Gnosis of Divine Sufficiency (Tawakkul) and its Ways

God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice God's dropkick.

The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:

Hold us upside-down
And shake all the non-sense out.

- Hafiz

Allah says in the Eternal Qur’an (Q3:172-73): “and those who – when the people say to them, ‘the people have gathered together against you’ – only increase in iman (inner certitude / faith) and say, ‘Allah is sufficient for us, how excellent a Trustee (Wakil)!’ so they delve amidst the bounty of Allah and His blessing, no evil or harm touching them, and Allah is The Possessor of enormous blessing.”

Muhammad Mustafa, the beloved Transmitter of divine message, may Allah increase our love for him, said: “Were you to depend upon Allah as He should be relied upon, He would have sustained you with provision as He provides for the birds. They go out in the morning with empty stomachs and return with their bellies full.”

Shaykh Abu’l Hasan al-Shadhuli, Allah sanctify his station said, “That which most veils the people from Allah is two: anxiety over provision (hamm ar-rizq) and fear of the creatures (khawf al-khalq).” He also prayed: “O Allah! I ask from You sure faith in Your maintenance (of us), a faith which calms my heart from having fear of creatures and anxiety over provision, and draw near to me with a nearness which tears away the veils (of illusion) as You did with Ibrahim (asws) Your intimate friend, so that he had no need for Jibril (asws) or for plainly requesting intervention of divine unfolding..”

Most of the comments that follow come from the Ihya’ Ulum ad-Din of Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (may Allah be well-pleased with him):

Literal Meaning of Tawakkul: to commit your affairs to someone (a wakil) and depend upon him, with your heart at ease with him, trusting fully in him, not suspecting in him any deficiency, and not believing that he is incapable or limited in his abilities. So tawakkul is the heart’s full reliance upon someone totally. Of course people’s strength in tawakkul varies (the heart’s trusting in and being at serene ease with the Wakil) according to its conviction (I’tiqad) that this Wakil has the necessary qualities (such as power, wisdom, compassion..) in perfect degree, and if the person thinks in any way that this Wakil is deficient in them, even if in reality He isn’t, then this results in a deficiency in his tawakkul.. and when the conviction matches the reality (Allah’s perfection), this results in Yaqin (certitude, lit: “unshakeable stillness”).

So if – by way of kashf (gnostic intuition or vision) or firm conviction – it becomes established in yourself that there is no “doer” in existence except Allah, and you have conviction that He (Most High) has complete knowledge and power to take care of His servants, and then on top of that complete compassion and mercy and providential care for all His servants, and that there is no power beyond His limitless power (same with knowledge, compassion.. and every divine qualities), then your heart without doubt will automatically come to rely on Him alone, and will not turn to anything or anyone else in any way. Nor will it consider or perceive its own self (with its ability or power – hawl, quwwa), for in reality (which is clear to it now) there is no ability or power save in Allah.

And if you do not find this state in yourself, then it has two causes: Either the certitude (yaqin) is weak in one of these Divine Attributes (you basically don’t know Him as He should be known)..


The weakness of the heart and its sickness, because of its being overtaken by cowardliness, and its trepidation due to the illusions that dominate it. For the heart becomes trepid due to its following after and obeying its illusions – without that necessarily meaning a deficient weakness in Yaqin.

Tawakkul is not fully established until one has strength of heart and strength of yaqin, together, for by these two working together you achieve stillness of heart and its tranquility (tama’nina – “Indeed, it is in the dhikr of Allah that hearts find rest” Q13:28).

Q2:260, when Allah said to Sayyidina Ibrahim (asws): “do you not believe?” and he said, “yes of course, but I want my heart to be tranquil” in that yaqin of mine. He wanted to actually see the act of Allah reviving and gathering the dead with his own eyes, so that it could be established in his imaginative faculty – “khayal” (very important concept). For the nafs follows after the khayal, and becomes tranquil at whatever is with/in the khayal, and not with Yaqin in its beginning, until it reaches the stage known as “nafs mutma’inna”.

So the first degree of yaqin is this, that the person trusts in Allah just as he would trust in a (worldly) wakil, one who defends at the court of law.

The second stronger degree is that he trusts in Allah just as the infant is with his/her mother, for the infant knows no one else, and does not run to anyone else, and the first thing that comes out his mouth when he needs something, “MOMMY!” just as she is the first thing that occurs to his heart.

Now if you try to ask the infant to explain the nature of his tawakkul and elaborate on its fine points, it would not be able to do it. It has no perception of its own tawakkul or the intricacies of its reliance and trust.. all it knows is his mom.

Therefore, the difference between this second stronger stage of tawakkul in Allah and the first stage is that in this second stage – while being in the state of tawakkul – he is oblivious of his own tawakkul, and his heart is not directed to the tawakkul itself and its reality, but rather directed to Allah the Wakil Himself and there is no room in his heart for any thing else or any other consideration. This makes it natural and deep-rooted, in contrast to the first tawakkul, which is gained by takalluf (over-striving) and kasb (attainment thru secondary means). He is not oblivious (fani) of his tawakkul like the first one, because he has an awareness and perception which distracts him from having complete consideration of Allah, whom He depends upon, and is thus a cause for deficiency in his tawakkul, and may be a cause of pride in himself and being distracted with observing himself instead of Allah.

