Will you give information about having worries about sustenance and the future, and to rely on Allah (tawakkul)?

The Details of the Question

-  Does having worries about sustenance and the future mean to interfere in the deeds of Allah, who is the Sustainer (Razzaq)? Is it contrary to our faith?
- It is not appropriate for a Muslim to have worries about the future; it is Allah who gives sustenance. However, man still thinks, ‘What if I will be in need or go hungry in the future?’  
- Does such a thought mean to interfere in the deeds of Allah, who is the Sustainer? Is it contrary to our faith?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is a deed of worship to work within the limits of legitimacy. To act in accordance with causes is a supplication (dua) in a sense. However, it is necessary to regard what is given as a result of working and efforts as a grant and grace of Allah. The thought and work that do not comply with those two criteria are wrong. Therefore, the worry that I can go hungry is wrong. It is our duty to work; success comes from Allah; we should act based on this understanding.

We should definitely think about our future too. However, it must not be in the form of anxiety and not relying on Allah's mercy. We should give more importance to our future in the hereafter than our future in the world.

On the other hand, tawakkul (reliance on Allah) does not mean not to work. Tawakkul means to work in accordance with causes, take all necessary measures and then to consent to what God Almighty gives. Such a person lives in peace; he does not cause pain to his spirit by worrying about his livelihood. The following hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) becomes a hope of source for him:  

“If you relied on Allah truly, He would give you sustenance as He gives sustenance to birds.” (see Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 33; Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 14; Ibn Hanbal, 1/332)

Tawakkul never prevents working and acting in accordance with causes. God Almighty states the following in the Quran:

“That man can have nothing but what he strives for.” (an-Najm, 53/39)

Once, a man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said, “Should I tie my camel and rely on Allah, or should I leave it untied and rely on Allah?” The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Tie your camel and rely on Allah.” (Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 60) Thus, he showed the criterion of tawakkul in the best way.

We also advise you to read the following:

I observe that the most fortunate person in this worldly life is he who sees the world as a military guest-house, and submits himself and acts accordingly. Through seeing it in this way, he may rise swiftly to the rank of winning Allah’s pleasure, the highest rank. Such a person will not give the price of a lasting diamond for something of the value of glass that will be broken. He will pass his life uprightly and with pleasure.

Yes, the matters to do with this world are like pieces of glass doomed to be broken, while the lasting matters of the hereafter have the value of flawless diamonds. The intense curiosity, fervent love, terrible greed, and stubborn desires, and other intense emotions in man’s nature were given in order to gain the matters of the hereafter. To direct those emotions in intense fashion towards transitory worldly matters means giving the price of eternal diamonds for pieces of glass that are to be smashed. A point has occurred to me in connection with this, and I shall tell it. It is like this:

Passionate love is an ardent sort of love. When it is directed towards transitory objects, it either causes its owner perpetual torment and pain, or, since the metaphorical beloved is not worth the price of such fervent love, it causes the lover to search for an eternal beloved. Then metaphorical love is transformed into true love.

Thus, there are in man thousands of emotions, each of which has two degrees, one metaphorical, the other, true. For example, the emotion of anxiety for the future is present in everyone. When a person is intensely anxious at the future, he sees that he possesses nothing to guarantee that he will reach the future he is anxious about. Also, in respect of sustenance, there is an undertaking for it, and the future is brief and not worth such intense worry. So he turns away from the future towards the true future beyond the grave, which is long-lasting, and which for the heedless there is no undertaking.

Man also displays intense ambition for possessions and position, then he sees that the transient property which has been put temporarily under his supervision, and calamitous fame and position, which are dangerous and lead to hypocrisy, are not worth such intense ambition. He turns away from them towards spiritual rank and degrees in closeness to Allah, which constitute true rank, and towards provisions for the hereafter, and good works, which are true property. Metaphorical ambition, which is a bad quality, is transformed into true ambition, an elevated quality.

And, for example, with intense obstinacy, man expends his emotions on trivial, fleeting, transient things. Then he sees that he pursues for a year something not worth even a minute’s obstinacy. Also, in the name of obstinacy, he persists in something damaging and harmful. Then he sees that this powerful emotion was not given him for such things and that it is contrary to wisdom and truth to expend it on them. So he utilizes his intense obstinacy, not on those unnecessary transient matters, but on the elevated and eternal truths of belief and foundations of Islam and service and duties pertaining to the hereafter. Metaphorical obstinacy, a base quality, is transformed into true obstinacy; that is, ardent steadfastness and constancy in what is right, a fine and good quality.

Thus, as these three examples show, if man uses the faculties given to him on account of the soul and this world, and behaves heedlessly as though he was going to remain in the world for ever, they become the means to base morality, wastefulness, and futility. But if he expends the lesser of them on the matters of this world and the more intense of them on spiritual duties and duties pertaining to the hereafter, they become the source of laudable morals and the means to happiness in this world and the next in conformity with wisdom and reality. (Nursi, Mektubat, Dokuzuncu Mektup)

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