Gratefulness: A Muslim’s Way of Celebrating Everyday
Lilly S. Mohsen
“No honey” I sighed, “We are Muslims! We DON’T celebrate Thanksgiving.”
“But why?” My daughter wondered. “I mean it’s a good reminder to be thankful!”
“That’s the beauty of Islam, my love. We are taught to thank Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) every day!”
“Wow! You remember to thank Him EVERY SINGLE DAY?”
… Do I?
Well, we thank Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) during prayers when we read the Surat Al-Fatiha, right?
And… ummm you know, when someone asks how we’re doing we automatically say, “I’m good thanks to Allah”, or “Alhamdulillah”.
Hmm…what else? Oh, I got one! In Ramadan, we thank Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) A LOT!
See? We don’t need a huge roasted turkey to remind us to be thankful to the Great Lord. It’s in our system, it’s in our hearts and souls and minds to praise Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) every chance we get.
So why are you writing this article, Missy?
Honestly? Because for the first time I realize that being grateful isn’t just about mumbling words of seeming appreciation and then moving on. Thankfulness is a lifestyle, a consuming feeling that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) wants us to absorb to the fullest because He knows that’s the only way we will feel better. Anyone can say “thank you”, but it’s the emotion that accompanies the words that makes all the difference.
So, in this article we will remind ourselves of a few points to make our gratefulness more meaningful and productive.
Remember that Nothing is Really Ours!
I remember my mom telling me a story about a friend who reminded her to thank Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for saliva. I was like ‘huh?’ This woman couldn’t secrete liquids in her mouth and had to sip on water day and night to be able to talk or eat. Oh my God, how many blessings do we take for granted?! The ability to see, hear, walk and talk effortlessly are all things we need to be thankful for every day.
Renewing the appreciation helps us look at life differently. Imagine being surprised you still have your sight intact every time you wake up! Now apply that concept to everything else like your health, money, family, etc., and you’ll realize nothing is really yours. It was all given to you and you alone. Making a choice to have a grateful attitude interrupts our anxiety and gives us a huge sense of power. But if you’re not thankful for what you already have, what makes you think Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) would be prompted to 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.” [Qur’an: Chapter 14, Verse 7]
Most of us are not really big on the words. It would help if there were practical ways of showing gratitude to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and who is better than the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) himself to be our guide?
Abu Dharr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Apostle ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as saying:
“In the morning charity is due from every bone in the body of every one of you. Every utterance of Allah’s glorification is an act of charity. Every utterance of praise of Him is an act of charity, every utterance of profession of His Oneness is an act of charity, every utterance of profession of His Greatness is an act of charity, enjoining good is an act of charity, forbidding evil is an act of charity, and two rak’ahs (Duha) which one prays in the forenoon will suffice for all”. [Sahih Muslim]
Who Do You Thank First?
Most of us have had loved ones get extremely sick, and have went through the panic attacks of calling doctors and running to the nearest ERs with no shoes. We’ve paced the waiting rooms and pleaded with nurses for more information, and put all our faith in legendary surgeons known for their high success rates. And when we held our loved ones again in our arms, we cried tears of joy and said “Thank God you’re okay!” But, did we really feel the appreciation in our hearts, or did we somehow attribute the miracles to the doctors and the medication?
Do we idolize the creations that have helped us and forget the Creator? Only you will know the answer to that…
When you put ALL your faith and trust in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), He will never let you down. Being grateful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) increases the love in your heart, and makes it reflect on everyone around you. That doesn’t mean we don’t thank people, too. We must remember that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) uses us as tools to help one another. There’s a middle ground between giving people all the credit and giving them nothing at all. Appreciation is the feeling people seek most. It creates a beautiful type of love that shrouds our good deeds and makes us want to help more and work harder to ease each other’s pain.
Abu Hurairah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:
“Whoever is not grateful to the people, he is not grateful to Allah.” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi]
You need more clues, don’t you? Try showing your thankfulness to others with little gifts. Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) explained on many occasions that exchanging presents brings about genuine love between people.
Realize that Humbleness is the First Step to Wisdom
So you’re driving on the highway really fast and then with an expert’s swerve, you avoid a horrible accident. (Men will relate to that one!)
“A rookie driver would have been dead by now!” He will boast. “Man I’m GOOD!”
We can’t help but give credit to ourselves, and that’s okay, as long as we don’t forget that it’s all Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) command after all. So the next time you’re a bit smug about an achievement, or find yourself condescendingly giving charity to a poor person, remember that it’s not your money you’re giving away, and it’s not your smartness alone that made you ace that test. Modesty and humility lead to pure gratefulness to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and that is the essence of wisdom. Perfecting such perception gives you a rare kind of knowledge the world is more than thirsty for today.
“He gives wisdom to whom He wills, and whoever has been given wisdom has certainly been given much good. And none will remember except those of understanding.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 269]
Thank Him For Thanking Him!
Don’t judge me but I’m a bit biased to Muslims. I believe those who have been guided to and properly practice Islam are already blessed with good hearts, and even though I’m preaching about the importance of praising Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), I know on some level most of us have a deep innate gratitude for their blessings. So what do we do to show it? We thank Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) from the heart. But isn’t that genuine feeling of gratitude a gift from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)? Isn’t that another blessing that needs a whole lot of gratefulness? Thank You Allah for letting us remember to thank You, and thank You again for reminding us to thank You for remembering to thank You. (Okay this could take a while. Help!)
Islamic scholars explain that it’s when you’re totally baffled on how to show your gratitude to the Supreme Lord subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that you reach true and genuine enlightenment.
A good example of struggling to show appreciation for your blessings is by sharing it! Giving charity makes both the giver and the receiver happy, and leaves us with double the amount of joy when we realize we have the power to change someone’s life for the better. It makes sense that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) gives more to the people who are busy thanking Him: be it more wealth, better health, wisdom or success. The root of joy is gratefulness, and it’s a psychologically proven fact that you can rewire your brain to be happy by simply recalling three things you’re grateful for every day.
“Yay! Let’s do that! I’ll go first!” my daughter said. “I’m grateful for hot meals in this freezing winter. I’m grateful my brother didn’t act up today, and I’m grateful for my mommy’s warm hugs! Thank you Allah.” My daughter smiled before closing her eyes to sleep.
As I tucked my kids in bed I thought about my three things. Am I more grateful for everything I have, or for all the horrible things that could have happened but never did?
Before you finish this article and close it, promise yourself this, will you? With every warm embrace from a loved one, with every meal you set on the table, with every time you make your comfy bed and with every night you sleep safely in your own home, remember how much Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) loves you and takes care of you. Remember to be thankful for the little things and grateful for escaping the tragedies others are suffering from. Promise you’ll cherish every single blessing with all your heart.
And don’t forget to smile, for the daily smiles of joy are what makes our whole lives a constant celebration of gratefulness.
Please share with us what you are most thankful for and how you make it a habit to be thankful every day!
Her life was falling apart before her very eyes. She spoke to me about the catastrophes that she was going through—slammed with one trial after another. “Nothing is going right,” she had told me that night, “Nothing.” And I had to admit her life was rough. Things looked like they kept going from bad to worse in her life. There was no light at the end of her tunnel, not even a flashlight in her tunnel for her to carry, at least at first glance. But the truth is, there was plenty of light in her life, even it was not apparent to her nor to me at first glance. And this is the truth for all of us going through hardships. We just need to know where to look.
Often times in our lives we go through hardships and we begin to believe that everything is going wrong in every portion of our lives, but the truth is, that is the farthest thing from the truth. God has gifted us with many different blessings that can only be seen if we turn a grateful eye to these things and acknowledge their truths. Just like when one is in love, they only see the good, when we are in hardship we tend to only see the bad, and that only furthers our feelings of helplessness and despair.
Take, for example, the simple blessings of life that we experience every day, like the blessing of hot water. People in many places around the world don’t have the convenience of turning on their faucets and having warm water come out on the coldest of days. Don’t think it’s much? Try waiting for a cold day, turn off your heater and take a cold shower. Now imagine having to do this day in and day out without a choice? Imagine having to make wudu’ (ablution) every morning at fajr (morning prayer) in freezing cold water. Imagine how much irritation that may bring. And then thank Him for the blessing He gave us that we often take advantage of without thinking twice.
Another example is that of our kitchen stove, that turns on at the click of a button. Imagine not having that stove of yours in your kitchen. Imagine not being able to cook or warm your food with ease. Imagine having to, on a daily basis, walk outside and build a fire, perhaps gathering wood first, in order to feed yourself and your family. It would be tough, wouldn’t it? But how many times have we stopped and thanked God for our stove-tops and turn-knob buttons?
Lastly, but definitely not least, take a moment and think about your nose (YES your nose!). Have you ever stopped to think about what life would feel like if God had not gifted you and blessed you with a nose? Have you thought about how difficult it would be to enjoy food? We would not be able to enjoy the smell of baking cookies in the oven, or the smell of sweet perfume. We would not be able to smell the flowers as we walked past, or smell a yucky smell that warns us of something in our vicinity. But have we ever stopped to thank God for what He has given us regardless of our ingratitude.
