Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Session Subject: Gratitude

shiny star leaf fringed weirdly in tarry moongate

Gratitude is thanking the One who grants blessings for His generosity. The gratitude of a servant should have three qualities, without which it can hardly be considered to be gratitude:
  • Inner recognition and appreciation of the blessing;
  • Speaking about it openly;
  • Using it as a means to worshipping Him.

Gratitude is a matter for the heart, the tongue and the limbs:
  • The heart is for knowledge and love of Him;
  • The tongue is for thanking and praising Him;
  • The limbs are to be used in obeying the One Who is being thanked, and in holding back from commiting disobedient acts.

Allah (subhanahu wa ta'la) has linked gratitude with belief. He says that He does not need to punish His creatured if they thank Him and believe in Him:

What has Allah to do with punishing you, if you are grateful and you believe? (4:147)

Allah also says that the people who are grateful are singled out from the rest of His servants because of the mercy that He displays towards them. He says:

And thus We test some of them by means of others, so that they say “Are these the ones whom Allah has favoured from amongst us?”. Is not Allah best Aware of those who give thanks? (6:53)

He (subhanahu wa ta'la) divides people into those who are grateful and those who are ungrateful; and the most displeasing thing to Him is ingratitude and its people; and the most precious thing to Him is gratitude and its people:

Surely We have shown him the way, whether he is grateful or ungrateful. (76:3)

And also:

And when your Lord proclaimed: “If you are thankful, I will give you more, but if you are ungrateful, then surely My punishment is terrible indeed.” (14:7)

In these verses, Allah makes the granting of more blessings conditional to gratitude. There is no limit to the increase in His blessings, just as there is no limit to being grateful to Him. Allah has made a great deal of reward dependent on His will. He says:

And if you fear poverty, Allah will enrich you through generosity, if He wills. Surely Allah is Knowing, Wise. (9:28)

And He forgives whomever He wills. (5:40)

And Allah turns His mercy towards whomever He wills. (9:15)

He puts no limit to His reward for gratitude when he refers to it:

We shall reward those who are thankful. (3:145)

When the enemy of Allah, shaytan, learned of the value of gratitude – and that it is one of the most exalted and highest states – he directed his efforts towards distancing people from it:

“Then will I approach them from in front of them and from behind them, and from their right and from their left; and You will find that most of them are not grateful”. (7:17)

Allah has described the grateful ones among His worshippers as being few in number:

And only a few of My servants are grateful. (34:13)

The Prophet (salAllahu 'alayhi wa salam) is reported to have stayed up in prayer all night until his feet swelled up. He was asked “Why do you do this when Allah has already forgiven you all your past and future wrong actions?”. He (salAllahu 'alayhi wa salam) said “Should I not still be a grateful servant?” (Bukhari and Muslim)

 (Based on the book: Purification of the Soul)


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