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Thankfulness…Why Is It So Difficult?

Thankfulness…Why Is It So Difficult?

Thankfulness or gratitude is a wonderful feeling and a remarkable emotion through which one expresses appreciation for what is given. It is actually a reflection of perceiving that as blessing, or, in other words, an act of “speaking from the heart” and thanking the giver for showing generosity. It becomes more exalted when thankfulness is an expression of divine generosity from God.

But why is it so difficult these days? Yeah, many see it as such…why?

Some people find it unbecoming for them to be thankful; so often you hear them saying: “What will I be thankful for?” or some remarks like: “Is it necessary”?

This last phrase is more common among relatives where familiarity obliterates feeling of appreciation. When generosity between married couples, between brothers or sisters…etc pass unnoticed, because it’s been taken for granted.

“It is my brother…he is just observing his duty.” Or, “Well, what do you expect from a wife? She has to be caring. That’s part of her roles, anyway”. And so on.

But what if he/she fails to “observe that duty”, for once? Hmm…it’s all hell breaks loose! And you start hearing quotes and remarks of “mistrust and dissatisfaction”. That means grudges and enmity are on the doorstep to ravage the relationship that once built on love and harmony. What is needed here is piety.

Piety is a vital ingredient for cultivating thankfulness. When one does you a favor that elates you, try to pause and reflect on that, even for seconds; try to think on what that person might have gone through while extending such a helping hand.

Don’t perceive it as something quite easy for him, because it’s not. That is why the Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an:

{Whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul, it is those who will be the successful} (Al-Hashr 59:9).

So there is “stinginess of soul”. It hunts everybody, save those who manage to purge it out of their hearts, as the Qur’an explains

{And (by) the soul, and He who proportioned it. And inspired it (with discernment of) its wickedness and righteousness. He has succeeded who purifies it} (Ash-Shams 91: 7-9),

In another chapter, it says: {Indeed, the soul is a persistent enjoiner of evil, except those upon which my Lord has mercy.} (Ash-Shams 91: 53)

So love of wealth possession is natural, as well as the dislike of parting with it, unless one tempts his soul and bind it a bit to be “caring and giving”.

That’s why the Prophet’s Companion, upon being asked by the Noble Messenger of Allah: “Who among you considers the wealth of his heirs dearer to him than his own wealth”?, replied: “O Allah’s Messenger, there is none among us but loves his own wealth more…” (Al-Bukhari)

By this, generosity is a reflection of not being bothered by the concerns of one’s possession, and thus, thankfulness is also a proper reciprocal gesture of appreciating generosity. And this readily comes from a heart that is mindful; from a heart that understands the nature of possession, reconciling with the fact it’s never an easy task to be generous, and also knowing that by being grateful, you make the giver more encouraged to give more.

In addition, you yourself benefits from your thankfulness: it makes you happy, filling you with joy and comfort. According to many psychologists, feeling thankful and expressing gratitude makes one also heartier and happier. It is a sign that your mighty Lord is happy and pleased with you, as He made it clear in His Book {If you are grateful, He is pleased therewith for you} (Az-Zumar 39: 7)

So I clearly see a perfect link between piety and thankfulness in the sense that it’s only a pious heart that fully comprehends the meaning of giving, and readily reciprocates with thankful gestures. This can be inferred from the Noble Qur’an as Allah, the Almighty, refers to this link in many instances. One of them is the following verse: {Remain, then, conscious of God, so that you may be grateful} (Aal `Imran 3: 123)

The above verse came in the context of reminding the Believers about Allah’s support for them in the Battle of Badr when they were greatly outnumbered by the Quraish disbelievers, but despite that, they won the battle, thanks to Almighty Allah: {Indeed, Allah helped you at the Battle of Badr when you were helpless…} (Aal `Imran 3: 123)

And in another verse, Allah says: {So remember Me, I shall remember you, and be grateful unto Me, and deny Me not} (Al-Baqarah 2: 152), as well as in many other Quranic instances where Allah the Almighty made it clear that ingratitude is a form of rejecting Allah the Almighty, and, hence, a form of disbelief and lack of piety.

As the expression “Don’t bite the finger that feeds you” illustrates, one should not allow evil spirit comes in the way of appreciating compassion and reckoning with kindness. That is exactly what Iblis did in the early days of creation, as he rejected his creator, Almighty Allah, when commanded to show appreciation by “bowing down to Adam”. Then he further threatened that he would do everything to turn Adam and his offspring into “unthankful creatures”, as the Qur’an explains:

{I will surely sit in wait for them on Your straight path. Then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful [to You].} (Al-A`raf: 7: 16-17)

So once you have seen this trait of ingratitude in you, know that it’s from Shaitan (Iblis), and exert efforts to shun it, purge it out of your heart, for every threshold of Shaitan leads to disbelief, making your heart void of piety and passion.


About kamal badr

Kamal Badr holds a Masters Degree in International Law & Shariah from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, with a thesis written on "Modes of Reparation in Sharia & International Law -- Comparative Studies". He is working on His Ph.D. He has been an editor-in-chief for prominent Islamic websites.

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