Gratitude is in fact one of the blessings of Allah in which a person is thankful to Allah for His blessings.
Gratitude Considering Quran
A verse from Sura ar-Rahman of Quran:
فَبِاَیِّ اٰلَآئِِ رَبِّکُمَا تُکَذِّبٰنِ
Meaning: So (O assembly of jinn and men), which of your Lord’s blessings will you deny?
Almighty Lord has asked this question in Quran thirty-three times. This clearly states that jinn and men have been denying the Divine blessings. To put another way, insurrection and ungratefulness has been innate and instinctive behavior of jinn and men. This is why Quran states this trait of men numerous times. In sura Saba:
وَ قَلِیْلٌ مِّنْ عِبَادِیَ الشَّکُوْرُ
Meaning: And very few of My servants have been grateful! [34:13]
Similarly, in Sura Yunus, a verse states the following:
اِنَّ اللّٰہَ لَذُوْ فَضْلٍ عَلَی النَّاسِ وَلٰکِنَّ اَکْثَرَہُمْ لَا یَشْکُرُوْنَ
Meaning: Truly, Allah is the Most Gracious to the people, but most of them are not thankful. [10:60]
At another occasion, in Sura al-Baqarah,
وَلٰکِنَّ اَکْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا یَشْکُرُوْنَ
Meaning: But most of them do not thank Him. [2:243]
Why is Gratitude Important?
A person neither understands nor realizes him being ungrateful until he glances upon the blessings that his Creator granted him. As Satan, an-Nafs, the world and its belongings altogether plot a net of ungratefulness around man and intrigue him towards it. When a person starts to pay attention to signs of Allah’s will in everything then He saves him from the plots of Satan, an-Nafs and world. This is how he can overcome the tricks of an-Nafs and attempt to please his Lord. Furthermore, being grateful to Allah opens doors for a person to reach towards Him.
The Power of Gratitude
Allah blesses everyone, with the luxuries and comforts of world according to their required needs. However, due to the rebellious innate behavior of man, he becomes ungrateful on the blessings of Almighty Lord and unleashes his desires of an-nafs. In turn, he overlooks the blessings of Allah and begins to glance at all the things that others have which are rather harmful for him (which is why He did not grant those things to him). Thus, man becomes ungrateful in both cases when, Allah’s blessings are pouring upon him with and also when He takes away something. The power of gratitude is that the blessings of Allah increase further, when someone is grateful on the existing blessings.
As a verse in Sura al-Baqarah talks about blessings:
وَظَلَّلْنَا عَلَیْکُمُ الْغَمَامَ وَ اَنْزَلْنَا عَلَیْکُمُ الْمَنَّ وَالسَّلْوٰی ط کُلُوْا مِنْ طَیِّبٰتِ مَا رَزَقْنٰکُمْط وَ مَا ظَلَمُوْنَا وَلٰکِنْ کَانُوْٓا اَنْفُسَہُمْ یَظْلِمُوْنَ
Meaning: And (recall) when We cast the shade of clouds over you (in the Tiha Valley) and sent down for you manna and quails so that you might eat of pure things We provided for you. So they did not harm Us at all (by disobeying and showing Us disregard), but persistently harmed their own souls. [2:57]
It is narrated that Someone asked a Fakir, why are people so unhappy in this world? Fakir smilingly replied,
“Everybody has his share of happiness, its one’s happiness that becomes other’s sorrow”.
Why Gratitude on Blessings?
From the time of birth till the time of death, Allah pours countless benedictions and blessings on man. If he pays close attention, then each and everything in his life is enough to be grateful to Allah. We commit sins every day, become ungrateful, yet He does not deprive us of His countless blessings. Certainly, He grants us every day. Isn’t it enough to be grateful to Almighty Lord? He even grants us the ability to seek His forgiveness. Isn’t that enough to pay gratitude in His kind court?
It is stated in Quran:
ثُمَّ عَفَوْنَا عَنْکُمْ مِّنْم بَعْدِ ذٰلِکَ لَعَلَّکُمْ تَشْکُرُوْنَ
Meaning: Then We pardoned you (even) after that so that you might give thanks. [2:52]
Quran further talks about blessings on mankind:
ثُمَّ بَعَثْنٰکُمْ مِّنْم بَعْدِ مَوْتِکُمْ لَعَلَّکُمْ تَشْکُرُوْنَ
Meaning: Then We brought you back to life after your death so that you pay (Us) thanks. [2:56]
Gratitude in Light of Morals of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)
Abu Huraira narrates that I learnt a prayer (dua) from Prophet Mohammad, which I constantly repeat:
“O Allah! Make me such a person who is very thankful of You, who invokes Your Name persistently, obeys Your ordain and follows You.” (Tirmidi)
It is narrated that when the Companions of Prophet Mohammad inquired Aisha Siddiqa about his sacred life, she replied:
“Prophet Mohammad used to stay up all night performing Salah to an extent that both of his toes would get inflamed.” She asked Prophet, “Allah has forgiven all your previous and future sins then why you suffer thru such an agony. Upon this Prophet Mohammad replied: “Shouldn’t I pay gratitude to Allah (for his blessings)?” (Sahi Bukhari 4836)
A common Muslim certainly, cannot offer salah, prayer and be gracious in the court of Allah as much as Prophet Mohammad did. However, He has granted everyone with this blessing according to their capacity. Thus, it is mandatory upon everyone to try to be thankful according their capability. Until and unless someone attempts to be grateful, Allah does not bless him with more capability to be grateful.
Benefits of Gratitude
A verse in Quran states:
“When you’re thankful, I grant you more.”
