Sabr literally means to have patience, whereas tawakul is usually defined as having full faith in Allah, or relying completely on Allah. As can be understood from the definitions both usually go together. In my opinion, there are two scenarios where one must be patient and rely on Allah:
- When something bad has happened to you (i.e. you have been wronged)
- When you have committed a sin, or hurt someone (i.e. you did wrong)
In the first case it’s obvious, you have been wronged and you need to be patient; this includes sorrow when you’ve lost a loved one, or someone has said or done something hurtful to you, you may be having financial problems or health problems, or any of the countless little disappointments that life throws your way.
In such cases, it’s very ‘human’ to become frustrated, especially in today’s hectic life. It’s very common to encounter such problems, not just with ourselves, but everywhere we look it seems horrible things are happening and eventually we become fed up to such an extent that we start feeling helpless and depressed. So for such cases, Our Lord, Allah, the Most Merciful promises us:
“For indeed with hardship [will be] ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.” (Quran; Chapter 94: Verses 5-6)
And not only that, but He also advises us on how to get help in such a situation. Allah, Ar-Rahman says:
“O you, who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.”
(Quran; Chapter 2: Verse 153)
Furthermore, Allah states in the Qur’an:
“And rely upon the Ever-Living who does not die, and exalt [Allah] with His praise. And sufficient is He to be, with the sins of His servants, Acquainted.” (Quran; Chapter 25: Verse 58)
How comforting are the words of Our Lord! When you’re going through a rough time, He (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) tells you not to worry…just pray and trust that Allah will help you. And if you are patient, then forget about everyone else, for Allah is with you. What more could you ask for?
And bear in mind that He has promised you that after this time of difficulty, there will be a time of ease. Even if you do not witness it in this life, whilst bearing this trial patiently, there will most definitely be a place which is a million times better and more permanent in the Hereafter InShaaAllah.
In regard to the second case, when you have wronged someone, this may come as a surprise to a few of you, but the fact is that even when you’ve hurt someone else, the person you’ve actually truly hurt is yourself! When we do something wrong, a minor form of punishment in this world is that feeling of guilt that Allah has put in all our hearts (so that we can distinguish right from wrong). We know that we’ve done something wrong and we suffer for it internally. So in such a case when you have wronged yourself, Allah says in the Quran:
“Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.”
(Quran; Chapter 39: Verse 53)
SubhanAllah! This verse never ceases to amaze me. Allah addresses us so eloquently and endearingly, O my servant who has wronged himself… He, the Most Merciful is telling us that even though we have sinned and we have done wrong we are still His slaves. So He (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) says my slave don’t despair, don’t become hopeless, I’ll forgive you, all you have to do is ask!
In a Hadith Qudsi, the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) tells us that Allah says: “O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great at it.”
How beautiful! In this Hadith, Allah is letting us know that no matter how far off we’ve gone, as long as we’re still breathing, there is hope. Yes you’ve done a lot of wrong and you’re tired, and you don’t know what to do, you feel extremely hopeless but keep in mind who can forgive sins except Allah? There’s nowhere else to go. Hence He (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) says in the Quran:
“And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allah? – and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know.”
The point is then to admit your mistake, ask forgiveness, and move on. Have Tawakkul that Allah will forgive you and start over.
One of the most beautiful things about Islam, I believe, is that there is always hope. No matter what the situation, or wherever you are there is ALWAYS hope. The One who has created us and understands us better than we understand ourselves, knows that we need this and therefore has blessed us with this wonderful gift of hope.
I often sit and wonder to myself, how could anyone ever live without it?