The following extract is from an article called an "Easy Road to paradise, Golden Deeds that lead to success", By Hazrat Mufti Rafi Usmani (db) the deeds mentioned are (1) Shukr (2) Sabr (3) Istighfar (4) Isti,Aazah (i.e. seeking Allahs protection).
The first deed is Shukr (Gratitude to Allah). Firstly, you need to make it a habit that every day when you get up in the morning and before you sleep at night you glance at yourself and your circumstances and then reflect on the spiritual and material Blessings that Allah has bestowed upon you, and give a collective thanks to Him for them. Especially you need to reflect on the wealth of Iman (true faith in Allah) and easy circumstances that Allah has given you and give your heartfelt thanks to Him for them, and resolve to use those gifts in a proper way. Besides this, whenever a thought crosses your mind about any of the bounties from Allah that you enjoy, you should thank Him quietly, in your heart.
In other words, whenever something happens according to what you wished or wanted and you feel happy about it and your heart feels peace, you should quietly say, “Al-Hamdulillah” or “Allahumma Lakal-Hamd wa Lakash-Shukr.”
The Many Occasions of Shukr
Every day from morning to evening, so many things happen according to a person’s wishes and desires, for which one can express one’s thankfulness to Allah سبحانه وتعالى. For example, one opens one’s eyes in the morning in a condition of good health and says “Al-Hamdulillah.” He sees all his family members also healthy, and quietly says, “Al-Hamdulillah.” He goes to the Masjid and is able to join the Jama’at (congregational prayer), and says “Al-Hamdulillah.” He gets his breakfast on time and says “Al-Hamdulillah.” He reaches work on time, and says “Al-Hamdulillah.” Someone who travels by bus and is worried that he may miss the bus, but actually gets it, says “Al-Hamdulillah.” He climbs on the bus and is able to find a seat, and says “Al-Hamdulillah.” On returning home from work, he finds his wife looking fine and says “Al-Hamdulillah.” The weather is hot but there is a cool breeze blowing, so he says “Al-Hamdulillah.”
In summary, if an affair, no matter how small or big, happens according to one’s wishes, or one’s prayer is accepted by Allah سبحانه وتعالى, or if Allah enables one to do some good deed, anything that makes the heart feel pleasure and happiness, one should make it a habit to be thankful to Allah from one’s heart and tongue. This gratitude does not require any time, money or effort............!
This is just a small extract read the full article on the link provided above.
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There has been alot of scientific research over the last couple of decades on the Amazing Mental and Physical benefits of practicing Daily Gratitude along with happy social relationships and Marriage , so I thought I would include an article on that here...! Professor Robert Emmons who has been the leading researcher on Gratitude for close to 20 years found that just by writing down 5 things you are grateful for on a daily basis has amazing benefits,... So imagine the benefits for Muslims who immerse themselves in Shukr, like our pious predecessors taught us.
The Neuroscience of Why Gratitude Makes Us Healthier
By Ocean Robbins
Our world is pretty messed up. With all the violence, pollution and crazy things people do, it would be easy to turn into a grouchy old man without being either elderly or male. There’s certainly no shortage of justification for disappointment and cynicism.
But consider this: Negative attitudes are bad for you. And gratitude, it turns out, makes you happier and healthier. If you invest in a way of seeing the world that is mean and frustrated, you’re going to get a world that is, well, more mean and frustrating. But if you can find any authentic reason to give thanks, anything that is going right with the world or your life, and put your attention there, then statistics say you’re going to be better off.
Does this mean to live in a state of constant denial and put your head in the sand? Of course not. Gratitude works when you’re grateful for something real. Feeling euphoric and spending money like you just won the lottery when you didn’t is probably going to make you real poor, real quick. But what are you actually grateful for? It’s a question that could change your life.
Recent studies have concluded that the expression of gratitude can have profound and positive effects on our health, our moods and even the survival of our marriages.
As Drs. Blaire and Rita Justice reported for the University of Texas Health Science Center, “a growing body of research shows that gratitude is truly amazing in its physical and psychosocial benefits.”
In one study on gratitude, conducted by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., at the University of California at Davis and his colleague Mike McCullough at the University of Miami, randomly assigned participants were given one of three tasks. Each week, participants kept a short journal. One group briefly described five things they were grateful for that had occurred in the past week, another five recorded daily hassles from the previous week that displeased them, and the neutral group was asked to list five events or circumstances that affected them, but they were not told whether to focus on the positive or on the negative. Ten weeks later, participants in the gratitude group felt better about their lives as a whole and were a full 25 percent happier than the hassled group. They reported fewer health complaints, and exercised an average of 1.5 hours more.
In a later study by Emmons, people were asked to write every day about things for which they were grateful. Not surprisingly, this daily practice led to greater increases in gratitude than did the weekly journaling in the first study. But the results showed another benefit: Participants in the gratitude group also reported offering others more emotional support or help with a personal problem, indicating that the gratitude exercise increased their goodwill towards others, or more tehnically, their “pro-social” motivation.
Another study on gratitude was conducted with adults having congenital and adult-onset neuromuscular disorders (NMDs), with the majority having post-polio syndrome (PPS). Compared to those who were not jotting down their blessings nightly, participants in the gratitude group reported more hours of sleep each night, and feeling more refreshed upon awakening. The gratitude group also reported more satisfaction with their lives as a whole, felt more optimism about the upcoming week, and felt considerably more connected with others than did participants in the control group.
Perhaps most tellingly, the positive changes were markedly noticeable to others. According to the researchers, “Spouses of the participants in the gratitude (group) reported that the participants appeared to have higher subjective well-being than did the spouses of the participants in the control (group).”
There’s an old saying that if you’ve forgotten the language of gratitude, you’ll never be on speaking terms with happiness. It turns out this isn’t just a fluffy idea. Several studies have shown depression to be inversely correlated to gratitude. It seems that the more grateful a person is, the less depressed they are. Philip Watkins, a clinical psychologist at Eastern Washington University, found that clinically depressed individuals showed significantly lower gratitude (nearly 50 percent less) than non-depressed controls.
Dr. John Gottman at the University of Washington has been researching marriages for two decades. The conclusion of all that research, he states, is that unless a couple is able to maintain a high ratio of positive to negative encounters (5:1 or greater), it is likely the marriage will end.
With 90 percent accuracy, Gottman says he can predict, often after only three minutes of observation, which marriages are likely to flourish and which are likely to flounder. The formula is that for every negative expression (a complaint, frown, put-down, expression of anger) there needs to be about five positive ones (smiles, compliments, laughter, expressions of appreciation and gratitude).
Apparently, positive vibes aren’t just for hippies. If you want in on the fun, here are some simple things you can do to build positive momentum toward a more happy and fulfilling life:
1) Keep a daily journal of three things you are thankful for. This works well first thing in the morning, or just before you go to bed.
2) Make it a practice to tell a spouse, partner or friend something you appreciate about them every day.
3) Look in the mirror when you are brushing your teeth, and think about something you have done well recently or something you like about yourself.
Sure this world gives us plenty of reasons to despair. But when we get off the fast track to morbidity, and cultivate instead an attitude of gratitude, things don’t just look better — they actually get better. Thankfulness feels good, it’s good for you and it’s a blessing for the people around you, too. It’s such a win-win-win that I’d say we have cause for gratitude.
I knew for me the real challenge would be to do shukr when I am faced with a difficult situation in my life. Normally I go over the situation in my head and it can last weeks and days, but when I was faced with such a scenario recently I forced myself to reflect and make Shukr even though I was feeling sorry for myself and did not feel like being grateful. I was able to cope better and within hours I was back to my normal self Alhamdulillah...! Allah is indeed Most Gracious.
Couple of other methods of doing Shukr I came across... (although I have not tried them yet).
(1) Many of us focus on our failures we feel like we have not accomplished anything in life and feel depressed...To counteract these feelings of failure reflect all the way back to your childhood and make Shukr for every single accomplishment that Allah has blessed you to achieve year by year leading all the way to the present day...Its been a long time but I remember at a school assembly a teacher mentioning that she read in Readers Digest that the most difficult thing a person will learn to do in their lifetime is learn to Walk as a child all other things are easy in comparison and Allah knows best.. learning to Read, write, count are all major accomplishments ...and even things we consider trivial such as learning how to make a cup of Tea, how to Tie our shoes etc we should make shukr to Allah for them, each and everything....If we reflect on every single accomplishment our successes will far outweigh our failures and those feelings of failure will disappear.
(2) Many of us remember all the times a person was rude to us, or hurt us from our childhood onwards we can harbour resentment for decades but we rarely remember all the acts of Kindness, generosity and compassion towards us... So we should reflect as far back as we can and make gratitude to Allah for all the times we had someone show any act of kindness towards us... Insha'Allah it will have massive psychological benefits.
" Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate the blessings they already have. Say Alhamdulillah!"
Dr Bilal Philips
It is recommended in the book Irshadul Muluk that when eating one should recite Bismillah and then recite Alhamdulillah with each and every morsel of food...
