surrender, commitment, and confidence are the four steps or stations of a
spiritual journey beginning with reliance on (or trust in) God, continuing in
full awareness of one’s helplessness and destitution before God, and ending
in entrusting all of one’s affairs to God Almighty in order to attain
absolute peace and tranquillity of heart. Reliance (tawakkul) means total
confidence in God, and feeling troubled or uneasy when it occurs to one that
there may be other sources of power (that one can resort to). Without such a
degree of confidence, it is wrong to talk about reliance. Moreover, one cannot
attain reliance so long as the doors of the heart remain open to others.
Reliance means doing all that is necessary to obtain a desired or
intended result, and then waiting in expectation for the Eternally-Powerful One
to bring about His Will. After this comes surrender (taslim), which many
friends of God have described as one’s being before God’s Power and Will
like a dead body in the hands of a mortician. Then comes commitment (tafwiz),
leaving or committing all things and affairs to God and expecting everything
Reliance is the start of a journey, surrender is its end, and commitment
is its result. Therefore, commitment has a wider meaning and relates to those
who have almost completed the journey, rather than to beginners. Commitment
comes after surrender, which requires the conviction of one’s helplessness
and destitution before God’s Power and Wealth, and the ability to feel in
one’s heart the meaning of: There is no power and strength save with God. It
also requires the utmost dependence on and the expectation of help from the
heavenly treasure of: There is no power and strength save with God. In other
words, commitment means that a traveler on the path to God feels warned by the
point of reliance and the point of seeking help in his conscience and, in exact
awareness of his or her helplessness and destitution, turns to the Unique
Source of Power and Will and says: Hold me by the hand, hold me, for I
cannot do without You.
If reliance means that one entrusts all worldly and other-worldly affairs
to the Lord, commitment means that one is fully aware that it is actually God
Who does everything, Who pro-duces every result, and Who creates all things and
deeds that many consider to be done by themselves. Reliance means that one
relies on God and closes the doors of one’s heart to whatever or whoever is
other than Him. It can be regarded as the outer fulfillment all duties of
worship and the inner attachment to God, the Lord Who is the sole Sustainer and
Administrator of all that exists. This is what Shihab expresses in the
on the All-Merciful in all your affairs;
One who relies on Him is never in loss.
Confide in God and be patient with His disposal of you,
For you can obtain only as His favors what you expect from Him.
I think ‘Umar, the second Caliph, may God be pleased with him, drew
attention to the same point in a letter he wrote to Abu Musa al-‘Ash‘ari: If
you are able to submit to whatever or how-ever God decrees for you [i.e. by not
objecting to whatever befalls you], this is wholly good. If you are unable to
do so, then endure it with patience.
From another perspective, reliance signifies reliance on and confidence
in God. Surrender is the state of those who have been awakened to spiritual
life. Commitment, meaning that travelers are not detained by considerations of
means and causes, is a station special to those of high spiritual achievement.
Even if travelers possessing commitment seem to attach a certain
importance to means and causes, this is due to the fact that they live in the
material world, the sphere of means and causes, in which God has made any
accomplishment dependent on certain preliminary conditions. If they give
priority to means and causes, thereby disregarding the fact that God disposes
of everything as He wishes, then they will become like vermin crawling on
earth, despite their previous resemblance to birds flying in the highest parts
of the heavens. It is related in books on the lives of saints that those
saintly people who try to advance but become caught in the over-consideration
of means and causes hear these words:
up taking precautions,
for involvement in precautions causes perishing;
Commit your affairs to Us,
for We are more thoughtful of you than yourself.
Such a commitment is a heroism that can be achieved only by those who
persevere in their relations with God while living among people.
Doing what is necessary to obtain a certain result without attributing
any creative effect to them may mean different things to different travelers:
reliance for everybody, submission for those awakened to realities beyond the
visible dimension, and commitment and confidence for those who have attained
true peace or tranquillity of heart. How fine is the following saying of
God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, which combines exerting
effort and reliance and commitment: If you were able to rely on God as true
reliance on Him requires, He would provide you as He provides birds that leave
their nests hungry in the morning and return full in the evening.
This Prophetic Tradition contains different truths for people of
different spiritual ranks. What it means for the typical individual is what
if reliance on God is a guide,
Fulfilling preliminaries is a practice of the Prophet.
He told (a Bedouin) loudly (in response to his question):
First fasten your camel and then rely on God.
This meaning is what is pointed out in: On God let the reliant rely
Those who lead their lives at the level of pure spirituality understand,
in perfect awareness of their helplessness and weakness before God, that they
should trust wholly in God’s Power and Strength, and become like a corpse in
the hands of a mortician: In God put your trust, if you are true believers
(5:23). As for those who fly around the summits of “self-annihilation in
God” and “subsistence with God,” they say, like Prophet Abraham, upon him
be peace, even while being thrown into fire: God is sufficient for me
(39:38) and commit their affairs wholly to Him. It is enough for them that God
Almighty knows their condition.
We can also see this greatest degree of commitment in God’s Messenger,
upon him be peace and blessings. When the feet of those pursuing him during his
emigration to Madina were seen from the cave where he was hiding with his
nearest friend Abu Bakr, may God be pleased with him, and their pursuers’
voices echoed from the cave’s walls, he relied wholly upon God and told Abu
Bakr: Grieve not! Assuredly, God is with us (9:40). This is also alluded
to in the verse: Whoever puts his trust in God, He will suffice him
Commitment and confidence are the highest degrees of reliance on God.
Those who have attained these degrees have entirely submitted their reason,
logic, and belief, as well as their outer and inner feelings, to God’s
commandments. As a result, they have become “polished mirrors” in which His
Names, Attributes, and acts are reflected. Signs of these degrees are
under-standing that taking precautions is included in God’s preordainment,
and thereby finding peace; seeing their willpower as a dim shadow of the Divine
Will, and turning to that Divine Will; and being pleased with God’s
treatment, whether it be favorable or not, and agreeing with whatever happens
The author of Minhaj describes this degree of commitment as
committed all my affairs to the Dear One,
Whether He keeps me alive or makes me die.
The following words of Wasif of Andarun are also most appropriate:
Whatever was destined will certainly happen, so
Commit your affairs to God; neither be grieved nor suffer pains.
One of the most beautiful descriptions of commitment belongs to Ibrahim
Haqqi, the initial verses of whose Tafwiznama (Description of Tafwiz)
are as follows:
changes evils into good;
think that He does otherwise.
with knowledge of Him watches
admiration what He does.
us see what our Master does;
does well whatever He does.
your trust in God, the Truth;
commit to Him your affairs
that you may find peace.
patient and agree (with whatever He does).
us see what our Master does;
does well whatever He does.