Gratefulness to Allah Almighty

Gratefulness to Allah Almighty

Ibn Saleh

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;

All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-‘ālamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam is His Messenger.

 1 – Gratitude Is the Core of Man’s Relationship with Allah.

 The Gratitude to Allah is expressed by the heart or tongue, or through deeds, words, and gestures. As to the gratitude flowing from the heart, it is the proper response for innumerable divine favors. Allāh says: “Labor, O David’s people, in gratitude towards Me”. (Sabā’ 34: 13)

A grateful person is always mindful of being indebted for Allah’s bounties, big and small, and articulates his or her feelings at every step to express gratitude. This feeling of constant gratitude has a very significant bearing on everyone’s deeds. This is because a grateful servant finds great happiness in doing the deeds that are pleasing to his or her Benefactor, Almighty Allah.

Almighty Allah Says:

“Therefore, remember Me (by praying, glorifying). I will remember you, and be grateful to Me (for My countless Favours on you) and never be ungrateful to Me.” (Al-Baqarah, 2:152);

“And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.” (Surah Ibrahim, 14: 7) ;

“And say: ‘All the praises and thanks be to Allah’.” (Al-Isrā’, 17:111);

“So eat from what Allah has provided for you, lawful and good, and be thankful for the blessing of Allah if it is Him you worship”. (Surah an-Nahl, 16: 114).

“And the close of their request will be: `Al-hamdu lillahi Rabbil-‘ālamin (All the praise is due to Allah, the Rabb of ‘Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists)]’.” (Yunus, 10:10)

Almighty Allah is able to do all things. He grants honor to whomever He wills and degrades whomever He wills. So, if we enjoy a privileged, respectable position in life, we should be grateful to Him for His grace and mercy. We should constantly praise Him and remember His favors. Conversely, if an affliction befalls us or a favor is taken away from us, we have to show patience and submit to Allah’s will.

Conversely, he or she is averse to anything that amounts to ingratitude toward a divine bounty. One who truly appreciates Allah’s bounties and favors can never reconcile oneself to abusing them by acting against Allah’s will. If someone gives us a weapon that can help us to defend ourselves, only a wicked person would abuse that weapon to hurt the one who gave it to him. One who truly appreciates divine bounties is never ready to abuse them in the cause of Satan.

1. 1 – Gratitude is an Act of Worship

The showing of gratitude to the Allah Almighty is part and parcel of having faith in Him. It means that a person who is ungrateful to Allah has no true faith in his or her heart. On the other hand, a servant who thanks Allah for His blessings will receive even more of them. This is related in the Qur’an as follows:  “And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.” (Surah Ibrahim, 14: 7)

Furthermore, that Satan vowed to lead most of humankind to be ungrateful to their Lord clearly indicates how important gratitude to Allah is. He, the accursed, measures his success in achieving his malicious goal by making us thankless to our Lord. What he said is related in the Qur’an thus:  “Then I will certainly come to them from before them and from behind them, and from their right-hand side and from their left-hand side; and You will not find most of them thankful.” (Al-A’raf, 7:17)

Having realized this, we should exert our best efforts to be among the grateful servants of Allah with whom He is well pleased.

2 – How to Attain It?

 We cannot repay Allah for His countless favors. Mercifully, Allah allows us to enjoy His blessings, though He can deprive us of all favors whenever He wills.

2.1 – Constantly Acknowledge and Appreciate Allah’s Favors.

 It is the onus upon us to sincerely  develop a constant feeling of gratitude and a sound consciousness of Allah’s boundless favors, the first and foremost task is to constantly acknowledge and appreciate those favors He ceaselessly bestows upon us. It is a general human weakness that if someone is afflicted with a misfortune, he or she keeps complaining about it to others. However, a person refrains from speaking about the numerous bounties that he or she enjoys. He or she closes his eyes to these blessings as if they do not exist. Such people are not likely to appreciate the favors granted to them by their Benefactor.

“In the Name of Allāh, the Compassionate, the Merciful: Praise be to Allāh; Lord of all Worlds.” (Al-Fātihah, 1:1 – 2).

To overcome this weakness, we should devote a little time every day to reflect on the bounties we enjoy and to study divine signs scattered around us. We should also reflect on the fact that we would be in an extremely deplorable state, if our Lord did not bestow upon us the countless favors we are currently enjoying. If we had not been endowed with eyes, ears, limbs, and brain, we would not have been able to accomplish anything. We would have led a truly miserable life.

