One of my biggest life lessons was learning the concept of tawfeeq.
Ibn al-Qayyim is my kindred spirit, fo real. Just thinking about his books make my thoughts pause. He’s been one of my biggest influences on my writing, and it goes back to his book al-Fawaaid. Before I learnt Arabic, I had read translated excerpts here and there but it wasn’t until much later that I realized how much of the beauty was stripped in translation.
His book al-Fawaaid is like his Twitter page if he were alive today; bite-sized thoughts of reflection and wondrous observations. In it, he’s written quite a lot about tawfeeq, which essentially entails Allaah facilitating or paving the way for one, to success or attainment of goals.
He explains that unless Allaah wills for something to happen, it just won’t happen, regardless of how much effort one puts into doing something. And just like there are levels to effort, there are levels to tawfeeq. And fundamentally, the two are interconnected. He cites the closing ayah of surah al-Ankabuut as a backdrop for this principle ;
“As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths. And verily, Allaah is with the Muhsinon (good doers).”
He continues that the more one exerts themselves, the more tawfeeq one is granted. In essence, it gets easier.
This was a defining principle because I had found myself, too many times to count, failing to achieve something that I had put my back into. Under my apparent ambition lay a perfectionistic belief that my self-worth is tied to how much I can achieve. And inadvertently, I assigned all power and ability to myself, and none to Allaah. These failures pushed me back into my lane and allowed me to dial back on my arrogance.
You see, this universe is a two-stepper ; one is where you hustle and do what you can to achieve whatever, but the actualization, the creation of those dreams into reality ultimately rests with Allaah, and we as humans tend to forget that real quick.
Also, many a times I was banking on what I knew in the moment, and I’d be so sure that this was it, my holy grail. And more often than not, that in-the-moment conviction would turn out bad for my future self.
So. Seeing that I could only take one path at any given moment, yet be faced with forks in the road where there are countless paths diverging in each direction – which one should I take?
It’s this that has allowed me to get into a harmonious rhythm with everything around me, and embrace uncertainty. Dozens of times during the day, I mutter under my breath:
“ya Rabb give me tawfeeq. Ya Allaah show me what’s right. Make things easier for me.”
And it doesn’t even have to be a huge task I’m faced with. I say it when I’m too lazy to get up and clean the house or I’m waiting on something and I’m getting restless or I’m trying not to snap at my dying laptop and the failing network adapter that keeps disconnecting my WiFi connection 😒😒
If it seems simplistic, it absolutely is not. Because to ask Allaah for tawfeeq also entails
a) To tolerate the discomfort of uncertainty
b) To be ready to let go of any attachment to current paths or goals should something else prove better.
c) To be in tune with your emotions and thoughts.
d) To be intuitive, and silence down the thoughts to be able to hear Allaah’s answer. Because Allaah communicates through the heart, through one’s intuition.
And all of the above are in a realm that oh so many have abandoned and fled. It’s also the realm inhabited by creativity, risk, vulnerability, truth, love, pain.
To ask Allaah for what is best for your future self is to be ready to go through hell to implement the answer.
The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.
― Søren Kierkegaard ( Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing)