Allah, the Almighty, said, while quoting the believer of the family of Pharaoh:

{…and I delegate my affair to Allah. Indeed, Allah is seeing of [His] servants.} [Ghâfir 40:44]

قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ حَاكيًا عَنْ مُؤمِنِ آلِ فِرعَونَ "وَأُفَوِّضُ أَمْرِي إِلَى اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَصِيرٌ بِالْعِبَادِ"

[Tafweeḍ] is finer in inference and more comprehensive in meaning than tawakkul (reliance), because tawakkul takes place after engaging the causes, while tafweeḍ takes place before and after; and it is at the heart of istislâm (surrender), while tawakkul is a branch of it.258
It is of three levels:

وَهُوَ أَلْطَفُ إِشَارَةً، وَأَوْسَعُ مَعْنًى مِنَ التَّوَكُّلِ، فَإِنَّ التَّوَكُّلَ بَعْدَ وُقُوعِ السَّبَبِ، وَالتَّفْوِيضُ قَبْلَ وُقُوعِهِ وَبَعْدَهُ. وَهُوَ عَيْنُ الِاسْتِسْلَامِ. وَالتَّوَكُّلُ شُعْبَةٌ مِنْهُ.
وَهُوَ عَلَى ثَلَاثِ دَرَجَاتٍ:

The first is to know that, before any action, the slave owns no power:

  1. so they should not feel safe from [Allah’s] plots259

  2. or despair of His help 260

  3. or count on their own intention261

الْأُولَى أَنْ يَعْلَمَ أَنَّ الْعَبْدَ لَا يَمْلِكُ قَبْلَ عَمَلِهِ اسْتِطَاعَةً،:

  1. فَلَا يَأْمَنُ مِنْ مَكْرٍ

  2. وَلَا يَيْأَسُ مِنْ مَعُونَةٍ

  3. وَلَا يُعَوِّلُ عَلَى نِيَّةٍ

The second is to behold the inevitability of fate:

  1. so one will not see salvation in any action262

  2. or destruction in any sin263

  3. or effect in any cause264

الدَّرَجَةُ الثَّانِيَةُ مُعَايَنَةُ الِاضْطِرَارِ، :

  1. فَلَا يَرَى عَمَلًا مُنْجِيًا

  2. وَلَا ذَنْبًا مُهْلِكًا

  3. وَلَا سَبَبًا حَامِلًا

The third is about:

  1. beholding the singularity of the True One concerning His complete control of motion and stillness, and giving and withholding265

  2. knowing the proper administration (of their affairs) in the states of tafriqah (multiplicity of their conditions) and jam‘ (union with the One)266

الدَّرَجَةُ الثَّالِثَةُ :

  1. شُهُودُ انْفِرَادِ الْحَقِّ بِمِلْكِ الْحَرَكَةِ وَالسُّكُونِ وَالْقَبْضِ وَالْبَسْطِ

  2. وَمَعْرِفَتِهِ بِتَصْرِيفِ التَّفْرِقَةِ وَالْجَمْعِ

258Imam al-Harawi is hinting that tawakkul implies that the servant made up his mind and engaged the causes, while tafweeḍ means that they disavowed any ḥawl (influence) or quwwah (power) of their own and completely surrendered their affairs to Allah to decide for them.
In Madârij, Imam Ibn al-Qayyim disagrees with his master, Imam al-Harawi, and argues on behalf of the station of tawakkul. He quotes verses of the Qur’an in which Allah ordered His Messenger ﷺ to rely on Him and take Him as a wakeel (disposer of affairs). He argues that while tawakkul is mentioned so many times in the Qur’an, in different contexts, tafweeḍ was mentioned only once, while quoting the believer of the family of Pharaoh. He also argues that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was called al-Mutawakkil by Allah Himself, as Bukhari narrates from ‘Abdullâh ibn ‘Amr, who said:
“This verse:
{Indeed, We have sent you, [O Muhammad], as a witness, as a bringer of glad tidings and as a warner}, [al-Fatḥ 48:8]
which is in the Qur’an, appears in the Torah thus: ‘Verily We have sent you, [O Muhammad], as a witness, as a bringer of glad tidings and as a warner, and as a protection for the illiterates. You are my slave and My Messenger, and I have named you al-Mutawakkil.’”
Imam Ibn al-Qayyim argues that complete tawakkul includes tafweeḍ as well. It is not only after engaging the causes. It is before, with, and after. One may support Ibn al-Qayyim’s position here by Allah’s saying to His Messenger ﷺ in Soorat at-Tawbah:

