Quranic Reflection No 562. Āyat 12:67 – Tawakkul


It has been narrated by Abī Sa‘īd al-Khudrī that the Messenger of Allah (s) said: Indeed Rajab is the month of Allah, Sha‘bān is my month, and Ramadān is the month of my ummah.. Surely, whoever fasts a day in Rajab, he/she secures Allah’s greatest pleasure, the fast of that day stifles the wrath of Allah – the Mighty and Sublime, and one of the gates of hell is closed for him/her (Ibn Tāwūs, Iqbāl, p. 634; Hurr al-‘Āmilī, Wasā’il, H. 13,887). 


وَقَالَ يَا بَنِيَّ لَا تَدْخُلُوا مِن بَابٍ وَاحِدٍ وَادْخُلُوا مِنْ أَبْوَابٍ مُّتَفَرِّقَةٍ ۖ وَمَا أُغْنِي عَنكُم مِّنَ اللَّهِ مِن شَيْءٍ ۖ إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلَّا لِلَّهِ ۖ عَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ ۖ وَعَلَيْهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُتَوَكِّلُونَ

Waqāla yā baniyya lā tadkhulū min bābib wāhidin wadkhulū min abwābin mutafarriqah, wamā ughnī ‘ankum minallāhi shay‘in, inil-hukmu illā lillāhi, ‘alayhi tawakkaltu, wa-‘alayhi falyatawakkalil-mutawakkilūn

And he said, ‘My sons, do not enter by one gate, but enter by separate gates, though I cannot avail you anything against Allah. Sovereignty belongs only to Allah. In Him I have put my trust; and in Him let all the trusting put their trust.’ 

(Sūrat Yūsuf, No 12, Āyat 67)

The above verse narrates the advice of Prophet Ya‘qūb ‘alayhis-salām to his sons when they were returning to Egypt a second time along with their brother Binyāmin. The context of this verse within the story of Prophet Yūsuf alayhis-salām is not of concern here, nor is the exact motivation behind this advice. For example, it could be that he did not want his sons to attract attention as they entered the gates of Egypt all together, thus he advised them to divide up and enter from different gates.

What we aim to discuss is the concept of tawakkul, in light of this blessed verse. The original meaning of tawakkul is to display weakness and inability. But as an Islamic term, it is used for a state when man exclusively places his hope upon Allah ‘azza wajall. The one who has tawakkul strives to achieve his goals but does not see the effect as being from himself. (Majmaʿ al-Bahrayn, 5:493)

Tawakkul arises from a correct, monotheistic outlook to the world. It is by studying theology and using the intellect correctly to realize man’s station that one can firmly attest, “I cannot avail you anything against Allah. Sovereignty belongs only to Allah.” 

The Quran talks about Tawakkul in many verses. It says: And whoever puts his trust in God, then God suffices him’ (Q 65:3). Imam al-Sādiq ‘alayhis-salām said about this verse: There are various degrees of trust in God:

– That you put your trust of God in all your affairs. 

– That you are well-pleased with whatever God does to you. 

– Knowing for certain that He does not cease in His goodness and grace towards you. 

– And that the command rests entirely with Him.  (Al-Kāfī, v. 2, p. 391, H 3).

Another fundamental lesson in the above verse is that although Ya‘qūb had tawakkul on Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā, he still strived to keep his sons safe by advising them to act in a logical manner, and not all enter the gates of Egypt at once. Such is the state of Allah’s close servants. They work tirelessly day and night, following the apparent means to achieve their goal, while their heart and hope is exclusively attached to Allah.

It is narrated that a person said to the Messenger of Allah sallal-lāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wasallam, “O Messenger of Allah! Should I tie my camel and then place trust in Allah, or should I set it free and then put trust in Allah?” The Messenger of Allah replied: Tie it and then place your trust in Allah. (Mīzān al-Hikmah, 10:684).

This lofty Islamic teaching, that itself is a fundamental factor in a believer’s success has been indicated by the great scholar of our time, ‘Allāmah Tabātabāī, in the following lines of poetry:

من به سرچشمه خورشید نه خود بردم راه

ذره ای بودم و مهر تو مرا بالا برد

To the source of the radiant Sun, I did not lead myself,

I was nothing but a speck that out of Your mercy, You raised.

May Allah allow us to be amongst those who tirelessly work for Him whilst placing our complete reliance and hope on none other than Him. 

Sources: Kulaynī, Al-Kāfī.; Majmaʿ al-Bahrayn; Rayshahrī, Mīzān al-Hikmah.

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