Explanation Of The Hadeeth: “If Only You Relied On Allaah A True Reliance...”

Author: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbalee

Source: Jaami' Al-'Uloom wal-Hikam, hadeeth no. 49

Published: Saturday 18th July, 2015

From Umar ibn Al-Khattab from the Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) who said:

“If only you relied on Allaah a true reliance, He would provide sustenance for you just as He does the birds: They fly out in the morning empty and return in the afternoon with full stomachs.” [Ahmad, An-Nasaa'ee, Ibn Maajah, Al-Hakim and At-Tirmidhee who said: "Hassan saheeh"]

  1. Reliance on Allaah is one of the most important causes of getting sustenance in this life. Allaah said:

    "And whoever fears Allaah, He will provide him a way out and will provide for him from an unforeseen direction. And whoever relies on Allaah, He is sufficient for him." [Soorah at-Talaq (65):2-3]

  2. Reliance on Allaah does NOT mean not working and striving for sustenance in this life. Al-Bahaiqee (one of the major collectors of hadeeth) said:

    "There is no support in this hadeeth for resigning from working to earn. On the contrary, it in fact supports working and seeking earnings. This is because the bird when it flies out in the morning does so in pursuit of its sustenance. And so the meaning - and Allaah knows best - is: if they were to rely on Allaah while setting out and while returning and when acting/interacting and believed during all of that that all good id in the hands of Allaah and comes only from Him, they would never set out except in a state of health and success like the birds who set out hungry and return full. If, however, they rely on their own strengths and abilities and then engage in deception, lying and insincerity, this is opposite to reliance on Allaah."

  3. Tawakkul (reliance) on Allaah is: The true reliance of the heart on Allaah in the pursuit of acquiring that which benefits and avoiding that which harms in this life and the hereafter and the leaving these issues up to Allaah along with the true belief that no one gives, witholds, harms or benefits except Allaah Most High.

  4. Allaah orders us to rely on Him AND to strive for our objectives.

    "And prepare against them all that you are capable of in forms of strength and ranks of horses..." [Soorah al-Anfaal (8):60]


    "...and, when the [Friday] prayer is finished, go forth in the land and seek from the bounties of Allaah and mention/remember Allaah much that perhaps you may be successful." [Soorah al-Jumu'ah (62):10]

  5. One of the Salaf said:

    "Whoever criticizes action and work for the sake of earning has criticized the sunnah and whoever criticizes reliance on Allaah has criticized belief. Reliance on Allaah was the STATE of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) while working and earning was his sunnah. So whoever aspires to his state, let him not neglect his sunnah (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam)."

  6. In this area, there are three kinds of actions.

    1. The acts of obedience which Allaah has commanded us. We must rely on Allaah in the performance of these actions. That is why when the Mu'adhin mentions the commands to come to prayer, we respond with "Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa billahi" - there is not motion nor any power except with Allaah. Whatever Allaah wills is and whatever He does not will is not. Whoever is negligent in these actions is deserving of punishment in this life and/or the hereafter. One of the salaf said:

      "Strive as the striving of one who can only save himself by his efforts and rely on Allaah as one who will never find anything but that which was written for him."

    2. The basic needs which Allaah has tied to our survival and well-being. These include eating when we are hungry and needs for clothing to protect us from the elements and shelter, etc. These are also obligatory on the Muslim to pursue the means to them. Whoever neglects them to the point of causing harm to himself or to those who depend on him though he was able to do otherwise is sinful in this negligence and deserving of punishment. The Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) used to connect his fasting from one day to the next, but forbid the companions from doing that saying:

      "I am not in the same position as one of you, I am provided food and drink."

      This means - and Allaah knows best - that what Allaah sent to Muhammad (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) freed him from much of his needs for basic human necessities.

    3. That which Allaah has connected to our benefit in many cases, but no always.

      1. That which Allaah frequently frees some of his servants from the need for it such as medicines. The scholars differed about one who becomes sick: Is it better to take medicine or leave it and rely on Allaah? Some took the opinion that reliance on Allaah was better and used the hadeeth:

        "Seventy thousand from my nation will enter paradise without any account-taking...; those who do not believe in omens, do not seek incantations for cure or use cauterization and who rely on their Lord."

        Other countered by the fact that the Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) used cures and his state is best. The hadeeth, then is referring to incantations which are makrooh (disliked) because of the fear of falling into shirk since it was mentioned along with cauterization which is makrooh.

      2. That in which the pattern is rarely broken such as sustenance being provided to those who do not strive to seek it. This is not allowed except to those who have knowledge of such provision such as Maryam in the house of Zakariya.

  7. Ibn Abbaas said: Some people from Yemen used to come to Hajj without bringing provisions and said: We are the reliers (on Allaah). Then when they get to Makkah, they ask the people for help. Allaah then revealed about them:

    "...and take provisions and the best of provisions is piety." [Soorah al-Baqarah (2):197]

  8. The important thing is to trust in the guarantee of sustenance from Allaah, to struggle and strive with the causes of that and to be in acceptance of the share appointed by Allaah. One Imaam Ahmad's companions said:

    "Don't become so concerned with the guaranteed that you come to accuse the Guarantor and becoming unaccepting of His apportionment."

  9. The fruit of tawakkul is the acceptance of Allaah's decree. Whoever leaves his affairs to Allaah and then is accepting of what he is given has truly relied on Allaah. Al-Hasan and others among the Salaf defined tawakkul as ridhaa (acceptance).


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