These are just a few examples of the lights that God has gifted us that we graze over on a daily basis, though we never forget to dwell on (what seem like) misfortunes. We think that everything is going wrong, but really what is going wrong is our lack of perception of all of those things that are going right. So next time you feel stuck in a dark hole with no light in sight, don’t simply just wait for the light at the end of the tunnel; turn on your own flashlight by pinpointing the daily gifts that our Lord has gifted us and actually being happy that you have them and actually take the time to thank Him. He has already filled our lives with His Love and His Light, if only we take the time to open our eyes and realize it.
Mufti Ismail Menk
"When you reach the level of trust in the Almighty, without any reservation, you don’t stress over life. You let Him do what He wills. If He opens a door for you, thank Him; if it doesn’t open, you still thank Him. That’s the beauty of complete trust!"
If ye would count up the favours of Allah, never would ye be able to number them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
October 6, 2007 by Anna
If ye would count up the favours of Allah, never would ye be able to number them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
[Surat an-Nahl 16:18]
We could never list or mention every favour Allah SWT has bestowed on us because constantly he is providing us with things and we probably only even recognise and appreciate a fraction of them, but still.. it is nice to take some time and reflect about some of the things Allah swt has given us in this world, keeping in mind that we will never be able to mention everything.
So here are just a few…
We have 206 of these in our bodies. The human hand has 27 bones; your face has 14! Think about when we break just one bone… what an inconvenience it is, we are in pain, we can’t do everything we would like to do, we may have to wear an arm sling or something like that.
But when our bones are all fine and in working order, we hardly give them a moments thought!
Subhanallah the human skeleton has been designed to perfection by Allah swt, we can run, jump, do whatever we like… all supported by these bones. Bones can even make blood for you!
Many bones are hollow. Their hollowness makes bones strong and light. It’s in the centre of many bones that bone marrow makes new red and white blood cells. Red blood cells ensure that oxygen is distributed to all parts of your body and white blood cells ensure you are able to fight germs and disease. Who would have thought that bones make blood!?!
Especially useful for us are the thumb bones. We need them for doing any small or delicate task. Try writing without the use of your thumb… it would be practically impossible.
Any problem in our lungs could cause us to have difficulties breathing and so we would not even be able to speak easily. The rib cage goes over the lungs to protect it, alhamdulillah. Without that our lungs could probably get mashed up much easier and cause us problems.
Imagine if we didn’t have any skin, our organs wouldn’t even stay in the right place. The skin also gives these benefits :
protects our bodies
helps keep our bodies at just the right temperature
allows us to have the sense of touch
Allah is Beautiful & Loves Beauty, and he has provided us with some much beautiful stuff in nature aswell as giving some of us talent to make their own art, calligraphy, beautiful architecture etc.
these are just a few examples. There are probably over 1 million different types of flowers in the world.
Imagine what we would do without water!! Aswell as keeping us alive, it is tasty and refreshing especially when it’s cold
We use it to boil stuff, and to clean ourselves and other things and it can also be beautiful, in rivers, oceans, lakes, water falls… When you see sun light reflected off the middle of a lake, subhanallah it looks gorgeous and all sparkley
we can use it to liven up our gardens with a nice water feature
being around water can also be calming and relaxing
we can also swim in it to keep fit
These are just a few things, but subhanallah it is not even 0.0000000001% of what Allah SWT has done for us in this world. As we are told in the Qur’an, we are indeed very ungrateful to our Lord. Even if we strive all day every day to try and repay the favours of Allah we would never be capable of that, but still let us do what we can to live according to what Allah SWT has commanded for us, as a sign of appreciation for what He swt has provided us.
This is NOT because Allah swt needs our gratitude… of course he is above that, but for our own souls :
27:40 Said one who had knowledge of the Book: “I will bring it to thee within the twinkling of an eye!” Then when (Solomon) saw it placed firmly before him, he said: “This is by the Grace of my Lord!- to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! and if any is grateful, truly his gratitude is (a gain) for his own soul; but if any is ungrateful, truly my Lord is Free of all Needs, Supreme in Honour !”
31:12 we bestowed (in the past) Wisdom on Luqman: “Show (thy) gratitude to Allah.” Any who is (so) grateful does so to the profit of his own soul: but if any is ungrateful, verily Allah is free of all wants, Worthy of all praise.
The main way of showing gratitude to Allah SWT would be to perfect our Salah so insha Allah let us strive for that. And may Allah help us in it ameen
SHALL I NOT BE A THANKFUL SERVANT? A BRIEF GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING SHUKR
Let’s go back in time. Back to Madinah, through the masjid and to the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) home. We see him there, in the darkeness of the night, praying to his Lord. He is crying as he reads the ayat of the Qur’an. He has been standing for so long, and you see that his blessed feet have swelled and the skin is cracking.
