The Ulemah have cited many benefits and blessings in practicing Shukr, my aim in this thread is to collect various articles and lectures on the benefits and blessings of Shukr.
Al-Ghunya li-Talibi Tariq al-Haqq
Shaykh Abdal Qadir Al Gilani
Concerning thankfulness [shukr].
As for thankfulness [shukr], the basic guidance on the subject is contained in the words of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) :
If you are thankful, I will surely give you more; but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is terrible indeed. (14:7)
This is reinforced by the traditional report, transmitted on the authority of 'Ata' (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him), who said:
"I entered the presence of [the Prophet's widow] 'A'isha (may Allah be well pleased with her), and said: 'Tell us about the most amazing experience you ever had in the company of Allah's Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace).' She wept at first, but then she said: 'Was there anything at all about him that was not a marvelous wonder? He came to me one night, and snuggled up beside me in my bed [firashi] until his skin was touching my skin. But then he said: 'O daughter of Abu Bakr, let me go, so that I may devote myself to the worship of my Lord.'
"She said: 'So I told him: "I love your nearness, but I prefer to respect your dearest wish." I therefore allowed him (Allah bless him and give him peace) to take his leave of me. So he got up, found a skin container full of water, and performed his ritual ablution [tawadda'a], pouring a considerable amount of water in the process. Then he stood erect, and started to perform the ritual prayer [qama fa-salla]. He wept as he did so, until his tears were streaming down onto his chest. Then he adopted the bowing posture [raka'a], and shed more tears. Then he prostrated himself [sajada], and again he wept. Then he raised his head, and wept still more. He went on like this (Allah bless him and give him peace) until Bilal (may Allah be well pleased with him) arrived on the scene, and so he told him about the ritual prayer [salat].
"'I then said: "O Messenger of Allah, what causes you to weep, when Allah has forgiven you your earlier and later sins?" To this he replied (Allah bless him and give him peace) :
"'"Should I not be a thankful servant ['abd shakur]? Why should I not do it, since Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has sent down to me the words of revelation:
Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, and the ship that runs upon the sea with that which is of use to human beings, and the water which Allah sends down from the sky, thereby reviving the earth after its death, and dispersing all kinds of beasts therein, and the distribution of the winds, and the clouds set in orderly array between heaven and earth--surely there are signs for people who can understand. (2:164) "'"
According to those who specialize in ascertaining the actual facts [ahl at-tahqiq], the true nature of thankfulness [haqiqat ash-shukr] is the acknowledgment of the benefaction of the benefactor [ni'mat al-mun'im], with an attitude of humility. In accordance with this meaning, Allah (Exalted is He) has described Himself as being the Most Thankful One [ash-Shakur] in the widest sense, that is to say, in the sense that He rewards His servants for their thankfulness. For the recompense of thankfulness [jaza' ash-shukr] is also called thankfulness [shukr], just as Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has said:
And the recompense of an evil is an evil just like it. (42:40)
It has also been said that the true nature of thankfulness [haqiqat ash-shukr] is the act of praising the beneficent person [muhsin] by mentioning his beneficence [ihsan]. The servant's thankfulness [shukr] to Allah (Exalted is He) is therefore expressed through the praise he offers to Him, by mentioning His beneficence [ihsan] toward His servant. As for the thankfulness [shukr] of the Lord of Truth (Glory be to Him) toward His servant, it is expressed through the praise He confers upon him, by making it known that he has acted beneficently for His sake. Furthermore, the beneficence [ihsan] of the servant represents his worshipful obedience to Allah, while the beneficence [ihsan] of the Lord of Truth (Glory beto Him) represents His bestowal of gracious favor [in'am] upon His servant. When the thankfulness [shukr] of the servant is genuine, it is not only a matter of utterance by the tongue, but also the heart's acknowledgment of the Lord's bestowal of gracious favor [in'am ar-Rabb].
Moreover, thankfulness [shukr] can be subdivided into several categories, namely:
1. Thankfulness expressed by the tongue [shukr bi'l-lisan]. This constitutes the acknowledgment of the benefaction [ni'ma] with an attitude of humble acceptance [istikana].
2. Thankfulness expressed by the body and the limbs [shukr bi'l-badan wa 'l-arkan]. This is the characteristic indication of loyalty and readiness to serve [al-wafa' wa 'l-khidma].
