sustenance to poor people.

However, it is pride and arrogance to consider yourself superior and to think that you are the one providing other’s sustenance. It is polytheism to depend upon other people and institutions. Or to think that you are receiving your provisions due to them.  Instead one should be thankful to Allah that He made him mediation for other’s sustenance. Certainly, Allah gives them the ability to do so, He gives to whom He wills and takes from who He wills. How can humans be sustainer? Indeed, Allah is the most merciful who has power to grant us sustenance. If a person at young age has firm faith in Allah that He is the sustainer then there would be nothing to fear about when he gets old.

Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) says:

Holy Prophet (pbuh) said, “Curse is upon those who put their trust in creation like themselves.” Majority of people in this world are part of this curse and very few have trust in Allah (tawakkul). Whoever put their trust in Allah, holds the strongest rope. Whoever trusts in creation like themselves can be exemplified as a person who closes his fist, and will find nothing when he opens it. (Al-Fatah Rabbani Majlis-45)

Sustenance of common people and chosen ones:

Sultan-ul-Faqr VI Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali (ra) said, “Seekers who have trust in Allah does not fret about sustenance. Common people get their provisions through struggle but chosen ones are provided by Allah.” (The Spiritual Guides of Sarwari Qadri Order)

Sultan Bahoo (Sultan Bahoo shajra e faqr goes back to Prophet Mohammad) said, 

“It should be known that the common people get their sustenance through hard work but the sustenance of the distinguished ones lies in the everlasting gnosis of Allah-the Eternal. One who truly trusts upon Allah, neither waits for his daily livelihood nor annual sustenance because he knows that once every person’s sustenance was fixed and written in the destiny, the book of destiny was closed forever. The sustenance of a person having dead soul lies in covetousness and covetousness does not have stomach that can be filled, so, a covetous is never contented as he is on the wrong path. The sustenance of Mystics is the absolute union with Allah for which they perpetually remain engrossed in Divine observation, while their livelihood pursues them worriedly day and night.

How can this reality be understood by the irreligious and indecent ignorant who are utterly deprived of good deeds and sagacity, neither they have trust upon Allah nor His gnosis! The food of the dung-worm is dung, so he lives in it happily, while the food of pure people is also pure and aromatic.” (Kaleed-ul-Tauheed Kalan)

There are three kinds of people:

First group is of common people who struggle and work hard to earn their livelihood. Second group is of people with dead soul, their sustenance is greed and they are never contented. Third ones are Mystics who trust in Allah and do not worry about sustenance. Instead sustenance pursues them worriedly. This group is of Fakirs. After the commencement of Prophethood, the Holy Prophet gave up trading and devoted completely to prosper and spread the religion of Islam. Likewise Fakirs neither fret about livelihood nor depend on anyone except Allah. However, this status is not for common people but only for Fakirs. It is important to understand that indeed they do not worry about provisions but they don’t relinquish hard work or struggle either. Rather, they worked hard with all their might for the expansion and glorification of Islam.

Sayings of Sultan Bahoo (ra)
  • People are whole heartedly running after means but very few have their attention towards the Provider of all means.
  • Listen! O my beloved! I am telling you there is nothing superior to Allah. Creation looks for sustenance but Fakirs look for the Sustainer. Creation has their eyes on wealth and riches but Fakirs have eyes on Allah Almighty. Holy Prophet (pbuh) said, “One who dies in love of Allah, dies as a martyr.” Seekers of Allah are martyrs and seekers of the world are condemned from seeking Allah. (Mohkim-ul-Faqr Kalan)
  • Fate has four types. Fakir’s fate is whatever they eat it enlightens the gnosis of Allah in them. Their provision comes due to their absolute trust in Allah (tawakkul). Trust in Allah (tawakkul) is when they receive sustenance through any mediation, they know it is from Allah. Some people think sustenance comes through hard work, some acquire knowledge to earn sustenance and some oppress poor and take sustenance forcibly. Hence, Faqr is the only treasure which has ranks of honour, glory and felicity. Allah grants this magnificent rank of Faqr to the greatest man who becomes unique with Him. Unconcerned people cannot even have its glimpse.
True seeker of Allah does not engage in Philosophical discussions

Trust in Allah only rises in esoteric self under the supervision of perfect spiritual guide and with the contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat. Which gradually takes over the whole existence. Ultimately his exoteric self becomes corresponding to Allah’s will. Long arguments and discussions about trust in Allah, struggle and destiny are present in history books. Nonetheless a true seeker should not get involve in these arguments. He should choose the path of trusting Allah (tawakkul).

Sultan Bahoo (ra) said, “Due to the utmost astonishment about the quiddity of His Pure Being, innumerable efforts of intellect (to understand Him) went in vain.” (Risala Roohi Sharif)

Aforementioned saying means that true seekers of Allah should not get involved in philosophical discussions. Rather keep their attention towards Allah. Instead of trusting their hard work and struggle one should have complete trust in Allah. However spiritual guide trains his disciple in a way that he learns to stay contented with Allah’s will. Holy Prophet (pbuh) stated that trust in Allah and Oneness are like twin brothers. What is Oneness of Allah? Oneness is Essence of Allah which means trust in Allah is a path that leads to Him.

Sultan-ul-Faqr VI Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali said, “Satan cannot overpower the seeker who has resigned to the will of Allah because such a seeker believes and trusts only upon Allah in all his matters, due to which Allah’s favour remains with him.” (The Spiritual Guides of Sarwari Qadri Order)

Punjabi Poetry of Sultan Bahoo (ra)

Meaning: In this poetry, Sultan Bahoo (ra) addresses the seekers of Allah that do not worry over the necessities of this world. Surely, Allah will provide you the sustenance that He has decreed for you. Look at the birds they are flying around with complete trust in Allah and they do not even carry a single grain of their sustenance along with them. By the time they return to their nests in the evening they are not on an empty stomach. Nor do they carry any grains to store for later use. Sultan Bahoo (ra) says Allah is such a great sustainer that He even provides sustenance to an insect living in a stone.


This is translation of an Urdu article of the magazine “Mahnama Sultan-ul-Faqr Lahore” for the month of November 2020. Originally penned by Fatima Burhan Sarwari Qadri is presently translated in English by Sahibzadi Mishal Najib Sarwari Qadri exclusively for the website. Do not forget to visit the original article to which you only have to click the link:

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