|Imam Zijad’s Corner: An Attitude of Gratitude (Shukr)Narrated by `A’isha (r) that when the Prophet (S) prayed (the night prayers: Qiyam-ul-layl), he would stand until (the skin of) his feet swelled. So, she asked him: “O Prophet of Allah, you do all of this while knowing that Allah has forgiven you all of your mistakes?”
He responded: “Should I not aspire to be a grateful servant of Allah?”
Transliteration: “Afala Akunu ‘Abdan Shukura?”
Imam ibn Hajar commented on the hadith by saying that Muhammad (S) clarified to ‘Aisha (r), and thus to all of us, that the path of worship is not the path of challenges and difficulties but the way in which we develop an opportunity to express our gratitude to the Creator for all we enjoy and for the doors of forgiveness He provided us with.
Muslim classical and modern scholars taught us that gratitude is not only the part of our faith but it is the key by which to attract abundance, blessings, prosperity, peace, tranquility and success.
One of the most important aspects of tarbiyah (education) in Islam is the cultivation of the attitude of gratitude in people’s lives.
Why gratitude is presented to be much important and beneficial in Islam?
In the context of our current situation with coronavirus pandemic, we certainly could benefit from this attitude in all aspects of our life.
Below are some practical examples of benefits of gratitude:
Gratitude trains our minds to focus on the right things in life.
When we let our minds look for problems, we see plenty of them.
Instead, if we rather look away from problems and focus on possibilities and go for solutions, we will get those too.
Let’s, therefore, use gratitude to motivate ourselves to find possibilities and search for solutions and not only the negatives associated with challenges we face in life.
Gratitude helps us to slow down on the life-highways and enjoy what we have, rather than always waiting for the next wish to come true.
Gratitude can help us recognize that we already have enough of what many people have, for long, been yearning for.
We must therefore tame our Nafs (souls) to understand that if we can’t find happiness in the blessings that we have today, then we won’t be happy with what we get tomorrow.
Thus, gratitude is a sense of fulfillment that comes not from wanting more but rather from a sense of knowing that Allah has already blessed us with what we need.
Gratitude helps us recognize other people’s favors to us.
The Prophet (S) through his sayings made it quite clear that expressing our gratitude to Allah by thanking Him also involves that we thank people who do favors for us.
The Prophet Muhammad (S) said as narrated by Abu Hurairah (r): “He who does not thank people, does not thank Allah” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi).
He also taught us how to do it: “Whoever does you a favor, then reciprocate, and if you cannot find anything with which to reciprocate, then pray for him/her until you think that you have reciprocated him/her.” (Abu Dawud)
In another hadith, he said: “Whoever has a favor done for him/her and says to the one who did it,‘Jazak Allahu khayran,’ has done enough to thank him/her.” (Tirmizi)
Gratitude isn’t about ignoring our problems.
On the contrary, gratitude helps us to be patient, accepting of life’s challenges, and accordingly trains us to seek personal fulfillment with less.
Gratitude thus makes us “low maintenance” in our demands and expectations.
This trait reduces our burden on those around us, making our company more pleasing to others instead of leaving us always unhappy, more demanding, and impossible to please because of unending demands and expectations.
Gratitude helps increase one’s blessings, as Allah says: “And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: ‘If you are grateful, I will give you more (of My Blessings).” (Ibrahim 14:7)
Gratitude is not only expressing our thanks with words.
Gratitude goes beyond mere words.
It emerges in the heart and translates itself in our actions.
We see this in the example of the Prophet (S) whose sins were forgiven by Allah, yet, he continued to strive for His pleasure, as in the hadith above.
It is not only about saying shukr but acting shukr!
This acting part of shukr has been also presented in the example of the Prophet Dawud’s (may peace and blessings be upon him) family.
Allah says: “Work, of family of Dawud, in gratitude.” (Saba’ 34:13)
Allah did not tell Dawud “Be grateful” but told him “work in gratitude.”
May Allah help us be grateful to our own families and all those who have done any good to us, be it something huge or small and does not matter if it comes from an individual, group, association or the state. Allahumma Amin!