3. Thankfulness expressed by the inner feeling [shukr bi'l-qalb]. This requires a careful balance between the visible display of appreciation and the constant preservation of a sense of reverence.
It has also been said that thankfulness of the eyes [shukr al-'ainain] means that you overlook any fault you notice in your companion, while thankfulness of the ears [shukr al-udhunain] means that you ignore any fault you hear him accused of possessing.
In the simplest terms, thankfulness [shukr] means that you do not disobey Allah (Exalted is He) by misusing His gracious favors.
Here is another saying that clearly deserves to be quoted:
"Thankfulness [shukr] may mean the thankfulness of the learned scholars [shukr al-'alimin], in which case it will be among the subjects they discuss.
"Thankfulness [shukr] may mean the thankfulness of the dedicated worshippers [shukr al-'abidin], in which case it will be a feature of their actions.
"Thankfulness [shukr] may mean the thankfulness of those who know by direct intuition [shukr al-'arifin], in which case it will be expressed through their honest devotion to Him (Almighty and Glorious is He) in all their states and conditions. It will be expressed through their firm conviction that whatever is good in their experience, and whatever is manifested from them in the way of worshipful obedience, servitude, and remembrance of Him (Almighty and Glorious is He), is entirely due to His enabling guidance [tawfiq], His gracious favor, His help, His power and His strength (Almighty and Glorious is He). It will be expressed through their detachment from all of that, and their total absorption [fana'] in Him. It will be expressed through their acknowledgment of their own inability, deficiency and ignorance, and then through their humble submission to Him (Almighty and Glorious is He) in all conditions and circumstances."
It was Abu Bakr al-Warraq (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) who said:
"Thankfulness for a gracious favor [shukr an-ni'ma] means feasting one's eyes on the gift received, while preserving a sense of reverence."
As someone else once put it:
"Thankfulness for a gracious favor [shukr an-ni'ma] means that you regard yourself as no more deserving of it than a parasite [tufaili]."
It was Abu 'Uthman [al-Hiri] (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) who said:
"Thankfulness [shukr] is the conscious awareness [ma'rifa] of the fact that you are quite incapable of thankfulness."
Let us also consider the following wise sayings:
"Thankfulness for thankfulness [ash-shukr 'ala 'sh-shukr] is more complete than simple thankfulness [shukr]. This means that you regard your thankfulness as the result of His enablement [tawfiq], and you have received that enablement on account of the gracious favors bestowed upon you, so you give thanks to Him for the thankfulness He has enabled you to experience. Then you thank Him for the thankfulness-upon-thankfulness [shukr ash-shukr], and so on ad infinitum."
"Thankfulness [shukr] is the attribution of blessings to their Master [Mawla], with an attitude of humble submission to Him."
It was al-Junaid (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) who said:
"Thankfulness [shukr] means that you do not look upon yourself as worthy of the gracious favor you have received."
In several wise sayings, the meaning of the simple adjective shakir [thankful; grateful] is contrasted with the significance of the intensive form shakur [very thankful; most grateful; extremely appreciative]. For instance:
"The person who is simply thankful [shakir] is someone who gives thanks for what is available [mawjud], while the person who is very thankful [shakur] is someone who gives thanks for what is unavailable [mafqud]."
"The person who is simply thankful [shakir] is someone who gives thanks for the provision of benefit [naf'], while the person who is very thankful [shakur] is someone who gives thanks for the withholding of benefit [man']."
"The person who is simply thankful [shakir] is someone who gives thanks for the granting of gifts ['ata'], while the person who is very thankful [shakur] is someone who gives thanks for trial and tribulation [bala']."
"The person who is simply thankful [shakir] is someone who gives thanks in response to immediate delivery [badhl], while the person who is very thankful [shakur] is someone who gives thanks when delivery is subject to deferment [matl]."
It was [Abu Bakr ibn Jahdar] ash-Shibli (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) who said:
"Thankfulness [shukr] means focusing attention on the source of the benefit [mun'im], not focusing attention on the benefit [ni'ma] itself."
Someone else had this to say on the subject:
"Thankfulness [shukr] means firmly securing the bonds of that which has been found [qaid al-mawjud], and then hunting for that which is still missing [said al-mafqud]."
It was Abu 'Uthman [al-Hiri] (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) who said:
"The thankfulness of the common folk [shukr al-'amma] is for food and drink and clothing, while the thankfulness of the elite [shukr al-khawass] is for the spiritual values [ma'ani] conferred upon their hearts."
Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has told us:
And few of My servants are very thankful. (34:13)
[The Prophet] David (peace be upon him) once said:
"My God [Ilahi], how can I thank You, when my thankfulness to You [shukri la-ka] is itself a blessing from among Your gracious favors [ni'ma min ni'ami-ka]?"
So Allah (Blessed and Exalted is He) conveyed to him by way of inspiration [awha ilai-h] : "Now you have thanked Me indeed! [al-ana qad shakarta-ni]."
To quote another wise saying:
"If your hand is too short to extend remuneration, let your tongue dwell at length on the expression of thanks [shukr]."
When Idris (peace be upon him) was given the good tiding of forgiveness, he is said to have asked for life. "Why?" he was asked, so he explained: "So that I may be able to thank Him, for I was previously working for forgiveness." The angel thereupon spread its wing, and carried him up to heaven.
It is said that one of the Prophets [Anbiya'] (peace be upon them all) once passed by a small stone, from which a large amount of water was gushing forth. He was astonished at the sight, but Allah caused the stone to let him know that it could speak, so he asked it about its condition. It told him: "Ever since I heard Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) speak of:
a Fire of which the fuel is men and stones. (66:6)
I have been weeping from fear of it." So that Prophet (peace be upon him) offered a prayer of supplication, pleading with Him to grant that stone asylum from the Fire. Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) thereupon conveyed to him by way of inspiration [awha ilai-h] : "I have already granted it asylum from the Fire." That Prophet then continued on his way. When he returned later on, he found that the water was still gushing from the stone, but even more copiously than on his previous visit. He was bewildered, but Allah (Exalted is He) again caused the stone to let him know that it could speak, so he said to it: "Why are you still weeping, when Allah has already forgiven you?" The stone explained: "That was the weeping of sorrow and fear, but this is the weeping of thankfulness [shukr] and joy."
In the words of another wise saying:
"One who is thankful [shakir] is in the presence of superabundance [mazid], because he is going through the experience of receiving gracious favor [ni'ma], for Allah (Exalted is He) has told us:
If you are thankful, I will surely give you more. (14:7)
"And one who is patient [sabir] is in the presence of Allah, taking shelter with Him (Exalted is He), because he is going through the experience of suffering trial and tribulation [bala']. Allah (Exalted is He) has told us:
Surely Allah is with those who are patient. (2:153)"
"Praise [hamd]," it has been said, "is for the very breaths we breathe, while thankfulness [shukr] is for the blessings of the senses."
In the words of the authentic tradition [al-khabar as-sahih] :
The first of those invited to enter the Garden of Paradise will be those who are constantly praising Allah [al-hammaduna li'llah].
"Praise [hamd]," it has also been said, "is for what He has prevented, while thankfulness [shukr] is for what He has brought into being."
The following story was told by one of the righteous:
"In the course of one of my journeys, I caught sight of an old man, who was far advanced in age, so I asked him about his condition. He responded by telling me: 'In the early part of my life, I was deeply in love with a cousin of mine, the daughter of my paternal uncle, and she was equally in love with me, so it was agreed that I should marry her. [When she entered my chamber] on the night of her bridal procession [zifaf], I said to her: 'Come, let us spend the whole of this night in worship, as a way of giving thanks to Allah [shukran li'llah] (Almighty and Glorious is He) for having brought us together.' So we performed the ritual prayer [sallaina] throughout that night, and neither of us paid any attention to the other. Then, when the second night came around, we spent the whole of it in similar fashion. This came to be our constant practice, so that now, after seventy or eighty years have gone by, we are still in that same state every night.' His wife was with him at the time, so he turned to her and asked her: 'Is that not just the way it is, O So-and-so?' To this the old woman replied: 'It is just as the old man told you.'"
* * * * * * *
This brings us to the end of the section concerning thankfulness [shukr].
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of All the Worlds! [al-hamdu li'llahi Rabbi 'l-'alamin].
An Attitude of Gratitude The Psychology Behind Shukr.
by Bela Khan
She opens her wardrobe. Two dozen dresses— red, yellow, orange, pink, and you-name-it— are hanging there. After a cursory glance, she bangs the door shut.
