Thankfulness, appreciation and sincerity in gratitude all are important aspects of the Muslim character – and often the most overlooked. In fact, expressing gratitude over a bounty or a favour is one of the branches of Īmān.
Every single bounty has been bestowed upon us by Allāh Subhānāhu wa Ta’āla, although we are undeserving of it. Making Shukr to Allāh with this realization and conviction, together with expressing gratitude by means of our tongue and actions (carrying out our life in accordance to the will of Allāh) … that is ‘real shukr‘.
Allāhummā lakal hamdu wa lakash shukru
O Allāh, for You Alone is all Praise. For You Alone is all Gratitude.
Allāh states in Qur’ān Majīd: “And if you attempt to count Allāh’s bounties, you will never be able to do so. Verily Allāh is the most Forgiving, the most Merciful.” [Qur’ān 16:18]. Allāh also says in holy Qur’ān “Allāh removed you from the wombs of your mothers when you knew nothing, and blessed you with ears, eyes and hearts so that you may be grateful.” [Qur’ān 16:78]
Most of us do not realize what a great blessing it is to see. The eye is the world’s most efficient photographic station. It takes flawless pictures in colour and transmits them without the least blurring to the brain. However, we often take this great bounty of Allāh for granted. We also take for granted our ears, legs and feet. Can one imagine life without a thumb? It is our shortest finger and yet has the biggest role! Can we imagine what our life would be if we could not bend our knee or could not smile or even could not blink our eyes? These are all little things that make a big difference in our lives. These are things that many of us do not even think about, let alone be thankful for. It is only when we lose them, do we realize their true worth.
In Surāh Ibrāhim Allāh says: “And [remember] when your Rabb announced, ‘If you show gratitude, then I will definitely grant you more (favours)” [Qur’ān 14:7]
Allāh Subhānāhu wa Ta’ālā has granted us so much that even if we are thankful, we can never thank Allāh enough. The air that we breathe in, the food we eat that contains variety of dishes, the clothes that we put on, the shelters that we call our homes, our wealth, our families, our lives and our health. If we could know what reward Allāh Azza wa Jal has kept for being thankful to Him, we would be eternally thankful to Him for every breath that we inhale, for every sip of water that we drink and for every morsel of food that we put into our mouth.
Thankfulness is far beyond words, it has to be manifested in our actions. We can say we are thankful to Allāh that He has blessed us with a healthy body, yet we do not offer Fajr Salāh with it in congregation or in time. Actions speak louder than words. When we are grateful for something, our actions will show it.
We should be grateful just to wake up every morning, for it is yet another chance for us to gain proximity to Allāh.
Being thankful can be looking up at the sky and exclaiming “SubhānAllāh! What a great day!” whether that day is sunny or gloomy, it is yet another day Allāh has blessed us to witness – and we have to be thankful to Allāh for that.
There is a difference, however, between just being grateful and in a constant state of gratitude; this, certainly, is the better state to be in.
When we are in this constant state of gratitude, we develop a positive attitude about everything in our life. We realise that everything that happens is the will of Allāh, so our response to everything is ‘Alhamdulillāh ‘alā kulli hāl.’ Meaning, ‘All praise is due to Allāh for every situation.’
We say it whether we get a pay cut or a raise; whether a loved one becomes sick or is cured; whether someone very close to us passes away or a baby is born to someone in the family. No matter how painful or pleasant our circumstance is, we always thank Allāh: Alhamdulillāh ‘alā kulli hāl, and have full conviction that our Creator knows best. To be pleased with whatever we experience from Allāh the Most High is yet another branch of Īmān. Having this outlook on life can help ease our stress and will not only make life pleasant, but will make us a more pleasant person.
Abu Hurairah RadhiyAllāhu ‘anhu narrates that Rasulullāh SallAllāhu ‘alaihi wasallam in a Hadith Qudsi said: Allāh Subhānāhu wa Ta’ālā says: When I inflict illness upon My believing slave and he does not complain about Me to people who come to visit him, I set him free (forgive his sins). Then I change his flesh with flesh better than his and blood better than his blood and he resumes his deeds afresh (as all his sins have been wiped out). [Mustadrak Hākim].
We should always avoid worldly comparisons. We should not look at the celebrities, rich or affluent people above us in worldly matters. The lives of such individuals are not ‘ideal’ in the eyes of Allāh. Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allāh (SallAllāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Look at those who are beneath you and do not look at those who are above you, for it is more suitable that you should not consider as less the blessing of Allāh.”
Besides being thankful to Allāh we should also be thankful to the people around us. Nabi Muhammad sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam once said, “He who is not thankful to people is not thankful to Allāh.” [Tirmidhi and Ahmad]. It is always nice to feel appreciated and it is even nicer to make others feel appreciated – and Allāh rewards those that are considerate. Being thankful can also be as simple as a smile. It can mean to say anything from “Thank you” to “I love you” or “You have made my day!” Our beloved Nabi sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, once said that a smile is a sadaqāh (charity). So smile – and get rewarded for it.
When someone gives us something, we should take care of it and in this way we will show that we appreciate it. When we misuse it, we are actually showing that we do not value it. We can well imagine what our reactions would be if we give a beautiful looking, expensive garment to someone and instead of putting it on he or she uses it to wipe the furniture. Obviously we would be grossly offended to the point that we might even decide to take it back.
Allāh has given us our body and our body depends on us to take care of it. It relies on us to keep it away from the scorching flames of the Hellfire. Our body only does what we instruct it to do. If we make our tongue to lie, our hands to steal and let our eyes to see what is forbidden then we are actually betraying our body. On the Day of Judgment our body will consequently betray us and testify against us.
Allāh in the Noble Qur’ān says: “That day We shall seal their mouths, and their hands will speak to Us, and their feet will bear witness as to what they earned.” [Qur’ān 36:65].
Let us pray to Allāh Gafoor ur Rahīm to guide us to show our appreciations to Allāh for all the bounties He has bestowed upon us by using them to earn His pleasure and not His wrath… Āmeen.
[This article was inspired by a write-up titled ‘It is all about Gratitude’ by Bushra Zaibak].
Allāh ta’ālā knows Best.