Where Effort Meets Faith
When I was young I was told that God (Allah) had written down our destinies. Everything from when we will die, to how much money we will make, to where we will live, its all written. This was a fascinating idea for me. If everything is written, why do anything? I was missing the supporting documents.
One day the Prophet (peace be upon him) saw a man leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the man, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The man replied: “I put my trust in Allah.” To which the Prophet said: “Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah” (At-Tirmidhi)
This is the supporting piece of knowledge I was missing, but what does it mean? Simply, do your effort but trust Allah in its outcome. This is important for two reasons, one, it implies that effort is essential, and second, that that effort has to be tied to Allah. For any efforts outcome is determined by Allah. To further explain let me share a personal story where effort met faith.
For the past year my wife, baby daughter, and me had been renting out a home. When we first chose the place we were excited as it was walking distance from the mosque, had ample space, and lots of privacy. As we started living in the house we noticed a lot of filth, dirt, rats, discolored water, and appliances that would break down. To make matters worse our land owner was of no help. To the point that our dishwasher sat rotting away for two months with no response or help from our land owner. It came to the point where we had to move for the health and safety of our family. So we started looking at other places, started looking for ways to get out of this house.
That effort, that persistence of searching and getting no where, trying to resolve the issues with no solution, searching and finding no end, that was us tying our camel. Faith was the other half, the darkness, the unseen, the uncontrollable, the processes running in the background that we couldn’t see but trusted would lead to the best of outcomes.
It was important for me to do both. For effort without faith is like shooting an arrow without aim. And faith without effort is trying to shoot an arrow without pulling back, sitting on the ground, looking the other way, somehow thinking the arrow will hit its target.
After months, a whole season went by, and what felt like a never ending cycle of finding a place, or seeing a solution only to have it come crashing down, effort met faith. I received a phone call one afternoon, it was a recruiter and he offered me a job I would be a good fit for. I did not apply for this job, I was at the time not even actively looking and applying for jobs, I was just trying to find a way to move out of our current living situation. It was as people say, serendipitous. It wasn’t, it was a matter of working hard, not giving up, and having patience that Allah has the best of outcomes waiting for us.
Flash forward six months, since this whole mess started, to today. I sit writing this from my new job, in a new state, getting ready to move into a brand new apartment.
You can achieve whatever you want. Just remember, tie your camel first.