Monday, 16 August 2010

Each Breath is a Blessing. --The Concept Of Being Grateful To Allah,

........God Increases His Blessings on Those Who Are Grateful.........

Gratefulness:
Being grateful is to render one’s thanks to someone who has shown favor, to express gratitude and to appreciate. The concept of being grateful to Allah, on the other hand, is to grasp and express that every kind of grace and favor is granted exclusively by Allah. In the Qur’an, the opposite of being grateful is defined by the term “disbelief”, which is synonymous to being ungrateful. Only this definition indicates the importance attached to being grateful as worship and the detrimental consequences it may have for a believer.

Gratefulness to Allah is one of the concepts mostly emphasized in the Qur'an. In almost 70 verses, the importance of rendering thanks to Allah is stated, the examples of those who are grateful and ungrateful are given and the end they face is related. The reason why so much importance is given to this concept is simply because it is a mere indication of one’s faith and affirmation of the unity of Allah. In one of the verses “being grateful” is described as “worshipping only to Allah”:

O you who believe! Eat of the good things that We have provided for you, and be grateful to Allah, if it is Him you worship. (Al-Baqara, 172)

Rasulullah (saws) said: "If happiness reaches him (the believer), he is grateful."

True gratefulness can only be generated when one has Taqwa, an understanding of our object of creation and makes an effort to attain it.

THE NATURE OF SHUKR

Accepting that all benefit is from the True Benefactor (Mun’im Haqeeqi), the effect of which is to be happy with the Benefactor and be ever ready to render obedience to Him, is the meaning of Shukr.

The meaning of Shukr envisages:

Acceptance of the fact that all benefit is from Allah, The True Benefactor :( Mun’im Haqeeqi). This acceptance induces:

One of the best gifts Allah swt has granted mankind is the ability to feel and express gratitude. Being grateful at the most basic level is very simple and very beneficial. It is simple because it requires no special knowledge, skill, equipment, or preparation - anyone can access the gift of thankfulness. Yet most of us fall short of the mark in expressing due thanks for what others do, and probably all of us owe far more thanks to Allah (swt) than we even understand. However, improvement is also simple: just make it a practice to notice blessings and kindnesses, to think about them, and to honor them.

One reason gratitude is beneficial is because it improves relationships, - whether interpersonal or with our Creator. When we can feel and express appreciation for God's blessings or other's kindnesses, affection grows. But the personal benefits are also great; a thankful heart is a content and awed heart. Even in times and circumstances of hardship, we always have much to appreciate. When we acknowledge this, our burdens are easier to bear.

Our breathing comes without thought, and yet each breath is a blessing. The struggle for breath is an agony that we are usually spared thousands upon thousands of times without thanking for it. If the gift of breath is taken from us, we will die; breath is life. It is but one of countless examples of blessings from God we owe thanks for. At the very least, we should appreciate that it is a gift from God, be satisfied with the gift, and never use the gift of breath for anything opposing Allah swt. One could possibly say that if we truly wish to express gratitude for the gift of breath, we must never allow ourselves to purposely breathe in any haram substances and we must never use our breath to utter any lies, backbiting, or other haram speech. For even if we claim to feel gratitude, the proof of real thankfulness comes in our actions. If we are thankful for a gift, we will not be careless with it. If someone gave you a birthday present you really loved, you would use it with caution in order to protect it. Similarly, if we are truly grateful for the blessing of breath, we will use it with caution, too.

