Gratitude earns more favours from Allah
December 17 2020 09:06 PM

Gratitude is the greatest way to live for those who possess high ranks of righteousness, and such people did not reach these lofty ranks except through their gratitude; this is because belief is comprised of two halves: one half is gratitude and the other is perseverance.
Gratitude is to acknowledge being treated well by Allah; it is also to praise the One who has done one many favours. It also entails displaying the effect of the favours of Allah upon a person by believing with one’s heart, uttering praise and glorifications of Allah by one’s tongue, and to use one’s limbs in the worship and obedience of Allah. If only a few favours are worthy of a great deal of gratitude, how would the case be when favours are abundant? People are either grateful or ungrateful.

Gratitude holds a high rank in Islam:
* Allah parallels it with His mention. He Says (what means): “So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me”. [Qur’an 2: 152]
* Allah parallels it with belief. He Says (what means): “What would Allah do with [i.e., gain from] your punishment if you are grateful and believe?...” [Qur’an 4: 147] Meaning, if you fulfil the rights due to Allah and the reason for which He has created you by gratitude and belief, He will not punish you.
* Those who practise gratitude to Allah are those who are chosen to be granted His favours. He Says (what means): “And thus We have tried some of them through others that they [i.e., the disbelievers] might say, ‘Is it these whom Allah has favoured among us?’ Is not Allah most knowing of those who are grateful?” [Qur’an 6: 53]
nAllah has classified people into being either grateful or ungrateful; the worst matter in the scale of Allah is ingratitude whilst the dearest things to Him are gratitude and the grateful. Allah Says (what means): “Indeed, We guided him [i.e., man] to the way, be he grateful or ungrateful” [Qur’an 76: 3]
* Allah tests His slaves in order to see who will practise gratitude and who will not. Allah informs us about what Prophet Sulaymaan, ‘alaihi-s-salaam, said when He Says (what means): “…This is from the favour of my Lord to test me whether I will be grateful or ungrateful. And whoever is grateful – his gratitude is only for [the benefit of] himself. And whoever is ungrateful – then indeed my Lord is Free of need and Generous.” [Qur’an 27: 40]
* Allah promises increased favours for those who are grateful. He Says (what means): “And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favour]; but if you deny, indeed My punishment is severe.’” [Qur’an 14: 7]
* Allah loves gratitude and the deeds of the grateful. He Says (what means): “If you disbelieve – indeed, Allah is Free from need of you. And He does not approve for His servants disbelief. And if you are grateful, He approves [i.e., likes] it for you…” [Qur’an 39: 7]
The grateful people mentioned in the verse are those who remain steadfast upon belief during trials and who do not retreat or recant on their belief. Some people verbally thank Allah during times of ease, but during trials they give up their faith. The truly grateful are those who express the true condition of their hearts during trials by remaining steadfast and continuing to thank Allah by their tongues, hearts and limbs. Additionally, this verse clarifies that the pleasure of Allah is achieved by being grateful to Him.
* Allah did not make the reward for the grateful subject to any condition, as He did for other acts of worship, which He conditioned to His will; rather, Allah immediately mentions their reward; He Says (what means): “…And Allah will reward the grateful.” [Qur’an 3: 144] and also (what means): “…And We will reward the grateful.” [Qur’an 3: 145]
* Allah informs us that one of Satan’s primary objectives is to prevent humans from being grateful; He Says (what means): “[Satan said] ‘Then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You [i.e., Allah] will not find most of them grateful [to You].” [Qur’an 7: 17]
* Allah describes His grateful slaves to be few in number; He Says (what means): “…And few of My servants are grateful.” [Qur’an 34: 13] The reason being that many people enjoy blessings and bounties from Allah, but fail to practise gratitude to Allah.
* Allah praised the first prophet sent to man on earth, Prophet Nooh, ‘alaihi-s-salaam, due to him being grateful. Allah Says (what means): “O descendants of those We carried [in the ship] with Nooh. Indeed, he was a grateful servant.” [Qur’an 17: 3] This is as an indication that we should imitate him .
* Gratitude is the first instruction given to man as soon as he begins to comprehend. Allah Says (what means): “And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.” [Qur’an 31: 14]
* Allah specified it as one of the main qualities of a person who sets himself as a good example for others to follow. He says regarding Prophet Ibraaheem, ‘alaihi-s-salaam, (what means): “Indeed, Ibraaheem was a [comprehensive] leader, devoutly obedient to Allah, inclining toward truth, and he was not of those who associate others with Allah. [He was] grateful for His favours. He [i.e., Allah] chose him and guided him to a straight path.” [Qur’an 16: 120-121]