At another instant, in Sura Ibrahim a verse states the following:
وَ اِذ تَاَذَّنَ رَبُّکُمْ لَئِنْ شَکَرْتُمْ لَاَزِیْدَنَّکْمْ وَ لَئِنْ کَفَرْتُمْ اِنَّ عَذَابِیْ لَشَدِیْد
Meaning: And (recall) when your Lord proclaimed: ‘If you are thankful, I shall certainly increase (My blessings on) you, and if you are ungrateful, then My torment is surely severe.’ [14:7]
Thus, no one can object and complain that we are so humble and cannot reach the level of Prophet Mohammad in this regard. A person’s job is to just try, give his best and leave the reward on Allah. The Almighty Lord has boundless grandeur so He will reward limitlessly.
Ali ibn Ali says:
“Being thankful on blessings is the key to get more blessings.” [Nahj al-Balagha]
It is must on man to be thankful.
Gratitude is the seed of benevolence. [Nahj al-Balagha]
Ali Hujwiri Data Ganj Bakhsh says:
Allah Almighty ordained to pay gratitude to Him on the blessings and wealth He granted. So, He can increase these blessings. (Kashf al Mahjub)
Reality of Gratitude
In order to be thankful, it is important to understand the importance of gratitude.
Is it sufficient to just verbally chant the words of gratitude, Alhamdulillah (praise to Lord)?
Well! the Sufis, saints, pious men of Lord and Fakirs have frequently taught the Muslim Umma about the ways and truth of gratitude.
How to Practice Gratitude?
It is narrated that Prophet Dawood said to Lord:
O Lord! How can I pay gratitude to You, when gratitude itself is one of Your blessings? On this he received a Divine revelation:
O Dawood! Indeed, you truly paid gratitude to Me.
Shaikh Yahya bin Maaz said:
You think you are grateful, but you do not pay gratitude in real sense. This is because the extreme level of gratitude is the moment of awe. Anyways, being able to pay gratitude is also a kind of blessing and it is must to be grateful for this blessing.
A wise once said:
Gratitude is that a man thinks of blessings as a favor of Almighty not a privilege. Also, if man does not endear the blessings more than Allah (Who granted these blessings) is also a form of gratitude.
If man is lost in the blessings rather than his Lord, then it is similar to a man lost in the colors of this world (forgetting the actual purpose of coming to this world).
Gratitude is when man tries to find out the Will of God and instead of paying heed on the blessings, tries to reflect on the reason for which He granted him those blessings.
Blessings Increase with Gratitude
Shahab Uddin Suhrawardi wrote the following in Awarif ul-Maarif:
“Counting the blessings of Lord and calling them out in front of others is just expressing verbal gratitude. Contrarily, the inward gratitude is to benefit from the blessings and whole heartedly obey Allah, Who has granted these blessings. Saving oneself from the disobedience of Allah is in fact paying gratitude to Him.”
When a person begins to understand the reality of gratitude, he becomes humble and modest. Also, he develops not only Divine love but also love for the Prophet Mohammad and his Companions. Thus, he progresses inwardly towards Divine proximity.
Hazrat Daqooqi says:
The diversity of this Universe is due to the circle of life. One who slips out of this circle is most likely due to complaining about more or less blessings. One who surrenders upon his Lord’s Will gets the insight of the Divine secrets. Those who are shackled in the circle of the life cannot find the Divine path.
True Believer Does Not Object Fate
Al Ghaus al Azam Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani says:
Questioning in front of Allah, Who is the most Gracious, in regard to the fate is the death of (tawhid) believe in Oneness of Allah and reliance upon Allah. True believer does not object or question in front of his Creator rather he says yes to His ordain and bows his head before Him. (al Fateh Rabbani Majlis 1)
Holy Prophet once said:
It is surprising that for true believer each and every decree of Creator is for his good. If believer gets comforted from it then he pays gratitude to his Lord and gets beneficence out of it. If he gets grief and misery, then he shows patience and gets reward from Allah. Only Mumins are blessed with the special blessings. Certainly, every state of Mumin takes him towards betterment.
Importance of Gratitude
Almighty Lord admires gratitude and gratefulness so much that He talked about in Quran in over 137 verses. He has given the good news of rewarding the ones who pay gratitude to His blessings. Being grateful is the trait of Sufis and Fakirs. A verse in Quran states:
اِنَّہٗ کَانَ عَبْدًا شَکُوْرًا
Meaning: Indeed! (Noah) was a highly grateful servant. [17:3]
Similarly, at many other occasions, Almighty Lord described the qualities of different Prophets. Prophets and other pious men had great morals like, patience, piety, accountability of innerself to reach Divine Self. However, paying gratitude to Allah is above all morals and attributes. Not everyone can reach such a high rank where he is always in a state of gratitude.
In the path of Faqr, like other stations, the station of gratitude is a special station. When seeker reaches this station, he continues to progress towards Allah. A seeker does need some kind of mystic effort or prayer to reach certain station. However, to reach the ultimate level of any station, there is only one key. And that key is guidance and spiritual attention of perfect spiritual guide. The obedience and company of perfect spiritual guide and invocation of Ism e Allah Zaat go hand in hand. Negligence in either one can make a seeker ungrateful in the court of Allah and resultantly he can’t progress in the path of Faqr.
This article is the English translation of the Urdu article ناشکری. Mrs. Faiza Fahad Sarwari Qadri originally penned the Urdu article. Fatima Noor Sarwari Qadri translated it using American English vocabulary with some changes. If you wish to read the original article, click the following link: