One of my students had asked for lots more information on Tawakkul so let me start off with the first article*. I’ll be putting up more information on this issue, insha-Allah:
[*The following three articles are actually parts of a book by Shaikh Saalih Al-Fawzan.]
The Meaning of Reliance (Tawakkul) on Allaah
All praise be to Allaah, Lord of the all that exists, and may Allaah send His peace and praises on His Messenger, our Prophet Muhammad, as well as on all of his family members and Companions, and those who follow his guidance, tread his methodology and adhere to his Sunnah until the Day of Recompense.
To Proceed: Relying on Allaah (tawakkul) is one of the greatest forms of worship. Allaah says: “So upon Allaah, put your trust if you are truly believers.” [Surah Al-Maa’idah: 23] So He made relying upon Allaah (tawakkul) a condition for Eemaan (Faith).
Allaah said to His Prophet: “So when you have made a decision, then put your trust in Allaah.” [Surah Aali ‘Imraan: 159]
So He ordered His Prophet to put his trust and reliance on Allaah.
Allaah says: “O Prophet! Allaah is sufficient for you and for the believers who follow you.” [Surah Al-Anfaal: 64]
And He says: “And whoever is dutiful to Allaah, He makes a way out for him (from every difficulty). And He will provide for him from places he never could imagine. And whoever puts his trust in Allaah, He will suffice him. Verily, Allaah will accomplish His purpose. Indeed, Allaah has set a measure for all things.” [Surah At-Talaaq: 2-3]
And He says: “And whoever is dutiful to Allaah, He will make his matter easy for him. That is the Command of Allaah, which He has sent down to you. And whoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will expiate from him his sins and enlarge his reward.” [Surah At-Talaaq: 4-5]
Furthermore, Allaah has linked this reliance (tawakkul) to worship ( ‘ibaadah), as occurs in His statement: “So worship Him and put your trust in Him.” [Surah Hood: 123]
Allaah orders us to put our trust in Him, and He praises those who do it. He also states in many verses of the Qur’aan that He loves those who put their reliance in Him. All of this indicates and shows the importance of putting one’s trust in Allaah.
Relying upon Allaah is from the actions of the heart – so it is an act of worship of the heart. Therefore, putting one’s trust in Allaah is not to be done with one’s limbs and body parts. Rather, it is found in the heart, just like fear (khawf), awe (khashyah), longing (raghbah), dreading (rahbah) and dutifulness (taqwaa) of Allaah – all of these are acts of worship of the heart.
The position of tawakkul (reliance on Allaah) is as some of the scholars have stated: “The position of tawakkul in the Religion is like that of the head on a body.”
So a person that does not have tawakkul does not have Religion, just like a body that has no head. It is well known that if a body is missing its head, it will cease to live. This is the same case with the Religion – if it lacks tawakkul, it lacks correctness – meaning that one will not have a correct religion.
Therefore, relying on Allaah has a great standing amongst the stations of servitude to Allaah. Allaah uses it to distinguish His believing servants from everyone else. So whoever doesn’t put his trust in Allaah at all is a disbeliever. And whoever puts his trust in Allaah and also on others besides Allaah (at the same time) is a polytheist. And as for the one who puts his trust in Allaah alone – he is a monotheistic believer whom Allaah loves and whose actions and statements He is pleased with. This is since he has established his actions and statements upon a correct foundation.
So what is the meaning of this tawakkul (reliance on Allaah), which holds such importance and high position in the Religion?
The Meaning of Reliance (Tawakkul) on Allaah
Tawakkul on Allaah means: Entrusting one’s affairs to Him and relying on Him in all matters. Entrusting one’s affairs to Allaah entails not turning to someone else for support.
So reliance (tawakkul) upon Allaah can be with regard to matters of Creed, such that the servant’s heart does not turn to anyone else besides Allaah. Therefore, he is always putting his reliance in Allaah, entrusting all of his affairs to Him.
