The Everlasting Blessings of Gratitude – Part 1

Friday Sermon delivered by Didmar Faja

Dear Muslims! Among the acts of worship we are commanded to perform is praising and thanking God the Almighty. He states in His Holy Quran,

“So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.” [1]

 

 Defining shukr (Gratitude)

 On the meaning of shukr, Muslim scholars have given various definitions. In his book Minhāj al-cbidīn, imam Gazali quotes, “Ibn ‘Abbās said that shukr means to obey the Creator of the universe, internally and externally with all the limbs of the body. Others have said that gratitude is that one should exalt and glorify Allah so much that one should become safe from being ungrateful and disloyal to Him.”[2]

No human can praise him better than the way He praised Himself. Therefore, we must praise and thank Him according to the way He taught us in the Quran. He doesn’t need our praises and gratitude, but it is us who need to better ourselves by connecting our hearts to His remembrance (dhikr Allah) and benefit from expressing gratitude to Him.

Among many benefits from expressing gratitude is also the removal of punishments. In other words, when the servant of God thanks Him, Allah removes a punishment from that servant. Almighty God said in the Quran,

“What would Allah do with your punishment if you are grateful and believe? And ever is Allah Appreciative and Knowing.”[3]

  

Expressing gratitude

 The best gratitude is expressed through the actions. The best example of demonstrating gratitude in his action is that of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) who used to wake up at night at pray until his feet were swollen from standing. When asked why doing that, while Allah has forgiven all the past and future sins, he replied, “Shouldn’t I be a thankful servant?”[4]

In an other occasion the blessed Prophet (pbuh) taght his close companion, Muadh Ibn Jabal to recite the following supplication,

“Allahumma acinnī ‘alā dhikrik wa shukrik wa usn `ibādatik”, which can be translated as, “O Allah, help me to remember You, to thank You, and to worship You in the best way.”[5]

 

Receiving blessings through shukr

 God’s blessings can be received, preserved and even increased when the servant is thankful to the Lord. In the previously mentioned book, Minhāj al-cĀbidīn, Imam Gazali indicates two types of blessings:

  1. Blessings of the world. These blessings are divided in two categories:
  1. a) Lucrative blessings are profitable for you and serve your needs and interests. They include the necessaries as well as the comforts and luxuries of life.
  1. b) Preventive blessings are those whereby harmful things and diseases are removed from you. These include internal disorders and external forces of harm like losses, opponents and enemies.
  1. Blessings of Faith. These blessings are also two types:
  1. a) Blessings of the divine assistance are the blessings of believe (īmān), Islam and that of the right school of thought of the Ahli al-Sunnah wa al-Jamācah along with the blessings of worship and devotion.
  1. The blessings of protection from disbelief, polytheism, wrong beliefs, acts of vices and sins.[6]

None knows the full details of these blessings except Almighty Allah. He said,

 

“And He gave you from all you asked of Him. And if you should count the favor of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful.”[7]

 

Places and times of expressing gratitude

According to Gazali, gratitude must be shown to Allah all the time. There is a different opinion on whether one must show gratitude during the times of hardship and calamities. Some have said that only patience must be practiced during those occasions, others have said that one must show gratitude even during the times of hardships and calamities. They say that every hard situation conceals some good for the situation and the reward of that in the hereafter cannot be compared to the suffering in this world, that’s why showing gratitude becomes due during these occasions.[8] Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “All praise belongs to Allah who displeases and pleases.”[9] Also, Ibn Omar (r.a.) is recorded ta have said, “Whenever I suffered from some distress, I found four bounties therein from exalted Allah. Distress did not affect my faith. A distress greater than that did not fall on me. I did not fail to remain pleased with Allah’s will. I hope to receive reward on that distress.”[10]


[1] Q. (2:152).

[2] Abu Hamid Gazali: Minhaj al-Abidin, Muassasah al-Risalah, Edit, 1, Beyrut, 1989, pg,.319,

[3] Q. (4:147).

[4] Bukhari: Kitab al-Tefsir, v. 18, Hadith 4518.pg. 96-7.

[5] Abi Bakr Ahmad al-Bayhaqiy: Al-Jami’ li shuab al-Iman, Maktabah al-Rushd, Riyad, 2003, v. 6, Hadith 4097, pg. 237.

[6] Gazali: Minhaxh al-Abidin, pg.318.

[7] Q. (14:34).

[8] Gazali: Minhaxh al-Abidin, pg. 321-2.

[9] Ibid. pg. 322.

[10] Ibid. Pg. 321.

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