I tried this in the following manner with each and every morsel of food It takes a lot of discipline the mind keeps wondering off it takes a lot longer to eat the meal but the benefits are you eat alot less and feel fuller ... Alhamdulillah for blessing me with food Alhamdulillah for the tawfiq to feed myself, Alhamdulillah for the ability to place the food in my mouth, Alhamdulillah for the ability to taste the food, Alhamdulillah for teeth to chew the food, Alhamdulillah for the saliva to help moisten the food, Alhamdulillah with the ability to swallow the food, Alhamduillah with the digestive system to help digest the food, Alhamdulillah that my bodies receiving healing and nutrition that is contained in the food, Alhamdulillah for protecting me from any ingredients in the food that maybe harmful for my body.
Alhamdulillah for blessing me with food Alhamdulillah for the tawfiq to feed myself, Alhamdulillah for the ability to place the food in my mouth, Alhamdulillah for the ability to taste the food, Alhamdulillah for teeth to chew the food, Alhamdulillah for the saliva to help moisten the food, Alhamdulillah with the ability to swallow the food, Alhamduillah with the digestive system to help digest the food, Alhamdulillah that my bodies receiving healing and nutrition that is contained in the food, Alhamdulillah for protecting me from any ingredients in the food that maybe harmful for my body.
Hunger...also a great blessing
I have heard Shaykh Muhammad Saleem Dhorat say in one of his talks that as a student he used to ponder over the verse of Surah Quraish
“…they ought to worship the Rabb of this House
Who fed them in their hunger and gave them safety from fear”
He used to wonder why Allah Ta’ala mentions “feeding in hunger”. Surely one eats when one is hungry. Why didn’t Allah Ta’ala say “they ought to worship the Rabb Who feeds them”
The answer came to him when he became ill and couldn’t eat. Despite having food, and his family and friends trying to make him eat something, he couldn’t. Allah Ta’ala mentions the blessing of eating and then reminds us of the other blessing of hunger!
Hunger is also a great blessing as one cannot eat despite having food if one is not hungry or is ill and doesn’t have the inclination to eat, or maybe one is hungry, but one may have a toothache or a stomach ache…… or maybe none of these, one maybe diagnosed with diabetes and cannot eat anything sweet!
What is necessary is to take a few minutes everyday and ponder on just one of His countless blessings. This will insha Allah create love for Allah Ta’ala in our hearts.
“Thank you so so much! I really appreciate it,” I wrote to a stranger I had never met. I was so grateful to that man. In my first visit to New York, I had lost my phone in a cab. This phone had all my numbers in it, pictures, saved messages… everything. As silly as it felt to be making du`a’ (supplication) for something seemingly so trivial, I asked Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), to return my phone. I tried to have conviction that, because I had said the remembrances that day, I had not lost my phone.
Indeed, the next morning, I received an email from the man who had found my phone. A few arrangements were made, and I was reunited with my phone shortly after. As I thanked that man, I turned to Allah سبحانه وتعالى in my heart and said, AlhamduliLah – all praise is due to Allah.
Al-Hameed: the Praiseworthy
It is befitting to learn about Allah’s Name al-Hameed after having studied His Name al-Ghani, as these two Names come together in the Qur’an. Al-Hameed comes from the three-letter root ha-meem-dal (ح-م-د), which is the opposite of the word al-thamm, which means to condemn. Something that is complete and perfect deserves hamd,while something that has faults or is incomplete receives thamm. This praise is accompanied with feelings of adoration, gratitude and submission. Al-Ghazali states:
“God – great and glorious – is the Praised by virtue of His praise for Himself from eternity, and by virtue of His servants’ praise for Him forever. But this comes down to the attributes of majesty, of exaltation, and of perfection, as they are linked to the repetition of those who continually remember Him, for praise involves recalling the attributes of perfection insofar as they are perfect.”
This Name is closely associated with shukr, meaningful thankfulness. But hamd is much more encompassing than shukr. Thankfulness is expressed to someone for a particular deed or favor, whereas hamd is praise and gratitude not simply for overt favors, but for the inherent qualities the praiseworthy possesses. Thus it is said that hamd (praise) is the pinnacle of shukr (thankfulness). Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in the Qur’an:
“To Him belongs what is in the heavens and what is on the earth. And indeed, Allah is the Free of need, the Praiseworthy (al Hameed)” (Qur’an, 22:64).
