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Giving Up Control

By Dr. Shadee Elmasry


Here’s the thing our ego doesn’t like: submitting our desires to Allah and accepting the result.

We don’t like this because we want to choose ourselves. We want to feel in control because we have a specific thing in mind (as if Allah doesn’t know that).


But here’s the kicker... If you want that control, then go control everything else too. Control the organs in your body that you can’t even see and make sure they stay healthy. Control your kids’ organs and make sure they don’t get sick. Control the other drivers on the road and make sure they don’t hit you or your family. When Allah rewards, He doesn’t just give the thing you wanted, He gives you things you could never control nor what your money could ever buy. He also protects you from what you can’t control or even know exists.


You cannot turn Allah on and off at your whim. It’s either Him in control or you. Pick one. Hand over the wheel and take the passenger seat, or you take the wheel, but now deal with everything.


I’ve seen this happen to people. They want something. The means to get it is haram. Usually money or marriage. They do the haram anyway. They get it. They enjoy it for a day or two. But then it’s like all the reigns were let go. All the things people *assume* are givens go completely out of whack. They’re now drowned in problems. There’s no getting out until they admit they were wrong. If they did, they can turn things around. But if you’re going to be stubborn, you’re only hurting yourself.


The beauty in submission is a couple of major things.


First is that you will get things you could not have possibly controlled. You can’t control the feelings of your friends for example, and that they like you. Or your wife for that matter. Or your kids. Do you think that’s a given? Or it’s because we’re clever or nice?


Second is that Allah’s plan for us is all-encompassing. It encompasses our present and future. It includes everyone and everything else. Every factor possible. Nothing and nobody is left out. No human mind or AI can know, manage, or control all of that.


Third, planning is one thing, but execution is another. “My servant, I plan and you plan, and nothing will happen except what I plan.” Only one plan will be executed anyway. Allah has no competition or rival. We do. We have plenty of obstacles. We don’t control the weather, we don’t control the clock. Imagine going against an opponent who controls the game clock. Hence, this saying continues: “If you do not submit to My plan, I will exhaust you, and in the end, nothing will happen except what I planned.” No point in resistance.


Fourth... my favorite part: “My servant, I want something and you want something...If you submit to what I want, I’ll give you what you want.”


We just don’t control the timing that’s all.


PS - I called the above a “saying” because it has no sanad and was said to be revealed to Prophet Dawud as narrated by Hakeem al-Tirmidhi and later by Imam al-Ghazali. Ulama confirm that it’s meaning is sound. Nothing will happen except what Allah wants and Allah rewards His submitting servants.