“Mom, I have nothing to wear for the party,” she whines. “I’ve been begging you to take me shopping for ages— you never listen to me! What do I do now?”
He’s rummaging in the fridge for the fourth time. Pizza, chocolate, ice-cream, fruits, and juices are stuffed inside. He closes the door despondently and leaves the kitchen, saying, “There’s nothing much to eat in here. Let’s go to the café and get some decent food.”
She wakes up with the same feelings of depression and dread that she’s been experiencing every morning. Thoughts of suicide are again floating in her mind. She’s married to a handsome man and has two lovely kids, a home, and a car— everything most women would ask for. Apparently, life is perfect, but something is missing; she’s just not married to the man of her dreams.
He’s seventeen years old. He has an iPhone, Core I-7 Dell, and 1000 bucks monthly pocket money, but according to him his life sucks. He can’t focus on his textbook. He slams it shut and starts pacing the room as he thinks aloud: “If my friend can own a Jaguar, why the hell can’t I? Everything sucks.”
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
The Ingratitude Habit
As we grow up, we get tuned to be ungrateful, to be blind to the blessings in our lives. We focus all our energy and attention on looking for what’s lacking in our lives. This is really ironic, because the more we focus on scarcity, the more we tend to attract it.
How to Become a Black Hole of Despair
Research has proven that our thoughts and emotions emit powerful signals, and that these signals have the ability to attract signals of the same frequency! In other words, whenever you’re ungrateful or have negative, self-defeating thoughts (for example, I never seem to have enough of money, or I can never be healthy, or I’ll never find a practicing husband) or worry about issues beyond your control, you’re actually emitting energies that will attract similar energies. Ultimately, you’ll end up becoming a black hole of despair. All the worries, arguments, and frustration just lead to more of the same.
Want to try to attract more peace, joy, harmony, ease, and prosperity? Choose your thoughts consciously and carefully.
Open Secrets in the Quran
Today non-Muslim researchers have discovered these secrets in the name of natural laws, while these “open secrets” were given to us in the Quran 1400 years ago. Psychologists and philosophers have painstakingly conducted research and come up with new theories and ideas. All this “newly discovered” stuff was presented to us in the Quran in no uncertain terms. Allah سبحانه وتعالى promises us: If you are grateful, I’ll give you more.
And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.’ [Quran, 14:7]
This is a ready-made formula for attracting more of what you want in life.
Surah Fatihah: A Pillar’s Pillar
It is well-known that prayer, the important pillar of Islam, is incomplete without Surah Fatihah. Surah Fatihah begins with expressing our gratitude to our Lord for the countless blessings He has showered upon us.
Have you ever noticed that a lot of duas taught by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also start with the same expression of gratitude— alhamdulillah? The day starts with the supplication Alhmdulillahilazi ahyana… (All praise and thanks be to the one who gave us life.)
Allah سبحانه وتعالى wants you to start your day in a super-charged state, attracting ample happiness and abundance in life. The meal ends with the supplication Alhmdulillahizli at’amana wa sakana . . . (All praise and thanks be to the one who gave us food and drink). Why? Because He always wants you to have better food every time you eat. The same expression— alhamdulillah; it’s not a coincidence, is it?
Getting Back on Track
Gratitude is one of the quickest ways to regain our focus. When we feel stuck it means we’re giving too much attention to something that doesn’t really deserve it. Most so-called problems are usually mundane preoccupations and mental obsessions. We focus so much on one area to the exclusion of everything else that we create and thus magnify our problems.
Surprisingly, when we focus so much on what’s not working, we can’t even access the part of our brain that provides us with solutions. So, when something is not working, we should focus on what is working and say alhmdulillahi rabbil 3lameen aloud.
What do you think you’re doing by saying this? You’re freeing your mind from those thoughts that bog you down and reinforcing strong, positive beliefs that even if some areas are not working in life, others definitely are. In this way, you’re able to think in a quicker and better way to resolve what’s not working in life. Try it out!
It’s reported that some of the companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) were even grateful for the calamities they faced and presented their gratitude to Allah سبحانه وتعالى for not letting something worse befall them. Now that’s the attitude of gratitude!
Being grateful to Allah سبحانه وتعالى does wonders. When you’ll acknowledge His hand in your life, miracles will happen. You’ll be in the middle of a problem, not knowing what might happen next, and suddenly the solution will dawn upon you. You might be in dire need of money and someone might, for example, return to you an old loan that you completely forgot about. Or you might be missing your loved ones and they give you a call right then.