Another equally important point to remember is that Almighty Allah has granted us innumerable favors even though we do not deserve them. By definition, Allah is not obliged to bestow these favors, and we can never repay Him in any measure for His bounties. In the Qur’an, Almighty Allah tells us:  “And if you would count Allah’s favors, you will not be able to number them; most surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (An-Nahl 16:18)

Indeed, we cannot repay Him for His countless favors. Mercifully, Allah allows us to enjoy His blessings, though He can deprive us of all favors whenever He wills. There is no one to stop Him from doing so. Therefore, we should be thankful for the granting of a blessing and for being able to enjoy it for a long time, without losing it. A king may be reduced to a pauper, so he should not dismiss a lowly person. A strong and healthy person may lose his or her strength in a moment; so, he or she should not misuse his or her strength in oppressing others. Likewise, a wealthy person who leads a luxurious life may, by Allah’s will, be a destitute person who is helped by and dependent on others.

Almighty Allah is able to do all things. He grants honor to whomever He wills and degrades whomever He wills. So, if we enjoy a privileged, respectable position in life, we should be grateful to Him for His grace and mercy. We should constantly praise Him and remember His favors. Conversely, if an affliction befalls us or a favor is taken away from us, we have to show patience and submit to Allah’s will.

Thankfulness is not only limited to saying Al-Hamdullilāh (Praise To Allāh). However, thankfulness can be offered through actions. Allāh says: “Labor, O David’s people, in gratitude towards Me”. (Sabā’ 34: 13) Thankfulness through actions requires that everyone should ask himself the following: What am I going to do with this blessing? Am I going to use it in a good way? Am I going to contribute with it to good causes? Or am I going to waste it, which is a form of denying the blessing?

Therefore, if you do not thank Allāh for His blessings with sayings and actions, you will risk losing them. But if you thank Allāh, you are tying His blessings to you firmly.

2.2 – Gratitude Draws Men Nearer To Allah

The giving due thanks to Allah earns for a person Allah’s love and good pleasure, drawing one nearer to Him. It is because a person does not attribute his ability to worldly causes, he knows deep inside that he owes everything to Allah alone and thus avoids ascribing any associates to Him. This way, he attains spiritual benefits which are far better than any material gain, and praises Allah for every blessing.

Maybe it is just a practice among most Muslims to thank Allāh for His blessings and bounties, but it is a good habit expected from a true Muslim, a believer who never complains about what he suffers in front of others. He makes it a habit to thank Allāh whether he is wealthy or not, whether he has a good position in life or not, whether he is rich or poor, healthy or ill. He makes sure that he is thankful to Allāh, Who will certainly grant provision and increase it more and more.

Allāh promised:  “And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.” (Surah Ibrahim, 14: 7)

2.3 – Saying: “Al-hamdulillah”

 Allāh urges believers to remember Him and thank Him for His bounties: “So remember Me, I will remember you; and be thankful to Me, and be not ungrateful towards Me.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 152); “And say: ‘All the praises and thanks be to Allah’.”’ (Al-Isrā’, 17:111); “Their way of request therein will be Subhānaka Allāhumma (Glory to You, O Allah!) And Salam (Peace, safe from each and every evil) will be their greetings therein (Paradise)! And the close of their request will be: Al-Hamdu Lillahi Rabbil ‘ālamin [All the praises and thanks are to Allah, the Lord of ‘ālamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists)].”  (Yunus, 10:10)

Abu Hurairah (radiyallāhu`anhu) reported: On the Night of Al-Isra’ (the Night of Ascension) the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) was presented with two drinking vessels: one full of wine and the other one full of milk. He looked at them. Then he took the vessel which was full of milk. Thereupon Jibril (Gabriel) said: “Al-hamdu lillah (Praise be to Allah) Who has guided you to that, which is in accord with Fitrah (i.e., Islamic Monotheism; pure nature of Islam). Had you selected wine, your people would have gone astray.”’ (Recorded by Muslim)

This Hadith highlights Islam is a religion which matches with the pure nature. Every sensible person accepts it instinctively. One who is endowed with the capacity and aptitude to do good should praise Allah.

