Gratitude turns what we have into enough

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“…your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you’re grateful, I will surely increase you (in favour)…’ ” [14:7]

This ayah of Qur’an emphasizes on one simple thing i.e. be thankful to your Master, so that He increases you in favours. Favour, here, includes every blessing possible for men- happiness, tranquillity, peace, health, wealth, status, or whatever you name. But, we wonder how can that be so simple and straight? Well, yes, it is. It really is. Allah Himself wants to provide more favours and graces on us. What basically requires a great deal of struggle is to actually be grateful to Him from within.

The first and foremost blessing is Islam; the fact that Allah chose us to be His slave and gifted us with the teachings of Islam.

To verbally utter ‘Alhamdulillah’ is easy, as it is a surficial acknowledgment. But, to genuinely internalize it, and truly give thanks to Allah demands a strong faith in Him. It is to be contented with all that happens in our lives, all that doesn’t, all that we get, and all that we miss.

“Most surely man is ungrateful to his Lord.” [100:6]

The verse reminds us that human beings are inherently ungrateful in some way, shape or form-

  •         They complain about that one thing which could/couldn’t have fallen out in their lives, while ignoring millions of Allah’s favours on them.
  •         They compare their situations to that of others’ only to feel less blessed than they themselves actually are.
  •         They would not appreciate and reciprocate their family and friends by taking their goodness for granted.
    “He who does not thank people, does not thank Allah” 
    – Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
    (Ahmad, Tirmidhi).
  •         They would crib about the shortcomings of their partners, children, parents, family, friends, jobs, house, car, not realizing that a good deal of people around are totally deprived of the same.
  •         They would curse their fate and live in a miserable state.

This reflects the lack of gratitude we possess towards our Creator. We would perceive everything coming to us in a negative way and assume it to be undesirable. Ingratitude has the invincible power to make us constantly restless and dissatisfied. It only deprives us of the happiness and peace we can savor.
“…..And whoever is grateful, truly, his gratitude is for (the good of) his own self, and whoever is ungrateful, (he is ungrateful only for the loss of his own self)….”
[An-Naml: 40]

 

Human beings never run out of wants. At times, in a bid to constantly do better in, we completely escape the feeling of contentment, which is the key to happiness.
“…if the son of Adam has one valley, he will wish that he had a second, and if he had two valleys, he would wish that he had a third.
The stomach of the son of Adam will be filled only with dust (i.e., he is never satisfied)…”
-Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
(Reported by Ahmad, 5/219; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1781)

This doesn’t imply that we should stop making efforts. To not settle with our performance and the motivation to do better should always exist.
There’s no end to what we can attain in personal as well as professional life. We should never compromise with all that we can change and make better, by our efforts and prayers. But, certain inadequacies are embedded in a situation, and can’t really be changed. True peace and pleasure lie in accepting those imperfections and inadequacies, and valuing the innumerable (big and little) blessings which deserve to be acknowledged.
“It is He Who created for you (the faculties of) hearing, sight, feeling and understanding; little thanks it is ye give!”
[31: 31]

Often, we are depressed and helpless to the peak where we start doubting Allah’s love for us. We start believing that trials, troubles, inflictions, tough times and tests imply Allah’s anger, and ways of punishing us. Our Prophets and Messengers encountered the toughest of times. Was Almighty Allah punishing them? No, He wasn’t. Therefore, this ill-feeling towards Allah is nothing, but from Satan, as he desires us to lose hope in Allah’s mercy

When Moosa (AS) had extremely difficult time, dealing with Pharaoh and his atrocities, Allah didn’t ask him to be patient. Instead, He told our prophet to be grateful. We might wonder why. Well, there are many possibilities why one should be grateful during a hardship. Let us ponder over a few.

  •         The situation could have been a lot worse than the current one.
  •         The situation makes us closer to Allah, for we turn to His unquestionable power for help.
  •         The situation might be a reminder that we are not recognizing His favours enough.
    “….Why should Allah punish you if you have thanked (Him) and have believed in Him.”
    [Surah Nisa]
  •         The trials are always designed in accordance with our capabilities, which make it easier for us than it could have been for others.
  •         The reward in afterlife is limitlessly more than one can envisage.
  •         The return in this life comes in various ways, and on unexpected occasions.
  •         Allah saves you and your loved ones from mishaps because of your good deeds.

The right approach for a believer is to catch the positives that life has to offer, and be thankful for them. While there is an option of spending ages, nagging over a few insufficiencies, a loyal slave of Allah will choose to overlook them, and focus on rejoicing the blessings Allah has bestowed on him.