Many of us would think what A’ishah, his beloved wife, raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) asked him afterward. She said, “O Prophet of Allah, why do you undergo so much hardship despite the fact that Allah has pardoned for you your earlier and later sins?” He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) responded, “Afala akuna abdan shakura? Should I not prove myself to be a thankful servant?”
We learn from this hadith that gratitude is shown through deeds. Shukr is by action. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was not commanded to worship to this degree but rather it was a complete act of devotion and thankfulness to Allah (azza wa jall).
When we want to thank someone, we go the extra mile to make them happy, especially when they are beloved to us. We go to great lengths to show our parents, spouse or friend that we appreciate them. We offer our help without their asking. We plan time to spend together. We give them gifts without expecting one in return. We do whatever will make them happy. We show our love and appreciate through our actions.
Yet, how can we claim that we love Allah when we do not even act this way with Him? We do not abide by His Rulings. We hardly go past the bare minimum of worship. We do not honor His Book. We swear by His Name in vain. We are not shy to sin in front of Him while we are shy when others are watching. We delay our daily conversations with Him, and when we finally do go to pray, we do it as fast as we can – rushing back to what we think is more important than Him.
Would we ever claim to love our mother, spouse, or friend if we treated them this way? Would they feel that we love them and appreciate them if we treated them this way?
Aren’t we ashamed that we treat our family and friends better than we do our own Creator? Surely for Allah is the Highest Example.
Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) does not need us or our worship at all. We are not harming Him or benefiting Him in any way by worshiping Him or disobeying Him. He does not need anyone or anything, rather He is Self-Sufficient and always deserving of praise. This parable is to show how we contradict ourselves – we say that we love Allah, that we are thankful to Him, yet our actions show the complete opposite. Our actions show that we are careless, ungrateful and that we are very good at saying what we don’t mean.
WHAT IS SHUKR
As a creation, we are wired to love those who give to us. In an authentic hadith, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught us, “Give gifts and you will love one another.” Linguistically, shukr is used to describe a healthy cow – a cow that has visible signs of nourishment. Islamically, the scholars define shukr as the mentioning of Allah’s Blessings upon the slave’s tongue, the slave’s recognition of these blessings in his heart, and obedience of the limbs due to these blessings.
Being thankful to Allah does not mean to only say “alhamdulillah” or doing a quick sajdah when we feel blessed. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught A’ishah that night that you must show your thankfulness to Allah. You have to strive to prove it.
We also learn from the Qur’an that shukr is by action. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)says to the family of Dawud 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him):
“Work, O family of David, in gratitude.” (34:13)
Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) did not say, “Be grateful!” rather He said to work in gratitude. We learn from the Prophet [saw] that the most beloved fasting and prayer to Allah is the fasting and prayer of Dawud 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him).
Thabit al-Binani (rahimahullah) says regarding this ayah, Dawud 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) would divide the hours of the night and day between his family so that there wouldn’t be an hour of the night or day except that a person from the family of Dawud would be praying, so Allah addressed them all by saying, â€˜Work, O family of David, in gratitude. [Uddat al-Saabireen]
From this ayah, Imam ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullah) states that there are three branches of shukr:
1. Knowledge: Knowledge is the foundation of shukr. We must be aware and knowing of the fact that Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is the One who is bestowing us with these blessings. We attribute all of our blessings to Him ta’ala. Some people attribute good to themselves, and when they are faced with difficulty or hardship, they attribute it to Allah. This is not gratitude rather it is kufr, a defiant denial of Allah’s favors.
2. Recognition and Awareness: The slave remembers Allah and His favors with his tongue – by praising Allah, and remembering Him through supplication and words of remembrance, and acknowledges it in his heart. It is reported in Tafsir al-Qurtubi that Dawud (alayhi salaam) said, “O my Lord! How can I be grateful to You when gratitude is a blessing from You?!” Allah (azza wa jall) responded to him, “Now you have shown true gratitude (because you’ve recognized that all blessings are from Me).”
3. Deeds: The slave works in gratitude by being an obedient slave to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). It is reported in Tafsir al-Tabari that Abu Abdur-Rahman al-Hubaly (rahimahullah) said, “Prayer is shukr, fasting is shukr and any deed done for the sake of Allah is shukr.”