    In many verses, Allah advises His Messengers to be grateful and Moses is one of them:

(Allah) said: "O Moses! I have chosen you above (other) men, by the mission I (have given you) and the words I (have spoken to you): take then the (revelation) which I give you, and be of those who give thanks." (Al-Araf, 144)

Every person is in need of God at every instant of life. From the air one breathes to the food he eats, from the ability to use one's hands to the faculty of speech, from being sheltered to being in a joyful spirit, one lives completely in need of what God creates and grants him. Still, a vast majority of people do not perceive their weaknesses and those they are in need of God. They suppose that things develop spontaneously or that they acquire everything by their own efforts. This is an important error, as well as a serious ingratitude towards God. Ironically, people who render their thanks to a person for even an insignificant gift, spend all their lives ignoring the countless blessings that God gives them all through their lives. However, so great are the blessings granted to a person that one could never count them? God relates this fact in a verse as follows:

If you tried to number God's blessings, you could never count them. God is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surat an-Nahl: 18)

Despite this fact, most people fail to give thanks for any of the blessings they have. The reason for this is related in the Qur'an: Satan, who pledged to misguide people from God's way, said that his ultimate aim is to make people be ungrateful to God. Satan's defiant statements to God emphasize the importance of giving thanks to God:

'Then I will come at them, from in front of them behind them, from their right and from their left. You will not find most of them thankful.' He (God) said, 'Get out of it, reviled and driven out. As for those of them (mankind) who follow you, I, will fill up Hell with every one of you.' (Surat al-Araf: 17-18)

Believers, on the other hand, aware of their weaknesses and in humility before God, render their thanks to Him for every blessing granted. Wealth and possessions are not the only blessings for which believers render their thanks to God. Knowing that God is the Owner and Possessor of everything, believers express their inner gratefulness for good health, beauty, knowledge, wisdom, love of faith and hatred from disbelief, understanding, insight, foresight and for power. They are thankful for being rightly guided and for being in the company of believers. A beautiful landscape, easy handling of their affairs, fulfillment of their wishes, tidings of great joy, respectful conduct or any other blessings make believers immediately turn to God, express their gratefulness to Him and reflect on His mercy and compassion.

In return for good morals displayed, a reward awaits believers. This is another of the secrets revealed in the Qur'an; God increases His blessings on those who are grateful. For example, God grants even more health and power to those who render their thanks to God for the good health and strength they have. God bestows even more knowledge and property to those who are grateful for their knowledge or wealth. This is because they are sincere people who are contented with what God gives and are pleased with the blessings and who take God as their friend. God relates this secret in the Qur'an as follows:

And when your Lord announced: "If you are grateful, I will certainly give you increase, but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is severe."' (Surah Ibrahim: 7)

Being grateful is also a sign of one's closeness to and loves of God. People who give thanks have the insight and capability to perceive the beauties and blessings that God creates. God's Messenger, peace be upon him, also referred to this when he said:

When God gives you property, the bliss of God's blessing and offering must be reflected on you.

On the other hand, a disbelieving or ungrateful person will only see the imperfections and faults even in the most beautiful environment, and thus will be unhappy and discontented. Indeed, as a divine purpose in God's creation, such people always come across with seemingly unfavorable events and unpleasant scenes. On the other hand, God displays more of His bounties and blessings to those who have a sincere and insightful outlook.

That God increases His blessings to those who are grateful is one of the secrets of the Qur'an. However, one needs to keep in mind that sincerity is a prerequisite for being grateful. No doubt, one's way of showing his gratitude without turning sincerely to God and feeling the inner peace of God's infinite mercy and compassion, which is solely intended to impress people, would be sheer insincerity. God knows what hearts harbor, and will bear witness to this insincerity. Those who have insincere inner intentions may conceal it from other people, but not from God. Such people may render their thanks with affected manners when there is no affliction, but at times of hardship, it is possible that they may readily lapse into ungratefulness.

It should be also noted that true believers remain grateful to God even under harshest conditions. Someone looking from outside May see the diminishing of some blessings believers enjoy. However, believers, who are able to perceive the good aspect of every event and situation, see goodness in this too. For example, God states that He will test people with fear, hunger and loss of wealth or life. In such a situation, believers rejoice and feel grateful, hoping that God will reward them with the gifts of paradise in return for the steadfastness they displayed in this test. They know that God does not impose on anyone more than he can bear. The steadfastness and submission of such awareness lead them to patience and gratitude. Therefore, it is an obvious attribute of believers to show unwavering dedication and submission and God promises to expand His blessings on His grateful servants both in the life of this world and in the hereafter.

