Knowing Allah through His beautiful names Al Wakeel and the nature of tawakkul
It’s good to reflect on the names of Allah Almighty and His attributes in order to improve our practice and increase our knowledge and our closeness to Him. Al-Wakeel, from a linguistic point of view, means the Trustee, the One to whom all matters are entrusted. The linguistic root also gives another meaning, which is the One who is looking after you and on whom you rely.
Where is al-Wakeel mentioned in the Quran and the Sunnah? When you open the Quran and use the search engine to find al-Wakeel, it appears in 14 verses in the Quran – once as ‘al-Wakeel’ and the rest as just Wakeel.
In Surah Yusuf, Allah Almighty described Yaqoob (peace be upon him) referring to Allah as the Wakeel: as the One who is watchful and listening to what we say.
قَالَ لَنۡ أُرۡسِلَهُۥ مَعَكُمۡ حَتَّىٰ تُؤۡتُونِ مَوۡثِقٗا مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ لَتَأۡتُنَّنِي بِهِۦٓ إِلَّآ أَن يُحَاطَ بِكُمۡۖ فَلَمَّآ ءَاتَوۡهُ مَوۡثِقَهُمۡ قَالَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ مَا نَقُولُ وَكِيلٞ
Their father said: “I shall never send him with you until you give me a solemn promise in the name of Allah that you will bring him back to me, unless you yourselves are surrounded.” Then after they had given him their solemn promise, he said. “Allah watches over what we have said.” (12:66)
In Surat az-Zumar, Allah Almighty described Himself as the One who oversees of all things:
ٱللَّهُ خَٰلِقُ كُلِّ شَيۡءٖۖ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيۡءٖ وَكِيلٞ
Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is the Guardian and Disposer of all affairs. (39:62)
In Surat an-Nisa, Allah Almighty said:
وَلِلَّهِ مَا فِي ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَمَا فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِٱللَّهِ وَكِيلًا
And to Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs. (4:132)
During the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), he was once coming back from Madinah, when he came across a man who wanted to sell his horse. So, he (peace be upon him) asked him how much the man wanted for it and bought it from him with deferred payment – in other words it was understood that the sale was agreed and that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would pay him later. This was and is a common practice.
However, when they reached Madinah, others approached the man and offered to buy his horse. The man becoming greedy, went back on the deal with the Prophet (peace be upon him) as he wanted to get more for the horse now. But the horse now belonged to the Prophet (peace be upon him) as the purchase had been agreed with him. The man denied this and said there was no witness to prove it. No one had been present at the time, but Khuzayma ibn Thabit, a Companion, stepped forward and bore witness that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had bought it. The man was now embarrassed and gave the horse back to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and took his payment. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked Khuzayma how he was so sure, as he had not been present. Khuzama said that as he trusted what the Prophet (peace be upon him) recited from the Revelation, he also trusted what he said about the horse. The Prophet (peace be upon him) rewarded Khuzayma for this, saying that his testimony was equivalent of two men’s testimony.
The uncle of Umarah ibn Khuzaymah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:
عَنْ عُمَارَةَ بْنِ خُزَيْمَةَ، أَنَّ عَمَّهُ، حَدَّثَهُ وَهُوَ، مِنْ أَصْحَابِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ابْتَاعَ فَرَسًا مِنْ أَعْرَابِيٍّ فَاسْتَتْبَعَهُ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم لِيَقْضِيَهُ ثَمَنَ فَرَسِهِ فَأَسْرَعَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم الْمَشْىَ وَأَبْطَأَ الأَعْرَابِيُّ فَطَفِقَ رِجَالٌ يَعْتَرِضُونَ الأَعْرَابِيَّ فَيُسَاوِمُونَهُ بِالْفَرَسِ وَلاَ يَشْعُرُونَ أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ابْتَاعَهُ فَنَادَى الأَعْرَابِيُّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ إِنْ كُنْتَ مُبْتَاعًا هَذَا الْفَرَسَ وَإِلاَّ بِعْتُهُ . فَقَامَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم حِينَ سَمِعَ نِدَاءَ الأَعْرَابِيِّ فَقَالَ ” أَوَلَيْسَ قَدِ ابْتَعْتُهُ مِنْكَ ” . فَقَالَ الأَعْرَابِيُّ لاَ وَاللَّهِ مَا بِعْتُكَهُ . فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ” بَلَى قَدِ ابْتَعْتُهُ مِنْكَ ” . فَطَفِقَ الأَعْرَابِيُّ يَقُولُ هَلُمَّ شَهِيدًا . فَقَالَ خُزَيْمَةُ بْنُ ثَابِتٍ أَنَا أَشْهَدُ أَنَّكَ قَدْ بَايَعْتَهُ . فَأَقْبَلَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَلَى خُزَيْمَةَ فَقَالَ ” بِمَ تَشْهَدُ ” . فَقَالَ بِتَصْدِيقِكَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ . فَجَعَلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم شَهَادَةَ خُزَيْمَةَ بِشَهَادَةِ رَجُلَيْنِ .
The Prophet (peace be upon him) bought a horse from a Bedouin. The Prophet (peace be upon him) took him with him to pay him the price of his horse. The Apostle of Allah walked quickly and the Bedouin walked slowly. The people stopped the Bedouin and began to bargain with him for the horse as they did not know that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had bought it.
The Bedouin called the Apostle of Allah saying: If you want this horse, (then buy it), otherwise I shall sell it. The Prophet stopped when he heard the call of the Bedouin, and said: Have I not bought it from you? The Bedouin said: I swear by Allah, I have not sold it to you. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Yes, I have bought it from you. The Bedouin began to say: Bring a witness. Khuzaymah ibn Thabit then said: I bear witness that you have bought it. The Prophet (peace be upon him) turned to Khuzaymah and said: On what (grounds) do you bear witness?
He said: By considering you trustworthy, Apostle of Allah.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) made the witness of Khuzaymah equivalent to the witness of two people. [Sunan Abu Dawood]
We see from this that Allah facilitated this remarkable incident where Khuzayma testified to the truth, and on another occasion, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) himself bore witness to the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) honesty. This incident unfolded when the Prophet (peace be upon him) returned from his Night Journey, traveling from Makkah to Bayt al-Maqdis, and then ascending to the heavens in the Journey of al-Isra. The Quraysh, sceptical and unable to comprehend the extraordinary journey, questioned its possibility. Some approached Abu Bakr, who, despite not having personally witnessed or heard about Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) Night Journey, stood firm in his faith. Unwavering, he responded to those casting doubt, declaring that if the Prophet (peace be upon him) claimed such an extraordinary event, he wholeheartedly believed it to be the truth. From that very day Abu Bakr was called As-Siddiq because saddaqa in Arabic means to believe someone.
The One who looks after provisions and affairs
Al-Wakeel, the One to whom all affairs are entrusted, who manages everything, provides His servants with everything they need.
رَّبُّ ٱلۡمَشۡرِقِ وَٱلۡمَغۡرِبِ لَآ إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ فَٱتَّخِذۡهُ وَكِيلٗا
[He is] the Lord of the East and the West; there is no deity except Him, so take Him as a Wakeel (disposer of affairs). (73:9)
The attribute of Wakeel is linked with Tawakkul. They are interconnected. Imam al Ghazali briefly mentioned that we have people to whom we delegate matters – some are unreliable, and others are very capable. But the one who will not fail you is Allah Almighty. The others may not deliver their promises or maintain trust.
Imam at-Tabari in his book of tafseer says Al-Wakeel is the Watchful, the Protector and the Provider, the One who is providing sustenance for all the creation and managing their affairs.
Tawakkul (reliance) on Allah Almighty is a station or a special rank that not everyone can attain or reach, but it may be possible to develop it through training. Allah encouraged us to rely on Him.
