The Concept of Rizq (Sustenance) In Islam

by Ustaz Muhammad Luqman Hakim Bin Roslan 2020-10-20 • 14 min read
Ustaz Luqman is a graduate of Islamic University of Madinah, majoring in Islamic Law. He is a Youth Development Officer and Mosque Religious Officer at An-Nahdhah mosque.
2020-10-20 • 14 min read

What is Rizq?

Rizq in Arabic or rezeki in Malay is unpredictable. Sometimes, it comes through unknown sources and in varying forms too. Wealth, health, even the greying hair is Rizq from Allah. Some scholars translate Rizq as ‘sustenance’, ‘provision’ and some call it ‘blessings’. It can also be seen as something that brings benefit or that which repels harm. Given that, it is quite difficult to encapsulate the meaning of Rizq in a single translation because Rizq is sustenance, provision, blessings and more.

Allah is Ar-Raziq and Ar-Razzaq

The word Rizq is mentioned 123 times in the Quran and most of which essentially addresses how it comes from Allah the Exalted. It is He who determines what a person will obtain in this life. It is Allah who gives us happiness and Allah who sets the events for sadness. He is Allah Ar-Raziq and Ar-Razzaq, The Provider. This is described by Allah Himself in the Quran:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الرَّزَّاقُ ذُو الْقُوَّةِ الْمَتِينُ

“Indeed, it is Allah who is the (continual) Provider, the firm possessor of strength.”

(Surah Adh-Dhariyat, 51:58)

وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَهُوَ خَيْرُ الرَّازِقِينَ

 And indeed, it is Allah who is the best of providers

(Surah Al-Hajj, 22:58)

The word ‘Razzaq’ is a hyperbolic or active expression of the word ‘Raziq’. Both words literally mean ‘The Provider’ but the former signifies a more profound meaning in the abundance of Rizq that Allah provides His creation with and how His Rizq reaches anybody and everybody it has been written for.

Rizq is already written

"The concept of rizq is so beautiful. Even when you eat a piece of fruit, it was always written for you. From the moment it grew from a tree, it went through all these people and travelled all this way until it was in your hands. It was always meant to be yours."

There is a famous hadith that reports on how every human shares the same initial stages of life - starting from being in the womb for 40 days, and then into a clot of blood for the same period, before phasing into a lump of flesh for also the same amount of time. Afterwards, the hadith states that:

ثم يرسل إليه الملك فينفخ فيه الروح، ويؤمر بأربع كلماتٍ: بكَتْبِ رزقه وأجله وعمله، وشقي أو سعيدٌ

“Then (Allah) sends to it an angel who is tasked to breathe soul into it. (The angel) is then commanded to write down four matters: the writing of the (developing child’s) rizq (sustenance), his life span, his actions, and whether he will be truly happy or miserable”

(Sahih Bukhari & Muslim)

From the mentioned hadith, we understand that Rizq, as with everything else in life, has been predetermined by Allah s.w.t. There are two ways to process this information.

1. A person could blame fate for the miserable and destitute conditions that he/she has been brought up in. One might even be quick to say that they can never live a good life because it has been predetermined.

2. We acknowledge that ease and difficulty come from Allah and that a Muslim needs to work towards improving his/her conditions or in other words, to put in effort accordingly.

A person can never say that ‘I am fated with little Rizq till the end of my life’ until it really has happened. Conversely, one cannot make a claim upon something that has yet to happen.

The significance of effort and the different types of Rizq

Allah has commanded for every capable individual to put in the right effort in search of provision despite it being pre-determined for everyone. This is also reflected in the way Allah has created birds and animals, their way of life, to survive and to procreate. The Prophet s.a.w. mentioned in a hadith:

لَوْ أَنَّكُمْ كُنْتُمْ تَوَكَّلُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ حَقَّ تَوَكُّلِهِ لَرُزِقْتُمْ كَمَا يُرْزَقُ الطَّيْرُ 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. It goes forth hungry in the morning and returns with a full belly at dusk.”

(Sunan At-Tirmizi)

rizq meaning in english

As a believer, one needs to be aware of the intricate relationship between faith and effort in the concept of finding Rizq. Limiting it to only faith that provision will come with no effort is insufficient. However, doing the opposite by making the necessary effort without acknowledging reliance on Allah s.w.t, is also misguided and will lead the person to an undesirable result.

An analogy would be that of a cab driver. If the driver only prays for a customer and waits, he might not see the potential customer who is standing just around the corner. On the other hand, if the driver goes for many rounds in the city and does not rely on Allah, he is missing out on The One who provides and gives, therefore deluding his achievements or failure merely due to his own efforts.

A believer needs to be aware that whatever he/she brings to the table at home is merely a part of the Rizq Allah has bestowed upon him/her. We can look at how the day went without accidents and the family being able to commune under one roof as also Rizq. The situation where the children can learn and be good Muslims is also Rizq. There is just so much that Allah gives us but we tend to overlook and only focus on the hardships that He tests us with.

rizq quotes

Rizq is not only the physical. It encompasses everything from that which is emotional and spiritual as well, such as the feelings of contentment and peace for example.