Thus Allah al-Hameed is the One we go to with gratitude and humility, praising Him not just for those favors we feel thankful for, but for His very essence and all His decrees. Sheikh Ratib an-Nabulsi has said that al-Hameed is the only One deserving of true praise, which is why we repeat in every prayer:
الحمدلله رب العالمين
All-Praise is due to God, the Lord of the Worlds
The importance of this Name is that Allah سبحانه وتعالى teaches us not to be attached simply to His blessings, but to His essence. Yes, He gives us, and we thank and praise Him for what He gives. But when we think of al-Hameed, it ceases to be solely about the blessing. We are reminded of His inherent attributes, of al-Hameed Himself, and thus we praise Him when things are good or seemingly bad, because they all come from Him. When we realize that good came out of the calamity we were facing, or on the Day of Judgment when we see how we are rewarded not only for our gratitude for the good but for our patience with the hardships, do we embody the spirit of praise, and say wholeheartedly: al-hamduliLah!
And thus His Name: the Praiseworthy, the Praised.
The Prophet ﷺ and Praising Allah
The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) praised Allah throughout his life, whether he was in hardship or receiving many beautiful gifts from Allah. In a famous hadith (narration), Aisha, radi Allahu `anha (may God be pleased with her), saw the Prophet ﷺ praying for so long that his feet became swollen. So she asked him:
“O Messenger of Allah, why do you undergo so much hardship despite the fact that Allah has pardoned for you your earlier and later sins?”
He ﷺ responded: “Afala akuna abdan shakura? – Should I not be a thankful servant?” (Bukhari)
And what did the Prophet ﷺ say as he was praying in the night? Ibn `Abbas relates that the Prophet ﷺ used to say when he stood for the tahajjud (late night) prayer:
“O Allah! Yours is the praise. You are the sustainer of the heavens and the Earth and all that they contain. And Yours is the praise. Yours is the dominion of the heavens and the Earth and all that they contain. And Yours is the praise. You are the light of the heavens and the Earth and all that they contain. And Yours is the praise. You are the king of the heavens and the Earth. And Yours is the praise. You are the Truth. Your promise is true. The meeting with You is true. Your word is true. Paradise is true and the Fire is true. The prophets are true. Muhammad (peace be upon him) is true. The Hour is true…” (Bukhari, Muslim).
The Prophet ﷺ, throughout his hardships, reflected on the nature of this world. And he saw the majesty of Allah’s attributes in all of creation, and in everything that happened. And with awe, humility and gratitude, he makes that du`a’ we see above from all of His heart.
We know that Allah pairs many of His Names and attributes in the Qur’an. One of the reasons is to show us how these Names relate to each other. Al-Hameed is paired with a few Names in the Qur’an: al-Ghani, al-Wali, al-Majeed, and al-Hakeem.
1—Allah says: “O mankind, you are those in need of Allah, while Allah is the Free of need (al-Ghani), the Praiseworthy (al-Hameed),” (Qur’an, 35:15).
If a human being is seen as self-sufficient, that usually causes him to withdraw from people. Since this person does not need people, he may not see any reason to help or to give or to be nice—and he is certainly not perfect in his essence. But truly glory is that Allah سبحانه وتعالى does not need anyone, yet He still gives people, and acts with ultimate wisdom, and is praised.
2—”And it is He who sends down the rain after they had despaired and spreads His mercy. And He is the Protective Friend (al-Wali), the Praiseworthy (al-Hameed),” (Qur’an, 42:48).
You might assign someone to be your lawyer, entrusting him to protect you. But if this lawyer is careless, and loses your case, he would not be praised, neither for his action nor for his essence. But when Allah is your Wali, you cannot help but praise Allah, who defends and protects His intimate friends.
3—”They said, “Are you amazed at the decree of Allah? May the mercy of Allah and His blessings be upon you, people of the house. Indeed, He is Praiseworthy (al-Hameed) and Honorable (al-Majeed),” (Qur’an, 11:73).
Al-Majeed, according to al-Ghazali, is “one who is noble in essence, beautiful in actions, and bountiful in gifts and in favors.” Thus while Allah is the Lord and commands that come from Him do not need to be explained, out of His nobility and bounty He explains many things in the Qur’an. So He is praised for that.
4- “Falsehood cannot approach it from before it or from behind it; [it is] a revelation from a [Lord who is] Wise (Hakeem) and Praiseworthy (Hameed)” (Qur’an, 41:42).
Here Allah سبحانه وتعالى is pointing out to us that if we reflected on His decree, we would praise Him for His wisdom. Because while Allah does as He pleases, He is also the Most-Wise and thus there is always the best wisdom behind His actions.
Connecting to Al-Hameed
Praise Allah through the good and the bad
The Prophet ﷺ tells us that “AlhamduliLah fills the scales,” (Muslim). One way of retaining blessings is thanking and praising Allah سبحانه وتعالى for them. And through the bad, we should remember that ultimately whatever occurs is out of Allah’s wisdom, He is both Hakeem (all-Wise) and Hameed (Praiseworthy), and therefore we should remember to humble ourselves and praise Him.
