Her mind was racing as she tried to focus on her studying. “What if I don’t pass? What if I start feeling sick in the middle of the exam? Oh no! I feel so sick now!” She took a break from studying to get a drink of water. She knew that her career depended on this exam and the thought of not passing was so frightening to her. She just had to pass! The constant worry was affecting her studying. She couldn’t concentrate when all she kept thinking about was her future.
Anxiety, worry, and stress are words that we are all too familiar with. More people are visiting the doctor because of stress-related illnesses than ever before. Absences from work and school are often related to stress as well. Stressors are inevitable in our lives but anxiety and worry can be ameliorated by improving one’s coping skills such as practicing deep breathing, learning to reframe problems, practicing good time management, and so on. There are countless skills that one can learn and practice. Yet, the best coping skill for a Muslim is tawakkul (trust). Trust in Allah (SWT) involves knowing that Allah (SWT) has power over all things and qadr (destiny) has already been determined by Him. The good news is that tawakkul can be learned, it can be practiced, and it can be strengthened. In fact, as eman increases, so does one’s trust in Allah (SWT).
Control and Letting Go
We meticulously plan things, writing down schedules, making appointments, ensuring that we know what is on the agenda for the next day or even the next month. To know what to expect and what is coming brings some semblance of security, of being in control. Not knowing can feel vulnerable, even scary. We have a difficult time accepting that there are many things in life that we have no control over. It can make us feel powerless. As humans, we are naturally inclined towards happiness and a sense of security and stability, and anything that leads to the opposite is often avoided at all costs. By leaving everything up to Allah (SWT) after we have done our best, we are essentially saying that even the worst outcome, even failure, sadness, or pain, is to be accepted with faith and forbearance. This principle is difficult sometimes to apply. As Muslims, we know that we must be content with Allah’s decree, no matter what it may be. However, as humans, this is not always easy.
Trust is Faith
“Say: Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us: He is our Protector: And on Allah let the believers put their trust” (Quran, 9:51). In this ayah, Allah (SWT) describes what the response of the believer should be to the uncertainty of life. Even though we are unaware of what lies ahead in our lives, our response should be one of complete trust in our Creator. He has already decreed what will happen to us and, in that belief, we must be certain.
Although we know Allah (SWT) has control over everything, this does not mean we throw our hands up in the air in passivity, helplessness, or resignation. A man came to the Prophet (S) and said, “I will not tie my camel and [then] trust in Allah.” The Prophet (S) said, “Tie it and trust in Allah.” From this example, we learn that although trust in Allah is essential, we as humans must do our utmost in working towards success. Not only should we do our part in taking care of our affairs and in striving to achieve our goals, we must also make du’aa for the outcomes we desire. Oftentimes, we assume that just because Allah (SWT) knows everything — our hopes, our yearnings, our goals — we do not have to ask Him for what we want. However, du’aa is a tool Allah (SWT) has given us to reach out to Him for all of our needs. Although He knows what is in our hearts, we must ask anyway since du’aa is essential to worship.
In a Qudsi Hadith, which was narrated by Abu Hurairah (R), Allah (SWT) says: “I am as my slave thinks of Me and I am with him whenever he remembers Me” (Agreed Upon). This powerful statement of Allah (SWT) demands something of us as His servants. In order for us to be true servants of Allah (SWT), we must have a good opinion of Him, that He is kind, caring, and loving, and that He will take care of us and keep His promise. This is a beautiful explanation of the importance of having tawakkul, trust in Him and His Divine Plan and our reliance on Him. When we truly believe that Allah (SWT) is just, compassionate, and loving, then we can trust that He will do what is best for us.
Trust is Success
‘Umar (R) said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (S) say, ‘If you were to rely on Allah as He should be relied on, He would provide for you as He provides for the birds. They go out in the morning hungry and return in the evening full” (at-Tirmidhi). SubhanAllah! Tawakkul in Allah (SWT) has the power to give us everything we need and want. If we truly trust in our Lord, that He will provide for us in the way that the birds are provided for, then we will never get stuck in fear, worry, anxiety, disappointment, or loss. Having tawakkul leads to the peace of mind, sense of security, and personal fulfillment that we are all so desperately searching for. The secret lies in knowing that Allah (SWT) has already paved the road for us. We just have to keep moving with our best foot forward and expect the best from the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.