Reliance on God (Tawakkul)

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It is a fact that there is joy in this world, and there is pain. There is happiness in this world, and there is sadness. There are gains in this world, and there are losses. But there are misconceptions that correlate the ‘good’ results with ‘good’ people, and misfortune with ‘bad’ people.

It is not without effort to reach tawakkul, but to succeed in the effort, it is essential to put our minds and hearts to rest.

As human beings, we only think two-dimensionally and sometimes may forget we cannot see the full big picture, 3D and all. The basis of the lack of reliance on Allah is uncertainty in the outcome. By striving to know God more and trusting in Him more firmly, the outcome of a decision or result will no longer be a source of agitation and worry. Knowing that all one is truly responsible for is trying one’s best, and leaving the rest to God, should bring a steady peace and contentment in one’s heart. Maybe the outcome will be what you want, maybe it won’t be… but you know it’s what God decided, and you accept it as you accept that He is All-Knowing, All-Wise, and All-Merciful. That’s tawakkul.

To rely is an action, a verb; but relying on God in all situations, at all times, the good, bad and ugly, is a progress, a journey – it is a state. One should strive not only to remember to rely on Him in uncertain moments, but to rely on Him at all times [mutawakkil]. Tawakkul is not necessarily seeing the big picture, because our view is obviously limited; but rather, trusting in the big picture. Trusting that all matters have been, are still, and always will be in God’s hands. When seen through this lens, one can’t help but feel content and accepting of the state of things. Tawakkul is all about letting go of that which is beyond our control.

Relying on God is not limited to trusting in His judgment, but it includes that one first use whatever means he/she has to reach their goal or intended purpose. A well-known hadith mentions the Prophet telling someone to “tie the camel, and have tawakkul”. Tawakkul is being proactive physically and submissive mentally to the will of God, knowing that no one like He has your best interests at heart. It is essential to have a good opinion of God always; a hadith Qudsi says: “I am as my slave thinks I am.”

As human beings striving to fulfill our unique purposes in life, we need to constantly remind ourselves that we have a responsibility to work with excellence in everything we do. However, the outcomes are only what God wants them to be, so do not let the opportunity of doing good through your career/family ties/ activism be yet another source of worry and anxiety for you. Take care of yourself to better take care of those around you.

And Allah knows Best.

A.S.

(This was written in May 2014, and I stumbled upon it today.)
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Useful resources on tawakkul:

VIDEO:

READINGS:

  • Purification of the Heart, chapter “Relying on Other Than God”

(PDF version available, free, online)

AUDIO: {In Arabic}

 

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Why Palestine?

gggg

Back in Canada, all I had to say to any friend was “I’m going to spend a few months living in Palestine,” and practically a round of applause sounded. Even my colleagues supported this decision, and that hyped me up some more. But for perplexing reasons (among them heavily affected from colonial experiences), many Palestinians living in Palestine do not share that same optimism. The moment anyone learns that I came from Canada to temporarily live in Palestine, I get the same reaction:

  • An incredulous face, along with a “My dear… what has brought you here?

Okay. I get it. Living under an illegal and dangerous occupation isn’t exactly a bliss. But this isn’t even the reason that people question my return.

What has brought me here? Why Palestine?

Well, for starters, regardless about my other career and family reasons… I’m Palestinian.

What’s up with native Palestinians not understanding why it’s perfectly legitimate for me to be here? I am a daughter of the land, after all. Once left, does it mean I would never want to come back? Here are just a few examples of things I can only really revel in Palestine:

  • Partying with aunts, uncles and cousins whom I haven’t seen in many years.
  • Listening to classical Arabic music in taxis, against the backdrop scenery of vast mountains and vineyards.
  • Being a car passenger alongside a galloping horse that is pulling a carriage of vegetables.
  • Driving through small villages and seeing donkeys, herd of sheep, and more horses alongside cars. Here, nature has the same space as technology.
  • Eating cups of corn on the go. Freshly squeezed mint lemonade. Date syrup. Grape syrup. The delight of discovering new cheesecake coffee shops here and there.
  • Speaking with the young people who have lived under occupation, yet still have such a zest and upbeat passion for life. It is not common for me to find bitter and angry teenagers here; rather, they have a hope and vision of the future, and want to be a part of building that better world.
  • When teaching an ESL class, and a Quran quote comes on screen, everyone becoming eager to recite it in perfect personalised melodies.
  • Olive trees, palm trees, and white lightbulbs gracing the streets.
  • Being pleasantly surprised how your heart can connect so easily to another’s, as though you grew up in the same house…

Palestine is an astonishing place, and it grows on you the longer you stay and give it a chance to. It has a beautiful culture, remarkable history of prophetic footsteps, a dizzying plurality of diverse people, and gorgeous landscapes. However, only those with beautiful hearts can truly appreciate the blessing of having a chance to walk on its soil.

So why Palestine? Because there’s nowhere else quite like it.

May God protect Palestine.

And He Knows Best.

A.S.