Allah, the Almighty, said:

{…And upon Allah rely, if you should be believers.} [al-Mâ’idah 5:23]

قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ "وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَتَوَكَّلُوا إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ"

Reliance is handing over all matters to their (rightful) Owner and counting on His agency. It is one of the hardest stations for the public and one of the weakest paths for the elite.249 This is because the True One, Most High, has entrusted all matters to Himself and made the world despair of having any ownership of any of them.
It is of three levels; all of them follow the path of the common people:

التَّوَكُّلُ: كِلَةُ الْأَمْرِ إِلَى مَالِكِهِ، وَالتَّعْوِيلُ عَلَى وِكَالَتِهِ، وَهُوَ مِنْ أَصْعَبِ مَنَازِلِ الْعَامَّةِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَأَوْهَى السُّبُلِ عِنْدَ الْخَاصَّةِ؛ لِأَنَّ الْحَقَّ تَعَالَى قَدْ وَكَلَ الْأُمُورَ كُلَّهَا إِلَى نَفْسِهِ، وَأَيْأَسَ الْعَالَمَ مَنْ مِلْكَ شَيْءٍ مِنْهَا.
وَهُوَ عَلَى ثَلَاثِ دَرَجَاتٍ. كُلُّهَا تَسِيرُ مَسِيرَ الْعَامَّةِ.

The first level is reliance accompanied by the pursuit (of needs) and engaging the causes,250 with the intention of:

  1. keeping the nafs (inner-self) busy251

  2. benefiting the creations252

  3. renouncing the claims253

الدَّرَجَةُ الْأُولَى: التَّوَكُّلُ مَعَ الطَّلَبِ وَمُعَاطَاةِ السَّبَبِ عَلَى نِيَّةِ:

  1. شَغْلِ النَّفْسِ

  2. وَنَفْعِ الْخَلْقِ

  3. وَتَرْكِ الدَّعْوَى

The second level involves reliance while dropping all appeals254 and looking beyond the causes:255

  1. to strive for correcting one’s reliance

  2. to curb one’s excessive aspirations

  3. to spare the time for observing obligations

الدَّرَجَةُ الثَّانِيَةُ : التَّوَكُّلُ مَعَ إِسْقَاطِ الطَّلَبِ، وَغَضُّ الْعَيْنِ عَنِ السَّبَبِ:

  1. اجْتِهَادًا لِتَصْحِيحِ التَّوَكُّلِ

  2. وَقَمْعًا لِتشَرُّفِ النَّفْسِ

  3. وَتَفَرُّغًا إِلَى حِفْظِ الْوَاجِبَاتِ

The third level entails having reliance while being fully cognizant of its meaning, thereby escaping from the ills of reliance. This is by knowing that Allah’s ownership is an ownership of complete might, and that He has no partner who would delegate to Him any of His affairs. It is an essential part of servitude for the servant to know that the True One—exalted is He—is the single Owner of all things.256

قَالَ : الدَّرَجَةُ الثَّالِثَةُ : التَّوَكُّلُ مَعَ مَعْرِفَةِ التَّوَكُّلِ، النَّازِعَةِ إِلَى الْخَلَاصِ مِنْ عِلَّةِ التَّوَكُّلِ، وَهِيَ أَنْ يَعْلَمَ أَنَّ مِلْكَةَ الْحَقِّ تَعَالَى لِلْأَشْيَاءِ هِيَ مِلْكَةُ عَزَّةٍ، لَا يُشَارِكُهُ فِيهَا مُشَارِكٌ فَيَكِلُ شَرِكَتَهُ إِلَيْهِ، فَإِنَّ مِنْ ضَرُورَةِ الْعُبُودِيَّةِ أَنْ يَعْلَمَ الْعَبْدُ أَنَّ الْحَقَة سُبْحَانَهُ هُوَ مَالِكُ الْأَشْيَاءِ وَحْدَهُ.

249 See the discussion of the third level concerning the status of perfect tawakkul and it being of the stations of the prophets and messengers of Allah. What the sheikh may have meant here is that the basic forms of tawakkul are so easy for the elite who have become completely certain that all ḥawl (influence) and quwwah (power) belong to Allah alone. The sheikh may have also meant that the elementary forms of tawakkul may still lack complete tafweeḍ (delegation—a station he discusses in the following chapter), but this would not be applicable to the perfect tawakkul the Prophet ﷺ was commanded to observe.
250 Relying on Allah while engaging the causes: making provisions and taking precautions. This includes acquiring money, strength, knowledge, and status with the noble intentions below.
251 Because if the nafs is not kept busy with that which is beneficial, it will get busy with that which is harmful.
252 To benefit oneself and the rest of the creations, including one’s family, neighbors, the Ummah, humanity at large—and beyond.
253 Claims of belonging to a higher station. Thus, they will be engaging the causes, so that they deter their nafs from making the claim that it is above the pursuit of needs or the engagement of causes; they also use this engagement of the causes so that the people may not ascribe to them higher stations.
254Not appealing to the creation for any of their needs, but rather seeking them all from God. Muslim reported from Mâlik al-Ashja‘i that he said:

“… We said, ‘Now tell us, O Messenger of Allah, (for what things) should we pledge allegiance to you?’
He ﷺ said, ‘That you would worship Allah alone and would not associate with Him anything, (and observe) five prayers, and obey—and he said one thing in an undertone—and that you would not ask people for anything.’
I saw that some of these people did not ask anyone to pick up the whip for them if it fell down.”

In Madârij, Imam Ibn al-Qayyim says that Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah would say that begging the people is injustice to the Lordship of Allah by looking to other than Him for help, to one’s nafs by humiliating it, and to the creation by asking them to give up what they love.
255 In Madârij, Imam Ibn al-Qayyim points out how the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, the greatest of the mutawakkils, engaged the asbâb by proper planning, taking precautions, making provisions, judging matters by their outcomes, etc.
256The sheikh may be implying that one of the problems of reliance is that the one who is reliant delegates to Allah what is already Allah’s, and such delegation is not conceivable. Imam Ibn al-Qayyim extended his apologies to the sheikh that he had to disagree with him on this matter, and mentioned that Allah commanded the best of His creation to have tawakkul where he said:

{فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ إِنَّكَ عَلَى الْحَقِّ الْمُبِينِ}

{So rely upon Allah; indeed, you are upon the clear truth.} (an-Naml 27:79)

This means that tawakkul is of the highest stations. He went on to contend that perfect tawakkul is, in fact, a result of the realization that Allah is the single Owner and Controller of all things, so tawakkul is entrusting the Owner with what He owns and relying on Him concerning the needs, affairs, and destiny of His servants, who already recognize their complete lack of ḥawl (influence) and quwwah (power).

Manâzil as-Sâirin


Shaykhul-Islam Abu Isma‘il Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-Ansari al-Harawi (396-481H)

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj