Rights of Allahﷻ on us – #4

Shukr (gratitude, giving thanks) 

Allahﷻ began His Kalaam with His Name and then taught us the most important thing; that all praise and thanks belongs to Him.

ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ

Fatiha 1: 2   All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Rabb of the ‘Alamin.

Allahﷻ ordered us to be thankful to Him and never to be ungrateful.

فَٱذْكُرُونِىٓ أَذْكُرْكُمْ وَٱشْكُرُوا۟ لِى وَلَا تَكْفُرُونِ

Baqara 2: 152   Therefore remember Me (by praying, glorifying, etc.). I will remember you, and be grateful to Me and never be ungrateful to Me.

We thank Allahﷻ for Iman, for knowledge, for guidance to remember Him and above all for the chance to make Tawba and return to Him. Can we try to feel the power and glory of being remembered by Allahﷻ? Imagine, we are here on earth, remembering Allahﷻ and He, on his Throne, mentions us to those who are around His Arsh. How does that make us feel?

Let me quote from a very interesting study that was conducted at the University of California Berkeley among people with depression on the effect of expressing gratitude. In our current context of people struggling with mental illness of many types, this is not just interesting but very hopeful and practically applicable. I quote:


We set out to address these questions in a recent research study involving nearly 300 adults, mostly college students who were seeking mental health counseling at a university. We randomly assigned our study participants into three groups. Although all three groups received counseling services, the first group was also instructed to write one letter of gratitude to another person each week for three weeks, whereas the second group was asked to write about their deepest thoughts and feelings about negative experiences. The third group did not do any writing activity.

What did we find? Compared with the participants who wrote about negative experiences or only received counseling, those who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health 4 weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended. This suggests that gratitude writing can be beneficial not just for healthy, well-adjusted individuals, but also for those who struggle with mental health concerns. In fact, it seems, practicing gratitude on top of receiving psychological counseling carries greater benefits than counseling alone, even when that gratitude practice is brief. And that’s not all. When we dug deeper into our results, we found indications of how gratitude might actually work on our minds and bodies.

About three months after the psychotherapy sessions began, we took some of the people who wrote gratitude letters and compared them with those who didn’t do any writing. These results are encouraging because many other studies suggest that the mental health benefits of positive activities often decrease rather than increase over time afterward.  

I want you to think of all those people who you benefit from but have not thanked. I am talking about expressing your thanks. Saying to them, Jazakallahu Khairan. Maybe giving them a gift to express your thanks. Did you do that recently? That is why I am reminding myself and you to thank those who contribute to our daily wellbeing without which we would be very unhappy, but most of us take them and their contributions for granted.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ قَالَ‏ لاَ يَشْكُرُ اللَّهَ مَنْ لاَ يَشْكُرُ النَّاسَ

Abu Huraira (R) reported, Rasoolullah   said, “Whoever does not thank people has not thanked Allah.” [Sunan Abī Dāwūd]

For those who may say, “Why do I need to express my thanks? They already know it,” let me remind you about what Allahﷻ said:

وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ وَلَئِن كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِى لَشَدِيدٌ

Ibrahim 14: 7       And (remember) when your Rabb proclaimed: If you give thanks, I will increase (My Blessings), but if you are thankless, verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.

The question to ask ourselves is, ‘Doesn’t Allahﷻ know if we are grateful or not? Then why is He commanding us to express our gratitude to Him?” That is because expressing gratitude is not about the benefactor. It is about the beneficiary, i.e., us. It is our duty to thank Allahﷻ and to thank those through whom we received Allahﷻ’s blessings. How do we thank Allahﷻ?

ٱعْمَلُوٓا۟ ءَالَ دَاوُۥدَ شُكْرًا وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنْ عِبَادِىَ ٱلشَّكُورُ

Saba 34: 13    Work you, O family of Dawud with thanks! But few of My slaves are grateful.