It is always whenever you ask a Muslim: how are you? The person automatically replies with: “Al- hamdulillāh” meaning “Praise be to Allāh”.  As Abu Hurairah (radiyallāhu`anhu) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “Any matter of importance which is not begun with “Al-hamdu lillah” (praise be to Allah) remains defective.” (Recorded by Abu Dawud)

Another Hadith to the effect that every important work which is not started with the invocation “Bismillah”’ is devoid of Allah’s Grace.

2.4 – Prophet Hud (‘alaihissalam) Constantly Advised His People To Thank Allāh For His Blessings

 The Qur’an sheds light on the story of Prophet Hud (‘alaihissalam) who constantly advised his people to thank Allāh for His blessings:

“Do you build on every height a monument for vain delight? And you make fine buildings as if you will last forever! And when you strike, you strike mercilessly! Rather fear Allāh and obey me. Fear Him Who has provided you with what you know. He provided you with livestock and children. And gardens and springs. Truly I fear for you the retribution of a Great Day.” (Al-Shu‘ara, 26: 128-35)

“Is it too astonishing that Allāh guides you through a man from your people who came to warn you of the bad end that will befall you as a result of your infidelity? Don’t you remember that Allāh made you the inheritors of the earth after the people of Noah who were destroyed by their bad deeds, and that He granted you strength in your bodies and in your power? These blessings should make you believe in Allāh and thank Him, not to make you infidels.” (Al-A’raf, 7: 69)

2.5 – Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) Observe Tahajjud at Night

 Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) used to observe long prayers at night, as Aishah (radiyallāhu`nha) reported: “The Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) used to offer prayer at night (for such a long time) that his feet used to crack. I said, “O Allāh’s Apostle! Why do you do it since Allāh has forgiven you your faults of the past and those to follow?” He said: “Shouldn’t I love to be a thankful slave (of Allāh)?” (Recorded by Al-Bukhari)

2.6 – Appreciate Others by Thanking Them

 The Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) draws our attention to an important issue. He advised us to appreciate others by thanking them. Rasūlullah (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said: “Anyone who doesn’t thank people has not grateful to Allāh.” (Recorded by Abu-Dawud and Tirmidzi)

2.7 – Sujud Al-Syukur (Prostration of Thankfulness)

 The Prostration of Thankfulness is another way to thank Allāh for His bounties. When a Muslim receives a bounty, hears good news or is rescued from a trial, he gets down on his knees, puts his forehead on the ground thanking Allāh for His favor.

“Sujud Al-Syukur (Prostration of Thankfulness) is done in response to a calamity that is averted or a blessing which come to a person. It is like Sujud al-Tilāwah outside solah.  Some of the scholars said that Wudhu’ and Takbīr is required, and some said that only the First Takbīr is required. Then he should fall down in prostration, and make du’a after saying, ‘Subhāna Rabbiy al-A’lā’ (Glory be to my Lord, the Most High)” (Fatāwa Islamiyyah, 1/205)

Ibn Qudamah (rahimahullah) said: “The description, rulings and conditions of Sujud Al-Syukur are the same as those for Sujud Al-Tilāwah (prostration required when reciting certain verses of Qur’an)”. (Al-Mughni, 2/372)  “He should say in this prostration what he says in the prostration during prayer”   (l-Mughni, 2/362)

3 – All Favors by Allah Are To Put Man To The Test.

All the favors that Allah granted to us in this world are indeed a means by which Allah puts man to the test. In the Qur’an, Allah reveals this important fact in the words of Prophet Solomon (‘alaihissalam):

“He who possessed knowledge of the Book said, ‘I will bring it to you before your glance returns to you.’ And when he saw it standing firmly in his presence, he said, ‘This is part of my Lord’s favor to test me to see if I will give thanks or show ingratitude. Whoever gives thanks only does so to his own gain. Whoever is ungrateful, my Lord is Rich Beyond Need, Generous’.” (Surah an-Naml, 27: 40)

Prophet Solomon (‘alaihissalam) thanked Allah for favor granted by Him, for one cannot thank Allah unless He wills; and gratitude is inspired by Him. The prayer related to gratitude of Prophet Solomon (‘alaihissalam):

“ He [Solomon] smiled, laughing at its words, and said, ‘My Lord, keep me thankful for the blessing You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and keep me acting rightly, pleasing You, and admit me, by Your mercy, among Your servants who are righteous.” (Surah an-Naml, 27: 19)