{قُل لَّن يُصِيبَنَا إِلَّا مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَنَا هُوَ مَوْلَانَا وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ}

{Say: Never will we be struck except by what Allah has decreed for us; He is our protector. And upon Allah let the believers rely (make tawakkul).} (at-Tawbah 9:51)
While tafweeḍ may be part of complete tawakkul, highlighting its meanings is important so that the people may not have a deficient understanding and practice of tawakkul. It is particularly important for people whose hearts are still attached to the causes and therefore they have problems with anxiety, agitation, eagerness, and even transgression to procure what they believe is of benefit to them or their community or nation.
259 If the intelligent, the strong, and the mighty only knew they have no strength or might in truth, and all power belongs to Allah, the best Plotter, they would never feel secure from His plots.
260 If the weak only knew that all power belongs to their Lord, they would not despair of His help or lose hope.
261 Even if your intention is pure and you resolve to do what is good, you still should not count on your intention, because Allah may change it, or your resolve, because Allah may exhaust it.
262 Because while good deeds are a means to His pleasure, it is by His faḍl (graciousness) that we earn salvation.
263 Because while evil is a means to His displeasure, His forgiveness is always there for the penitent, and His mercy encompasses all things and precedes His anger.
264 The causes were made by Allah to lead to certain effects. We must be respectful of that when we engage them. However, we must be certain and our hearts completely assured that it is He who allows them to lead to those effects, and it is He who could stop the knife from cutting and the fire from burning.
265 In this level, the seeker is not observing themselves and their actions, but rather Allah and His attributes and actions, including the singularity of His khalq (creation), mulk (ownership), and tadbeer (disposal of affairs) of all that exists. He took no one for a partner or assistant.
266 One must be aware of jam‘ and farq in the sense that he or she must observe the multiplicity from their angle, because Allah’s wants of us vary according to our circumstances. For example, one must distinguish between His commands and prohibitions and His decrees that He likes (such as the faithfulness of the believers) and His decrees that He dislikes (such as the rejection of the disbelievers). Noticing the farq (variances, differences, distinctions, multiplicity) in those things is essential, while acknowledging the unity of the Origin, the Maker, the Owner, and the Controller, and working towards your jam‘ (togetherness) with Him. The observation of these differences will enable you to move to the highest level of ‘uboodiyah (servitude), where your highest pursuit is not what you want of your Lord, but what He wants of you. The comforting intimacy (uns) you feel during dhikr (remembrance) will not then keep you from walking to the masjid to catch the jamâ‘ah (congregational prayer) or entertaining your guest when they arrive or tending to the needs of your family, etc. You are doing all that because it is what He wants of you in those circumstances.
The Prophet ﷺ planned for his hijrah (migration) and his battles. He saved food for his family. He is our highest role model. His was the best to make tafweeḍ, so we conclude from this that tafweeḍ is not opposite to proper and careful planning. It is about knowing that Allah is in ultimate control, and if you are His beloved servant, His planning for you is the best planning. Also, when you plan, you know that you may wish for something and it is bad for you. Your planning, actions, and reflections about the past will not be mixed with incapacitating anxiety, haste, Machiavellianism, cheating or any impropriety, or debilitating grief.

Manâzil as-Sâirin


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

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj