وَمَا تَوْفِيقِي إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ
And my tawfīq is not but through Allah.
(Sūrat Hūd, No.11, Āyat 88)
The word tawfīq comes from the root ‘wa-fa-qa’ which means to agree or reconcile. In Islamic terminology it refers to a special grace from the Almighty which makes various means and causes come together to allow a person to do the good they want to do. A Muslim may intend to do good but without tawfīq it may not be possible to achieve the desired result. In the book The Etiquettes of Spiritual Wayfaring and the Journey to God, the translator has described tawfīq thus: ‘Tawfīq means that Allah ‘azza wajall arranges causes in such a manner that they pull the servant towards the virtuous deed, or that He subhānahu wata‘ālā does not bring about some of the causes that would enable the servant to perform a disobedient act.’ (Footnote 24, p 49)
The Quran mentions tawfīq as increase of capacity and receptivity to receive truth, allowing the light of faith to settle in the heart. Khidhlān is its opposite, having apathy and even dislike for the truth. Allah (swt) says:
مَن يُرِدِ اللَّهُ أَن يَهْدِيَهُ يَشْرَحْ صَدْرَهُ لِلْإِسْلَامِ ۖ وَمَن يُرِدْ أَن يُضِلَّهُ يَجْعَلْ صَدْرَهُ ضَيِّقًا حَرَجًا كَأَنَّمَا يَصَّعَّدُ فِي السَّمَاءِ
So, whoever Allah wants to guide – He expands his chest to [contain] Islam; and whoever He wants to misguide – He makes his chest tight and constricted as though he were climbing into the sky (Q 6:125).
People can reach high levels of faith and closeness to Allah through tawfīq. Others can remain distant from Him due to khidhān.
In Du‘ā al-Sabah, taught by Amīrul Mu’minīn Imam Ali ‘alayhis-salām we recite:
My God, if mercy from You does not begin with tawfīq for me, then who can take me to You upon the evident path? . . . If Your help should forsake me in the battle against the soul and Satan, then Your khidhlān will have submitted me to where there is hardship and deprivation.
Khidhlān is not being granted the opportunity to do the good you had wanted to do. In the event of Karbala, we see an example of this in al-Tirimmah bin Adi. He was one of the people who met Imam al-Husayn (a) on his journey to Karbala and delivered the news of Qays bin Mushir’s martyrdom to him. Al-Tirimmah wanted to take some rations to his own family and asked for permission to go and then return to the Imam. Unfortunately, by the time he came back he received the news that Imam had been martyred. To make the right choice at the right time requires tawfīq from Allah (swt).
Tawfīq is not granted at random. Whoever takes the first step and tries hard to be able to do good, receives tawfīq. The Quran says:
وَالَّذِينَ اهْتَدَوْا زَادَهُمْ هُدًى وَآتَاهُمْ تَقْوَاهُمْ
And those who are guided – He increases them in guidance and gives them their righteousness (Q 47:17).
Another condition of receiving tawfīq is sincerity. The Prophet (s) says about his daughter Sayyida Fātimah al-Zahrā (a): Allah singled her out for two special qualities. She inherited the Messenger of Allah and the progeny of the Messenger of Allah continued through her. Allah only chose her for this because of the extraordinary sincerity He knew she had in her intentions (Bihār al-Anwār, v 43, p 37). Sayyida Fātimah (a) herself says about the value of sincerity: Whosoever raises to Allah sincere acts of His worship, He will send down only what will be best for him (Bihār al-Anwār, v 68, p 184).
The verse quoted at the beginning of this Reflection should be recited regularly. It is a way to ask for tawfīq, and to acknowledge that whatever good we can do is through His assistance. Great scholars, after painful research and huge efforts they put producing their works, often write that: my success was only due to Allah. During this season of worship, let us recite the above verse and ask for tawfīq to truly worship Allah and be engaged in acts of devotions witnessed in the Holy Prophet and his Household. As Imam Ali (a) says: How can one enjoy worship when he is not helped by tawfīq? (Ghurar al-Hikam, p 518, H 6477)
The World Federation – Muharram Lesson of the day, Day 3 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldNa1UPaeD8