Look at the gigantic work that the bee has to do in order to produce its honey: The bee finds out the most inaccessible places, in the hills, in the trees, and even among the habitation of men. It assimilates the juice of various kinds of flowers and fruit, and forms within its body the honey which it stores in its cells of wax. The different kinds of food from which it makes its honey give different colors to the honey. Now could not Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) provide for the bees their sustenance without them going through all this labor? Of course He could! Could not Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) create springs and rivers of honey as he created springs and rivers of water? Of course He could! But by observing the work cycle of the bee and by tasting its sweet and wholesome honey, one can understand and appreciate better the nature and behavior of the bee. A behavior whose ingredients are hard work and complete trust in Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa): And that is the real Tawakkul.
Tawakkul of the birds:
Let us look at another creature of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa): the bird. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says what means:
أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا إِلَى الطَّيْرِ فَوْقَهُمْ صَافَّاتٍ وَيَقْبِضْنَ مَا يُمْسِكُهُنَّ إِلَّا الرَّحْمَنُ إِنَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ بَصِيرٌ [الملك: 19]
“Have they not looked to the birds above them spreading their wings, and (at times) they fold (them) in? No one holds them up except the Rahmaan (the All-Merciful Allah). Surely He is watchful of everything.” (Al-Mulk 67:19)
As He did for all of His creatures, our Lord Almighty provided for the birds just those conditions that are best for their lives; He also inspired them to use their physical shapes and unique movements to take off, fly and land. Thus, in order to fly, birds would have to move their wings upwards and downwards, spread them and fold them.
However, the birds know that the One Who upholds them in the air, is not their upward and downward move, nor the spreading and folding of their wings, but rather Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). They have understood that they have to exert effort and rely on Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) alone to uphold them high. As opposed to many rebellious men, birds recognize and exercise total Tawakkul on Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) without giving up the work.
In pursuing this way of life, the birds have become the example to follow for how the Tawakkul should be and how Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) would reward the one who exercises Tawakkul as the birds do.
The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said: "Were you to put your complete trust in Allah, He would provide for you as He provides for the birds. They issue forth hungry in the morning and return filled in the evening.” (at-Tirmizi)
Did the birds remain in their nest waiting for Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s provision? Of course not! Did they claim that since they were engaged in Tasbeeh (Praising) of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), they would not have to strive for their subsistence? Of course not! So praised is Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) Who inspired the birds to set forth to seek provisions for themselves and for their little ones. Praised is He Who taught them Tawakkul so they would not expect provision but from Him.
Tawakkul of Lady Maryam: Let me bring you back to the world of mankind to put before you an ultimate example of Tawakkul. This is the story of an expectant mother who retired with her conceived baby to a remote area. The pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree. She was alone with no one to attend her. She was hungry, thirsty. She cried:
فَأَجَاءَهَا الْمَخَاضُ إِلَى جِذْعِ النَّخْلَةِ قَالَتْ يَا لَيْتَنِي مِتُّ قَبْلَ هَذَا وَكُنْتُ نَسْيًا مَنْسِيًّا [مريم: 23]
“Then the labor pains brought her to the trunk of a palm-tree. She said, ‘O that I would have died before this, and would have been something gone, forgotten’.” (Maryum 19:23)
But a voice cried to her from beneath the palm-tree:
فَنَادَاهَا مِنْ تَحْتِهَا أَلَّا تَحْزَنِي قَدْ جَعَلَ رَبُّكِ تَحْتَكِ سَرِيًّا [مريم: 24]
“Then he called her from beneath her: ‘Do not grieve; your Lord has placed a stream beneath you’.” (Maryum 19:24)
She knew now that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) would deliver her from her hunger and thirst and release the pain of her pangs. But Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) wanted her to initiate an action to benefit from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s provisions:
وَهُزِّي إِلَيْكِ بِجِذْعِ النَّخْلَةِ تُسَاقِطْ عَلَيْكِ رُطَبًا جَنِيًّا [مريم: 25]
“Shake the trunk of the palm-tree towards yourself and, it will drop upon you ripe fresh dates.” (Maryum 19:25)
Now that she fulfilled the physical part of her duties — by shaking the tree, she had to fulfill the spiritual part – relying on Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) for deliverance. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s help was prompt: the fresh dates were now falling upon her:
فَكُلِي وَاشْرَبِي وَقَرِّي عَيْنًا [مريم: 26]
“So eat, drink and cool your eyes.” (Maryum 19:26)
This is the story of Maryum (Mary) whom Allah has destined to be the mother of Prophet ‘Eesaa (Jesus). And when she conceived her baby and entered the pains of childbirth with no one to attend her; when she got hungry and thirsty with no visible help for food and drink; when she became weak and anguished; she was asked to shake a palm-tree for her provision.
A weak, tired, hungry and thirsty woman shaking a strong, deeply rooted palm-tree. Could not Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) send with Jibreel (Angel Gabriel) enough food and drink for her? Could not Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) send down from the heavens a ready-to-eat plate of dates? Or could not Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) say to the dates ‘fall upon Mary!’, upon which they would? After all, is not Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) the only One Who, when He wills a thing, only says to it, "Be” – and it is? Yes, He Almighty is! But Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s way is that the effort has to be made, and the reliance has to be complete; the Tawakkul has to be fulfilled.
These were some examples of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s creatures putting their trust in Him. The wisest course for us, therefore, is to follow their example. So let us use all lawful means and exert reasonable effort to secure our needs, and let us remain faithful to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) by putting all our affairs in His Hands and hope and expect for the best outcome. Let us say like the early believers said, as Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) informs us in the Quraan saying, what means:
قُلْ هُوَ الرَّحْمَنُ آمَنَّا بِهِ وَعَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْنَا [الملك: 29]
“Say, ‘He is the Rahmaan (the Most Merciful); we have believed in Him, and in Him we placed our trust……’” (Al-Mulk 67:29)
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) also says, what means:
وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ وَكَفَى بِاللَّهِ وَكِيلًا [الأحزاب: 3]
“and place your trust in Allah. Allah is enough as a guardian.” (Al-Ahzaab 33:3)