Absolute Trust in Allah

Absolute Trust in Allah

by Sayyidi Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani

http://www.al-baz.com/shaikhabdalqadir/Books_and_Text_of_Wisdom/Al-Ghunya_li-Talibi_Tariq_al-H/Al-Ghunya_li-Talibi_Tariq_al-H/al-ghunya_li-talibi_tariq_al-h2.htm

Posted with explicit permission of al-Baz.

 

Concerning absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul].

As for putting all one's trust in the Lord [tawakkul], the basic guidance on the subject is contained in His words (Almighty and Glorious is He) :

And when someone puts all his trust in Allah, He will be enough for him. (65:3)

--and in His words (Exalted is He) :

And put all your trust [in Allah], if you are indeed believers. (5:23)

According to a traditional report, transmitted on the authority of 'Abdu'llah ibn Mas'ud (may Allah be well pleased with him), Allah's Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) once said:

I saw the religious communities [umam] at the gathering place [mawsim], and I noticed that my Community [Ummati] filled both the plain and the mountainside, so I was astonished at their number and their condition. I was asked: "Are you well pleased?" "Yes," said I. Then I was told: "Together with these, seventy thousand will enter the Garden of Paradise without undergoing any reckoning. They do not play with fire. They do not look for bad omens. They do not practice subterfuge. They put all their trust in their Lord."

On hearing this, 'Ukasha ibn Mihsan al-Asadi stood up and said: "O Messenger of Allah, appeal to Allah that He may include me among them!" So Allah's Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: "O Allah, let him be included among them!" Then someone else jumped up and said: "Appeal to Allah that He may include me among them!" To this he responded (Allah bless him and give him peace) by saying: "'Ukasha has arrived there ahead of you!"

The real meaning [haqiqa] of absolute trust [tawakkul] is delegating all one's affairs to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), making a clean escape from the murky darkness and gloom of personal choice and self-management, and advancing to the arenas where the [divine] decrees [ahkam] and foreordainment [taqdir] are experienced directly.

The servant [of the Lord] must be convinced that there is no possibility of changing the allotment of destiny [qisma], which means that whatever has been allotted to him cannot pass him by, and that he can never obtain what has not been allotted to him. His heart will then become reconciled to this, and he will feel confident in relying on the promise [wa'd] of his Master [Mawla]. He will therefore receive from his Master [Mawla].

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].

There are many wise sayings on this subject, for instance:

"Trust is an initial stage [at-tawakkul bidaya], surrender or resignation is a middle stage [at-taslim wasat], and delegation is a final stage [at-tafwid nihaya]."

"Trust is the attribute of the believers [at-tawakkul sifat al-mu'minin], surrender or resignation is the attribute of the saints [at-taslim sifat al-awliya'], and delegation is the attribute of those who realize and affirm the Divine Oneness [at-tafwid sifat al-muwahhidin]."

"Trust is the attribute of the common folk [at-tawakkul sifat al-'awamm], surrender or resignation is the attribute of the elite [at-taslim sifat al-khawass], and delegation is the attribute of the elite of the elite [at-tafwid sifat khawass al-khawass]."

"Trust is the attribute of the Prophets [at-tawakkul sifat al-Anbiya'], surrender or resignation is the attribute of Abraham [at-taslim sifat Ibrahim], and delegation is the attribute of our own Prophet [Muhammad] [at-tafwid sifat Nabiyyi-na] (may the blessings of Allah be upon them all)."

The point of this last saying is that trust in the Lord [tawakkul], as a complete and perfect reality [haqiqa], was experienced by Abraham, the Bosom Friend of Allah [Ibrahim al-Khalil] (peace be upon him), at the moment when he said to Gabriel [Jabril] (peace be upon him) : "As for recognizing your existence, oh no!" This was because his personal identity [nafs] had vanished without leaving a trace behind, so that he saw nothing together with Allah (Exalted is He), other than Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He).

It was Sahl ibn 'Abdi'llah (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) who said:

"The first stage in absolute trust [tawakkul] is where the position of the servant between the hands of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) is just like that of the corpse between the hands of the ritual washer of the dead [ghasil], who turns the body this way and that, as he wishes, while it has no independent movement or control of its actions. Someone who puts all his trust [al-mutawakkil] in Allah (Glory be to Him and Exalted is He) is therefore in a state where he does not ask for anything, does not wish for anything, does not reject anything, and does not hold on to anything."