We usually ignore many things that are readily available to us and need a big reason to be grateful. Our family, friends, body, health, job, leisure time, education, food, wisdom, smiles, children, and even the painful lessons that life teaches us (and the list goes on) are huge blessings to be grateful for. If you don’t have the same feeling, just close your eyes and imagine one of these blessings vanishing from your life. How does that feel? This is exactly the reason you need to be thankful each day, every moment.
All of us need a bit of fine tuning, so below are some tools that I am sharing with you to enable you to be grateful to Him and let the magic unfold.
Essential Tools for a Grateful Life:
1). Make a list of twenty things you appreciate right now. Write alhamdullilah in front of every blessing. Make a list of the things you feel good about and why you’re grateful for that thing, situation, or person in your life. How did you feel doing this? Here’s the good news: you just increased your positive emissions and now you are actually able to attract more happiness, abundance, and prosperity in your life.
2). Start looking for everything you can be grateful for in life and start talking about it all the time no matter how insignificant it is. If you find a buck from your old shirt’s pocket, celebrate. Go around and tell everyone how grateful you are for that. That’s how you are actually tuning your mind to show gratitude for tiniest blessing in your life.
3). At least once a day, share a gratitude status on Facebook and Twitter (or whatever social media you use) and ask others what they are grateful for. Insha Allah, you’ll get ajar for your shukr and theirs too.
4). Try to seek the positive in every negative. Take out at least three good lessons from every painful experience and be grateful that life threw that situation at you so that you could learn.
Do share with us a list of some blessings in your life in the comments below.
Bela Khan is a student of Islam, a Muslim women empowerment coach, speaker, writer, and philanthropist. Her mission is, as she says, “to make every single woman reconnect with her Lord, refine her relationships, and get the money flow by inculcating an entrepreneurial mindset.”
I have been trying to include more shukr in my routine over the last couple of weeks I had the following experience.
(1) After lying on my bed and making Shukr for various blessings what I have found is that my blood pressure and Heart rate have come down to normal levels... Even with medication both have been seriously high. My Heart can go up-to 100/ 105 beats per minute but with Meditation/Muraqabah of Shukr it has been as low as 64 beats Alhamdulillah.
(2) Another suggestion I came across was make shukr and express gratitude for almost everything your eyes fall on through out the day... I have tried that and it is surprising the little things you notice, you would not otherwise. Things like gratitude that my bathroom lock is working and that my privacy is protected, gratitude for the fact the footpath is paved so that my shoes are protected from getting muddy, the fact that I am able to make a cup of tea easily and quickly because It comes in bag.
I suppose the real challenge will be in becoming consistent, in expressing gratitude long term.
In the following short Inspirational reminder 'Gratitude and Countless blessings', Shaykh Hussain Abdul Sattar, compares what life would have been like for people living in the west in the year 1850, to the present... and all the blessings we have today that not even kings in the past had, electricity, water, indoor plumbing, phones, internet, planes, cars, advances in medicine etc.
One of the Blessings of constant shukr is that even in difficult circumstances no matter how challenging they are a servant is given the Tawfiq to understand and the full conviction that there is some khayr in it.
So everytime a negative thought occurs in our minds whether it is of selfpity anger, resentment, hopelessness, we should immediatley focus on all the blessings in our life and make Shukr,
The following is an inspirational article by Dr Muhammad al Maqdisi "Expect the Best From ALLAH.
Hadhrat Mawlana Mufti Mohammad Taqi Usmani (may Allah preserve him) said,
“Once my Shaykh Hadhrat Dr. Abdul Hayy ‘Arifi (may Allah have mercy on him) was invited to a dinner. Few of his disciples, including me were accompanying him. After the sumptuous meal Hadhrat addressed us regarding the excessive thankfulness due on each and every blessing.
Hadhrat enumerated that in this single episode how many blessings were incorporated. First blessing was the delicious food itself. Second, the respectful manner in which the host served it to us. Third, our feeling of hunger which made it possible for us to consume it. Fourth, our good general health that allowed us to eat indiscriminately. If we had an aliment we would have to restrict ourselves to specific foods only. Fifth, our being free from overwhelming and disturbing thoughts. If a close family member had been sick it would have been impossible to enjoy the delicious meal. Sixth, the company of friends and pious individuals we had. Rude and irreligious fellows would had made the whole event a miserable experience. So on and so forth the list of blessings will continue. We are aware that it is essential to give thanks for each and every of these blessings. True and real thanks will gush out from the depths of the heart with realization of these things.