To thank Allahﷻ is to use His blessings in the way He commanded us to use them, to please Him. Allahﷻ gave us life, Islam, guidance in the form of the Qur’an and the blessing of Rasoolullahﷺ and his Sunnah. If we’d had the whole world and all that it contains, but no Islam, what would we have when we left this world? Tesla’s revenue in 2007 was $73,000. In 2022, Tesla is making $73,000 every 28 seconds. That is not the whole world and all it contains, but it is enough to think about. My question is, what will Elon Musk take with him if he dies without Islam? I am not discounting Tesla’s efficiency which today is more than that of Toyota and BMW, but I am asking a higher-level question that relates to us all. Do we thank Allahﷻ for Islam and guidance to it, when we think of the billionaires who lived and died without Islam? Islam and money are not antithetical or mutually exclusive. It is possible to be a billionaire, create a global organization and still be Muslim. I sincerely wish there were people among us who could replicate and exceed what Elon Musk is doing, but do we see that?

Aishah (RA) reported that Rasoolullah said, “The two Rak’ah before the dawn (Fajr) prayer are better than this world and all it contains.” [Muslim]
Another narration goes: “The two Rak’ah before the dawn (Fajr) prayer are dearer to me than the whole world.”
Do we have this feeling when we pray the Sunnah of Fajr? Our problem is that we don’t take our Deen literally. We should. That is what the Sahaba did. Allahﷻ is real and we’d better believe it. Let us reflect and thank Allahﷻ often.

Allahﷻ gave us the Qur’an, as I mentioned earlier. Think of how our lives would be if we didn’t have the recitation of the Qur’an? We are on the final homerun to Ramadan, and we ask Allahﷻ to grant us Ramadan in good health and Iman, with time to spend in listening to the Qur’an in Tarawih and Qiyam and to read it ourselves. Imagine a life without the recitation of the Qur’an. Allahﷻ gave us the Law, the Shari’ah with clear guidance about what is right and beneficial and what is not and a reward in the Aakhira for doing what is beneficial for ourselves in this life. Imagine a life without that. Maybe some of us are thinking that it would have been good not to have the Shari’ah, because we could then do whatever we liked.

But ask yourself, who is harmed if you drink alcohol, use tobacco, take drugs, lie, cheat, deceive people, are unfaithful in your marriages, don’t share inheritance, deal in interest, and do other things that are not permitted in the Shari’ah? We thank Allahﷻ for giving us a law that benefits us in this life and then rewarding us in the Aakhira for following it.

Allahﷻ gave us health, beauty, our faculties, strength, intelligence, energy, wealth, influence, power, authority, friends, supporters, you-name-it, it is all from Allahﷻ. Ask, ‘What do I use each of them for?’ It is not just saying thanks but expressing our gratitude to Allahﷻ by our actions. By ensuring that we never use what Allahﷻ gave us in a way that is displeasing to Him. Let us remember that Allahﷻ has the power to take away what He gave. We see this happening all around us, daily. Why do we imagine that it can’t happen to us? We ask Allahﷻ for His Mercy.

Gratitude is the secret of contentment which is the root of happiness. Happiness is not about having more and more. It is about appreciating what we have and being thankful for it. Expressing thanks to Allahﷻ and to those who make a difference to us, in our lives.

قَالَ‏ النَّبِيِّ مَنْ أَصْبَحَ مِنْكُمْ مُعَافًى فِي جَسَدِهِ آمِنًا فِي سِرْبِهِ عِنْدَهُ قُوتُ يَوْمِهِ فَكَأَنَّمَا حِيزَتْ لَهُ الدُّنْيَا

Salamah bin ‘Ubaidullah bin Mihsan Al-Ansari (R) narrated that his father said, “Rasoolullah said, ‘Whoever among you wakes up physically healthy, feeling safe and secure within himself, with food for the day, it is as if he acquired the whole world.’” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

Contentment is the greatest wealth. And that comes from appreciating what we have and expressing gratitude about it, often.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ قَالَ لَيْسَ الْغِنَى عَنْ كَثْرَةِ الْعَرَضِ وَلَكِنَّ الْغِنَى غِنَى النَّفْسِ

Abu Huraira (R) reported, Rasoolullah  said, “Wealth is not in having many possessions. Rather, true wealth is the richness of the soul.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

Rasoolullahﷺ used to express gratitude by making Sajda. The interesting thing about the Sajdat-us-Shukr (Sajda of gratitude) is that it can be made anywhere, at any time, in any direction and with or without Wudhu. It is a totally spontaneous action done out of overwhelming gratitude for what Allahﷻ gave us. Like dua, it is just between Allahﷻ and His slave and so it has no special requirements of Tahara (purtiy) or Qibla (direction of prayer).