1. Happiness with the Benefactor.

2. Eagerness to execute the commands of the Benefactor and to abstain from his prohibitions. One should consider all benefit, goodness and pleasant conditions as the bounties of Allah and regard these to be in greater measure than what one really deserves. Praise is to be offered to Allah and His bounties should not be employed in evil and sin. His favors should be used in obtaining His Pleasure. This is the true meaning of Shukr.

This conception of Shukr will be comprehended only when one has realized the purpose underlying creation and the functions of the various aspects of creation. For instance, the eye is a ni’mat of Allah Ta’aala. Its Shukr is to employ it correctly–to employ it in only lawful avenues, e.g. making tilaawat of the Qur’an Majeed, acquiring knowledge, studying the wonderful creation of Allah so as to gain lesson and realize the greatness and splendor of Allah Ta’aala, etc. The Shukr of the eye further demands that it be restrained from glancing at and viewing objects which Allah Ta’aala has prohibited. Similarly, the ear is a ni’mat. Its Shukr is to employ It correctly, e.g. in listening to the thikr of Allah, to such talks which remind one of the Aakhirat, and to prevent it from listening to evil, nonsensical and futile talk.

The tongue is a ni’mat. Its Shukr is to employ it in thikr, in expressing hamd, Thaana and Shukr of Allah, and to restrain it from complaining in adversity and from all evil generally. It is highly inappropriate and sinful for such a worthless slave as man to complain about any condition which Allah Ta’aala, the True King, has imposed on him. A word of Shukr emanating from the tongue is recorded as an act of obedience.

Mere expression of Shukr with the tongue unaccompanied by the true state of Shukr of the heart is only lip-service. It is essential that along with verbal expression of Shukr, the heart should value and honour the ni’mat of The Benefactor. Mere verbal Shukr will be like the outer-casing, like the outer-covering which is its external form. The rooh (soul and essence) of Shukr is that the honour and appreciation of the Mun’im (Benefactor) and the ni’mat (the bounty) are ingrained in the heart.

The initial stage of Shukr is at the intellectual level. In other words, it is the correct understanding of the true meaning of Shukr and the realization of the honour of the Benefactor. The final stage of Shukr is the manifestation of its effect on one’s body, movements and all states. In short, all the beliefs, acts of worship, mundane acts, moral and social life of the shaakir (the one who is truly grateful to Allah) will be in conformity with the Shari at.

ACQUIRING SHUKR

Say “Al-hamdu lillah” (All thanks and praise belongs to Allah) often:  A constant utterance of this phrase reminds you of the source of all blessings and happiness in this life. This practice of attributing all good actions to Allah keeps you humble and content and has a positive affect on your relations with people. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, has instructed us to say “Al-hamdu lillah” on daily basis: “Allah is pleased with His servant if, when he eats something he thanks Allah for it, and when he drinks something he thanks Allah for it” (Muslim).

Shukr is acquired by contemplating the bounties of Allah Ta'aala. Every ni’mat is to be related to Him. By degrees such meditation will imbue the Love of Allah in the heart, the result of which will be the attainment of the perfect stage of Shukr.

The Qur’an enjoins for careful attention to the favors of Allah and repeatedly reminds us of the favors we tend to forget. Volumes of book would surely be insufficient to name the favors of Allah. Allah fashioned man into a man, He endowed him five senses enabling him to perceive the world around him, guided him to the true path through His Book and Messenger, provided the explanations of the verses, desired no hardship for His servants, He saved them from the oppression of unbelievers, made their habitations homes of rest and quite for them, created fresh water, variety of food, sea- products, ships sailing together with night and day.

