Thursday, April 21, 2011
Movers and Shakers
Not too long ago a modestly-clad woman and her similarly-dressed daughter were sitting minding their own business at a community dinner in my hometown.
Another guest--this one bling-blinged out--approached the elder and queried: "How are you going to get your daughter married when she is so covered up?"
"God will take care of her," the mother replied with a polite smile.
That same night, my mom (who overheard this conversation) suggested the girl to a friend of hers with a highly eligible bachelor son. Six months later the couple was married!
Every time I think of this story I am awed by the mother's firm faith and reliance on God (tawakal in Arabic), and God's speedy delivery.
God repeatedly instructs us to lean on Him, and not ourselves or others, for everything, including material possessions, guidance, help, security and success in this world and the Hereafter.
"As for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out. And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is Allah for him." (Quran 65:2-3)
"If people had those kinds of values our lives would be easy because we are connected to the limitless power of Allah instead of relying on our limited resources," says scholar Abbas Ayleya.
God commends the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus and one of the four perfect women, for actualizing perfect tawakal. Mary remained obedient, devout and reliant on God through thick and thin. Even when she became pregnant, alone and tormented by her community, her tawakal did not waver. Indeed, throughout her life God afforded her the best of provisions.
"Every time that he (Prophet Zachariah) entered (her) chamber to see her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: "O Mary! Whence (comes) this to you?" She said: "From Allah: for Allah provides sustenance to whom He pleases, without measure." (Quran 3:37)
Of course, reliance on God does not mean sitting idly in anticipation. While we must firmly believe that God will fulfill our legitimate needs, we need to demonstrate our trust in Him by actively moving towards our goals using all the lawful means available.
Prophet Muhammad (S) said:
"Tawakal means that you should tie the camel with a rope and say that you have trust in Allah that he will protect your camel. You should not have confidence in the rope only because many a camel is stolen with the rope. But neither should you neglect the rope because tying the rope is a part of tawakal."
Those struggling to alleviate oppression and suffering around the world need to take a cue from Mary, who remained reliant on God during the most painful of times: the birth of baby Jesus. As a result, God provided her with pure water and fresh, ripe dates from out of nowhere.
But even Mary's dates did not fall into her lap. She first had to obey God's instructions: Shake the trunk of the palm tree!
If peace and justice seekers continue to shake things up as well, everyone will enjoy the fruits of their labor, God-willing. If they fall short of reaching their goals, those with tawakal will thank God for giving them the opportunity to try.