Hadhrat Mufti sahib added, the ability to appreciate the blessings in such manner is due to a very close and intimate relationship with Allah (taluq ma’Allah), that is the goal of Tasawwuf.
These are gems to take from Shaykh’s company (suhba). “
Friday 27th July 2007, Masjid Darul Uloom, Karachi. After ‘asr majlis
“Failure to do shukr in the majority of the time, removes the ability to do sabr in the minority of the time” ~ Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed
For the most part, we are in a state of shukr (gratitude to Allah Ta’aala). Each and every such moment is a GIFT from Allah Ta’aala and an opportunity for us to do shukr. For example: you slept indoors, in a warm bed, woke up in the morning, had breakfast, dressed yourself, walked, drove, talked, worked, laughed… each and every single instance was a gift and an opportunity to do shukr… “alhamdulillah for the house” “alhamdulillah for the warm bed” “alhamdulillah for another day” “alhamdulillah for the breakfast” “alhamdulillah for the clothes” “alhamdulillah…. alhamdulillah…. alhamdulillah…” For a human being who went from being completely naked and vulnerable as a baby – lacking in every material way, lacking in communication and motor skills, lacking everything we need to survive on our own – to one who is sleeping in a warm house, belly full, fully clothed… how? All thanks to Allah Ta’aala! Alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah…
We neglect shukr because we are too busy comparing ourselves to those who we feel are in a better state than us in this world. We look to Joe with the job of his dreams, and Jane with the brand new house… and think about what we don’t have. Instead, we should look to refugee Abdul stuck in a tent in the cold of winter, and Aisha who is so happy to have found a stale piece of bread on the sidewalk and be grateful for the gifts we do have.
If we can be steadfast and truly feel shukr during the good times (and if we think about it, we have more good times than bad), then it will be easier for us to have sabr (patience, fortitude, perseverance, endurance, steadfastness) in bad times. Instead, if we don’t do shukr in the good times, we find that when the bad times come upon us, we aren’t able to do sabr – we fall into anxiety and depression instead.
(Source: personal notes from Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed’s one day course on How to Be a True Muslim – the Way of the Siddiqeen – January 26, 2013)
لا اُحْصى ثَناءً عَلَيْكَ اَنْتَ
كَما اَثْنَيْتَ عَلى نَفْسَك
ما عَرَفْناكَ حَقَّ مَعْرِفَتِكَ
ما عَبَدْناكَ حَقَّ عِبادَتِكَ
I cannot praise You enough, You are as You have praised Yourself.
I cannot know You as You should be known
I cannot worship You as You should be worshiped!
From the Qur'an:
وَقَالُوا الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي هَدَانَا لِهَٰذَا وَمَا كُنَّا لِنَهْتَدِيَ لَوْلَا أَنْ هَدَانَا اللَّهُ
And they will say: "All praise is due to God, who has guided us unto this; for we would certainly not have found the right path unless God had guided us! [7:43]
In his very famous book, 'Ihya `Ulum Al-Din' (The Revival of the Religious Sciences), Imam Al-Ghazali draws a beautiful analogy in trying to show the different forms of gratitude that people express:
“Let us give an example. We say that a king who desires to make a journey grants a man in his entourage a favor in the form of a horse. He imagines that the man to whom it is granted will be delighted with the horse for three reasons.
Firstly, he will be delighted because it is a horse and because it has monetary value which can be of benefit to him; because he can use it for riding and that suits his purpose; and because it is a valuable racer as well. This kind of joy is for one who has no interest in the king, his interest is only in the horse. Had he found the horse in a desert, he would have taken it and his joy would have been similar to this joy.
“The second kind of joy is when he delights in it, not because it is a horse, but because he infers the care of the king expressed in it, and his [the king's] compassion for him. Had he found the horse in the desert, or someone other than the king had given it to him, he would not really be happy with it because, in principle, he has no need of the horse and it is of no significance to him compared to his desire to have a place in the heart of the king.
