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Reliance, Gratitude,Patience

Reliance on God (Tawakkul):

God the Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an: “..if you do (really) believe in Allah then in Him put your trust if you submit (your will to His)”(Qur’an;10:84): “God loves those who place their trust in Him”(Qur’an;3:159). What is the meaning and significance of tawakkul? We stated earlier that God has created both good and bad, and that the laws He has laid down for the universe contain the means for achieving both. Does tawakkul mean therefore that we can abdicate responsibility for what happens, saying that everything is God’s responsibility? There were among the Sufis those who interpreted tawakkul as meaning they could abandon their responsibilities and instead of earning their living, they waited for work to find them without taking action to look for it. If one of them fell sick they left him without medical care, hoping he would be cured without medicine or treatment. They would also travel across the desert without food or water, expecting to be bestowed with whatever they required without making, any effort. They had the same attitude towards seeking knowledge. To prove their point they would misquote the verse from the Holy Qur’an which reads: “And remain conscious of God, since it is God Who teaches you”(Qur’an;2:282) But this is only a portion of a verse, and anyone reading the whole of it would realise that the meaning they claimed is not the true interpretation. Allah says: “O believers! When you deal with each other in lending for a fixed period of time, put it in writing. Let a scribe write it down with justice between the parties. The scribe, who is given the gift of literacy by Allah, should not refuse to write; he is under obligation to write. Let him who incurs the liability (debtor) dictate, fearing Allah his Lord and not diminishing anything from the settlement. If the borrower is mentally unsound or weak or is unable to dictate himself, let the guardian of his interests dictate for him with justice. Let two witnesses from among you bear witness to all such documents, if two men cannot be found, then one man and two women of your choice should bear witness, so that if one of the women forgets anything the other may remind her. The witnesses must not refuse when they are called upon to do so. You must not be averse to writing (your contract) for a future period, whether it is a small matter or big. This action is more just for you in the sight of Allah, because it facilitates the establishment of evidence and is the best way to remove all doubts; but if it is a common commercial transaction concluded on the spot among yourselves, there is no blame on you if you do not put it in writing. You should have witnesses when you make commercial transactions. Let no harm be done to the scribe or witnesses; and if you do so, you shall be guilty of transgression. Fear Allah; it is Allah that teaches you and Allah has knowledge of everything” Qur’an;2:282).

Even if we were to accept their statement for the sake of argument and presume that we can attain knowledge simply by being conscious of God, we could still reason by saying that God-consciousness is attained by abiding by what is ordained by God. As He ordains the seeking of knowledge, anyone failing to abide by that is not a truly God-conscious person, and therefore his attitude is contrary to Divine guidance. There are people, who live only to make money, and their whole lives are orientated towards that goal, and there are people who believe that the means justify the end, and that it is by means alone that logical results are achieved. In fact such an assumption is contrary to reality because the desired result is often not achieved, in spite of the availability of the means. For example, two patients in hospital may receive identical treatment from the same doctor and one may recover while the ‘other may die. Similarly, a farmer could use the latest methods and machinery, sow the best quality seeds and fertilize his land with the best fertilizer available, yet a cold spell or some other drastic weather conditions could lay waste to all his efforts. Therefore the means alone cannot produce the end result. However, it is not sensible to ignore them altogether.

The right course is to be led by Divine guidance. We can employ all the means at our disposal and pray to God to grant us the result rather like; tying a camel and entrusting its safety to God, or preparing yourself as well as you can for an exam, and trusting God and praying to Him for your success. This is the true meaning of Tawakkul (trust in God). It does not mean ignoring whatever is at our disposal to get a job done, nor should we disregard the universal laws He has laid down: at the same time, however, we must be aware of the fact that God alone bestows what is good or bad. We need the means to achieving what we wish, and employing the means available to us is away of obeying God. However, we cannot resort to the means alone as the results are in God’s hands. Therefore, anyone genuinely trusting God will use every lawful means at his disposal to achieve his goal and will firmly believe that it is God Who grants success.

Gratitude:

Gratitude represents the sense of contentment we feel with whatever comes our way, good or bad. God says in the Holy Qur’an: “He who is grateful (unto God) is but grateful for the good of his own self”(Qur’an;31:12); “God will requite all who are grateful (to Him)”(Qur’an;3:144). Being grateful for whatever befalls us, believing that it comes from God, is a fruit of faith. Normally we express gratitude to someone who has been good to us, but that person is only a channel through which God has granted us that good, By the same token we also feel guilty if we de not express our thanks to that person. So what can be said about our immense gratitude to God, Who has granted us the power of our senses of perception, the functions of all our organs, besides granting us health and safety, the earth from which we can survive, and countless other blessings, so many that we could never make a statistical record of them!

