As human beings, we are limited in our knowledge of the unseen, of the future, and of why things occur the way that they do. Although as Muslims we know that Allah (SWT) is the ultimate Being in charge, it is often still difficult for us to understand why something happens. We may feel helpless and worried when challenging circumstances arrive, whether in our personal lives or in the lives of Muslim Americans as a whole. In these instances, it is essential for us to return to the Book of Allah (SWT) to guide us into understanding why our human minds are so limited. Allah says in the Quran, “…You may dislike something and Allah has put much good in it” (4:19). Although the beginning of the verse is speaking about marriage, we can take this ending statement as a truly profound message that can be applied to every aspect of our lives. With all that has been going on in the world and the challenges that Muslims have been facing, this Quranic phrase can provide us with much comfort in knowing that Allah (SWT) knows best, and we often are short-sighted and limited in our perspective and understanding. We may dislike the events or circumstances that are unfolding in front of us, but perhaps there is some good that will manifest through this occurrence, good that we are completely unaware of at the moment.
…the capacity to trust is a challenge for most human beings. Yet, we can increase this capacity by ensuring that we trust ourselves.
Trust in Allah
Trust, or tawakkul, is an innate trait in children, but many enter adulthood feeling that their capacity to trust has eroded due to the imperfections of people and the complexity of this life. In my work as a marriage and family therapist, I have found that for a majority of people, trusting oneself, trusting one’s spouse, and trusting in a higher being – these are issues that are challenging, and sometimes very difficult. And to trust that the outcome of events will play out in the best way, as long as we make our very best effort, requires a certain kind of wisdom and mental strength. To let go of a feeling of self-sufficiency on the one hand, or a sense of doomed helplessness on the other, is no easy task
In the Quran, Allah (SWT) tells us, “And put your full trust in Allah; and Allah is sufficient as Trustee” (33:3). Repeatedly in the Quran, we are given this message about the importance of trusting in Allah (SWT). We are not only told to trust in Allah, we are reassured that He truly is trustworthy as the best disposer of affairs. He is taking care of all things. We are told that people who are oppressed, those who thus migrate for the sake of Allah, are “the ones who have endured patiently and have put their trust in their Lord” (16:42). It does require a special kind of patience to trust Allah (SWT). When we do not trust in Him, we are prone to impulse and reactiveness; we worry incessantly, and sometimes feel hopeless, or wanting to immediately resolve any challenge or difficulty.
Trusting in Allah (SWT), however, requires doing what is needed in a calm and patient way, responding rather than reacting, and then leaving the rest up to Allah (SWT), knowing full well that “…Whether you conceal what is in your breasts or reveal it, Allah knows it. And He knows that which is in the heavens and that which is on the earth. And Allah is over all things competent” (Quran 3:29). Relying on Allah (SWT) means that we realize the vastness of His knowledge and that He knows why things are happening the way that they are. Tawakkul is doing our part and then leaving the outcome up to Him, trusting that He will take care of it all.
Complete Reliance on Allah
Think about a time in your life in which you felt as if things were never going to get any easier. Hardship upon hardship was showing up in your affairs and circumstances, and you prayed to Allah (SWT) to turn things around. Reflect on a bad situation that turned out to be good in the end. There are numerous instances in our lives in which we experience a hardship, yet we grow stronger and build character because of it. A job loss, a failed relationship, a sickness – these are all examples of difficulties that while we were in the midst, all we could see were the dark clouds surrounding us. However, soon enough, the dark clouds began to scatter and the sunshine came through. This can remind us of Allah’s words, “Surely, with every hardship, there is ease” (Quran 94:6). We can relate this to the first ayah mentioned in this piece, that we may hate a thing that might ultimately be a source of good for us.
Someone once told me that when someone hurts you, it is a good reminder to rely on and trust in Allah (SWT). Human beings are weak and too often they fail to live up to expectations, or they betray your trust. Allah, though, is the Everlasting and Most Trustworthy and will never let you down. Allah is the only one who can be absolutely, unconditionally, trusted and relied upon. That does not mean that we should not trust in people, because then we would live our lives in fear and far away from emotional closeness and connection. However, it is a reminder not to be thrown off when others do turn their backs on you. When you are shoved to the ground, rise above it all even stronger with your eyes up to the heavens. Allah is always close and will never fail you.
As humans, we have many flaws. Even those with the best of intentions will make mistakes. They will at times hurt you, disappoint you, or worse. However, when we remind ourselves that Allah (SWT) alone is the one to be trusted and relied upon no matter what hardship or difficulty we are facing, then we are given comfort of the heart to help us get through the tough times.
A Lesson in Trust from Prophet Yaqub
When the eleven sons of Prophet Yaqub (pbuh) went to Egypt to buy corn, necessary because there was famine in the land, the father advised his sons to enter the city through various gates so that they would not attract attention due to their foreign language and mode of dress. He then told his sons, “Not that I can profit you aught against Allah [with my advice]: None can command except Allah. On Him do I put my trust: and let all that trust, put their trust in Him” (Quran 12:67). With wisdom, Yaqub cautioned his sons about attracting unnecessary attention, but then he stressed that he has put all of his trust in Allah (SWT) because He is the one whose decree is going to take place no matter what. His beautiful example shows us that we must plan and prepare for the future, but we must never believe we have full control over things, or worry so much that we put our physical and mental health at risk. Remember that Yaqub’s trust in Allah (SWT) carried him through when the worst possible thing occurred and his son, Yusuf, appeared to be lost to him forever. He relied on Allah (SWT) and kept firm his trust in Him, believing that all things will be resolved and recompensed on the Day of Judgment.
When we personally undergo hardship, or we see challenges that our friends or family members are facing, or the Muslim community is under siege from anti-Muslim rhetoric and action, we must also trust in Allah’s decree and know that all things are according to His will and command. The examples of the prophets and the righteous who came before us can provide us with solace in trying circumstances.
Developing the Capacity to Trust
As stated in the beginning, the capacity to trust is a challenge for most human beings. Yet, we can increase this capacity by ensuring that we trust ourselves. That comes with deepening of our faith. Increasing our capacity to trust also comes with striving to build character, practicing the skill of sabr – patience and perseverance, and learning how to respond to people and situations rather than impulsively, and thoughtlessly, reacting. Trusting ourselves – our morality, our intellectual honesty, our emotional intelligence, our decision-making, and so on – goes hand in hand with trusting in Allah (SWT). The ultimate handhold is Allah (SWT) and when we ask of Him, He hears our call. Making dua to Allah (SWT) to help us to trust in Him and His decree will offer us a fighting chance in strengthening our tawakkul in Him. Let us turn to Him and pray for this beautiful quality and pray for the ummah as we all move forward together, despite the challenges that surround us on all sides.