"Put all your trust [in Allah], if you are indeed believers." (5:23)
This was something that I did not understand for a few years and suddenly I was given an understanding that made sense.
One day Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) 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).
So what is happening here? Here, the tenants of reliance on God/ Tawakkul are being taught to us.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is teaching us that valid reliance on Allah is about doing as much as you can then relying on Allah for the outcome. Or using the means that you have without being careless. An example of false tawakkul is a person who sits at home saying that his wage will come to him even though he does not work! This is invalid reliance. True reliance is when someone is actually searching for jobs then relies on Allah for the outcome.
To illustrate this even further, ponder the following example: a man walks across one side of a street to another without paying attention to the traffic. Claiming that he is relying on Allah to protect him, this person is mad and could be involved in a serious accident if he is not careful. This is false tawakkul!
True Tawakkul is when someone wants to cross the road; he goes to the pelican crossing then presses the button and waits for the green light. This is valid reliance/tawakkul on Allah. Do you see the difference? The person tries their best to do something and then does not concern himself with the outcome.
True Tawakkul is when someone wants to cross the road; he goes to the pelican crossing then presses the button and waits for the green light. This is valid reliance/tawakkul on Allah.
When you put your clothes out to dry on the washing line, do you leave the clothes without any pegs? Of course you do not because that would be madness! This is the difference again between false tawakkul and True tawakkul. True tawakkul is to put pegs on your clothes so they do not get blown away in the wind.
Do you see the difference? The person tries their best to do something and then does not concern himself with the outcome.
Look at this example in the life of the Prophet Ibrahim (upon him peace) when he was thrown into a fire by Nimrod, one the greatest oppressors of his time, by the means of a catapult because the fire was so large. The angel Jibreal came to him, as he flew through the air, and asked if he had a need. He replied, “Allah is sufficient for me a guiding protector.” At that moment Allah (mighty and majestic) ordered the fire to be cool and safe. The Prophet Ibrahim (upon him peace) was not harmed by the fire. This is true Tawakul because the great Prophet Ibrahim (upon him peace) was not concerned with the outcome; he was happy and content with whatever Allah (mighty and majestic) had decreed for him.
Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani stated in Al-Ghunya li-talibi Tariq Al-Haqq,
“Putting one's trust in the Lord [tawakkul] is actually the first of three stages, namely: (1) the basic sense of trust [tawakkul], then (2) the act of surrender or resignation [taslim], and then (3) the act of delegation [tafwid]. The person who is at the stage of basic trust [al-mutawakkil] is one who feels confident in relying on the promise [wa'd] of his Lord. The person who is at the stage of surrender or resignation [sahib at-taslim] is one who is content to rely on His knowledge ['ilm]. The person who is at the stage of delegation [sahib at-tafwid] is one who is happy to accept His judgment [hukm].”
We do what we can but we know that at a certain point that its Allah who completes the matter.