By Yaaseen Masvood
While it is relatively easier to be patient at times of adversity due to the incapacity of the individual to overcome the difficulty, it is not so easy to be grateful at times of prosperity and happiness, except for those whom Allah wills! Being a true embodiment of gratitude, our Prophet ﷺ used to stand hours together at night worshipping Allah so much so that his blessed feet used to get swollen and his blessed skin used to get cracked. When asked why he did so, in spite of the fact that Allah had forgiven his past and future sins, he responded politely saying: “Should I not be a grateful slave?” (Bukhari and Muslim). Our Prophet ﷺ further encouraged us to be steadfast in our gratitude to Allah at all times saying: “The first to be called to Paradise on the Day of Judgement will be those who praised Allah during times of prosperity and adversity.” (Bayhaqi)
Human beings, as we are, tend to keep forgetting to thank Allah for every blessing that we keep enjoying, taking them for granted. It is again from the Mercy and Grace of Allah that He keeps reminding us throughout the Qur’ān to be grateful to Him by enlisting some of the very prominent favours of Him upon us. This is why we find that in the Qur’ān, the word la’allakum thashkuroon (so that you may be thankful) appears at no less than 14 places in different contexts. In order to serve as a constant reminder for us, our Prophet ﷺ taught us through the advice to Muadh, the supplication to be said at the end of every (obligatory) prayers: “O Allah, Help me to remember You, thank You and worship you perfectly.” (Abu Dawood, Ahmad)
It is also from the teachings of our Prophet ﷺ that gratefulness be shown, not only to Allah, but also through whom Allah helps us in our affairs, when he ﷺ said: “He who is not grateful to people is not grateful to Allah.” (Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi) He also warned the womenfolk to be grateful to their husbands, as the lack of this quality would eventually lead them to the hell-fire. Allah’s protection is sought!
From the time an individual is born, he is showered with constant and intense favours from Allah, without the individual yearning for them, as Allah says: “Allah has brought you out from the wombs of your mothers, while you knew nothing. And He gave you hearing, sight and hearts, that you might give thanks.” (16:78) Here, Allah mentions His blessings to His servants in that He brought them from the mothers’ wombs not knowing a thing, then He gives them the hearing to recognise voices, sight to see visible things and hearts to reason out what is beneficial and what is harmful. These abilities and senses develop gradually in man. The more he grows, the more his hearing, vision and reason increase, until they reach their peak. Allah has created these faculties in man to enable him to worship his Lord, so that he uses all these organs, abilities and strengths to obey His Master. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer)
Surah Al-Mulk (chapter 69), which the Prophet ﷺ advised his Ummah to recite every night to seek protection from the punishment of the grave, also contains a similar verse (23) exhorting mankind to be thankful for such favours.
Another similar verse from Surah As Sajdah, which also was read by the Prophet ﷺ before retiring to bed every night and also during the Fajr salah on Fridays, concludes thus: “Little is the thanks you give.” (32:9) This ayah exhorts us to be thankful to Allah for the various forms of strengths which Allah provides for us. The one who is truly blessed is the one who uses them to worship and obey his Lord. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer) May Allah make us amongst such!
How little are the thanks that we offer for the multifarious blessings we keep enjoying day in and day out! Have we thanked Allah for prolonging our life and physical wellbeing that He has bestowed on us, especially given the fact the multitude of our near and dear ones have passed away in the recent past due to Covid-19? Have we thanked Allah for the timely food that we get to relish without any difficulty, not to mention the food we store in our refrigerators for days on end, while most of our brethren in countries like Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Yemen do not get a square meal a day? Have we thanked Allah for peace with which we live while our brethren in Palestine and other such occupied lands have been fighting continuously to live in their own motherland for decades without any concrete progress in sight for them? Have we thanked Allah for giving us the blessing to single out, for our worship, our Creator and that of the entire universe without we having to search for it, while most of the people are still groping in darkness, looking at ways and means to fill the spiritual void within them? Have we thanked Allah for giving us the blessing of emulating a true role model in our beloved Prophet ﷺ for our both materialistic and spiritual goals? Have we thanked Allah for the blessing of the Qur’ān, a book of guidance and cure for all our spiritual and physical maladies? Have we thanked Allah for giving us the ability to learn the religion of Islam and access its sources, sitting at the comfort of our homes using electronic gadgets, while our pious predecessors had to walk several miles together to learn a single hadith? This list is just indicative and it goes on….
In spite of the enormity of the need for showing gratitude to Allah for all His countless blessings on us, one of the easiest means to do so is to inculcate in us the habit of the reciting the following dhikr every day, once in the morning and once in the evening: اللهُمَّ مَا أَصْبَحَ بِي مِنْ نِعْمَةٍ أَوْ بِأَحَدٍ مِنْ خَلْقِكَ، فَمِنْكَ وَحْدَكَ لَا شَرِيكَ لَكَ، فَلَكَ الْحَمْدُ وَلَكَ الشُّكْرُ O Allah, what blessing I or any of Your creation have risen upon, is from You alone, without any partner, so for You is all praise and unto You all thanks.” (Abu Dawood)
• How to be grateful:
o Through the heart – by acknowledging the blessing given by Allah.
o Through the tongue – by praising Him verbally saying Alhamdulillah for all His favours.
o Through the limbs – by performing acts of worship and showing obedience at all situations.
• Gratitude is built upon:
o Humility and submissiveness to the One being thanked.
o Loving Allah by obeying Him.
o Acknowledging His Favours.
o Praising Him for it through both words and actions.
o Not utilising it in a way that displeases Him or angers Him.
o Being content with the decree of Allah and not complaining/whining about one’s state of affairs.
We ask Allah to count us among those who are truly thankful in word and deed and be able to earn the good pleasure of Allah in this world and the Next! Ameen. (Concluded)
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