Imam ibn al-Qayyim states that the pillars of being grateful to Allah are:
1- Submission of the believer to Allah
2- Love of Allah
3- Acknowledging His favors
4- Praising Him for His favors
5- Refraining from utilizing the favors in a way displeasing to Allah
BENEFITS OF SHUKR
Allah calls mankind ‘ungrateful’ in many ayat in the Qur’an, and He says that only few of His slaves are grateful. It is easier for us to be heedless of His blessings because being a thankful slave is not easy. When we do show gratefulness to Allah, He blesses us in many ways:
1. Allah will increase you in blessings. He ta’ala says, “And (recall) when your Lord proclaimed: â€˜If you thank, I shall certainly increase (My blessings on) you, and if you are ungrateful, then My torment is surely severe.'” (14:7)
2. Allah will reward you for being thankful. He subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says, “Allah will give reward to the thankful.” (3:144)
3. Shukr saves you from punishment. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us in the Qur’an, “The people of Lot denied the warning. Indeed, We sent upon them a storm of stones, except the family of Lot – We saved them before dawn. As a favor from Us. Thus do We reward he who is grateful.” (54:33-35)
4. Allah will be pleased with you. “And if you are grateful, He is pleased with you.” (39:7)
5. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will love you.
PRACTICAL WAYS TO SHOW SHUKR
Now that we know what shukr really means, how can we be among al-shaakireen?
1- Take the first step. For many of us, extra deeds seem difficult because we are so used to the little we do. Don’t think that you cannot do more, rather remember the hadith qudsi: “When my slave walks to Me, I run to him.” If you take that first step, which is the most difficult, Allah will make everything else easy for you. It’s time we push ourselves to do more for Allah (azza wa jall). It’s time that we don’t accept the bare minimum from ourselves. It’s time that we have great goals for our Deen just as we do for our education, career and families. And for this to happen, we go to step #2:
2- Seek the help of Allah by means of du’a. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught us to say: “Allahumma a’inni ‘alaa dhikrika wa shukrika wa husni ebadatika. O Allah, help me to remember You, to be thankful to You and to worship You in the best way.” Say it like you mean it. Beg Allah from your heart with this duaa. Ask Him to make you from among His few slaves that are grateful.
3- Work, work and more work. Nothing comes without work. If we want to worship Allah more, we must work for it. If we want to enjoy our worship, we must put in the effort. For some, praying and fasting is easy. For others, it is extremely difficult. If it is difficult for you, don’t interpret it to mean that you do not love Allah. Rather, it means that you have to strive more and work more to see the fruits of your labor. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says,
And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good. (29:69)
Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) used the word “jaahadu” here, meaning they strive and work hard for the sake of Allah (azza wa jall).
We can all do something extra in one way or another. Start slow and it will become easier, inshaAllah. You know yourself the best, so get out of your comfort zone to train yourself.
If you cannot fast three days every month, fast at least one day.
If you want to pray qiyam but already struggle with fajr, stay awake after fajr to remember Allah and read Qur’an before heading back to sleep, even for 15-30 minutes.
Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah by learning the du’as from the Sunnah for various actions we perform throughout the day.
Always do your adkhar – a collection of supplications and remembrances to make after fajr and asr prayers.
Keep a portion of day, even 30 mins, just to remember Allah – reading Qur’an, making du’a and reflecting.
Thank those around you. It is stated in a hadith, “Whoever does not thank the people has not thanked Allah.”
Help others in your community. You can help at a soup kitchen, or prepare a meal for a needy Muslim in your community.
Make it your habit to not belittle any good deed. If you have a chance to do a good deed, then do it. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in the hadith about the man who gave a drink to the thirsty dog that, “Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him.” (Bukhari) We learn from this that a small deed sincerely for Allah can earn Allah’s forgiveness and appreciation.
AL-SHAKUR: THE MOST APPRECIATIVE
Remember that this work of yours is not in vain. It may be difficult for you to fast those extra days. It may be hard for you to get to sleep early so you can wake up at night, but do not forget the One you are worshiping! You are worshiping Al-Shakur, The Most Appreciative. He ta’ala does not only look at your deeds, but He looks at the effort behind it. Imam al-Qurtubi (rahimahullah) explains this Name by saying, “He accepts the little from their good deeds, and repays them with a great reward.”
He is Al-Shakur:He does not waste your efforts. He does ihsan to you – utmost good by accepting your few deeds and giving you greater in return. He blesses you with something better when you leave something for His sake.
Allah, Al-Shakur, not only rewards you for your deeds but He increases them for you because He appreciates your obedience to Him. He is Al-Shakur of your shukr! While you are struggling to show your thankfulness to Him, Al-Shakur is keeping account of all that you do, of all the effort you are putting in, of how much you sincerely want to worship Him in the best way. He will reward you with what you do not even deserve. Our deeds can never earn Paradise, but this is how Al-Shakur shows His Appreciation to His righteous servants.
Always remind yourself of this Name of Allah (azza wa jall), it is the key to coming closer to Him. Remind yourself of the Day that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) shows His Gratitude by saying:
“Indeed, this is for you a reward, and your effort has been appreciated.” (76:22)
We ask Allah (azza wa jall) to make us of those who hear these words. May He make us among His truly grateful servants and we ask that He blesses us to worship Him, remember Him and thank Him in the best and most beautiful way. Ameen.
لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا
“There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent example for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah much.” (33:21)
There are many sunan (plural of sunnah) that the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam left for us to learn from and emulate. Unfortunately, many sunan have been forgotten and so we are not aware of them.
Recently going through some changes in my life, I remembered this sunnah that we should revive bi’ithnillah:
عن عائشة قالت
كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا رأى ما يحب قال الحمد لله الذي بنعمته تتم الصالحات وإذا رأى ما يكره قال الحمد لله على كل حال
Narrated from A’ishah radi Allahu anha, “When the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam saw something that pleased him, he would say: Alhamdulillahil lathee bi ni’matihi tatimmus saalihaat, and when he saw something that displeased him, he would say: Alhamdulillah ‘alaa kuli haal. (Narrated in Sunan Ibn Maajah, classified as Saheeh according to Shaykh Albaani rahimahullah in Silsilatus Saheehah hadeeth 265)
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي بِنِعْمَتِهِ تَتِمُّ الصَّالِحَاتُ Alhamdulillahil lathee bi ni’matihi tatimmus saalihaat means: All praise and thanks are only for Allah, the One who, by His blessing and favor, perfected goodness/good works are accomplished.
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ عَلَى كُلِّ حَالٍ Alhamdulillah ‘alaa kuli haal means: All praise and thanks are only for Allah in all circumstances.
Let’s revive the sunnah of saying Alhamdulillah in all situations inshaAllah!
Being thankful for the bounties of Allah (Subhana Wa Ta'Ala).
At the same time reflecting on our attitude in regards to them
Hakeemul-Ummat qaddas sirrahu says that reasons for loving someone are four;
They are present to their maximum in Allah (Subhana Wa Ta'Ala).
Here we are focusing on His generosity.
A cursory glance on the bounties that He is showering on us is a proof of this generosity.
Let’s take a look;
1. Being a living creature
2. Being a human
3. Having complete anatomical and physiological functioning of this human body that is, being free of all diseases. Healthy.
5. Time. Hours, minutes and seconds.
6. Being a Muslim
7. Being in the Ummah of our Master Prophet Mohammed salallaho alehey wa a’lihi wasalam
8. Association with Ulama-e-Haqq (Ahle Sunnah wal Jammah, Deoband)
9. Having the importance of following the religion
10. Aspiration of improving our self
11. Traversing the Path (sulook)
12. Being under the guidance of a perfect Sheikh (sheikh-e-kamil)
13. Education. Both religious and professional.
14. Job. Source of halal income.
15. Loving relatives; parents, spouse, children and others.
16. Well being of ourselves and these relatives
17. Housing & shelter
18. Means of transportation
19. Being free of worries
20. Opportunities of good actions
21. Being ashamed of our short comings and repenting
22. Basic necessities of living and moreover lots of luxuries
23. Wealth and savings
The list goes on and on.
What did we do to deserve these bounties in the first place?
By His infinite mercy Allah (Subhana Wa Ta'Ala) gave us these gifts. We did not deserve them at all. There are many individuals far better then us who are deprived of these bounties.
What is our attitude in regards to them?
Most of us do not reflect on being the elite and gifted. We take these bounties for granted. We are usually not thankful & appreciative for them. And on the contrary we complain for minor deficits and worries. Majority of us in our ignorance are using these bounties to disobey Allah (Subhana Wa Ta'Ala).
We have to allot few minutes each day for reflection (muraqaba).
Sit down after fajir or eisha and enumerate the blessings we have, one by one. Thanking Allah (Subhana Wa Ta'Ala) for each of them, (Allahuma lakal Hamd wa lakash Shukkar). At the same time reflecting that we were unworthy of such gifts and it’s by His generosity and kindness that He bestowed them. And He has the power to take them away any time. This is the fist step towards real thankfulness.
The real thankfulness (shukkar) is not to use any of the bounties in disobeying Allah (Subhana Wa Ta'Ala) , as confirmed by Hazrat Junaid
Har mooay badan bihi jo zaban ban kay karay shukkar
Kum hay bakhuda unki einayat say kum hay
sometime blessings come in the form of difficulties.
Alhamadulillah ala Kulli haal
Story BY IMAM GHAZALI (R.A.)
Imam Ghazali (r.a.) has written a Story:
You may have heard of people residing in remote rural areas and whose means of earning consist of going to the towns and habitations, buying grain, etc., and then selling these elsewhere. Their permanent places of residence remain these out-of-the-way wildernesses.
