By Nikhat Sattar
30 June 2017
WE seem to be perpetually overwhelmed by pressures. Concerns about work, the state of our society, our health, the education of our children and their better future, etc occupy much of our waking hours.
Whether the boss has been favouring our colleagues over us or whether our spouse is spending frivolously, we find ourselves caught in day-to-day squabbles and frustrations.
If one was to sit down and attempt to measure just how much time and energy is spent on complaining, one might be in for a surprise.
It would be worthwhile to spend some time counting the things we possess that we should be thankful for. Life in itself is beautiful.
Despite all the pain and difficulties around and within us, no one would willingly face death. And yet, while we are alive and well, we hardly give a thought to the kindness that makes us functioning, healthy human beings.
The Quran mentions gratitude and thankfulness as one of the major attributes of the faithful.
The blessings of God are so numerous that, were we to give all our moments to thanking Him, we would not be able to do justice to His favours. But rarely do we spend even a few seconds on this. “... Any who is (so) grateful does so to the profit of his own soul: but if any is ungrateful, verily Allah is free of all wants, Worthy of all praise” (31:12).
Appreciating the good things, however small they may seem, and thanking God for them brings within our soul satisfaction and the ability not only to be happy but also to spread happiness around us. God has no need for our gratitude; we need to give thanks to Him so that we can find tranquillity and happiness within ourselves. Failure to do so hardens one’s soul and makes it impervious to truth and peace.
We often take what we have for granted and do not give a second thought to what might happen were our possessions to be taken away from us.
The senses we possess, our intellect and education, our skills and abilities, the love of our parents, the magic and beauty of the world around us, our ability to appreciate good food, music, art ... the list is endless and yet, nothing came to us through our own effort. God has granted to us all that is in our lives “... And He gave you (the faculties of) hearing and sight and feeling (and understanding): little thanks do ye give!” (32:9).
Even when one is less complacent and gives thanks in better times, one begins to whine and complain about one’s misfortunes as soon as one faces problems. We lose sight of all the favours that still surround us and the blessings that were with us a while ago. We also forget that God has promised those who remember Him that He will never forsake them. “And it is He Who made the Night and the Day to follow each other: for such as have the will to celebrate His praises or to show their gratitude” (25:62). The “night” here signifies sorrows and pain which God lifts by sending the light of the day and provides humans the opportunity to change their fortunes.
The trial and test of humans comes when they are able to show gratitude during difficulties; when they remember how merciful God has been to them in the past and put their trust in Him for their future.
This attitude of always being positive, thanking their Creator in whatever circumstances they may find themselves and making efforts to improve their condition is what one should cultivate if one is to live a life of fulfilment and closeness to God.
Gratitude or thankfulness is a quality one must also demonstrate towards fellow humans. Others help us daily in so many ways, big and small. Yet, it is rare that we find the time to thank them.
Thanking others is a precursor to thanking God: the Prophet (PBUH) is believed to have said: “He has not thanked Allah who has not thanked people.”(Sunan Abi Dawood 4811).
Gratitude to and faith in God are two sides of the same coin. If one has faith in God and His mercy, one must necessarily be thankful to Him in all circumstances, as Hazrat Ayub (AS) was, even when he was afflicted with the worst physical pain and sorrow.
If one is grateful to God and has faith in His compassion, reward will come naturally. Surah Rahman sums it up beautifully by listing some of God’s blessings: “Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny?” (55:13)
Nikhat Sattar is a freelance contributor with an interest in religion.