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Tawakkul, Hope, and Striving: Three Pieces of a Whole

Part I | Part II

At first she was terrified.  She called out to her husband who now turned to leave. “Will you leave us here to die?”  There was no reply.  She called after him again.  Still there was no reply.  Suddenly she called out again: “Were you commanded by your Lord to bring us here?”

“Yes,” replied the Prophet Ibraheem.


It was then that Hajar’s fear disappeared.  Although she suddenly found herself alone in the middle of a desert, with her newborn child and no sign of water, she knew with full certainty that Allah would never leave her side.  Her faith was strong, her conviction untouched.

But soon after Prophet Ibraheem left, her child Ismail began to cry from thirst.  And although Hajar had complete tawakkul (trust and reliance) in Allah, she did not remain sitting, waiting for the water to fall down from the sky.

Reliance on Allah filled Hajar’s heart; but with her limbs, Hajar strove with everything she had.  She began to run quickly between the mountains of Al-Safa and Al-Marwa, looking for any sign of water for her son.  Each time Hajar came to the top of the mountain and found nothing, she did not despair nor did she lose hope.  Her will was unshaken, and she continued to strive.  In fact, Hajar strove so hard that the ritual itself became known as Sa’ee—which literally means “to strive.”

Many people confuse tawakkul with resignation and the secession of striving. But by no means does tawakkul mean one ceases to struggle.  The story of Hajar serves as one of the most beautiful examples of this lesson taught to us by our beloved Prophet (s).  When a man came to Prophet Mohammed (s) and asked him if he should have trust in Allah, or tie his camel and then have trust in Allah, the Prophet (s) replied that he should tie his camel securely and then put his trust in Allah.

Tawwakul is not an act of the limbs—it is an act of the heart.  And so while the limbs are striving hard, the heart is completely reliant on Allah.  This means whatever the outcome of the limbs’ striving, the heart will be completely satisfied, knowing that it is the flawless decision of Allah.

But in order to reach this level, one must hold on to hope, strive with the limbs, and let go with the heart.

About the author

Yasmin Mogahed

Yasmin Mogahed

Yasmin Mogahed received her B.S. Degree in Psychology and her Masters in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After completing her graduate work, she taught Islamic Studies and served as the Sisters’ Youth Director for the Islamic Society of Milwaukee. She also worked as a writing instructor for Cardinal Stritch University, and a staff columnist for the Islam section of InFocus News. Currently she’s an independent media consultant and a writer for the Huffington Post, where she focuses most of her work on spiritual and personal development. Her written works, including a book chapter on the portrayal of Islam post-911, have appeared in print and online publications worldwide.

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  • According to the hadith in Sahih Muslim, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “If you see the new moon of Dhul-Hijjah, and one of you want to offer a sacrifice, let him avoid cutting his hair or trim his nails until he slaughters the sacrifice.”

    I am sorry ..I know this is off the topic but does the above hadith mean that I cannot remove hair from my legs, underarms etc until the sacrifice is done?Or it is preferable but not obligatory?

    If I have the sacrifice done abroad do I wait till they do eid as it is sometimes a day after where I live?

  • Mash’Allah. Again, Sr. Yasmin, great article… Part II is, for me, the best you can get: tawwakul is not letting go of striving. Tawwakul is not resignation. It definitely hit home.

    Jazaki Allah khayr!

  • Hi,

    My question is this? This story is along the lines of Allah helps those who help themselves.
    If I’m chronically lazy; and I believe in Allah(swt) and I want Allah(swt) to stop me from being chronically lazy what can I do? I want Allah(swt) to make happen so I don’t feel lethargic and down all the time. I have seen doctor and he recommend exercise; I go to work out and I exercise but again I do everything so slowly and with such lethargy.

    • Hi Mike, Assalaamu Alaikum

      You might want to look into seeing a naturopathic or better yet ayurvedic doctor. They will be able to pinpoint the imbalances within you (physical, mental) that are causing this kind of stagnation in your life, and help to rebalance you naturally. Their system of medicine is more attune to the individual and the lifestyle, thinking, and diet patterns that that individual needs to be healthy, rather than just treating the laziness. I believe Allah wants us live in balance, like the rest of his creation, and the solution to our problems is there, we just have to be open to it.

  • What about the mind? Is it a part of the “limbs” or the heart?

    We know from medical research that some people suffer from hereditary neurochemical imbalances. This is proven through CT/PET analyses and genetic studies of twins. I am not talking about psychoses where people hallucinate and clearly have lost their senses. There are millions with subtle imblances which cause chronic low mood, anxiety, hypomania and mood instability. They are born with this! What about them? They will possibly never “feel” the peace as their neurons are miswired from birth.

    Where is the help?

  • Brother fezz … They should read more Quran …ruqyah fathihah ayat syifa and doa more … Insyallah they”‘ll feel better … Isn’t the Quran the best of all shifas 🙂 may their problem has it’s own hikmah and may we be more to receive the greater hikmah so we can understand life , our creator and our fellow human beings better and be better pple insyallah 🙂

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