August 25, 2008

Being thankful to Allah

With shaitaan on the prowl, eager to take us away from our Lord, we often become victims of satanic whisperings. Our Lord has bestowed upon us such bounties but we tend to ignore them and look at people around us and crave for what we have not instead of being thankful for what we do have. The problem most of us face today is what is called the “if only…” syndrome. If only I had a bigger house, a better car, more money, a better job – and the list is endless– I’d be grateful.

"Therefore remember Me, I will remember you, and be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me." [Qur'an 2:152]

Our pursuit in life must be for the hereafter. How much did the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) have in a materialistic sense? The key to achieving tranquillity and harmony of a balanced heart, mind and body is that we look at those who are below us materialistically and we forget about those who are above us.

"And He gives you all that you ask for. But if you count the favours of Allah, never will you be able to number them. Verily, man is given up to injustice and ingratitude." [Qur'an 14:34]

A great scholar once eloquently said: "Can you picture yourself walking without feet? Should you take it light that you slumber soundly while misery hinders the sleep of many? Should you forget that you fill yourself with both delicious dishes and cool water while the pleasure of good food and drink is impossible for some, due to sickness or disease? Consider the faculties of hearing and seeing with which you have been endowed. Look at your healthy skin and be grateful that you have been saved from diseases that attack it. Reflect on your powers of reasoning and remember those that suffer from mental ailments.”

Thankfulness frees the heart from greed, jealousy and envy. When we are thankful to Allah, we remain mindful of Him and His continuous Mercy toward us, and this in return humbles us and improves our characters. The very fact that Allah has guided us to Islam and the sunnah of His Prophet (pbuh) in itself should be a source of continual praise.

"Surely We have shown him the way: he may be thankful or unthankful." [Qur'an 76:3]

So how can a servant be thankful to Allah?

  • By prostrating to Allah - Abdur-Rahman ibn 'Auf relates that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) went out once and he followed him until he entered a grove of palm trees and prostrated. His prostration was so long that 'Abdur-Rahman feared that Allah had taken his soul. 'Abdur-Rahman came to look at him and he raised his head and said: "What is wrong, Abdur-Rahman'?" Abdur rahman mentioned what had happened, and he (pbuh) said: "Gabriel came to me and said: 'Shall I not give you glad tidings'? Allah says to you, Whoever prays upon you, I pray upon him. Whoever salutes you, I salute him.' Therefore, I prostrated to Allah in thanks." {This is related by Ahmad and by Al-Haakim who says: "It is sahih according to the criterion of al-Bukhari and Muslim}
  • By thanking Allah in words - Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said: "It is a fine thing when a believer praises and thanks Allah if good comes to him, and praises Allah and shows endurance if smitten by affliction. The believer is rewarded for everything, even for the morsel he raises to his wife's mouth." {Bayhaqi transmitted it in Shu'ab al-Iman. Sunan at-Tirmidhi no.1733 See also Saheeh Muslim (7138)}
  • Talking about the benefits Allah has granted us – When we are grateful to Allah for what He has bestowed upon us, He will be pleased with us and grant us what we desire. By continuously returning to Him alone and praising Him for our blessings we can be sure that we will be rewarded with what is best for us both in this life and the next.
  • Helping people in need - The Prophet (pbuh) said, "If anyone strokes an orphan's head, doing so only for Allah's sake, he will have blessings for every hair over which his hand passes; and if anyone treats well an orphan girl or boy under his care, he and I shall be like these two in Paradise," putting two of his fingers together." {Sunan at-Tirmidhi no.4974}
  • Offering optional prayers such as Salatul-Duha (forenoon prayer) - Abu Dharr (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "In the morning, charity is due on every joint bone of the body of every one of you. Every utterance of Allah's Glorification (i.e., saying Subhan Allah) is an act of charity, and every utterance of His Praise (i.e., saying Al-hamdu lillah) is an act of charity and every utterance of declaration of His Greatness (i.e., saying La ilaha illAllah) is an act of charity; and enjoining M`aruf (good) is an act of charity, and forbidding Munkar (evil) is an act of charity, and two Rak`ah Duha prayers which one performs in the forenoon is equal to all this (in reward).'' [Muslim].
  • By moistening our tongues with Allah's remembrance
  • By visiting the sick, the disabled and the terminally ill
  • Making Dua to Allah that He makes us thankful slaves

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “None will enter Paradise but will be shown the place he would have occupied in the (Hell) Fire if he had rejected faith, so that he may be more thankful; and none will enter the (Hell) Fire but will be shown the place he would have occupied in Paradise if he had faith, so that may be a cause of sorrow for him.” (Sahih Bukhari).

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