The pagans did not fall into polytheism and disbelief except due to the fact that they put their reliance in other than Allaah, entrusted their affairs to other than Him, and believed in their hearts that someone besides Allaah was able to grant their requests, alleviate their worries and repel harms from them. So they relied on statues, idols, trees, stones, graves, shrines and the deceased. They put their trust in created beings to grant them things that only Allaah could do. So they began to ask them for help, offer sacrifices to them, make oaths to them, and direct various forms of worship to them. This is since they have relied on them apart from Allaah, thinking that they have the power to benefit them, harm them or grant their requests. Due to this, when they put their reliance in other than Allaah and directed their beliefs and worship to other than Him, they disbelieved in Him.
The foundation of Shirk is: Entrusting one’s affairs and putting one’s reliance on other than Allaah. This is why Allaah says: “So upon Allaah, put your trust if you are truly believers.” [Surah Al-Maa’idah: 23]
The scholars say: The object of the verb here “upon Allaah” denotes limitedness. Thus the ayah means: “Put your trust in Allaah alone and not anyone else.” So Allaah has restricted tawakkul to Himself alone apart from others. Upon Allaah” means not upon anyone else. The ayah continues: “…put your trust if you are truly believers.” Allaah has made tawakkul (reliance on Allaah) here a sign of one’s Faith in Him and proof of one’s Tawheed.
As for the one who claims to be a believer and an adherent of Tawheed, but yet then goes on to put his trust in other than Allaah, such as stones, trees, statues, graves, the deceased, and so on, then this person’s claim is false. And he is not a believer since he has entrusted his affairs to someone besides Allaah.
Likewise, one can put his trust in Allaah in order to achieve his worldly needs, such as obtaining provision, preventing an enemy, and repelling harms and dangers from himself.
Therefore, relying upon Allaah can be in religious matters as well as worldly matters. So you should rely on Allaah in your Creed and your Tawheed. And put your trust in Allaah for fulfilling your needs even if your needs are of a worldly nature, such as eating, drinking, clothing and accomplishing some set goals. Put your reliance and trust in Allaah for all matters.
Reliance on Allaah is not limited to just matters of Creed and Tawheed. Rather, it even applies to worldly matters and seeking provision. When it comes to fulfilling any goal, do not rely on anyone besides Allaah. This is since all of the affairs are in the Hand of Allaah. The keys of the heavens and the earth are in His Hand, so we must put our trust and reliance in Him.
All of the needs and objectives of the servants lie in the Hand of Allaah. So how can a person put his trust and reliance in other than Allaah for his religious and worldly matters? No doubt this is from ignorance and turning away from Allaah. Therefore, relying on Allaah is one of the greatest stations of servitude.
Relying on Allaah and Abiding by the Means
Furthermore, relying upon Allaah does not mean that you abandon the means and entrust all of your affairs to Allaah. So (for example) you should not abandon seeking (your daily) sustenance, saying: “If Allaah wanted us to have sustenance, it would come to us even if we are sitting.” We should also not abandon seeking knowledge, saying: “If Allaah wanted us to have knowledge, it would come to us even if we are sitting in our homes.” This also applies to abandoning all of the other necessary things that we must have, saying: “If Allaah had decreed it for us, it would come to us without us embarking on the means for it.” This is extremely wrong.
So there must be a combination of the two: (1) Putting one’s trust in Allaah and (2) Abiding by the necessary means.
So a person must embark on the means when seeking after sustenance, whilst at the same time putting his trust in Allaah to achieve his objective.
A person plants crops while putting his trust in Allaah that his crops will grow and produce fruit. At the same time, he protects his crops from threats. In order for you to reap the benefits of the crops and for them to be useful to you, you must plant the crops, sow the seeds, water them and care for them. At the same time, you should put your trust in Allaah that He will protect them, make them grow, allow them produce fruit, enable you to reap their benefits and use them.