Through tests, Allāh is elevating you and purifying your heart. When you are afflicted with tests, you will draw closer to Allāh and He will forgive your sins. Allāh says: “And, indeed, We tested them [the hypocrites] through suffering, but they did not abase themselves before their Sustainer; and they will never humble themselves”. (Al-Mu’minun 23: 67) When Allāh puts you to tests, you have to humble yourself, and pray to Allāh. Allāh also says about the hypocrites: “Are they, then, not aware that they are being tested year-in, year-out? And yet, they do not repent and do not bethink themselves [of Allāh]”. (At-Tawbah 9: 126)

Allāh does not want to punish you by testing you. But He wants to draw you closer to Him and to make you count His blessings which He bestowed on you. He wants you to thank Him by your tongue and actions.

When Allāh puts you to a test by losing some blessings, He is testing you by a ‘touch of chastisement’, as the other verse says. Every one of us has billions of uncountable blessings. When Allāh puts one of us to a test by losing one, two or even five blessings, he feels that he is faced with a severe crisis. While in reality he has billions of blessings which Allāh is bestowing on him every moment.

In every cell in your body, there are countless blessings. In every second you live, there are countless blessings. In every breath you breathe, there are countless blessings. In every glance you make, there are countless blessings. Allāh is the One who is worthy of thankfulness. When Allāh tests you by losing one or two blessings, He is ‘pulling you towards Him’. By losing a blessing, Allāh wants you to return and repent to Him. He also wants you to remember His blessings and reflect on them.

And if you sincerely repent to Allāh, the test is over. Allāh says: “And, behold, with every hardship comes ease: verily, with every hardship comes ease!” (Ash-Sharh 94: 5-6) We notice that Allāh repeated the verse twice. In another verse we read: “Allāh will grant, after hardship, ease”. (At-Talaq 65: 7) Sometimes matters get worse, but Allāh makes a way-out and with difficulty comes ease. When you are faced with a problem or afflicted with a calamity, Allāh brings ease in the middle of the crisis and also after the crisis. And in any case, if this state of hardship draws you closer to Allāh, this is in itself a blessing from Allāh.

If one would like to avoid trials at all, one should always advance towards Allāh and never fall into any mistake. In reality, though, this will never happen because we are humans! We cannot maintain thanking Allāh all the time and a clear record. The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Every son of Adam makes mistakes, but the best of those who make mistakes are those who repent”. (At-Tirmidzi) Therefore, Allāh is helping us in our journey by putting us to tests in order to give us a chance to repent.

 4 – All the Blessings Would Not be Attained Unless by Allah Wills

 A person of conscience recognizes that all the blessings by which he is surrounded would not exist and that he could never attain them unless Allah willed. His body, intelligence, wisdom, feeling, health, strength—in fact, all the favors he thinks he possesses on his own are actually blessings granted by Him.

Giving thanks to Allah is not merely saying, “Al-hamdulillah” at certain times, as when one has completed a task, eats a fine supper, or survives an ordeal unhurt. Gratitude is a state one experiences deep in his heart because he can never account for all the favors he enjoys, even the obvious ones: “If you tried to number Allah’s blessings, you could never count them. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah an-Nahl, 16: 18)

5 – The Excellence of Gratitude and Patience

 In order to attain gratitude, we should not look at those who have been blessed more than us, but those who have been blessed less, and they are so many. Those who fail to do this are always complaining about their difficulties and problems, and are never blessed with satisfaction or contentment. Even when their lot improves, they do not experience true contentment. This is because it is impossible for one to be in a state that is in all respects better than that of everyone else.

If we always remember that we are the servants of Almighty Allah, some of His servants are not granted as much as we have and others are favored with more than us, we will be grateful and content. These noble attributes — gratitude and patience — are dealt with in a hadith narrated by Suhaib (radiyallāhu`anhu) that Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) is reported to have said: “How amazing is the affair of the believer. Everything is good for him and that is for no one but the believer: If good times come his way, he is thankful and that is good for him, and if hardship comes his way, he is patient and that is good for him.” (Recorded by Muslim) Thus, it is evident that a believer should possess these two traits.

Abu Musa Al-Ash‘ari  (radiyallāhu`anhu) reported: The Messenger of Allah  (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “When a slave’s child dies, Allah the Most High asks His angels, `Have you taken out the life of the child of My slave?”  They reply in the affirmative. Allah then asks, ‘Have you taken the fruit of his heart?’ They reply in the affirmative. Thereupon Allah asks, ‘What has My slave said?’ They say: `He has praised You and said: ‘Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rāji`un (We belong to Allah and to Him we shall be returned)’. Allah says: ‘Build a house for My slave in Jannah and name it as Bait-ul-Hamd (the House of Praise)’.”[At-Tirmidzi]

This Hadith points out the eminence of patience and the merit of praising Allah in the event of a calamity, especially on the death of one’s own child. Rather than weeping and wailing, one should submit himself to the Will of Allah and show perseverance. Such attitude of patience and resignation is highly meritorious and has great reward.

Anas bin Malik (radiyallāhu`anhu) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “Allah is pleased with His slave who says: ‘Al-hamdu lillah (praise be to Allah)’ when he takes a morsel of food and drinks a draught of water.” [Recorded by Muslim]

What the Hadith means is that to praise Allah on eating and drinking every time is a source of Allah’s Pleasure, no matter whether the quantity one consumes is small or large.

In the following verse Almighty Allah mentions both of the criteria:  “Most surely there are signs in this for every patient, grateful one.”  (Ibrahim 14:5)

Moreover, the wisdom in that approach is well illustrated by an anecdote related by Sheikh Sa’adi. He said that while he was traveling he reached Damascus in a miserable condition; he did not have any money to buy new shoes to replace his old ones. It pained him that he was unable to buy a new pair of shoes. With these thoughts he entered the mosque where he observed a lame person, without feet. On seeing this, he immediately fell into prostration, thanking Allah profusely for having provided him with feet, if not with new shoes. This incident identifies the perspective in which we should look at things. Those with a feeling of gratitude observe numerous manifestations of Allah’s favors, which then fill them with greater gratitude. However, there are others who are always complaining of what they do not have and are, therefore, unable to thank Allah for the many blessings He has bestowed upon them.

6 – Ingratitude Is A Trap Devised By Satan.

Heedless ingratitude is a serious trap devised by Satan. Indeed, it is a main ambition of his to hinder man from giving thanks. Allah relates the plot of Satan:

“He said, ‘By Your misguidance of me, I will lie in ambush for them on your straight path. Then I will come at them, from in front of them and behind them, from their right and from their left. You will not find most of them thankful’.” (Surah al-A’raf, 7:16-17)

Satan promised, in a dialogue with Allāh, to do his best to prevent people from being thankful to Allāh.

As the Qur’an makes clear, the efforts of Satan concentrate around this goal: keeping man from giving thanks to Allah. And his plan has indeed proven successful on many:

“… Allah shows favor to mankind but most of them are not thankful”. (Surah Yunus, 10: 60)

That Satan expresses his explicit will to approach man from this angle reveals the importance of gratitude to Allah as an aspect of worship. No doubt, abandoning it is sinful in the Sight of Allah:

“And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.” (Surah Ibrahim, 14: 7)

To conclude, one of the most interesting attributes of Allāh is Ash-Shakur meaning that Allāh is the most appreciative. So we should be grateful to the one who endows us with health, family, wealth, peace and security, a nurturing environment etc. By recognizing Allāh’s bounties by the heart or tongue, or through deeds, words, and gestures, our hearts will find contentment and peace.

And Allāh Almighty Knows best.

(This article is based adapted from the book ‘Self-Development in the Context of Man’s Relationship with Allah ‘by Amin Ahsan Islahi published by the Islamic Foundation Via On Islam Sunday, 23 August 2009; and an article entitled “Expressing Gratitude: The Muslim Norm” by Fouziah Hakkou, Via On Islam 26 December 2010.)

About Md Radzi Ahmad
A retired Malaysian civil servant. Served the Malaysian government for thirty-one years. Posted to London, Rangoon, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bangkok. Born in Kampong Hutan Kandeh, Alor Star, Kedah. Educated at Sultan Abdul Hamid College, Alor Star and University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Currently resides in Subang Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan,Malaysia.Blessed with three children, a son, two daughters, daughter in law and two grandaughters.

One Response to Gratefulness to Allah Almighty

  1. sobrielo says:

    Reblogged this on Isa Ibrahim.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: