By Atiya Maryam Ahsan
“Fa izaa azamta fatawakkal alAllah InnAllaha yu-hibbul-mutawakkileen”
“Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).” (Al-Imran 159)
What does it really mean to have “Tawakkul” on Allah?
The root (Masdar/Makhraj) of the word “Tawakkul” is “Wakala”. From this root word, we get different derived words like “Wakeel”, “Mo’akkil” and “Mutawakkil.” A “Wakeel” is someone to whom the “Mo’akkil” entrust his affairs. “Mutawakkil” is one who puts his complete and total faith in the abilities of his “Wakeel” and trusts that the “Wakeel” will suffice him for all his affairs.
For most of us, having “Tawakkul” on Allah is having the idea that whatever Allah has decreed is for the best. I did not believe in this saying. According to my logic and deeply flawed understanding, if something good happens to us, then that’s for the best, and if something bad befalls upon us, then, that’s for the worst. Simply put, I took things literally, and did not think that it is remotely possible that there could be some deeper meaning or “Hikmat” behind every good and bad that befalls us.
I was to learn the hard way that things aren’t always what they seem.
I started to develop chronic foot pain in 2010. Despite seeking expert medical help from many doctors, I wasn’t diagnosed correctly till a year later. Upon the advice of a renowned orthopaedic surgeon in one of Karachi’s leading private hospitals, I decided to undergo a corrective surgery. The night before the surgery, I prayed to God tomake everything all right. As I was being taken into theoperation theatre, I had complete and utter faith or “Tawakkul” in God that as soon as the surgery was done, I would emerge as a new and physically fit person.
Unfortunately, the surgery was not the solution, in factit worsened my condition. The surgeon had diagnosed me incorrectly with a condition I did not have and prescribed for me physical therapy which I did not need; the result of which was, that instead of emerging as a new, physically fit person, I embarked on a two year long journey of pain, depression and being misunderstood as doctors and loved ones alike were dumbfounded by my unique and peculiar illness.
I went from using a cane, to a walker, and finally a wheelchair, (which at the age of 27, seemed to me like I had skipped a few life stages in the middle and jumped directly to the end). I could not go to the bathroom or anywhere else without dragging myself in a wheelchair. My brain was in a constant haze (known as “fibro fog”). I couldn’t focus on anything. I went to sleep tired from battling with pain all day and woke up just as exhausted. It hurt to put my feet on the ground. For an entire year, I wore only socks as it hurt too much to use any kind of footwear.
I could not fathom what logic or purpose Allah might have behind worsening my condition day by day. I knew this much that Allah has forbidden it upon himself to oppress anyone and so, I assumed that if this was happening to me, then it must be because of my sins, and that I must deserve whatever Allah was putting me through. At the time, I was seeing Allah as “Al-Qahhar” and “Al-Muntaqim”; there was no possible scenario in my mind where I could believe that when Allah was doing all of this, He was actually being “Al-Hakeem” and “Ar-Raheem”
I was engaged to a distant cousin early 2012, however our wedding kept getting postponed because of my disability. I gave my fiancé the option that I wouldn’t hold it against him if he chose to end things, and marry elsewhere, but he never backed out of the engagement.
Alhamdulillah, by December 2012, Allah guided us to the correct diagnosis (Fibromyalgia), and through proper treatment and medications, my condition improved considerably. I no longer needed a wheel chair or a walker or even a cane to get around. By March 2013, I was driving and continuing my Masters education again. The pain was now controlled to a great extent and I had become relatively functional.
The logical next step was to set a date and get married. We were to marry after Eid. But we discovered that my fiancé was involved in an affair with another woman since our engagement and didn’t have the courage to come clean to either his family or mine.
Long story short, an investigation was launched, the affair was confirmed and the wedding was called off. Thus, Allah saved me from being married to an insincere person who would have possibly lied to me my entire life and I would never have been the wiser.
I now know why Allah had me diagnosed incorrectly and treated for the wrong disease and worsened my condition.The only thing standing between me and the marriage, at the time was my illness.
Now, I truly believe that Allah does everything for the best.
I read a saying of Ali (ra) the other day. He said,
“If the veil were to be removed, you would only choose what has already been decreed.”
This means that “Tawakkul” is not only about having complete and utter faith that if my ship is in the middle of a storm, then Allah will always deliver me safely to the harbour, rather “Tawakkul” is actually trusting, knowing, and believing beyond a shadow of doubt that even if Allah decides to drown me by sinking my ship, then that’s the best thing that could have happened to me, because if the veil were to be lifted (and “Ghaib / the unknown” was revealed), even then I could not have planned anything better for myself than what Allah already decreed for me. Subhan’Allah!