Trust in Allah: A lesson from a Turkish Sultan

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Ataul Fatir Tahir, London

For you, me and Joe Bloggs down the street, “life” looks at us with unseemly endless worries, uncertainty and trials. It’s not all bad however; after all, waves of joy and happiness most definitely rejuvenate our human will to continue pushing through life’s obstacles. Yet it’s still the times of distress and uncertainty that ultimately test our mettle.

Today, statistics frequently spur out rises in anxiety and depression, while suicide rates continue to haunt modern-day society. The human race, it seems, has spiraled into constant uncertainty and fear about “what the future holds”.

For believers, tawakkul, or trust and reliance in God, is an actual solace we are taught to practice and develop; the confidence that God can and will take care of things. In fact, the active participle form of the Arabic word tawakkul is used in the Holy Quran 38 times.

Allah continuously reminds Muslims to put “thy trust in the Mighty, the Merciful” (Surah al-Shu‘ara, Ch.26: V.218) and hallmarks believers as those who say, “In Allah do we put our trust’” (Surah Yunus, Ch.10: V.86).

Even Prophet Mosesas is described in the Holy Quran as counselling the Jews by saying, “O my people, if you have believed in Allah, then in Him put your trust, if you indeed submit [to His will].” (Surah Yunus, Ch.10 :V.85)

Professor Katherine Hawley PhD, a professor of philosophy at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, noted that “when we trust, we make ourselves vulnerable, and although that can bring rich rewards in the right relationship, it can be disastrous when our trust is misplaced (psychologytoday.com, 13 May 2016).

With God, trust can never be “misplaced” in terms of accepting His will. By putting trust in Him, believers do not make themselves “vulnerable”; far from it. An assurance on God’s powder is relied upon and the guarantee that He will bring about the best results. Having said that, trust, or tawakkul, is not easy.

Our ancestral “fight or flight” response always puts us on the edge, throwing us into the darkness of uncertainty and worry, no matter how well we have prepared. It’s a constant battle. A degree of uncertainty and anguish lingers in any project or feat that we embark upon, despite the immense hard work. The difficulty of practising trust also rises when the stakes are higher, however Muslims are taught to protrude the anxiety and “leave a section for God”, as Sultan Abdul Hamid of Turkey put it.

The story of Sultan Abdul Hamid was much admired by the Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, who would often narrate it. I originally heard this during a Friday Sermon delivered by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V, may Allah be his Helper, who had narrated it from Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II, peace be upon him.

The incident the Promised Messiahas enjoyed was when the question of a war with Greece and Turkey arose. Sultan Abdul Hamid, the Turkish leader, desired to fight and confront the Greeks but his court advisers and ministers differed, raising objections and excuses against going into battle. They would say that though most preparations were in place for war, a crucial aspect was missing.

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra noted that his advisors most likely warned of all the European powers who were ready to assist Greece in the case of a war breaking out. The Promised Messiahas would say that when the advisers and ministers presented their views and enumerated the difficulties for such a war, Sultan Abdul Hamid responded by saying, “We should leave some room for God as well”.

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra noted that the Promised Messiahas would take great pleasure from this statement by Sultan Abdul Hamid. Therefore it is necessary for a believer to leave room in his plans for God and rely on him. Huzooraa deliberated that in reality no human, a believer or not, can reach a stage of certainty where they can say that no weakness or flaw remains and everything will pan out perfectly. Such a declaration would be an act of stupidity.

The sermon went on to describe the essential components that make trust in God legitimate. The aim, for believers, is not to sit back, relax and say God will do everything. One must exert all God-given capabilities towards achieving the desired results and only then put the rest to God. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra described the two extremes prevalent in the world. Western nations have neglected God and rely solely on technology for success while Muslims are steeped in the second extreme and have adopted the wrong concept of relying on God – abandoning any effort on their part.

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa said that as a result, doubts are raised in the minds of Muslim youth even today, who think that the progress of Western nations is due to their distancing from God. And Muslims are lacking due to their diligence towards religion. However, the whole approach towards tawakkul, in the Muslim world, is currently flawed.

The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, would prepare for battle to the fullest; taking weapons, horses, shields and at times, would wear two layers of armour. He would do this despite God’s promise of protecting him (Surah al-Maidah, Ch.5, V.68).

This is the essence of trust upon God that Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra explained. The sermon by Huzooraa, in a nutshell, encapsulated that “trust in God” is an essential solace for Muslims, but only when they have expelled all God-given capacities. After all is done, it is then that should Muslims “leave some room for God as well”.

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