The virtue of gratitude is one that we should always be trying to improve.
Allah provides for our daily needs, and it is indeed a great sin to display ingratitude whether it is from ignoring His blessings or complaining about what is lacking.
The negativity of complaining is only going to increase negativity in your life.
Always take time to ponder your blessings and try to eliminate any tendency to complain.
Whenever you feel in a complaining mood, read the entirety of Surah 55, which begins like this:
The Most Gracious! He taught the Qur’an. He created humanity. He taught him/her logic. The sun and the moon follow calculations [of bio-mathematical physics]. Stars and trees bow [in adoration]. He lifted the sky, and He formed the balance [using gravity] so that you may not fault in measure. You must, therefore, establish weight with justice and not fall short in the balance. He has spread the earth for His creatures. Therein are fruits and date palms producing clusters. There is also corn, with husks, and other sweet-smelling plants. So, which of the Lord’s favors will you both [humans and spirit-beings] deny? (Quran 55:1-13)
Count your Blessings!
Even when you don’t have the best situation, there are always things in your life for which to be thankful.
I grew up in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. My family had no plumbing or electricity, but I was grateful to have a real floor.
I had (and still have) relatives in the Appalachians that, not only had no plumbing and electricity, but also, they had no real floors. They lived in one-room, log cabins with dirt floors.
Give thanks for the simple things in life that most people take for granted.
If you have toilet paper and running water, be thankful that you don’t have to cross a field in the snow to an outdoor toilet and use corncobs on your butt.
I wish all the whiny brats of today could live one month in my childhood, growing up with no modern conveniences.
Do you consider what you cultivate? Do you cause it to sprout, or do We? If it were our intention, we could have crumbled (the seeds) to dust, and you would be left bewildered. [You would complain,] “We are burdened with debt. We are deprived!” Do you consider the water you drink? Do you entice it from the clouds, or do We? If it were our intention, we could make it salty and bitter. Why then do you not give thanks? Do you consider the fire you kindle? Do you grow the timber [from which the fire is fed], or do We? We have made it a token [of our gifts] and a thing of comfort and ease for campers in the wilderness. Glorify, then, the Name of your Lord the Supreme Being. (56: 63-74)
Do Good Deeds
To increase your thankfulness for your own blessings, do good deeds for those who seem to have fewer blessings.
Perhaps you know someone who is struggling financially, and you are able to pay his or her electric bill for a month, or, if you can’t do that, give him or her a grocery store gift card in whatever amount you can afford.
Or perhaps you know someone who is struggling with sickness and would appreciate a visit. Perhaps you know someone who needs help with a chore.
Perhaps you are financially blessed enough to even be able to sponsor a poverty-stricken child through an agency (e.g. Child Fund International) or an orphan through a charity (e.g. the Zakat Foundation).
Make yourself conscientious about doing good deeds throughout the day wherever you are.
Prophet Muhammad (peace upon him) said:
Charity is prescribed for every descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.
“From what do we give charity every day?”
The Prophet answered:
The doors of goodness are many –endorsing what is right, forbidding what is evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms. All of these are charities prescribed for you.
He also said:
Your smile for your brother is charity. (Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98).
When you become more concerned about the needs of others, you become less concerned about any difficulties you are having.
Also, keep in mind that your difficulties will be followed with ease.
From Surah 94:
Truly, with every difficulty, there is relief. (Quran 94:5)
Pray for Allah to count you among the grateful and trust that He will reward you for giving thanks to Him for His countless blessings upon you.
Recall that your Lord proclaimed, “If you are grateful, I will increase you. If you show ingratitude, truly My punishment is severe. (Quran 14:7)
The English renderings of the Qur’anic ayats are from A Universal Message Inspired by the Universal Qur’an, a work in progress by Linda “iLham” Barto with scholastic advisors Dr. Omar Afzal and Imam Khalil Akbar.
(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)