Similar to this is when a person forsakes marriage, saying: “This is part of putting one’s trust in Allaah since if Allaah intended children for me, they would come to me without me getting married.”
We say: This is wrong. No one with any common sense, let alone a believer, says such a thing. Allaah has placed means for all things. Marriage is a means for procreating and producing offspring. Allaah has ordered us to abide by the means, so you must implement the means. Marriage is a means and it comes from your actions. You are the one who does it and who seeks after it. As for the actual achievement of children, that comes from Allaah. And that is the fruit of marriage. So the result is in the Hand of Allaah, but as for the means, it comes from you.
So there must be a combination of the two: (1) Embarking on the means while (2) Relying on Allaah. As for one who relies solely on the means without putting his trust in Allaah or who relies solely on putting his trust in Allaah without implementing the means, both of them are wrong and in error.
This is why the scholars, may Allaah have mercy on them, said: “Relying solely upon the means is shirk (polytheism), while abandoning the means is a defamation of the Religion.” This is since the Religion commands us to abide by the means. So denying and abandoning the means is a defamation of the Religion and a failure to enact what Allaah has ordered.
Allaah says: “So seek provision from Allaah and worship Him (alone).” [Al-‘Ankaboot: 17]
His statement: “So seek provision from Allaah and worship Him (alone)” means: “Look for sustenance and do not sit around in the masaajid claiming that you are putting your trust in Allaah. Do not sit in your homes and claim that your daily sustenance will come to you.” This is wrong and a true believer doesn’t say such things.
When ‘Umar (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) once saw a group of people that claimed they were putting their trust in Allaah while at the same time they were abandoning the means, he said to them: “Who are you people?” They replied: “We are the Mutawakkiloon (those who put their trust in Allaah).” So he said: “No, rather you are Muta’akkiloon (those who look to be fed)” – meaning: You want to be dependent upon the people.
Allaah says: “So when the (Friday) prayer is completed, spread throughout the land and seek after Allaah’s Bounty.” [Surah Al-Jumu’ah: 10]
This means: Buy and sell and seek your sustenance by implementing the practical means. Allaah orders them (in this ayah) to perform worship and to pray at the proper time and designated location, which is the masjid. Then He orders them to seek sustenance in its designated location, which is outside of the masjid: “So when the (Friday) prayer is completed, spread throughout the land.”
This is since remembering Allaah is a means for obtaining sustenance as well. In fact, it is the greatest means for attaining sustenance and facilitating matters. Allaah says: “And whoever is dutiful to Allaah, He makes a way out for him (from every difficulty). And He will provide for him from places he never could imagine. And whoever puts his trust in Allaah, He will suffice him. Verily, Allaah will accomplish His purpose. Indeed, Allaah has set a measure for all things.” [Surah At-Talaaq: 2-3]
‘Umar (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) went on to say: “You know for sure that the sky does not send down silver and gold.” He reprimanded this group that had sat down to worship and become dependent upon others. He presented them with this gem of advice, saying to them: “You know for sure that the sky does not send down silver and gold.”
Gold and silver can only be achieved through hard effort, seeking after sustenance and implementing the means. As for the one who claims that he is putting his trust in Allaah but yet denies the means, it should be said to him that he is debilitated – meaning that he is lazy. This comes from the word debility, which refers here to laziness and inactivity. The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would seek refuge in Allaah from debility and laziness. 
A person may have no recourse in being debilitated due to the lack of the functionality of one of his body parts or one of his senses. Such a person is excused. He is debilitated and deserves assistance. As for debility that comes about due to laziness, inactivity and failing to abide by the means, whilst one believes that he is relying upon Allaah, such debility is condemnable. The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) sought refuge from this as well as from cowardice, miserliness, overwhelming debt and the subjugation of people.
Some people would go on the pilgrimage (Hajj) with Muslims and not bring any provisions or supplies with them. They would do this claiming that they were putting their trust in Allaah and that they would be provided for without them having to bring provisions along with them. So Allaah said: “And take provision with you for the journey, but indeed the best provision is Taqwaa (righteousness)” [Surah Al-Baqarah: 197], ordering them to take provisions.
