Short Answer: “Gratitude (shukr) is not only an essence of religion, it is, as a matter of fact, also a secret trait which the individuals who are of the highest rank and of the closest states to Allah possess…” Satan works very hard to make us ungrateful to Allah! “The highest level of gratitude is truly not rejoicing in blessings per se, but rather constantly rejoicing in the very One bestowing them.” One way to bring this virtue to life is to thank Allah sincerely after every meal.
Salam Dear Dave,
Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
I have been carrying the burden of answering your question correctly, duly, and sincerely for a few days.
The talk enlightened my heart and I felt a certain inclination — or rather an urge — to start answering. I will use some of what he taught in the lesson here.
The Importance of Being Grateful to Allah
“Whoever Allah wishes good for, He will make intimate with His remembrance (dhikr) and will make successful in thanking Him,” asserts Abu Madyan.
From the onset, this shows that being grateful to Allah is not a simple thing.
It is no doubt a pivot of our whole religion.
Why has Allah started His glorious Book — in Surat Al-Fatihah, which, as scholars assert, contains the secret of the entire Quran — with thanking Him: “Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds”?
The Prophet (peace be upon him), our beloved master, always started and also ended his sermons with it.
It is also the last prayer after the faithful enter Paradise.
How Can I Show Gratitude to God?
Gratitude (shukr) is not only an essence of religion. It is, as a matter of fact, also a secret trait which the individuals who are of the highest rank and of the closest states to Allah possess.
In fact, gratitude is so essential a value in Islam. That, as the Majestic Quran narrates to us, it is the focus of Satan to deflect us from it:
He [Satan] said: Now, because Thou hast sent me astray, verily I shall lurk in ambush for them on Thy Right Path. Then will I assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left: Nor wilt thou find, in most of them, gratitude. (Quran 7:15–16)
As such, I would like to share with you something practical and experiential that I would like to establish in both of our lives. Since it is established that this religion is that of applying knowledge by spiritual works to change one’s very being.
The Highest Form of Gratitude: Thanking Allah for Himself
First, I would like to ask both of us to start informing ourselves by reading the chapter on gratitude in the marvelous book of Iyha´ `Ulum al-Din (Revival of Religious Sciences) by Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali (may Allah be pleased with him).
Let’s read the chapter on gratitude; it is in the fourth quarter.
To give you a taste of what the imam mentions, here is a part in translation:
“Know that shukr is among the majority of the stations of those traversing to Allah. It is also perfected by knowledge and action… Knowledge is the knowledge of three things: the reality of the blessing, it being truly a blessing on one’s own account, and the reality of the Bestowing One and the generosity of His attributes…
… The first level of faith is exaltation. Then, when it is known that there is an exalted entity one would know that there is but One Who is truly exalted, which is oneness.
Then, one would know that everything in the universe is from that One only; everything is His blessing. This knowledge then rises to the third level, where both exaltation and oneness are combined; the [direct belief in] perfection of omnipotence the aloneness in His actions.”
Imam Al-Ghazali also superbly illuminates for us that the highest level of gratitude is truly not rejoicing in blessings per se, but rather constantly rejoicing in the very One bestowing them.
Just One Small Step: Thanking Allah After Meals
As for direct action, I am inviting you, along with myself, to carry out the following as often as you can.
In the lesson mentioned earlier, Sheikh Nuh mentioned that it was the Prophet’s way to always invoke a thanking prayer when he concluded a meal.
It is truly interesting how the behavior of a believer, even with a simple blessing of Allah like that of food and drink, could elevate him to a higher rank.
Anas ibn Malik reported that the Messenger of Allah said:
Truly, Allah is truly pleased with a servant eating a meal and thanking Him for it and swallowing a drink and thanking Him for it (Muslim).
It was also narrated that the students of the scholar Shu`aib Abu Madyan, in addition to praying the Night Vigil Prayer every night, took it upon themselves to pray two rak`ahs of shukr after every meal.
As a direct benefit in our own life and with regard to a small blessing like that of food, let’s take it upon ourselves too, as often as we can.
I hope this has answered your question. Please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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