فَإِذَا عَزَمۡتَ فَتَوَكَّلۡ عَلَى ٱللَّهِۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلۡمُتَوَكِّلِينَ
And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]. (3:159)
حَسۡبُنَا ٱللَّهُ وَنِعۡمَ ٱلۡوَكِيلُ
Sufficient for us is Allah, and [He is] the best Wakeel (disposer of affairs). (3:173)
In Surat al-Ahzab, Allah said:
وَلَا تُطِعِ ٱلۡكَٰفِرِينَ وَٱلۡمُنَٰفِقِينَ وَدَعۡ أَذَىٰهُمۡ وَتَوَكَّلۡ عَلَى ٱللَّهِۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِٱللَّهِ وَكِيلٗا
And obey not the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and harm them not (till you are ordered). And put your trust in Allah, and Sufficient is Allah as a Wakil (Trustee, or Disposer of affairs). (33:48)
Tawakkul involves two things. The first has been summarised in a statement by the late Shaykh Sha’rawi (may Allah have mercy on him), who was well known as the Shaykh of Tafseer of our century. He passed away in 1996 and he wrote one of the greatest books of tafseer in our century, though he was unable to complete it by the time he passed away. He said about relying on Allah:
Your limbs do the action, and your heart does the tawakkul (relies on Allah)
There is a distinction between tawakkul and tawaakul. Tawakkul is relying on Allah and tawaakul means laziness – waiting for things to parachute down on you without your lifting a finger. Omar (may Allah have mercy on him) stated that the sky will not rain gold and silver, so don’t just raise your hands and ask for rizq without putting in any effort from your side. Doing tawakkul is part of our imaan – to rely on Allah Almighty because He is al-Wakeel. So delegate your matters to Him and trust Him. He stated in Surah Talaq:
وَيَرۡزُقۡهُ مِنۡ حَيۡثُ لَا يَحۡتَسِبُۚ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلۡ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسۡبُهُۥٓۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ بَٰلِغُ أَمۡرِهِۦۚ قَدۡ جَعَلَ ٱللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَيۡءٖ قَدۡرٗا
And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed, Allah has set a measure for all things. (65:3)
It is the core of imaan to trust Allah Almighty, especially nowadays with all the calamities which we have had globally, as well personal difficulties and challenges – rising expenses and inflation, financial problems, social, physical, and mental health issues… the list goes on. Internationally, the crises, natural disasters, and the evidence of genocide in Palestine have shaken all of us – except those who have buried their consciences to the extent that they don’t care when they see blood flowing like water, and consider the killing of innocent people as insignificant as the killing of flies and insects.
We have to rely on al-Wakeel – He is managing our affairs; He is managing the whole universe with His ultimate wisdom, although we cannot comprehend or understand what’s going on, especially now. What we see are the outward actions, not the inward actions. We don’t know the bigger picture. As a quick example we have the story of Musa (peace be upon him) and al-Khidr. Al-Khidr wasn’t a messenger, though he was probably a prophet as a large proportion of scholars think, but he was certainly a righteous person, a wali of Allah Almighty with a high status. He taught Musa (peace be upon him) a deep lesson in tawakkul and patience.
Musa (peace be upon him) lacked the broader perspective, as Allah did not grant him the insight or vision to perceive it. However, Allah Almighty bestowed upon al-Khidr the ability to see the bigger picture—a divine gift given to whom He wills. While Musa (peace be upon him) based his judgments on surface observations, al-Khidr, through the grace of Allah Almighty, possessed certain knowledge of the Unseen and the future. His apparently peculiar actions during the three incidents held an underlying wisdom and reasoning that Musa was not privy to, and which caused him to be baffled and upset. For instance, Musa (peace be upon him) witnessed Al-Khidr damaging a seemingly sound boat, an act that initially appeared pointlessly destructive and ungrateful towards the kind people who had offered them a free ride. However, it unfolded that the hole Al-Khidr made in the boat served a higher purpose—it prevented the vessel from being seized by an oppressive ruler known for confiscating every new boat. A faulty boat that sustains the poor family would be better than having the boat confiscated and taking away their source of livelihood.
Just as Musa was not aware of the wisdom of the seemingly adverse actions, but had to trust they were for a greater good, so we also have to trust that there is a bigger picture we cannot see and that Allah Almighty is al-Wakeel. This is why one of the best forms of dhikr is to say ‘hasbunallahu wa ni’mal wakeel’– Allah Almighty is sufficient for us, and He is our Trustee, whom we trust.