Man does not always realise the value of God’s blessings on him until he is deprived of them. Someone with bad toothache would realise what a blessing it would be not to have any more pain, but once the pain has gone he may forget the blessing. We realise the blessings of having money when we have financial difficulties. And look how restless we become when there is a power cut and our home is plunged into darkness. Once the power comes back though, we forget to appreciate it. So is it not necessary to thank God for His countless blessings on you? This can be done through words and actions. The words of gratitude we can often repeat are, “Praise be to God. Oh my Lord unto You be all praise!”. Showing gratitude through action is sharing what you enjoy with others. A rich man would show his gratitude by helping the poor, a strong person would help the weak, a person in authority can always stand by truth and justice; if, for instance, you are enjoying a five course meal while your neighbour is starving, it would be an act of ingratitude to God on your part if you do not give a share of your food to your neighbor. Actions speak louder than words, and it isn’t enough just to repeat the words. “Praise be to God!” a thousand times. You can express your gratitude to God by truly appreciating whatever you have been given, without being discontented or greedy or envying others who have more than you do. So a truly grateful person is grateful at heart, and contented with what God has given him. He will help the poor and the needy and continuously express his gratitude to God.

Patience:

A Muslim enjoys two different kinds of blessings, good fortune, for which he gives thanks, recognizing it as a reward from God, and patience: if misfortune comes his way he is patient and realizes that in the long run he will receive a reward from God. The reward God grants a poor man who puts up with his poverty with fortitude will be equal to, if not more than, the reward to a rich man who is grateful to God. “.. And most certainly shall We grant unto those who are patient in adversity their reward, in accordance with the best that they ever did”(Qur’an;16:96). Life in this world is not an eternal bed of roses, and there are bound to be prickly patches, like illness, financial loss or betrayal by a friend. Such crises are all part of life. An Arab poet said: Life has confronted you with many unsavory things. Whereas you wished it to be pure of all dirt and anything unsavory. He who yearns ever for the cool shades of time. Is like one who craves for the warmth of fire in the midst of winter. God says in the Holy Qur’an:“We shall surely test your steadfastness with fear and famine, with loss of property, life and produce. Give good news to those who endure with patience; who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return.” (Qur’an;2:155- 156).

You cannot escape from problems and crises, but you have a choice either to bear them with patience or to rebel against them. The latter reaction solves nothing and only makes you more miserable. Dealing with problems with perseverance is the first category of patience. The second category is self-control. A young man may be surrounded by beautiful girls flaunting themselves at him, and he may feel sexually aroused, but his fear of God will make him lower his gaze, refusing to cross the threshold of the door to forbidden pleasure, even though it is wide open. An employee may be offered a bribe equal to six months’ salary, but refuses to accept it even though he may need it desperately; or a student may have the opportunity to look up the answers in his book while he is taking an exam, but refrains, in spite of the fact that he would be sure to pass if he cheated. All these are acts of restraint representing patience. We are always tempted to follow our desires, even though we know that giving in to them is bad for us. But the person who, even though he is surrounded by temptations, manages to steer clear of them is truly patient.

The third category of patience is adhering to God’s will. Like the performance of prayers, especially fajr, (early morning before sun rise) when we have to get out of our warm beds to pray (Salah), the observance of Ramadan, particularly during the summer months when we cannot drink, and the payment of Zakat and giving of alms, even though we may be reluctant to part with our money. However, all these acts represent our obedience to God’s commands. Leading a spiritual life in this day and age when we see so much evil acts being happening all around, can be rather like a man holding a hot poker in his hand! A religious person may be laughed at and humiliated by the public, or even persecuted by those in power. Some people may have a cut in their salaries or be banished from their countries because of their religious beliefs. But anyone who firmly sticks to his beliefs, despite such trials and tribulation, is like those whom God has described in the following verses: “… those who, having attained to patience in adversity, in their Sustainer place their trust”(Qur’an;16:42); “Those who will be given their reward twice over because they are patient and repel evil with good and spend of that We have provided them”(Qur’an;28:54); “But none is granted it, save those who are steadfast, and none is granted it save the owner of great happiness”(Qur’an;41:35).

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