“The third kind of joy is when the servant delights in the horse in order to ride it, to go out in the service of the king and bear the toil of the journey in his service and to obtain the rank of nearness to the king. Perhaps he will be promoted to the position of a minister, because he is not content that his position in the heart of the king should be limited to his [the king's] giving him a horse and caring for him only to this degree. Rather he does not want the king to convey the [favors] from his wealth on anyone except through him. Yet, he does not want the ministry for the sake of the ministry, rather he wants to see the king and be near him. If he had to choose between this proximity to him without the ministry and the ministry without proximity, he would choose proximity.
LESSONS FROM THE ABOVE EXAMPLE:
“These are the three levels [of joy].
In the first, there is no thankfulness at all because the vision of the one possessing it [this level of joy] is confined to the horse and his joy lies in the horse, not in the one who gave it. This is the state of all those who are made happy by a blessing because of the pleasure of it and because it is agreeable to their purpose. This is far from the meaning of thankfulness.
The second [kind] enters the definition of thankfulness in that the person delights in the giver but not exactly because of him [the giver], rather, because of the knowledge of his care; this incites [the person] to seek favor in the future. This is the state of the righteous, who worship God and are thankful to Him for fear of His punishment and hope for His reward.
“Perfect thankfulness is found only in the third kind of joy. It is when the joy of the servant in the blessing of God (exalted is He) is because it enables him to reach a place of proximity to Him (exalted is He), to reside in His companionship, and enjoy the vision of His countenance continually! This is the highest level [of attainment].
Its characteristic is joy in this world only for what it is, a field under cultivation for the Hereafter and the means to assist him to it. He grieves at every blessing that diverts him from the remembrance of God (exalted is He) and turns him away from His path. He does not desire the blessing because it is pleasurable, just as the possessor of the horse does not desire the horse because it is a racer or an ambler, but because it carries him in company with the king, that he may continue to see the king and be near him.
Thus Shibli (may God grant him mercy) said, ‘Thankfulness is the vision of the Bestower, not the vision of the blessing.’”1
May God enable us to show continuous gratitude towards Him, as best as we can, so that He will give us even more (Quran, 14:7), and so that we can use that more to draw nearer to Him. May He enable us to be amongst the “few” who are “thankful” (Qur’an, 34:13) and may He protect us from being amongst “most human beings” who “do not give thanks” (Qur’an, 2:243) and the terrible punishment that they face (Quran, 14:7).
When recognizing His gifts, may He empower us to say, as Sulaiman (`alayhi assalam, peace be upon him) said, “…This is from the favor of my Lord to test me whether I will be grateful or ungrateful. And whoever is grateful – his gratitude is only for [the benefit of] himself. And whoever is ungrateful – then indeed, my Lord is Free of need and Generous.” (Qur’an, 27:40).
from the teachings of Shaykh Muhammad Saleem Dhorat Sahib
By utilising the following parable Shaykh teaches us that the quality of gratitude is something that we should adopt in every situation and every condition:
Shaykh Muhammad ibn Harb rahmatullahi alayhi heard of a burglary that took place within his neighbourhood during the night. In the morning along with his companions he went to give his condolences to the people of the household in order to alleviate any sorrow that they may be suffering.
As Shaykh Muhammad ibn Harb rahmatullahi alayhi entered the home, the owner of the house asked for food to be prepared for the guests. The Shaykh expressed his thanks and said that they had come to give their condolences, after hearing of the distressful event that occurred last night.
To this the home owner replied that I am grateful for your visit but since the burglary there have been three shukrs that have become incumbent upon me.
Firstly, I realised that Alhamdulilah, unlike the thief I have never taking any wealth belonging to another person
Secondly, if the thief desired he could’ve taken everything here but he didn’t
Finally, my greatest shukr is that, my worldly wealth has been affected, yet my Deen has been left unaffected, I am still able to perform salah, sabr, fasting, and tilaawah. Despite what has happened my deen is still intact.”
“Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny?” (Al Qur’an 55: 13)
Can you picture yourself walking without feet?
Should you take it lightly that you should slumber soundly while misery hinders the sleep of many?
Should you forget that you you fill yourself with both delicious dishes and cool water while the pleasure of good food and drink is impossible for some, due to sickness and disease?
Consider the faculties of hearing and seeing with which you have been endowed. Look at your healthy skin and be grateful that you have been saved from the diseases that attack it. Reflect on your powers of reasoning and remember those that suffer mental ailments.
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
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