When we experience pain and the difficult scenes which are daily breaking our heart, these are a test of imaan. In numerous verses, Allah Almighty says to have tawakkul in Him. Say, ‘I delegate my matters to You. I don’t have the power to do anything without You and I cannot achieve any goodness without Your support’. As we repeat daily in our salah: ‘You alone we worship and from You alone we seek help’.
It is clear that Allah alone can help us when we see the abysmal failure of the international community towards the Palestinians, the abject failure of humanity, and the disgraceful failure of international law to uphold human rights. We trust that Allah Almighty is our Wakeel, managing our affairs, and that good things will come out of all this bi’idhnillah.
This is why reflecting on the name al-Wakeel is crucial, especially these days. Indeed, scholars have said that tawakkul is half of our deen. In what sense? Because Allah Almighty tells us in the Quran to rely on Him:
وَلِلَّهِ غَيْبُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ وَإِلَيْهِ يُرْجَعُ ٱلْأَمْرُ كُلُّهُۥ فَٱعْبُدْهُ وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَيْهِ ۚ وَمَا رَبُّكَ بِغَـٰفِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ
And to Allah belong the unseen [aspects] of the heavens and the earth and to Him will be returned the matter, all of it, so worship Him and rely upon Him. And your Lord is not unaware of that which you do. (11:123)
It is the job of every believer to rely on Allah Almighty and to trust Him.
In Surah Yunus, He stated:
وَقَالَ مُوسَىٰ يَٰقَوْمِ إِن كُنتُمْ ءَامَنتُم بِٱللَّهِ فَعَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلُوٓا۟ إِن كُنتُم مُّسْلِمِينَ
And Moses said, “O my people, if you have believed in Allah, then rely upon Him, if you should be Muslims. (10:84)
When you have a case in court, you delegate it to a lawyer, whose knowledge, expertise and experience you trust. You would not give your case to someone whom you do not trust, who is inexperienced. Of course, without comparing the two but to give an idea, we trust Allah Almighty with our affairs and refer to Him to resolve them for us. Having said that, it doesn’t mean we sit down and do nothing. This is the negative understanding or misunderstanding of the meaning of tawakkul and trusting Allah Almighty. True tawakkul is accompanied by actions. We need to combine action with intention. We can’t separate the two and say, I have the intention to rely on Allah so I will sit down and do nothing. Not at all. When you have a court case, you get an expert lawyer or barrister to try and figure out how to resolve the situation. Then you take their advice and do your homework which is crucial. At the same time, deep down in our hearts we know that the One who will facilitate the solution is Allah Almighty. It is not because of our efforts, though they are required of course. It is like taking paracetamol when you have headache or a pain – you do what is required on your end, but you know that it is not the pill which gives you relief but Allah Almighty who has provided the means for relief and who can make it work or not. We need to put in the work and then Allah Almighty will give us openings and solutions, and relief and ease.
The fruits of tawakkul and trusting Allah Almighty
When you train yourself to say that Allah Almighty is your Wakeel, your Trustee, managing your affairs, looking after you, sustaining you, watchful over you, it envelops you. It gives you tranquillity and security. That is why Allah says in Surat Al-Anfal,
إِنَّمَا ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ ٱلَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ ٱللَّهُ وَجِلَتۡ قُلُوبُهُمۡ وَإِذَا تُلِيَتۡ عَلَيۡهِمۡ ءَايَٰتُهُۥ زَادَتۡهُمۡ إِيمَٰنٗا وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمۡ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith; and upon their Lord they rely (8:2)
In Surat al-Baqarah Allah says if you want to get Allah’s love, keep purifying yourself and have tawakkul. Therefore, if you want Allah Almighty to love you then trust Him.
With everything that is going on in Palestine, we trust Allah Almighty will deliver them from this calamity and protect them and give them relief and victory inshallah ta’ala.
In Surah ‘Ankabut, He said:
ٱلَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا۟ وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
Those who have been patient and upon their Lord rely. (29:59)
Whenever he left his house Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to say in the morning,
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ عَلَى اللَّهِ لاَ حَوْلَ وَلاَ قُوَّةَ إِلاَّ بِاللَّهِ
Bismillahi tawakkaltu ‘alallahi la hawla wala quwwata illa billah
In the name of Allah, I trust in Allah; there is no might and no power but in Allah.
It is the Sunnah to recite this whenever you leave your house. In return the angels say, ‘You will be guided, you will be protected, and you will be sufficed’. So, in the morning when you leave your house, say this dua – it is quick and easy to remember.
In Surat an-Nahl, regarding the influence of the Shaytan on us, Allah Almighty says,
إِنَّهُۥ لَيْسَ لَهُۥ سُلْطَـٰنٌ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
Indeed, there is for him no authority over those who have believed and rely upon their Lord. (16:99)
When you rely on Allah Almighty, Shaytan has no control over you because your heart is connected to Allah Almighty. The Shaytan cannot harm you when you rely on Allah Almighty. In Surat al-Mujadilah, Allah says that without His permission, Shaytan cannot harm those who believe, especially those who are relying on Allah Almighty.
إِنَّمَا ٱلنَّجۡوَىٰ مِنَ ٱلشَّيۡطَٰنِ لِيَحۡزُنَ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَلَيۡسَ بِضَآرِّهِمۡ شَيۡـًٔا إِلَّا بِإِذۡنِ ٱللَّهِۚ وَعَلَى ٱللَّهِ فَلۡيَتَوَكَّلِ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ
Private conversation is only from Satan that he may grieve those who have believed, but he will not harm them at all except by permission of Allah. And upon Allah let the believers rely. (58:10)
In the famous hadith, ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say,
حَدَّثَنَا حَرْمَلَةُ بْنُ يَحْيَى، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ وَهْبٍ، أَخْبَرَنِي ابْنُ لَهِيعَةَ، عَنِ ابْنِ هُبَيْرَةَ، عَنْ أَبِي تَمِيمٍ الْجَيْشَانِيِّ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ عُمَرَ، يَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ يَقُولُ “ لَوْ أَنَّكُمْ تَوَكَّلْتُمْ عَلَى اللَّهِ حَقَّ تَوَكُّلِهِ لَرَزَقَكُمْ كَمَا يَرْزُقُ الطَّيْرَ تَغْدُو خِمَاصًا وَتَرُوحُ بِطَانًا ” .
‘If you were to rely upon Allah with the reliance He is due, you would be given provision like the birds: They go out hungry in the morning and come back with full bellies in the evening.” (ibn Majah)
Here, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is saying that there is a true reliance and there is lip service reliance. True reliance is haqqa tawakkul – when you believe that Allah is al-Wakeel and will look after you. If you have hesitation in your heart about this, and deep down you are not sure if Allah Almighty will resolve things for you, then you are disconnecting yourself. He will not resolve it for you. If you have a shadow of doubt, then you have ruined this tawakkul. Is it possible to renew the intention? Yes. Is it possible to rectify this? Yes. But don’t have this hesitation. Trust Allah Almighty. It is a matter of training. It will not happen overnight. Allah can resolve things for you and deliver you from the calamity or difficulty you are facing at an individual level, at a community level, and on an Ummah level. Don’t ever mistrust Allah Almighty. If you do so, He will leave you to your own self. He won’t look after you because you are not asking for His help, you are not trusting in Him.
In Surat ‘Aali Imran, Allah Almighty says,
إِن يَنصُرۡكُمُ ٱللَّهُ فَلَا غَالِبَ لَكُمۡۖ وَإِن يَخۡذُلۡكُمۡ فَمَن ذَا ٱلَّذِي يَنصُرُكُم مِّنۢ بَعۡدِهِۦۗ وَعَلَى ٱللَّهِ فَلۡيَتَوَكَّلِ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ
If Allah should aid you, no one can overcome you; but if He should forsake you, who is there that can aid you after Him? And upon Allah let the believers rely. (3:160)
Accordingly, you can feel when you practice tawakkul, and you feel that the Wakeel is looking after you. Allah Almighty is the Wakeel, you feel tranquillity and you feel protection, you feel the special relief Allah Almighty will give you. This is something you cannot buy so it increases your imaan and improves your connection with Allah, and this is why especially these days we need to repeat ‘hasbunallahu wa ni’mal wakeel’ – Allah Almighty is sufficient for us, and He is our Wakeel.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – 5th Dec 2023 Transcribed S Jawaid
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