Saturday, June 27, 2009

a personal sharing on Tawakkul

Wa 'amma bi ni'mati Rabbika fa-haddith

and as for the Grace of your Lord - proclaim it!
- The Quran 93:11

Wa Taawakkal alal Azizir Rahim

And rely on the Mighty, the Singularly Compassionate One.
- The Quran 26:217


we seek refuge in the Real from all false self-pride,
indeed perfection and praise belongs to the Real



This is a very personal story on Tawakkul or reliance of God, and about grace that flows from the Real. The reluctant speaker of this story claims no personal glory of it as all Glory is for God alone.

This incident happened near the end of last year, close to November 2008 to be precise. At that time I was living in Los Angeles (LA) in a beautiful neighborhood in the Valley. In my wandering an opportunity arose that I am to visit a particular east coast town (which later to become my dwelling place for the next six months or so, hometown of a small sufi community). My hosts in LA were beloved students of the same sufi teacher we love. The incident is from the morning of my flight from LA to the east coast town. My flight was an early morning one and I had to leave even earlier to reach the airport. Since I didn't have a car, let alone drive, my host agreed the previous day that she will drop me to a particular bus stop where I could take the airport destined bus.

The morning arrived, I packed and gathered my belongings and was waiting for my host to wake up and take me to the airport. Time passed and she didn't. I was feeling shy to disturb her sleep and call her up (she has been very generous to me, God bless her), so waited further more till I couldn't any longer. It was quite late, so I had to decide to pick up my bag and to take a walk hoping that somehow I will catch a taxi outside. I used my cell phone to reach a cab company but the network was bad and the only lines I could reach were all engaged. As I was walking out of the neighborhood towards more accessible road hoping to find an empty taxi, I looked at the watch and noticed that if I can't find a taxi within few minutes I will surely miss my flight. The airport is quite a distance and even after call, the taxis take their usual time to pick up their customer. LA is huge.

I was almost certain that unless I am helped in extra-ordinary fashion, I am going to miss my flight for sure - which I couldn't afford, I had to go where I needed to go. So when I failed to even call a taxi and the time I had in hand was too little to reach the airport, let alone finish all the check-in formalities, I was made to enter into a state of tawakkul that I don't remember experiencing before in the intensity I experienced that moment. As I walked towards the main road I abandoned all thoughts of how and what, all worries concerning this and did my zikr (sufi remembrance practice). I used a famous prayer line of the Prophet, upon him be peace, "Hasbun Allah wa Ni’mal Wakil." which translates closely, "God alone is sufficient and He is the Best Disposer of affairs." I repeated this single recitation, 'Hasbun Allah wa Ni’mal Wakil' all my way till my walk reached me at a cross road.

Now before I share what happened next, let me try to share the situation of my heart at that moment because it taught me few secrets, including the secret of prayer that is answered in extra-ordinary way. I felt my total helplessness and was made to realize that only God alone can help me in that particular circumstances. This is a state of the heart, a certain space which is often compared as one who is drowning in a shipwreck and has nothing to hold on. From that kind of urgency I was made to utter that prayerful recitation. I completely trusted and relied on God with all my heart. I tasted a drop of tawakkul deeply at that moment.

And something really interesting happened. No sooner had I reached the cross-road by walking, dragging my suitcase by hand (by that time another precious ten or twleve minutes are gone) just then, an airport shuttle arrived which are booked in advanced for door to door pick up.

I was so surprised to see it, never the less relieved and thanked God. I ran to it asking its driver if he could drop me to the airport even though I didn't call in advance to book it. The driver was more surprised than me, seeing me arriving at the right time to sync with his arrival. He asked how did I know that he will arrive there to pick someone else from the neighborhood? I smiled nervously and said I didn't know! Then he graciously picked me, then we went to the person's house for whom the van really arrived and headed towards the airport.

The story can end here, but there are more surprise to it which unfolded even in the aiport. But those details can be summed up by the fact that I got my check-in done just in time even though the airport was extremely busy due to thanksgiving holiday, I was favored to process my check-in earlier as some people ahead of my line was cancelled for some unknown reason and I knew, I just knew that if I was late even by 7 or 8 minutes, I were to miss the flight.

Now going back to the prayer of tawakkul, "Hasbun Allah wa Ni’mal Wakil" - the statement contains the seed of the secret of reliance on God. "Hasbun Allah" - God is Sufficient, "wa Ni'mal Wakil" - He is the Best of Disposer of Affairs - together explains the message of Tawakkul. That particular day taught me personally what it means to abandon all and rely solely on God and how things can happen through His grace alone.

Peace!

Wa Qullil Hamdu li-Llahi Sayurikum ayatihi fa tarifunaha:
Wa Ma Rabbuka bi Ghafilin Amma Ta'malun

And say, "Praise be to Allah Who will show you His Signs so that
you shall know them. And your Lord is not heedless of what you do."
- The Quran 27:93

Fa Tawakkal ala-Llah: Innaka 'alal Haqqil mubin

So trust in Allah, for you are on (the Tao of) Manifest Truth.
- The Quran 27:79


"The human mind keeps wandering and branching away into different valleys. If someone follows his mind in all those wanderings, Allah does not care which valley ruins that person. On the other hand, whoever has Tawakkul in Allah, He will be sufficient to save the person from those wanderings." (Reported by Ibn Maajah)

"If you had to adopt Tawakkul on Allah in the proper meaning of Tawakkul, then He will bestow Rizq (sustenance) to you in the same way as the birds are being fed. They emerge (from their nests) in the morning hungry and they return in the evening satiated."

"Allah Ta'alaa condemns powerlessness / hopelessness. It is incumbent upon you to take a stand with hope and intelligent resolve. If you are overpowered in a matter, then say, "Sufficient is Allah for my means and He is the best supporter." (Reported by Abu Dawood)

- Blessed sayings of the Messenger of God, upon him be holy benediction


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