Imam Ghazali (r.a.) writes a Story of one such group of people who lived in a few houses in some wilderness. Each household possessed a dog, a cock and a donkey. The donkey was there to transport trading goods from one area to another to sell these goods there. The dog was there to protect the household from thieves, etc. The cock would crow early in the morning and the people in the house would come to know that it was nearly dawn and they would rouse from sleep. Each house in the area had these three animals.
There was a buzurg (pious, saintly person) also living in one of the houses with his wife. He also possessed these three animals. One day a wolf came and killed the donkey.
The wife commented drily to her husband, "You see that? The donkey is dead! Now, how are you going to go about to earn a living? Others will go out to do their buying and selling, and enjoy themselves! But your donkey is dead!" The husband merely said, "Alhamdulillah!" This enraged the wife even more. After all, is she not a woman? "Wah! The donkey is gone and with it our livelihood and all you can say is, 'Alhamdulillah!'" The husband calmly repeated, "Alhamdulillah!"
The next day when the buzurg came home he found that the dog had suddenly died. His wife confronted him, remarking sarcastically, "Say again 'Alhamdulillah!' - the dog has died! The houses of the others will be protected, but your house will be looted! Yes, say it, say 'Alhamdulillah'" The husband was unperturbed by her sarcasm. He calmly said, "Alhamdulillah!"
On the third day a fox came and carried the cock away. The wife said, "See what good your 'Alhamdulillah!' has brought you - the cock is gone! Now you can sleep till late in the mornings! Everybody else will be getting up early and will be setting out for their work, and earning good profits in their trading - while you will be still fast asleep! Yes, the cock is also dead." The husband merely said, "Alhamdulillah!" She carried on but each time he would respond by saying simply "Alhamdulillah!"
On the fourth day they really got up late, seeing that the cock was not there to wake them up by its crowing. The wife started again, "I had warned you that this would happen! All you could do was say 'Alhamdulillah!'. Everybody has gone to work by now and you got up only now." The husband was his normal cool and calm self, and he consoled his wife, "Dear wife! It is nothing to be upset about. Alhamdulillah!"
The husband got up, made his preparations - wudhu, namaz, etc. - and then headed for the door. He opened the door, stepped out and...stopped dead in his tracks! "That is most unusual - the neighbour's front door is open. And what is that? His dog is lying dead outside!" As he entered their gate to investigate there was no evidence of the cock. When he entered the house he found that all those dwelling in the house were lying dead! All the members of the household had been slain!
As he wandered from house to house, he came across the same scene - the dogs and cocks either killed or missing, and none of the inhabitants alive! The husband went back to his house and told the wife, "See here! Alhamdulillah! Come with me and have a look!" He took her to all the houses to witness the tragedies. "Are the dogs alive? Are the cocks alive? Are any of the people alive?" he asked her. "Hai! What happened?" she asked.
He explained to her, "This is why I said Alhamdulillah! At our gate there was no dog. In our yard there was neither a cock nor a donkey. The thieves must have come at night to all the houses, saw signs of these animals and knew that the houses were inhabited. At each place they killed the animals, entered the houses and killed those in the houses and took away all their wealth. They must have come to our house as well but there was no dog, no cock and no donkey, as at the other houses. Obviously, they thought that our house was deserted. What was to be gained from coming inside?"
This story appears in Imam Ghazali's (r.a.) writings.
Do you understand?
So, the dog dying, the cock dying and the donkey dying - were these calamities or were they acts of rahmat? Obviously, these were acts of mercy. Kash! Would it not be wonderful if we mu'minin being mu'min, should understand such affairs from Allah Ta'ala to be acts of fadhl for us!
So, whatever events occur contrary to one's tabiyet (Tempermant) will cause grief - grief that is temporary. Such grief will occur and should occur, otherwise how will one attain the maqam of sabr?
Source ...For Friends discourses of Maulana Maseehullah Khan (RA).
Allah سبحانه وتعالى has sent us the Quran as a guidebook on how to live. He mentions only the things that are relevant to that purpose and doesn’t mention a single word or letter that is irrelevant or useless. In the same way, the things Allah has mentioned in the Quran repeatedly also have specific purposes. He reminds us many times about taqwa. ‘Wattaqullah!’ Why? Because it is something which we tend to really lack.
Similarly, He talks a lot about shukr. He keeps reminding us to be grateful.Why? Because human beings tend to be ungrateful! This is something we need to put extra care on, since Allah keeps warning us about it so many times in the Quran. Let us look at some of the ways in which gratefulness is highlighted in the Quran.
• Quran begins with Alhamdulillah
The very first chapter of the Quran starts with “Praise be to Allah.”
• The last call of the people of Paradise is Alhamdulillah.
