Gratitude for Blessings
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 gratefulness. 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 God than we even understand. However, improvement is also simple. We just need to 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.
There are two types of Shukr: Shukr to God & Shukr to People
1. Shukr to God: Gratitude from one of God’s creation toward the Creator for the provision He has bestowed upon us which can neither be measured nor counted and
2. Shukr to People: Gratitude from one of God’s creation toward another of God’s creation for some deed done for him/her or for some sincere advice given to him/her.
1. Gratitude to God Almighty
“Be grateful to Me and do not be ungrateful.” (Al-Baqarah152)
“And remember when your Lord proclaimed, “If you are grateful, I will add more (favors) unto you…” (Ibrahim 7)
“We bestowed wisdom on Luqman: “Show (your) gratitude to God.” Any who is (so) grateful does so to the profit of his own soul; but if any is ungrateful, verily God is free of all wants, worthy of all praise.” (Luqman12)
In Islam, being grateful is not only a particular religious act or service; it is the whole life. The whole life should be lived in obedience to our Ultimate Benefactor, Creator. He has been good to us and so in our thankfulness we should worship Him, obey His commands and orders. Our daily Prayers, our fasting during Ramadan, our Zakah and Hajj are all our acts of being grateful. We should do them not only as duties that must be performed but as our gratitude to our Lord and Creator.
2. Gratitude to People
One who gives thanks to God will not stray from showing gratitude to people. Acts of giving to one another are an essential element in bringing the hearts together and bringing God’s blessing on us all. Islam does not only teach us to thank God, but we are also told to thank our parents, our spouses, our friends, our neighbours, and all those who do any good to us or whom we meet on day-to-day basis. The Prophet (S) said, “Those who do not thank people, they do not thank God” (At-Tirmidhi).
Giving can include things, acts of kindness, help, sound advice and other things. Whoever doesn’t recognize, acknowledge and appreciate good from God’s creation will likely not recognize God’s favors as well.
If one benefits things, sound advice or any other form of good deed from another, they must acknowledge it and act upon it. In this way, our gratitude and mutual kindness among ourselves is an analogy for the relationship we need to have with God the Most High. The Prophet (S) said:”…and whoever does you a good deed, recompense it. If you are unable than make du’a (supplication) for him/her until you are sure that you have compensated him/her.” (Abu Daud)
Because gratefulness/gratitude is a character trait, there is no way to separate having this character in one’s relationship with God and having it in one’s relationship with other people.
Those who have this character will look upon giving to others as a great opportunity for reward from God (manifold), being given at some other time or, best of all, having that person make du’a to God for them. They will look upon being given something with humility, not as having “taken advantage” of someone, will thank God for putting generosity in the hearts of the Muslims and eagerly await the opportunity to repay the favor either in kind or by beseeching God on the giver’s behalf. Likewise in their relationship with God Most High, they will look at every prohibition as a great gift of warning and guidance from God Most High and they will look at every obligation as an opportunity to express their gratitude to Him for His endless favours upon us.
The Prophet (sas) said:”Innaashkaru an-naasilillahitabaarakawata’aalaashkaruhumlin-naasi.” This means: “The most grateful people to God Blessed and High are the most thankful of them to others.” (Ahmad)
He also said: “LaayashkuruAllaha man laayashkuru an-naasi.” This means: “Those who do not thank people do not thank God.” (Abu Daud)