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Tashih al Mafahim 16



Assalamualaikum SS Datuk Mufti. Is it true that tawakkal without effort is permissible in order to attain what we want?


Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

We will start with the meaning of tawakkal. Ibn al-Athir said, tawakkal means handing over all of our affairs to another or dependence on another. This is due to absolute belief towards another of whom the affairs are handed over to or the inability of handling the matter himself. (See al-Nihayah fi Gharib al-Hadith, 5/221)

Ibnu Rajab said that the truth of tawakkal is the true dependence of one’s heart in Allah SWT in obtaining the maslahah and rejecting harm regarding the worldly matters or the hereafter, handing over all of his affairs to Allah SWT, with a firm and strong faith that none could give, prevent, harm and benefit except Him. (See Jami' al-'Ulum wa al-Hikam, 3/1266)

Allah SWT states:

وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ

“And whoever relies upon Allah - then He is sufficient for him.”

Surah al-Talaq (3)

Ibn Qayyim explained: In the above statement of Allah SWT, it is not said that for those who relies upon Allah SWT there is so and so rewards for it. Instead, it is stated that Allah Himself will make it sufficient for him. If a person truly relies on Allah SWT, Allah SWT will open up an exit through the heavens and earth as well as all the creations in it of which are under His dominion. Allah SWT will make it sufficient and help those who rely on Him. (See Bada’i al-Fawa’id, 2/775)

Efforts Are Unnecessary When One Has Reliance (Tawakkal)?

Answering the above question, here we present a hadith narrated by Umar bin al-Khattab RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:

لَوْ أَنَّكُمْ تَتَوَكَّلُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ حَقَّ تَوَكُّلِهِ لَرَزَقَكُمْ كَمَا يَرْزُقُ الطَّيْرَ تَغْدُو خِمَاصاً وَتَرُوحُ بِطَاناً

“If you were to rely upon Allah with the reliance He is due, you would be given provision like the birds: They go out hungry in the morning and come back with full bellies in the evening.”

Musnad Ahmad (1/30), al-Tirmizi (2344), Ibn Majah (4164), Ibn Hibban (730) dan al-Hakim (7894)

In explaining the meaning of the hadith, Imam al-Munawi said: This shows that reliance is accompanied with effort and not without it. Reliance (tawakkal) is by putting in every effort that could lead to the desired outcome. The reason is even birds get their food for the day by putting the effort of going out looking for food. Thus, this is a guidance for us to go out and put in the effort for our sustenance.

In this hadith, the Prophet PBUH indicates that true reliance (tawakkal) does not mean being apathetic and refusing to put in the effort for one’s sustenance, consequently, true reliance is putting in all the effort of which is permissible to attain one’s sustenance. (Cited in Tuhfah al-Ahwazi bi Syarh Jami’ al-Tirmizi, 7/8)

Imam al-Suyuti quote the statement of Imam al-Baihaqi in Syu’ab al-Iman said: “This hadith is not the evidence for a person to relax and refuse to put in the effort to get one’s sustenance. Consequently, this hadith is evidence of the commandment to seek sustenance for the bird to go out and search for its sustenance.

Imam al-Ghazali said: Reliance in Islam in not an escapism attitude for those who refuse to put in the effort or whose efforts failed, but reliance is a place of the return of efforts. Reliance is not idle waiting, put great effort which is followed by reliance to Allah SWT. Allah SWT is the One who will decide the outcome. (See Ihya’ Ulum al-Din, 2/65)

Thus, efforts are necessary. Even the Prophet PBUH did so. The Prophet PBUH will go to war wearing body armour and equipped himself with the necessities of war. The Prophet PBUH also wears a metal helmet. The Prophet PBUH said to a man who owned a camel:

اَعقِلْهَا وَتَوَكَّلْ

"Tie it and rely (upon Allah)."

Sunan al-Tirmizi (2157) and Ibn Hibban (708)

The Prophet PBUH commanded him to first put in the effort and then hand over his affairs to Allah SWT. Thus, effort is necessary accompanied by reliance to Allah SWT.


According to the above statements and discussion, it can be understood that true tawakkal (reliance) does not mean sitting idle and refusal to the effort of obtaining sustenance, consequently, true reliance is putting in every effort that is permissible to obtain sustenance.

Here, we state that the true meaning of tawakkal includes determination, resolve, strategy, great effort, supplication and lastly, contentment with the decision of Allah SWT. Consequently, if it fails, he will be patient. Surely, there are hidden wisdoms that transcend human minds.

May Allah SWT bless us with knowledge and understanding and make us from those who rely on Allah SWT with true reliance on Him. Amin.