Provisions are of two types: The Provision of this world and the provision of the Hereafter.
The provision of the worldly life comes in the form of food, drink, clothes, and all of the other things that a person needs when he travels.
As for the provision for the journey in the Hereafter, then it is Taqwaa. Allaah says: “But indeed the best provision is Taqwaa.” [Surah Al-Baqarah: 197]
So take provisions for your worldly life and take provisions for your Hereafter. Take provisions for your worldly life with food, drink and the necessary supplies for traveling so that you will not need to depend on others. And take provisions for your Hereafter with Taqwaa, which can be defined as implementing Allaah’s commandments while abandoning His prohibitions.
So what is meant by Taqwaa is taking a wiqaayah, or a defense that protects you from Allaah’s punishment and anger, and protects you from the Fire. Such a defense can only be achieved by performing righteous actions. And with the Taqwaa of Allaah you will be able to save yourself from the Hellfire, as Allaah says: “Then We shall save those who used to fear Allaah and were dutiful to Him. And We shall leave the wrongdoers therein (humbled) to their knees (in Hell).” [Surah Maryam: 72]
So therefore, nothing grants salvation except for righteous deeds. Faith in Allaah and righteous deeds are the provisions of the Hereafter, and they are a protection from His anger, His fire and His punishment. The servant is commanded to seek after the requirements of his religious and worldly affairs. He is obligated to seek after the requirements of his affairs of this life and the next. He is obligated to put his trust in Allaah and to implement the means. So there must be a combination of this and that.
No one should understand the meaning of relying upon Allaah to be: Abandoning the require means. This is wrong. Nor should anyone understand that implementing the means suffices over putting one’s trust in Allaah. Rather, both – (1) relying upon Allaah and (2) implementing the required means – must be present.
The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “If you were to put your trust in Allaah as He deserves, He would surely provide for you just as He provides for the birds: They set out in the morning with empty stomachs and return at the end of the day full.” [Reported by Ahmad and At-Tirmidhee, who declared it sound] 
His (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) statement: “If you were to put your trust in Allaah” means: If you were to rely on Him, cling your hopes to Him, and trust in His promise, “He would surely provide for you just as He provides for the birds: They set out in the morning with empty stomachs.” The birds go out at the beginning of the day seeking sustenance. They set out from their nests with their stomachs empty, i.e. hungry, and return at the end of the day full, i.e. with their stomachs filled with sustenance.
Notice how a bird does not sit back and remain in its nest. Rather, it seeks after the means by leaving its nest and going to the places where it can find its daily sustenance.
So the birds – due to their natures which Allaah created them upon – are aware that they must abide by the means, and as a result they go out to seek sustenance. As a result, Allaah provides for these birds and they return home with stomachs full of Allaah’s sustenance.
Therefore, O son of Aadam, if you were to act in the same way as these birds do, Allaah would provide for you just as He provides for them. On the other hand, if a person fails to do this, he will encounter discrepancies and deficiencies. So if he relies upon only the means, Allaah will entrust him to that as is stated in a hadeeth: “Whoever is dependent upon something will be entrusted to it.” 
It may also be that a person relies on the means but yet these means are unproductive and produce no benefit. On the other hand, if he disregards the means, yet puts his trust in Allaah, or so he thinks, he has made a mistake and not acted in accordance with what Allaah has commanded. This is since Allaah has ordered us to implement the means. He says: “And prepare against them all you can of power including steeds of war to threaten the enemy of Allaah and your enemy.” [Surah Al-Anfaal: 60]
Allaah has the ability to aid the Muslims and destroy the disbelievers, as He says: “Thus (you are commanded). But if it had been Allaah’s Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you).” [Surah Muhammad: 4]
 Refer to the Saheeh of Imaam Al-Bukhaaree 7/158) from the narration of Anas bin Maalik.
 Reported by Imaam Ahmad in his Musnad (1/30), At-Tirmidhee in his Sunan (7/92), Ibn Maajah in his Sunan (2/1394), and Al-Haakim in his Mustadrak (4/318), all of them from the narration of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattaab
 Reported by Imaam Ahmad in his Musnad (4/310), At-Tirmidhee in his Sunan (6/262), Ibn Maajah in his Sunan (2/1394), and Al-Haakim in his Mustadrak (4/216), all of them from the narration of ‘Abdullaah bin ‘Ukaim.
The Fruits of Putting one’s Trust in Allaah
As for the fruits of putting one’s trust in Allaah (i.e. tawakkul), then they are many. The greatest of them is that Allaah will suffice him in whatever he seeks after. “And whoever puts his trust in Allaah, He will suffice him.” [Surah At-Talaaq: 3]
So whoever relegates his affairs to Allaah, relies on Him alone, and believes that no one can give him good or repel harm from him except Allaah, “He will suffice him.”
This means that Allaah will protect him from all harms since the recompense is based on the action a person does. So when someone puts his trust in Allaah in the correct manner, He rewards him by sufficing him and taking charge of his affairs. Allaah Himself takes charge of this individual’s affairs and does not relegate it to anyone else. This is the greatest fruit of tawakkul (reliance upon Allaah).
Allaah says: “O Prophet, Allaah is sufficient for you.” [Surah Al-Anfaal: 64]
And He says: “And if they intend to deceive you, then verily Allaah is sufficient for you. It is He who supported you with His help and with the believers.” [Surah Al-Anfaal: 62]
So in summary: The greatest fruit of putting one’s trust in Allaah is that Allaah will suffice and take care of whoever relies in Him. This is why Allaah informs us of His Prophet Nooh when he told his people: “If my staying with you and my reminding you of the verses of Allaah are hard on you, then I put my trust in Allaah. So devise your plot – you and your partners – and let not your plot be in doubt for you. Then pass your sentence on me and give me no respite.” [Surah Yoonus: 71]
And He quotes His Prophet Hood as saying: “I am free from that which you ascribe as partners in worship apart from Him. So plot against me – all of you – and give me no respite. I put my trust in Allaah, my Lord and your Lord. There is not a creature that moves (i.e. lives) except that He has a grasp of its forelock. Verily, my Lord is on a Straight Path.” [Surah Hood: 54-56]
He quotes His Prophet Shu’aib as saying: “And my guidance is only due to Allaah. In Him I trust and to Him I repent.” [Surah Hood: 88]
And He said to His Prophet Muhammad: “Call your associates and then plot against me and give me no respite. Verily, my Protector is Allaah who has revealed the Book. He is the One who protects the righteous. And those whom you call upon besides Him cannot help you nor can they help themselves.” [Surah Al-A’raaf: 195-197]
Allaah informs us through the statements of these noble messengers that they challenged their people and their false deities to bring harm to them in some way. They did this because they had complete reliance on Allaah. And whoever puts his trust in Allaah, He will be sufficient for him.
Another fruit of relying upon Allaah is that it brings about loves from Allaah, as He says: “Verily, Allaah loves those who put their trust in Him.” [Surah Aali ‘Imraan: 159]
So if someone truthfully puts his trust in Allaah, Allaah will love him. And if Allaah loves this person, he will find success and happiness in this life and the next since he will be from among Allaah’s friends and allies.
Also from the fruits of putting one’s trust in Allaah is that a person will proceed in doing beneficial things and not fear or dread anyone except Allaah. So for example, those who are engaged in Jihaad by way of fighting battles against disbelievers – they only do so because they put their trust in Allaah. So in turn, this reliance on Allaah instills courage and strength into them and as a result, all of the hardships and difficulties that face them become lessened. And they take delight in dying in the Way of Allaah and attaining martyrdom in His Cause. All of this is due to their reliance and trust in Allaah.