دَعْوَاهُمْ فِيهَا سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ وَتَحِيَّتُهُمْ فِيهَا سَلَامٌ ۚ وَآخِرُ دَعْوَاهُمْ أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
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!’ [10:10]
• If you indeed worship Allah, then you have to be grateful
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُلُوا مِن طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِلَّهِ إِن كُنتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ
O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship. [2:172]
• The purpose of fasting in Ramadan is to make us grateful.
The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an … Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful. [2:182-188]
• Allah is ash-Shakir.
مَّا يَفْعَلُ اللَّهُ بِعَذَابِكُمْ إِن شَكَرْتُمْ وَآمَنتُمْ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ شَاكِرًا عَلِيمًا
What would Allah do with your punishment if you are grateful and believe? And ever is Allah Appreciative and Knowing. [4:147]
• Allah reminds us of His favours upon us so many times in the Quran:
وَلَقَدْ مَكَّنَّاكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَجَعَلْنَا لَكُمْ فِيهَا مَعَايِشَ ۗ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَشْكُرُونَ
And We have certainly established you upon the earth and made for you therein ways of livelihood. Little are you grateful. [7:10] وَهُوَ الَّذِي سَخَّرَ الْبَحْرَ لِتَأْكُلُوا مِنْهُ لَحْمًا طَرِيًّا وَتَسْتَخْرِجُوا مِنْهُ حِلْيَةً تَلْبَسُونَهَا وَتَرَى الْفُلْكَ مَوَاخِرَ فِيهِ وَلِتَبْتَغُوا مِن فَضْلِهِ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
And it is He who subjected the sea for you to eat from it tender meat and to extract from it ornaments which you wear. And you see the ships plowing through it, and [He subjected it] that you may seek of His bounty; and perhaps you will be grateful. [16:14] And Allah has extracted you from the wombs of your mothers not knowing a thing, and He made for you hearing and vision and intellect that perhaps you would be grateful. [16:78]
This uncertainty of our gratefulness at the end of these verses is to make us more concerned about being grateful to Allah. He has given us so much and yet we find it difficult to even express our gratitude. In fact, we can’t even thank Him enough for all of His favours on us.
• Shaytan challenged Allah that we wouldn’t be grateful.
ثُمَّ لَآتِيَنَّهُم مِّن بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَعَن شَمَائِلِهِمْ ۖ وَلَا تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ
Then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful [to You].’ [7:17] Are we going to let Shaytan have what he wants, or are we going to give him a fight?
• ‘If you’re grateful, I will increase you.’
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 favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.‘ [14:7]
So next time you receive a gift of ten bars of chocolates, say alhamdulillah from your heart, and be absolutely sure of receiving more soon!
I remember reading a quote from one of the mashaykh years ago.
" If you are unable to make shukr for what Allah has bestowed upon you. Then make shukr from what Allah has protected you from".
I cant remember the name of the Shaykh but this reminder has stuck in my mind.
There is great wisdom in this advice. Sometimes when you feel overwhelmed,
by the difficulties you are facing your mind becomes focused on things that you have been deprived of.
You start looking at the blessings in the lives of others and start asking why not me..I pray, I try to be a good muslim yet my life is filled with hardship and toil. Whilst others who have no concern for deen have all the benefits of the dhunya.
This is one of the tricks of shaytan, and causes a person to become despondent.
In such a situation it is better to turn to Allah and say "Alhamdulillah ala Kulli haal". (All praise belongs to Allah in every situation). And Focus on all the difficulties and calamities that, Allah through his infinite mercy has protected you from.
Second aspect is a persons mind can be overcome by anxiety for the future. For example everyone in your family as they age are struck with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, and athritis, and hypertension instead of developing an attitude of doom and gloom and sense of invatibility make shukr to Allah that you have been protected from these illnesses.
Or fear that you may be afflicted by poverty, loss or divorce or disobedient children etc. In the future because you see everyone around you going through these challenges. Dont stew over these things take precautions, tie your camel. Then make shukr to Allah that you have been protected from these difficulties.
Anxiety for the future is a trick of shaytan, in which he causes people to become fearful of things that have not happened yet. And that may or not happen in the future..!
We should not allow such thoughts to consume us.
We should make shukr to Allah .Trust and expect only the best from Allah.
“Shukr comprises sabr (patience) upon obedience and away from disobedience.”
He (Ibn Hajr) then mentions that both are essential are in need of one another, then states:
“Whoever is in a state of receiving favours, it is obligatory upon him to show sabr (patience) and shukr, sabr from disobedience.
Whoever is in a state of trial, it is also obligatory upon him to show sabr and shukr, shukr by establishing the rights of Allaah during the trial. Indeed servitude is due to Allaah in times of tribulation and in times of ease.”
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
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