Hadith: Tawakkul (Reliance on Allah)
عَنْ عُمَرَ بْنِ الخَطَّابِ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «لَوْ أَنَّكُمْ كُنْتُمْ تَوَكَّلُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ حَقَّ تَوَكُّلِهِ لَرُزِقْتُمْ كَمَا يُرْزَقُ الطَّيْرُ تَغْدُو خِمَاصًا وَتَرُوحُ بِطَانًا»
‘Umar bin Al-Khattab narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “If you were to rely on Allah with the required reliance, then He would provide for you just as a bird is provided for, it goes out in the morning empty, and returns full.”
- حَقَّ تَوَكُّلِهِ (True or required reliance): Reliance is qualified with “true” to emphasize sincerity and indicate the possibility of a false reliance. True reliance on Allah is best tested when means of sustenance is at its lowest.
- تَغْدُو خِمَاصًا (Goes out in the morning empty): It refers to an empty stomach of a bird, after all foods eaten from the previous days have digested during the night.
- وَتَرُوحُ بِطَانًا (and returns full): It refers to filled stomach of a bird.
Reliance and Means
The concept of reliance does not negate the necessity of having a means to achieve a purpose rather they intertwine harmoniously. Reliance is a matter of the heart; a means is a tangible requirement. For example, strategic preparation is a required means of winning a battle while we rely on Allah for victory.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا خُذُوا حِذْرَكُمْ فَانْفِرُوا ثُبَاتٍ أَوِ انْفِرُوا جَمِيعًا
O You who believe! take your precautions, and either go forth (on an expedition) in parties, or go forth all together.
Types and Manifestations
Imam ibn Abi Dunya of the Ummayad Dynasty (died 894 CE) categorized reliance on Allah as follows (from low to high):
- To abandon complains: Muslims should try to bear problems patiently; endurance is a quality of believers. This is especially in a situation where we knew that our complain will only cause unnecessary worries to others; they cannot comfortably offer a solution of any kind. The less we complain on life’s trials and problems to others, the more quality of reliance on Allah we have. This is a known attribute of true Ascetics and righteous servants of Allah.
إِنَّ الإنْسَانَ خُلِقَ هَلُوعًا (١٩) إِذَا مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ جَزُوعًا (٢٠) وَإِذَا مَسَّهُ الْخَيْرُ مَنُوعًا (٢١)
- Verily, man (disbeliever) was created very impatient; 20. Irritable (discontented) when evil touches him; 21. and miserly when good touches him;
- Contentment: This is when we satisfy our self with the little sustenance that Allah provided for us. It was described as “little” only to comply with the wanting nature of man. Any sustenance that is enough to fill the stomach at the time of hunger and thirst, clothe the body and secure a shelter is enough; any quest for more is out of human natural greed for wealth. However, seeking more sustenance within the laws of the Shari’ah is permitted. This is an attribute of the Truthful servants of Allah (i.e, a level just below the prophets).
- Love of what Allah destined: Whenever Allah afflicts us with what seems evil and bad we tend to have a bad suspicion about Allah (i.e why has my Lord did this to me). However, in every trial there is good. Having sincere faith that every portion of Allah’s destiny on us is out of His magnificent Wisdom is the epitome of reliance and trust in Allah. This is a quality of the prophets and messengers of Allah.
Example: Prophet Musa and the Israelites were caught between the ocean and the angry destruction of Pharaoh and his army, the Israelites lost their tawakkul but prophet Musa never have a bad suspicion of his Lord (i.e. he never challenged the Will of Allah). Allah made a way through the ocean. The sincere reliance on Allah is fruitful.
… وَمَنْ يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَلْ لَهُ مَخْرَجًا (٢) وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لا يَحْتَسِبُ وَمَنْ يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرًا (٣)
… and Whosoever fears Allâh and keeps his duty to him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). 3. and He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. and whosoever puts his trust in Allâh, then he will suffice him. Verily, Allâh will accomplish his purpose. indeed Allâh has set a measure for All things
 Jami` at-Tirmidhi Hadith no. 2344
 Surat-ul-Ma’arij 19-21