How will we be given sustenance if we rely on Allah like birds?

The Details of the Question

- Is there a hadith meaning we will be given sustenance like birds if we rely on Allah like birds? What is its source?
- How will we be given sustenance if we rely on Allah like birds?
- How can we rely on Allah like birds? How are birds
given sustenance?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

According to a narration from Hz. Umar, the Prophet (pbuh) said,

“If you relied on Allah truly, you would be given sustenance like birds. They leave the nest hungry and return with full stomachs." (see Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 33; Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 14; Ibn Hanbal,1/332)

- Attention is attracted to the virtue and importance of tawakkul (reliance on Allah).  If people believe that the one that really gives sustenance is only Allah and rely on Him, they will definitely find legitimate (halal) sustenance.  

“...And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out, And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him...” (at-Talaq, 65/2-3)

We can understand from the verses above the issue of tawakkul given by the hadith above.

- The reason why birds are given as an example is that they leave their nests hungry in the morning by relying on Allah, their Sustainer, and return with full stomachs in the evening thanks to that reliance. That is presented as a living example.

“Indeed, whoever made and bestowed life, which is a most brilliant miracle of the Eternally Besought One’s art and a wonder of dominical wisdom, is the one who maintains and perpetuates it through sustenance. It cannot be another. Do you want proof? The most impotent and stupid animals are the best nourished; like fish, and worms in fruit. And it is the most helpless and delicate creatures who have the choicest food; like infants and the young of all species.

“For sure, it is enough to compare fish with foxes, newly born animals with wild beasts, and trees with animals in order to understand that licit food is obtained not through power and will, but through impotence and helplessness.” (see Nursi, Sözler, p. 23)

- The difference between human beings and birds is that humans make efforts in accordance with causes. In fact, birds leaving their nests also shows acting in accordance with causes. For, causes are among Allah’s principles that are valid in the universe. It is necessary to act in accordance with them. However, it is wrong to act in accordance with them as if adoring them and to forget Allah’s power and mercy. It is wrong for people to abandon their duties to Allah. Let us listen to what Badiuzzaman Said Nursi states regarding the issue:

“That is to say, someone who gives up performing the prescribed prayers because of the struggle for livelihood resembles the soldier who abandoned his training and trench and went and begged in the market. But to seek one’s rations from the kitchens of the All-Generous Provider’s mercy after performing the prayers, and to go oneself so as not to be a burden on others is fine and manly. It too is a sort of worship.” (see ibid)

To sum up:

- If man acts in accordance with causes at the beginning of his deeds, it is good; it means to act in accordance with the wisdom of Allah’s name the Perfectly Wise (Hakim).   

- Not to act in accordance with causes at the beginning of his deeds due to “tawakkul” and to abandon working means laziness, not tawakkul.   

- Showing consent to what one obtains after working is real tawakkul.

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