Write down Allah’s Name al-Hameed and then write down all of Allah’s blessings upon you
We know the verse in the Qur’an where Allah states: “And if you should count the favor of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful” (Qur’an, 14:34).
Interestingly, Allah uses the word “favor”—ni`ma—in the singular, as though saying: even trying to enumerate the blessings of one single favor is impossible! To reflect deeply upon just one favor, and to ponder over its impacts, can fill us with so much awe for al-Hameed.
Speak well to people
Allah says in the Qur’an, “And they had been guided [in worldly life] to good speech, and they were guided to the path of the Praiseworthy (Al-Hameed)” (Qur’an, 22:24).
In a beautiful reflection, Sheikh Ratib an-Nabulsi says that it is as though the path to Allah al-Hameed is through good speech, as Allah also says: “[…] And speak to people good [words][…]” (Qur’an, 2:83).
A beautiful hadith of the Prophet ﷺ states that: “A person’s faith is not upright until his heart is upright, and his heart will not be upright until his tongue is upright” (Ahmad).
Praise Allah by using His gifts in His service
The highest form of praise is to use those gifts He has bestowed upon us in His service and therefore in good. But do not be like those who Allah says about them:
“And whoever exchanges the favor of Allah [for disbelief] after it has come to him – then indeed, Allah is severe in penalty,” (Qur’an, 2:211).
Belief is a blessing, but this can apply to other favors as well. If we use those gifts in ways that are unbecoming, then this is the opposite of hamd. The result is that our favors could be taken away, or perhaps worse, we cannot find the joy or sweetness in those favors. If we look at the story of Qarun in the Qur’an, he was given many blessings. He was from the people of Moses `alayhi as-salaam (peace be upon him). And Allah says, “We gave him of treasures whose keys would burden a band of strong men…” (Qur’an, 28:76). Yet Qarun tyrannized his own people, and had the gall to say, “I was only given it because of knowledge I have.” He did not attribute His gifts to Allah AND he used them for corruption. And what was the result?
“And We caused the earth to swallow him and his home. And there was for him no company to aid him other than Allah, nor was he of those who [could] defend themselves” (Qur’an, 28:81).
May Allah protect us.
“Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – their Lord will guide them because of their faith. Beneath them rivers will flow in the Gardens of Pleasure. Their call therein will be, ‘Exalted are You, O Allah,’ and their greeting therein will be, ‘Peace.’ And the last of their call will be, ‘Praise to Allah, Lord of the worlds!’” (Qur’an, 10:9-10)
Just to give you a flavour of his style of speaking I have summarised and transcribed part of the first talk. (Please make time to listen to all the lectures In Sha ALLAH)
'...Last night I got a call from a Brother who was extremely happy and said that “ I just want to give you the good news that Alhamdulillah I got my children back, after one year.” This is a Brother who went through some difficulty and had lost all his children….
But at the same time, My main question to myself was how many times during this year have I thanked Allah (Subhana wa tala) for the blessing of having my children with me….and the topic does’nt end here it is a very long topic, if I was to end my talk here and ask people to just think about how many Naimahs and blessings of ALLAH we have in our lives.
How Many times have we really thanked ALLAH ( Subhana wa Tala) for the blessings that we have. And then compare that to the amount of times we complain about the difficulties we are going through.
The difficulties we have in our lives are not even zero point one percent in comparison to the blessings we are receiving.
Oftentimes every person you speak too will be complaining about the difficulties they are going through…Once a Brother asked me to make Dua for him and he told me he had lost half a million dollars…I felt really sorry for him, infact I was about to cry for him. Then I mentioned it to a few other Brothers that this individual really needs help, he lost half a million dollars. They said; “No this is not what it means, this Brother MA SHA ALLAH, has a good business he makes 3 Million dollars a year and this year he only made 2.5 Million dollars.”…….. I am telling you this because it is how we all behave, with so many Naimahs and blessing we still look at what we lose, we don’t focus on the blessings we are receiving.
…..Once I received an e-mail from a Brother same situation, the entire e-mail was complaining of difficulties, difficulties, difficulties,…and so I emailed him back I asked him to do me favour, can you also make a list of the Ten most important favours in your life you have received from ALLAH (Subana wa Tala) and send it to me so he made a list and sent it to me. I then asked him can you price each one of these ten favours and how much they are worth. He then realised and said Alhamdulillah I now understand and I know that I do not really have any problems....'
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
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