The third highest stage is that he be with Allah like the dead corpse in the hands of the washer, having absolutely no volition of its own, and being just a conduit for the irada (Will) and qudra (Power) of the “washer” (i.e., Allah the Powerful). And its difference with the second stage is that the child runs to his mother and cries for attention, and other things which show its own volition. Therefore, in this third stage, there might arise a state of not making du’a to Allah because one is already confident that Allah will take full care of him… (example of Sayyidina Ibrahim asws in the catapult with Jibril).

The question: Is there any remedy which helps in re-directing the heart away from leaning in dependence upon outward secondary causes and means, and having a good opinion in Allah in His facilitating the hidden means? I say: It is that you know and recognize that bad opinion is inspired from the shaytan, and that good opinion is inspired from Allah Most High, who said: “Shaytan promises you poverty and commands you to vileness” (surat Baqara). The human naturally is open to listening to the fearful thoughts from shaytan and is vulnerable before his whisperings. So if you add to this the cowardice, the weakness of the heart, the constant witnessing of those who rely fully upon outward causes, then bad opinion dominates and tawakkul is erased from his inward. While good opinion is increased when provision is facilitated thru hidden causes, by the grace of Allah.

But this is all due to their weak faith, their strong avarice, and their short endurance (sabr) under difficulties in this world for the sake of the Hereafter, and to the dominance of cowardice over their hearts thru having a bad opinion and vain long hopes.

You must develop contentment and satisfaction with the daily provision which comes to you, for it will come to you without doubt, even if you flee from it like you flee from death. And if you busy yourself with taqwa, you will see and experience for yourself the realization of His Words: “and whoever has taqwa of Allah, He will make for him a way out, and provide for him from means he could not imagine, and whoever depends upon Allah, He will be sufficient for him…” (Q65:2-3).

Ten Ways of Developing Tawakkul

These ten ways are mostly from Imam Ghazali, (with notes from Sidi Ibrahim al-Shaghouri):

1) In more than one place in the Qur’an, Allah asks us to “travel throughout the land, and see for yourself how.. ” He created this or that thing, or how He punished a certain group of people, etc. meaning, go out there and actively seek the truth, and see how Allah plans and executes His plans.

2) Imam Ghazali said one of the main problems was cowardice and unsettled sense of fear, and the opposite of that is tranquility and stillness and firmness, and these all are the promised and proven results of group dhikr. The Prophet (asws) said: “No group gathers together to make dhikr of Allah, except Allah covers them with mercy, engulfs them with tranquility (sakinah), surrounds them with angels reaching to the heavens, and boasts of them with those in His Presence.”

3) Any and every quality and branch of Iman was given in its fullness and entirety to the heart of Sayyid al-Wujud Muhammad (asws), and the closer someone is to him (asws), the greater share he obtains of the contents of his vast heart. The best means to obtain closeness to him is frequent and abundant salawat upon him (in sending benediction, prayer of blessing upon him, establishing spiritual nearness), which grows into a strong bond, and the tawakkul in his heart spills over into your heart. Also, most of the opposites of tawakkul arise from fear and cowardice, and these are only based on illusions and whisperings from shaytan. So to demolish those illusions, repeat frequently the adhkar of tahlil and la hawla..

4) Another easier way to absorb states of tawakkul from the Prophet (asws) is to sit and associate with his inheritors. After having taqwa, the next thing Allah commands us to do (Q9:118) is to “be with the truthful.” Then whatever qualities they have rubs off on you, and you get to see the world around you from their point of view and clear vision, instead of having your vision tainted and skewed by the misinformed world view of those who have no tawakkul and run after the dunya.

5) Know yourself – and you will know Allah. Enough said.

6) Simply ignore any whisperings of illusion which come from shaytan, such as that Allah has forgotten about you, etc. just don’t feed it with your attention, or else it will grow, but suffocate it by ignoring it.

7) Remember that Allah promised to give you what you need, not what you necessarily want. If you don’t get that roasted leg of lamb every day, that shouldn’t make you weak in your tawakkul. So also try to develop the other qualities of contentment, patient endurance, and stop being a wimp.

Related to the previous step, develop the quality of Zuhd, which means being inwardly detached from this world, and your life will be much easier. Why do you need that mansion and three cars? If you humiliate yourself by getting a loan for a million dollars to buy “what you need,” and then find you aren’t receiving from Allah enough money to pay back those loans, then you should only blame your stupidity and your nafs. Get your priorities in order, and you’ll be fine.

9) As Imam Ghazali said, busy yourself with acts of taqwa and fulfillment of Divine obligations, and take care of what is required of you, and He’ll take care of what He promised. “Perform the salaat and command your family to it, We do not expect provision from you, it is We who will provide for you, and the final outcome is for those who have taqwa” (Q20:132).

10) Finally, pay no attention to your tawakkul and focus on Allah al-Wakil, so you can rise to those higher stages that the ones brought near to Allah informed us about.

Shared from Yaqut al Arsh Blog of Sidi Hakim al-Shagouri, Allah bless and ease his travel
+ Part 1, Notes on Tawakkul from Imam Ghazali
+ Part 2, Notes on Tawakkul

# Related:
. Tawakkul | complete dependence & sacred trust in Allah
. Tawakkul - a personal sharing

Artwork / Photo credit: [ Imaginary Muslims ]



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Technology of the Heart: Gnosis of Divine Sufficiency (Tawakkul) and its Ways
Gnosis of Divine Sufficiency (Tawakkul) and its Ways
Technology of the Heart
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