In the words of another wise saying:

"Trust in the Lord [tawakkul] is letting oneself go [istirsal]."

It was Hamdun [al-Qassar] (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) who said:

"It is holding fast [i'tisam] to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He)."

Ibrahim al-Khawwas (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) had this to say on the subject:

"The real meaning [haqiqa] of absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul] is the detachment of fear and hope from everything apart from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He)."

In the words of another wise saying:

"Absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul] is living one day at a time, and dispensing with concern about tomorrow."

It was Abu 'Ali ar-Rudhbari (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) who said:

"There are three stages in the development of absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul], namely: (1) when he is granted a gift, the recipient is grateful, and when he is deprived, he is patient; (2) as far the servant [of the Lord] is concerned, to be deprived and to be granted a gift are one and the same; (3) deprivation combined with gratitude is what he likes best of all, because he is aware that this is Allah's preference (Exalted is He) on his behalf.

Ja'far al-Khuldi is reported as having said: "Ibrahim al-Khawwas (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) once said:

"'As I was traveling along the road to Mecca, I caught sight of a wild-looking figure, so I said to it: "Are you a jinn' or a human being?" It replied: "I am a jinn', of course," so I asked: "Where are you going?" The following conversation then took place between us:

"'"I am on my way to Mecca," said the jinni.

"'"What," said I, "with no provision for the journey, and without a camel to ride on?"

"'"Yes," said the jinni, "among our kind as well, there are those who travel on the basis of absolute trust in the Lord ['ala 't-tawakkul]."

"'"And what," I asked, "is absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul] ?"

"'"It is receiving from Allah," the jinni told me.'"

Sahl [ibn 'Abdi'llah ibn Yunus at-Tustari] (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) once said:

"It is the conscious acknowledgment [ma'rifa] of the Provider of the sustenance of all creatures [Mu'ti arzaqi 'l-makhluqin]. No one is genuinely capable of absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul], until the sky in his sight is like brass, and the earth is like iron, so that rain does not fall from the sky, and plants do not sprout from the earth, yet between these two, he is well aware that Allah will never forget to provide him with the sustenance He has guaranteed to him."

In the words of another wise saying:

"It means that you do not disobey Allah (Exalted is He) on account of your sustenance."

As a certain wise man put it:

"In order to have absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul], it is sufficient that you seek for yourself no helper other than Allah (Exalted is He), for your sustenance no keeper other than Him, and for your conduct no witness other than Him."

It was al-Junaid (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) who said:

"Absolute trust [tawakkul] means that you devote yourself totally to your Lord, and that you turn your attention away from all those who are beneath him."

In the words of an-Nuri (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) :

"It means that you let your self-management become absorbed into His management [tadbir], and that you are perfectly satisfied with Allah as a Trustee [Wakil], as a Manager [Mudabbir] and as a Helper [Nasir]."

Allah Himself (Exalted is He) has told us:

And Allah is sufficient as a Trustee. (4:81)

In the words of another wise saying:

"Absolute trust [tawakkul] is the state in which the humble servant [al-'abd adh-dhalil] is utterly content with the All-Majestic Lord [ar-Rabb al-Jalil], just as the Bosom Friend [al-Khalil] was utterly content with the All-Majestic [al-Jalil], so much so that he took no notice of the attentive presence of Gabriel [Jabril] (peace be upon him)."

To quote yet another wise saying:

"It means abstaining from self-motivated activity, in complete reliance on the Creator [Khaliq] of the earth and the heavens."

Bahlul the Crazy One [al-Majnun] (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) was once asked: "When does the servant [of the Lord] become someone who is absolutely trustful [mutawakkil]?" To this he replied: "When he, as a person [bi'n-nafs], is a stranger among his fellow creatures, and when, in his inner feeling [bi'l-qalb], he is close to the Truth [al-Haqq]."