Another fruit of putting one’s trust in Allaah is that it encourages one to go out and seek sustenance or to acquire knowledge or to do any of the other beneficial things. The one who puts his trust in Allaah perseveres and puts his heart into seeking after the useful and necessary means of life because he knows that Allaah is with those who rely on Him and that He will aid them. So he perseveres in seeking after all of the beneficial things of this life and the Hereafter and he is not from those who are lazy and weak.
It is for this reason that the Companions were the bravest of people. They genuinely put their trust and reliance in Allaah to the point that they were able to conquer lands in the east and the west. They conquered lands through victory in battle and conquered hearts through calling them to Allaah. All of this was because they put their trust in Allaah and because they relied on Him. Allaah says: “O you who believe, whoever amongst you apostates from his religion, Allaah will bring a people whom He will love and they will love Him, humble towards the believers and stern towards the disbelievers, fighting in the Cause of Allaah and never fearing the blame of the blamers. That is the Grace of Allaah which He bestows upon whom He wills. And Allaah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knowing.” [Surah Al-Maa’idah: 54]
So they didn’t fear for the sake of Allaah the blame of the blamers since they relied on Him to the utmost degree and entrusted their affairs in Him absolutely. They did not turn to anyone else regardless if the people were content or discontent with it, so long as they continued to do what was pleasing to Allaah. It is stated in the hadeeth: “Whoever seeks to please Allaah by (doing something that is) displeasing (to) the people, Allaah becomes pleased with him and makes the people pleased with him. And whoever seeks to please the people by (doing something that is) displeasing (to) Allaah, Allaah becomes displeased with him and makes the people displeased with him.” 
So relying upon Allaah, putting one’s trust in Him, and entrusting one’s affairs to Him is the foundation of Tawheed. It is the foundation of actions. And it is the foundation of goodness. This is why Allaah made it a condition of Faith, where He says: “So in Allaah put your trust if you are truly believers.” [Surah Al-Maa’idah: 23]
There still remains one issue related to this topic, which we would like to discuss, and it is the issue of tawkeel, or delegating authority to someone else. If you entrust someone to obtain something for you, such as buying a product for you or renting something for you or litigating on your behalf, does this mean that you have put your trust in someone other than Allaah? No, this does not mean that. Choosing someone to represent you and act on your behalf is not tawakkul.
Tawakkul means complete reliance and relegation of one’s affairs, which cannot be done except on Allaah.
As for tawkeel, it is when you appoint someone else to obtain something permissible that you are looking for, which he has the ability to obtain. This is one of the allowable means. So hire a representative from the perspective of implementing the means and put your trust in Allaah when obtaining your objective from the perspective of worship. But do not put your trust (tawakkul) in this representative. Instead put your trust in Allaah.
So therefore, commissioning someone else to handle some of your affairs does not violate your creed nor does it mean that you are putting your trust in someone other than Allaah. It is merely working hand in hand with someone towards achieving an objective. Allaah says: “Assist one another in (matters of) piety and righteousness and do not assist one another in sin and transgression.” [Surah Al-Maa’idah: 2]
So a wakeel (representative) is only there to assist an individual by taking his place and serving as a means to get what he wants. In the same way that him doing something on his own constitutes a means, then likewise, his commissioning a representative to handle his affairs is also a means. And it does not fall under the realm of putting one’s trust in other than Allaah.
In conclusion, I ask Allaah to make us and you from those who put their trust in Allaah in truth – those who implement the required means and rely upon their Lord, those who do not rely on anyone else nor entrust their affairs to anyone else. May Allaah send the peace and praises on our Prophet, Muhammad, his family and all of his Companions.
 Reported by Ibn Hibbaan in his Saheeh (1/435) and At-Tirmidhee in his Sunan (7/133) in a similar narration, both on the authority of ‘Aa’ishah; Others reported it as well.