A person can never say: “I fulfill my regular prayers and engage in righteous deeds but do not give thanks to Allah” he. A person who is not grateful to Allah is someone who does not occupy himself with the remembrance of Allah, and hence is heedless of Him. A worship performed in a heedless mood surely has no value in the presence of Allah. A person who consumes everything given to Him like animals without pondering over the reason why it is granted and the One, who grants them, surely needs to change this attitude. Otherwise, expecting to get a reward from Allah and hoping to attain Heaven would be meaningless. That is why a believer should never neglect to render thanks to Allah:

Very few of my servants are grateful. (34:13)"

Expressing thanks to God is a great form of worship, and at the minimum is part of our daily prayers. Allah swt has taught us that when we give thanks, blessings increase. Not only is this true about the blessings directly from God, but it applies for gratitude to the blessings of Allah swt that come from people as well. For example, a child who demonstrates true appreciation for Eid gifts or quality time spent with daddy inspires the giver to happily continue to give to that child, while a child who seems to take a gift for granted or does not seem to like or appreciate it may find the giver less generous in the future. God is not in need of our thanks and is not hurt in the least by our ingratitude, but gratitude enriches us immeasurably. "Allah is not in need of the obedience of His bondsmen, for He has the power to increase blessings forever. Therefore be a grateful bondsman to Allah, and in this manner you will see wonders.”

Even feeling and expressing gratitude is itself a merciful blessing from God.

"Complete thankfulness is to sincerely repent your inability to convey the least amount of gratitude, and expressing this by means of your sincere glorification of Allah. This is because fitting thanks is itself a blessing bestowed upon the bondsman for which he must also give thanks; it is of greater merit and of a higher state than the original blessing which caused him to respond with thanks in the first place. Therefore, every time one gives thanks one is obliged to give yet greater thanks, and so on ad infinitum, and this while absorbed in His blessings and unable to achieve the ultimate state of gratitude. For how can the bondsman match with gratitude the blessings of Allah, and when will he matches his own action with Allah's while all along the bondsman is weak and has no power whatsoever, except from Allah?”

The very first verse of the Qur’an begins with “Praise belongs to God.” (Al-Fatiha) This shows that God expects mankind to express its gratitude and admiration to Him. But this is a very trying expectation! We know that this world is full of unpleasant experiences and nobody can be insulated from them. According to the Quran, “Man is born in toil.” Indeed, it is not possible for anyone to create a life of absolute bliss for himself.

How then a person can become grateful and appreciative of God’s grace in the real sense? The only way to be so is through patience. It is only when a man patiently endures worldly problems that it is possible for him to express his feeling of gratefulness to God. It is for this reason that the Qur’an associates gratefulness with patience. (31:31)
(Read islamicchildrenstudies) checking to see if you reached this far (joking) He! He! He!
Recite and memorize the Duas of Prophet Muhammad: The most natural and beautiful way to thank Allah is the words of the Prophet himself. The Prophet told Muadh, “By Allah, I love you, so do not forget to say at the end of every prayer, ‘O Allah, help me to remember You and to give thanks to You and to worship You well’” (Ahmad and At-Tirmidhi).

The world would be a better place if we were more grateful to Allah swt and to others. Therefore, I would like to publicly thank God for His continued mercy toward me, and to thank my parents for their love. Those few words are not adequate at all, but should not be left unsaid. I invite readers to use the comments section to thank Allah swt and/or any person.

When you thank someone, make sure you mean it: When you say “Jazakallahu Khairun” (May Allah reward you the best) to your wife, does it come from your heart? Or is it received as another cold cliché? Be a little creative when you really want to express your gratitude to someone. Say it with a personal thank you card. Show it with flowers. Accompany it with a genuine smile. Charge it with emotions. Enhance it with a meal or a meaningful gift.

"Have fun praying and getting ready for the Day of Judgment coz that day will NOT be fun :) P.S.: don’t forget to make dua for me.

3 comments:

JamericanSpice said...

God is indeed merciful and gives us many blessings. Interesting post.

Thank you for sharing.

孫邦柔 said...

很棒很期待新的內容............................................................

NENSA MOON said...

Great post!
thank you for enlightenment
Jazakallahu Khairun...!!