Various factors that will help prosper our Rizq

 With all that has been said about Rizq, there are times where we still struggle to understand and feel threatened while looking at our bills. We feel insecure about whether we can get through the year with what we have. 

rizq dua

Some might even consider investing in means that are illegal in Islam to pull through. No doubt these whispers come from Syaitan himself. Allah mentions in Surah Al-Baqarah:

الشَّيْطَانُ يَعِدُكُمُ الْفَقْرَ وَيَأْمُرُكُم بِالْفَحْشَاءِ ۖ وَاللَّهُ يَعِدُكُم مَّغْفِرَةً مِّنْهُ وَفَضْلًا ۗ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ

“The Devil threatens you with (the prospect of) poverty and bids you to the shameful deed (of stinginess), while Allah promises you forgiveness and (great) bounties from Him. And Allah is All-Bountiful, All-Knowing.”

(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:268)

 The key to prosperity in our Rizq is something that everyone can achieve. Since Rizq comes from Allah, getting closer to Him will automatically earn the individual His favours. Allah Himself promises in various Quranic verses and hadith narrations the keys to Rizq, some of which are:

1. Solat

rizq translation in english

A prayer commonly associated with Rizq is the Dhuha Prayer. Nevertheless, Allah mentions prayer in its entirety in the following verse, signalling that any prayer done with sincerity and solemnity may bring the Rizq one requires:

وَأْمُرْ أَهْلَكَ بِٱلصَّلَوٰةِ وَٱصْطَبِرْ عَلَيْهَا ۖ لَا نَسْـَٔلُكَ رِزْقًۭا ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُكَ ۗ وَٱلْعَـٰقِبَةُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ

“Bid your people to pray and be diligent in (observing) it. We do not ask you to provide. It is We Who provide for you. And the ultimate outcome is (only) for (the people of) righteousness.”

(Surah Taha, 20:132)

You may also be interested in learning how to pray in congregation at home.

2. Supplications

The Prophet s.a.w. used to make this supplication in his mornings. It is notable that the Prophet continued reciting this prayer despite being the closest to Allah. Hence let us follow in his footsteps and continue asking from Ar-Razzaq, no matter our status in this world. We can include the following in our prayers too:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ عِلْمًا نَافِعًا، وَرِزْقًا طَيِّبًا، وَعَمَلًا مُتَقَبَّلًا

“Oh Allah, I ask of you for beneficial knowledge, good provision and deeds that are accepted!”

(Musnad Imam Ahmad)

rizq is from allah

Read: Duas for Sustenance and Wealth

3. Istighfar

In Surah Nuh, Allah tells us of the story of the Prophet Nuh a.s. who preached to his people to worship Allah. Among his call to them was the seeking of forgiveness (istighfar), which results in Rizq from Allah s.w.t:

فَقُلْتُ ٱسْتَغْفِرُوا۟ رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ غَفَّارًۭا. يُرْسِلِ ٱلسَّمَآءَ عَلَيْكُم مِّدْرَارًۭا. وَيُمْدِدْكُم بِأَمْوَٰلٍۢ وَبَنِينَ وَيَجْعَل لَّكُمْ جَنَّـٰتٍۢ وَيَجْعَل لَّكُمْ أَنْهَـٰرًۭا

“And I said, ‘Seek your Lord’s forgiveness, for He is truly Most Forgiving. He will shower you with abundant rain. And he will supply you with wealth and children, and give you gardens as well as rivers.”

(Surah Nuh, 71:10–12)

After the call to seek forgiveness, Allah tells us in the following verse that he will send Rizq in multiple expressions. A simple prayer of ‘astaghfirullah’ with the heart and soul put into it could open the gates of Rizq.

Therefore, one should never undermine a deed, however small it may seem to the mortal eye. Other means to be blessed with Rizq include having taqwa (mindfulness in Allah), constantly having tawakkul (reliance) upon Him and giving charity in His name.

rezeki in english

This does not mean that these deeds should be neglected if one is already rich or living the easy life. In response to such an attitude, Allah s.w.t. warns us firmly in the following verse:

وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ ۖ وَلَئِن كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِي لَشَدِيدٌ

And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed, 'If you are grateful, I will surely increase you (in favour); but if you deny, surely My punishment is severe.'

(Surah Ibrahim, 14:7)

Indeed, everything belongs to Him and Man has no right to boast and be arrogant of the Rizq he is given to possess.

To conclude, one can see that the concept of Rizq is something easy to digest and preach about. It can be understood by almost anybody, in theory. However, different people react to the absence of sustenance differently. When pushed to the edge, hungry, torn and desperate, will we still put the theory to practice? We pray that Allah Ar-Raaziq provides us with the strength to do so and may Allah make us amongst His righteous servants.

Here are 8 ways to get closer to Allah.

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