Someone asked Hatim al-Asamm ["the Deaf"] (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) : "On what basis have you developed this special condition of yours, this absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul]?" To this he replied: "On four particular elements, namely: (1) I came to realize that my sustenance will not be consumed by anyone other than myself, so I should not be concerned about it; (2) I came to realize that my work will not be done by anyone other than myself, so I must be busy about it; (3) I came to realize that death may come suddenly and unexpectedly, so I must waste no time in order to forestall it; (4) I came to realize that I am in the sight of Allah (Exalted is He) in every condition and circumstance, so I must behave with due modesty under His gaze."

Abu Musa ad-Dabili (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) is reported as having said:

"I asked 'Abd ar-Rahman ibn Yahya about absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul], so he told me: '[It means that] even if you were to stick your hand into the mouth of the great sea monster [tinnin], as far as the wrist, you would fear nothing other than Allah."

Abu Musa (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) went on to say:

"I then set out to visit Abu Yazid al-Bistami (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him), in order to ask him about absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul]. When I knocked on his door, he said to me: 'O Abu Musa, what did you find unsatisfactory in the answer you received from 'Abd ar-Rahman, that you should come and ask me the same question?' So I said: 'O my master, open the door!' But he said: 'If you were coming to see me as a regular visitor, I would open the door for you. Take your answer from the door!' So I turned away and left [with the answer, which was: 'Absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul] means that] even if the serpent that is coiled around the Heavenly Throne ['Arsh] were to take an interest in you, you would fear nothing other than Allah.'"

Abu Musa (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) then continued:

"So I kept traveling until I came to [the city of] Dabil, where I took up residence for one whole year. Then I decided it was time to pay a visit, so I set out on the road to Abu Yazid [al-Bistami]. When I reached him, he said to me: 'Now you have come to see me as a regular visitor. Welcome to the visitor! Do come in!' So I stayed as his guest for a month, during which nothing ever occurred to me without his telling me all about it, before I had time to ask him. Then I said to him: 'O Abu Yazid, I now propose to take my leave, so I request you to provide me with a useful lesson.' To this he replied: 'The useful lesson provided by creatures is not a useful lesson!' So I understood this to be a useful lesson, and took my leave."

According to a report from Ibn Tawus al-Yamani (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him), his father, Tawus (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him), told him:

"An Arab nomad [A'rabi] once came [to Mecca] on a riding camel of his. He caused the beast to kneel down, and hobbled its feet with a cord. Then he raised his head toward the sky, and said: 'O Allah, this riding camel, as well as the load upon its back, is covered by Your insurance, until I return to reclaim it.' He then went off and entered the Sacred Mosque [al-Masjid al-Haram].

"Some time later, the Arab nomad returned from the Sacred Mosque [al-Masjid al-Haram]–to find that the riding camel had been taken away, together with the load on its back. So he raised his head toward the sky, and said: 'O Allah, nothing has been stolen from me, for nothing is ever stolen except from You.' "

Tawus went on to say:

"While we were in this situation together with the Arab nomad, we suddenly caught sight of a man descending from the peak of Mount Abu Qubais. He was leading the riding camel with his left hand, while his right hand, which had been cut off, was attached to a cord around his neck. When he eventually reached the Arab nomad, he said: 'Here, take your riding camel, along with the load on its back.'

"I asked the man about his condition, so he explained: 'On the peak of Abu Qubais, I was approached by a rider on a gray horse. "O thief," he said to me, "hold out your hand!" So I held it out, and he placed it on a slab of rock. Then he took another piece of rock and used it to amputate my hand, which he then tied to my neck. "Now go back down the mountain," he told me, "and return the riding camel, along with the load it carries, to the Arab nomad."'"

[The Caliph] 'Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be well pleased with him) is reported as having said: "Allah's Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) once said:

"'If you really and truly placed all your trust in Allah [law tawakkaltum 'ala 'llahi haqqa tawakkuli-hi], He would sustain you as He sustains the birds. They start the day with their bellies empty, and end it with their bellies full.'"

According to a traditional report, transmitted by Muhammad ibn Ka'b on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas (may Allah be well pleased with him and with his father), Allah's Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) also said:

If it would please someone to be the noblest of men, let him devote himself truly to Allah. And if it would please someone to be the richest of men, let him be more reliant on what is at the disposal of Allah, and less reliant on what is at his own disposal.

'Umar [ibn al-Khattab] (may Allah be well pleased with him) used to quote these two verses [of Arabic poetry] as an instructive example:

Go easy on yourself, for the outcome of all affairs is determined by God's decree.

If something is meant to go elsewhere, it will never come your way, but if it is yours by destiny, from you it cannot flee.

Someone asked Yahya ibn Mu'adh [ar-Razi] (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) : "When does a man become someone who is absolutely trustful [mutawakkil]?" To this he replied: "When he is perfectly satisfied with Allah as a Trustee [Wakil]."

It was Bishr [al-Hafi] (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) who said:

"One of them may say: 'I have put all my trust in Allah [tawakkaltu 'ala 'llah],' although he is actually telling a lie. For, by Allah, if he had really put all his trust in Allah, he would be perfectly content with the way Allah treats him."

Abu Turab an-Nakhshabi (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) once said:

"Absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul] means casting the physical body into servitude ['ubudiyya], attaching the inner feeling to the Divine Lordship [rububiyya], and having serene confidence in sufficiency [kifaya], so that one responds to receiving by giving thanks, and to deprivation by being patient."

It was Dhu 'n-Nun al-Misri [the Egyptian] (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) who said:

"Absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul] means giving up self-management, and divesting oneself of any personal claim to power and strength."

Dhu 'n-Nun (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) also said, to a man who asked him about absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul] :

"It means detaching oneself from worldly lords [arbab], and severing all attachment to material means [asbab]."

The questioner went on to say: "Tell me more," so he added:

"[It means] throwing the lower self [nafs] into servitude ['ubudiyya], and removing it from the position of lordship [rububiyya]."

He also said: "It means the cessation of ambitious designs [matami']."

As for the enterprising activity that is undertaken with the outer being [al-haraka bi'z-zahir]--which is a way of describing material acquisition [kasb] conducted in accordance with the Sunna --this is not incompatible with the absolute trust experienced by the inner feeling [tawakkul al-qalb], after the servant [of the Lord] has come to realize, within his inner feeling, that the power to decide is the prerogative of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He). [There is no incompatibility between the two] because the location of absolute trust [tawakkul] is the inner feeling, and because it constitutes the actualization of faith [tahqiq al-iman]. To reject the validity of material acquisition [kasb] would be tantamount to rejecting the validity of the Sunna, and to reject the validity of absolute trust [tawakkul] would be tantamount to rejecting the validity of faith [iman].

If some difficulty is encountered in relation to the material means [asbab], it is due to the decree of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), and if something is found to be easy in that regard, it is due to His facilitation (Almighty and Glorious is He). The limbs and organs of the physical body, and all the external faculties [zawahir], must therefore be actively involved in the instrumental process [mutaharrika bi's-sabab], in compliance with the commandment of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), while the inner being [batin] remains calmly reliant on the promise of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He).

Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be well pleased with him) is reported as having said:

"A man once rode into town on a fine she-camel of his, and he said: 'O Messenger of Allah, shall I just leave her unattended, and put my trust in the Lord [ada'u-ha wa atawakkalu]?' So the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) told him: 'Hobble her feet with a rope, and put your trust in the Lord [a'qil-ha wa tawakkal]!'"

In the words of one wise saying:

"He who puts all his trust in the Lord is like a baby. Just as the infant is not aware of having anything else to turn to, except its mother's breast, the completely trustful person [al-mutawakkil] feels himself guided in no other direction, except toward his Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He)."

In the words of another wise saying:

"Absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul] means the banishment of doubts, and the delegation [tafwid] of one's concerns to the King of kings [Malik al-muluk]."

In the words of yet another wise saying:

"Absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul] means relying with confidence on what is at the disposal of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), and expecting nothing at all from what is at the disposal of human beings."

This saying also deserves to be quoted:

"Absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul] means emptying the innermost being [sirr] of any consideration one might give to the idea of resorting to litigation [taqadi] in the quest for sustenance."

* * * * * * *
This brings us to the end of the section concerning absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul].

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of All the Worlds! [al-hamdu li'llahi Rabbi 'l-'alamin]