Finally, Allahﷻ warned us that most of us are ungrateful. Let us heed that warning and make Istighfaar to Allahﷻ for this and change ourselves.

وَلَقَدْ مَكَّنَّـٰكُمْ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَجَعَلْنَا لَكُمْ فِيهَا مَعَـٰيِشَ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَشْكُرُونَ

A’araf 7: 10   And surely, We gave you authority on the earth and appointed for you therein provisions (for your life). Little thanks do you give.

وَهُوَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَنشَأَ لَكُمُ ٱلسَّمْعَ وَٱلْأَبْصَـٰرَ وَٱلْأَفْـِٔدَةَ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَشْكُرُونَ

Mu’minoon 23: 78        It is He, Who has created for you (the sense of) hearing (ears), sight (eyes), and hearts (understanding). Little thanks you give.

ثُمَّ سَوَّىٰهُ وَنَفَخَ فِيهِ مِن رُّوحِهِۦ وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ ٱلسَّمْعَ وَٱلْأَبْصَـٰرَ وَٱلْأَفْـِٔدَةَ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَشْكُرُونَ

Sajda 32: 9 Then He fashioned him in due proportion and breathed into him the soul (created by Allah for that person), and He gave you hearing (ears), sight (eyes) and hearts. Little is the thanks you give!

قُلْ هُوَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَنشَأَكُمْ وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ ٱلسَّمْعَ وَٱلْأَبْصَـٰرَ وَٱلْأَفْـِٔدَةَ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَشْكُرُونَ

Mulk 67: 2  Say it is He Who has created you, and endowed you with hearing (ears), seeing (eyes), and hearts. Little thanks you give.

Once, Umar bin al-Khattab (R) was walking in the market and passed by a man who was making this dua, “O Allah, make me of Your ‘few’ slaves!”

Umar (R) said to him, “Where did you get this dua from?” The man replied, “Allahﷻ said in His Book;

ٱعْمَلُوٓا۟ ءَالَ دَاوُۥدَ شُكْرًا وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنْ عِبَادِىَ ٱلشَّكُورُ

Saba 34: 13    Work you, O family of Dawud with thanks! But few of My slaves are grateful.

Sayyidina Umar (R) wept and admonished himself, “The people are more knowledgeable than you, O Umar! O Allah make us of Your ‘few’ slaves.”

Ibn al-Qayyim (ra) said, “Go on the path of truth and do not feel lonely because there are few who take that path and beware of the path of falsehood and do not be deceived by the greatness (number and wealth) of the perishers.”

Let us ask Allahﷻ to make us of the ‘few’ of His slaves. It is very interesting to note that virtue, excellence, intelligence, integrity, kindness, and honor are all scarce in the world. The struggle is to try our best to change this and have many more who have these qualities. This begins with us and then with raising children with these values. Children are automatically raised on our operative values. If there is a gap between these and our stated values, then credibility falls through that gap. Children listen with their eyes. They don’t care what we say until they see what we do. That is why Rasoolullahﷺ never ran a creche or Maktab or Sunday school for children. He taught adults and they taught their children. The children in the company of Rasoolullahﷺ were either related to him like Abdullah bin Abbas (R) and Ali bin Abi Talib (R), or were his servants, like Anas bin Malik (R) and Zaid bin Haritha (R). Adults are the decision makers in society. If we don’t correct ourselves, it is no use blaming children.

The responsibility is ours and we will answer for it. I ask Allahﷻ for His Mercy and Forgiveness.