The Meaning of Rizq (provision)

Allah (swt) says,

“Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties for (the price) that theirs shall be the Paradise…. “ [TMQ Surah At-Tawbah:111]

As a rule of thumb, we naturally tend to worry about things that are in our possession. So for example, we suffer agitation if we get a scratch on our car as opposed to if it happens to someone else or become anxious when our.Generally, the two most prized possession that we worry about (and we assume is ours) are our lives and wealth. But Allah azza wajjal reminds us in this Ayah that these things are not ours, for He has purchased it from us, so why worry about these matters?

There still seems to be a lack of understanding about the concept of rizq amongst ourselves, such that we often confuse the circumstances by which we attain our rizq with the actual cause of rizq. We have assured ourselves that our Rizq, present and future, will come primarily from our own efforts. The more we struggle and strive, the more we shall accomplish and achieve.

Sure, our belief system dictates that everything comes from Allah (swt), but our attitudes expose the contrary. This has led us then to prioritise our work or family commitments above the commitments to the dawah. Perhaps this is because we live in a secular & capitalist society where we have been taught to believe that we are solely responsible for creating our own wealth and opportunities, and the fact we live in difficult economic times.

Yes, Islam teaches us that a man should go and earn his living, and this is a noble act in the eyes of Allah (swt). And yes, most of us have several responsibilities, be they to our parents, our children, or both or work and there are always bills to pay. But seeking our rizq, should not be of such paramount importance that involves spending the greatest time, energy and focus on. It is a priority but it is in a long list of priorities. And most importantly who is it that defines our priorites?

Allah (swt) says:

“Say: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that ye have gained; the commerce in which ye fear a decline: or the dwellings in which ye delight – are dearer to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause;- then wait until Allah brings about His decision (ie. Torment): and Allah guides not the rebellious.” [TMQ Surah At-Tawbah: 24]

So Allah mentions those things which in themselves are obligations such as the rights of parents, rights of spouses etc, but He puts them all into context for us and lets us know of the consequences of putting them before Allah and His Messenger.

And which do we prioritise? A clear understanding of rizq is one of the major influences in our life, which determines how we can make the right decisions when it comes to balancing our other responsibilities.

Rizq is from Allah

Rizq is in the hands of Allah – One of the beautiful names of Allah(swt) is Ar Razzaaq The Provider, The Providence, The Supplier, The Bestower of Sustenance.The One who creates all means of nourishment and subsistence. The One who provides everything that is needed.

Allah (swt) says,

“Lo! Allah (swt) is that who gives livelihood, the Lord of unbreakable might.” [TMQ Surah adh-Dhariyat:58]

“We provide for you” [TMQ Surah Al-Anaam:151]

These ayaat clearly indicate that Allah (swt) is the Razzaq (Provider) and that Rizq is ascribed to Him alone – He provides to whom He wills, and this authority of provision is reserved for Him alone.

Allah (swt) also says,

”And eat of the things which Allah (swt) has provided for you, as lawful and good, and keep your duty to Allah in Whom you believe.” [TMQ Surah Al-Ma'idah: 88]

In this Ayah Allah encourages us to partake in what Allah has provided for us, but reminds us to keep our duty to Him. Allah connects these 2 subjects and warns us not to allow the partaking in provision to allow us to transgress any of His other commands. Allah is also reminding us that the rizq we have, no matter how much we feel we might have “earned” it, is not from ourselves but has been provided by Allah.

It also important to note that rizq is not associated with man in any verse or hadith for that matter except through its management and distribution, like Allah says:

“Do not give to the foolish (what is in) your (keeping of their) wealth, which Allah (swt) has given you to maintain; but feed and clothe them from it.” [TMQ Surah An-Nisa:5]

Allah also connects having Taqwa with the provision of Rizq in the following verse:

“And whoever fears Allah – He will make a way out for him. And will provide for him from where he does not expect.” [TMQ Surah At-Talaq: 2-3]

This means that though we may think we know exactly where our salaries are coming from every month, there are times when all of us are provided for in a time of need, in a way we could not have imagined. Think back to a time when you were desperate for some help, something was stolen and then replaced with something better, you were broke or on your last and some money appeared from a source you could not have imagined, or even just being offered something to eat at a time when you did not expect it.

These are all simple examples of being provided for without any effort on our part.

This does not mean, however, we go to the extreme of leaving our work and obligation to ourselves and our family as this would be disobeying the laws of Allah (swt) as we are commanded to strive to obtain our rizq as Allah (swt) says:

“And when the prayer is ended, then disperse in the land and seek of Allah (swt)’s bounty.” [TMQ Surah Al-Jummuah:10]

Rather we must plan our lives in the best way possible in seeking our rizq with fulfilling our other commitments to Allah and His messenger, and have firm belief in Ar-Razzaq to provide for us.

Imam ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali rahimullah states in his book Jami al-ulum wa ‘l-hikam fi sharh khamsina hadithan min jawami al-kalim that “… the slave should be more sure of what is in the hand of Allah than he is of that which is in his own hand. This arises from soundness and strength of certainty, because Allah guarantees the provisions of His slaves and is responsible for them.”

Allah (swt) says:

“There is no creature on the earth which is not dependent upon Allah for its provision.” [TMQ Surah Hud: 6]

Allah (swt) also says:

“Your provision is in heaven – and what you are promised.” [TMQ Surah adh-Dhariyat: 22]

Rizq is fixed

Rizq is fixed in its amount. It is another important concept to understand, that is the rizq for each and every human has already been decreed by Allah (swt).

Ibn Mas’ud narrated that Allah’s Messenger (saw) said to his wife Umm Habiba: “Verily you have asked Allah about the duration of life already set, and the steps you would take, and the sustenance the share of which is fixed. Nothing will take place before its due time, and nothing will be deferred beyond when it is due.” [Muslim].

A Muslim must always rely upon Allah (swt), this belief gives the believer the strength to overcome difficulties. Someone with the correct understanding that his provision is from Allah (swt), will trust fully in Allah (swt) to provide for him especially when times are difficult.

Allah (swt) said:

“Allah increases the provision (rizq) for whom he wills, and straitens (it from whom He wills), and they rejoice in the life of the world, whereas the life of this world as compared with the hereafter is but a brief passing enjoyment” [TMQ Ar-Ra'd: 26].

So if times are difficult the true believer sees it as a test from Allah (swt), and it is He (swt) who will provide what is due. We take heed in what the ayah states that the life of this world “…is but a brief passing enjoyment.”

Confronted with difficult times, such as the current economic climate, we may be tempted in desperation to resort to working long hours, or taking a second job such that it consumes all our energies that we neglect our other responsibilities but the steadfast believer who understands that his rizq is from Allah (swt), who understands the prophetic advice when the prophet (saw) said:

“Let not the fear of people stop anyone of you from saying what is true, or doing something important, because what you say or do will not keep you from your rizq, or keep you from your ajl (life span).”

… and who understands that he may be prevented from his provision because of a haram action that he does as stated in the hadith of Thawban in Ahmad that the Prophet (saw) said “The slave is forbidden provision because of a wrong action that he does”.

Value of wealth

One final quality of the believer who has understood rizq in its correct context, is the small value he places upon his wealth, or rather the value he places upon it is of a different type. He knows it is a burden, he knows his provision is fixed and that Allah (swt) will provide for him so there is no need to fear in spending his wealth freely in a righteous manner, as these deeds will benefit him in the hereafter whereas the material wealth he accumulates and the items he has bought with them and covets will not.

Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi narrated that Umar ibn al-Khattab said: The Messenger of Allah (saw) ordered us to give sadaqah and that agreed with the property that I had so I said, ‘Today I will outdo Abu Bakr if I am ever to outdo him,’ and I brought half of my wealth. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, ‘What have you left for your family?’ I said, ‘I have left the like of it.’ Then Abu Bakr came with everything that he had, and he said, ‘Abu Bakr what have you left for your family?’ He said, ‘I have left for them Allah and His Messenger.’ I said, ‘I will never ever outdo him in anything.’

Or the story of Mus’ab bin Umair, who the Prophet (saw) used to say, “There is nobody more handsome in Mecca than Mus‘ab. There is no person in the city better clothed and fed than Mus‘ab. There is no child brought up with mote affection and love than him.”

He was from a wealthy family but after his acceptance of Islam he devoted all his life to the cause of Allah and His Messenger such that once he presented himself to prophet (saw) in such a condition that he had only a piece of skin with patches here and there to cover his body. When the companions of prophet (saw) saw this, they hung their heads in awe.

The Prophet (saw) said:

“Alhamdulillah Now the condition of the world and worldly people should change. This is the young man who had no equal in Makkah in the luxurious style in which he was brought up. But the regard for virtue and love for Allah and his Prophet have made him indifferent to all worldly pleasures.”

The carrier of the Dawa must be ready to face the trials and tribulations that those who oppose it will place in his or her path. The only way to prepare for this is to have the clear knowledge of the key Islamic ideas such as Rizq (sustenance) being from Allah (swt), and Al-Tawakkul (reliance on Allah [swt]) amongst other ideas.

This understanding must be well thought out and free from doubt as it will cause the believer to be freed from the struggle and exhaustion to accumulate wealth and places his focus upon carrying the call. It will also produce an individual who sticks to the shariah rules when obtaining wealth and someone who is characterised with generosity, actively seeking useful ways to spend or invest his wealth which will benefit him through earning Allah’s pleasure.

“Verily Allah provides sustenance to whom He wills without measure.” [TMQ Surah al-Imran: 37]