Therefore, gratitude is one of the objectives that man is commanded to accomplish. 
Imaam ibn al-Qayyim mentioned that gratitude is one of the ranks of belief, which can be extracted from the fifth verse of Surah Al-Faatihah, (what means): “It is You we worship and You we ask for help.” Then he  mentioned the following additional points regarding gratitude:
* It is one of the highest ranks of belief.
* It is higher than the rank of contentment; and nobody can be content without being grateful.
* Allah praises the grateful.
* Allah promises the grateful the best of rewards.
* Allah makes gratitude a reason for attaining more of His bounties.
* It is a means to preserve the favours of Allah upon a person.
* It is one of the main objectives that a slave must accomplish.
* It is extracted from Ash-Skakoor, which is one of the Names of Allah, and which implies gratitude.
* Those who are grateful are very few in number.
* Gratitude results in more favours from Allah.
Gratitude is having one’s heart devoted to loving the One bestowing the favours, having the limbs continuously obedient to Him and having the tongue repeatedly mentioning Him, praising Him and glorifying Him. Gratitude entails the following three things:
1.     One should realise the favours bestowed upon him and have it present in his mind constantly, because this leads him to remember the Bestower of favours and therefore being grateful to and loving Allah, who is of course the Bestower of favours. This would therefore make one exert more effort in worshipping Allah. 
2.     One should receive favours with humility and express his need to Allah, the Bestower of favours, and mention that he is unworthy of the favours bestowed upon him, and that it is only due to the Grace and Kindness of Allah that such favours were bestowed.
3.     One should praise Allah, the Bestower of favours, and this is done in two ways:
i)    Generally: To describe Allah as being generous and kind.
ii)    Specifically: To mention His favours upon one.
There are two points regarding the issue of mentioning and talking about favours from Allah:
i)    To mention all that Allah Has bestowed upon one.
ii)    To utilise these favours in His obedience.
People fall into three categories with regards to the favours from Allah:
1.     Those who are grateful and praise Allah for bestowing them upon them.
2.     Those who are ungrateful and do not mention them.
3.     Those who express that they are worthy of them, when in fact they certainly are not.
An-Nu’maan ibn Al-Basheer, radhiallah ‘anhu, said: “He who does not thank Allah for small favours will not thank Him for great ones; and he who does not express gratitude to people (for doing him favours) will not express gratitude towards Allah. Appreciating and mentioning the favour bestowed upon one from Allah is gratitude, and not doing so expresses ingratitude.” [Ahmad]
This should be done in front of people and between a person and himself (i.e., to himself) but if people are of the envious type, then one should conceal such favours, and he would not be ungrateful in this case, because he is simply concealing them in an attempt to prevent an evil from befalling him, such as an evil eye or an evil plot from the envious, and it must be known that to prevent harm from afflicting man is an objective set forth by the Islamic Shari’ah.
There is no way one can do anything to repay the favours bestowed upon him by Allah, except that he should continue to praise and thank Allah for having bestowed them upon him, as well as utilising these favours for the pleasure of Allah.
What is our duty towards Allah with regards to the favours He bestows upon us?
* Being submissive to Allah.
* Loving Allah.
* Acknowledging that He is the Bestower of all favours.
* Praising Him.
* Utilising these favours in a way that pleases Him.
Does the way of expressing gratitude towards Allah differ, just like the favours themselves differ?
Yes; gratitude can be expressed by the heart, the tongue and the limbs. 
Expressing gratitude by the heart: This is by knowing that Allah is the Bestower of these favours, and this is something that is very important when cultivating children, so that they know where favours come from, as Allah Says (what means): “O Mankind, remember the favour of Allah upon you. Is there any creator other than Allah who provides for you from the heaven and the earth? There is no deity except Him, so how are you deluded?” [Qur’an 35: 3]

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Gratitude: recognising Allah’s favours
Knowing and recognising the favours of Allah, as well as their source, is the initial step and it precedes thanking Allah. Recognising favours such as the ones of being able to move, walk, work, exercise, sleep, eat, etc. all branch from the great favour of being healthy. The favour of being humans; the favour of being Muslims; the favour of being guided; the favour of being well-mannered; the favour of being a Prophet (when it applies for those whom Allah Has chosen) are also great ones to reflect on.
This issue is very important to mention when calling people towards Allah. Allah repeatedly reminds us in different parts of the Qur’an of His favours upon us. He says (what means): “…And [He] subjected for you the ships to sail for you through the sea by His command and subjected for you the rivers. And He subjected for you the sun and the moon, continuous [in orbit], and subjected for you the night and the day. And He gave you from all you asked of Him. And if you should count the favour [i.e., blessings] of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful.” [Qur’an 14: 32-34]
There are many other verses in the Qur’an in which Allah reminds us of the favours that He has bestowed upon us. One way of calling people towards Allah is to remind them of the favours of Allah upon them, so that they may be grateful and not to be amongst those about whom Allah says (what means): “…And Allah is full of bounty to the people, but most of the people do not show gratitude.” [Qur’an 2: 243]
Some people attribute favours to other than the actual source, like Qaaroon, who said when he was reminded of the favours of Allah upon him (which means): “…I was only given it because of the knowledge I have’…” [Qur’an 28: 78] It is arrogance that leads to such a reaction, which results in misery for such people, because Allah says (what means): “And whatever you have of Favour – it is from Allah…” [Qur’an 16: 53]  
Expressing gratitude by the tongue: One’s tongue reflects what he conceals in his heart, and thus when his heart is overwhelmed by gratitude to Allah, the tongue will naturally constantly utter praise and gratitude to Allah. One should ponder upon how the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, would perform Thikr, or supplications and remembrance of Allah, to see how much gratitude and praise they contained;
 nWhenever he, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, woke up, he would say: “All praise is due to Allah, Who has brought us back to life after He has caused us to die, and to Him is the return.” 
* Whenever he, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, would retire to bed, he would say: “All Praise is due to Allah who has fed us, provided us with drink, satisfied us and given us protection. Many are those who have no one to provide for them or give them shelter.”
* Some of his regular morning and evening supplications were: “O Allah! Whatever favour I, or any of Your creation has, is solely from You; there is no partner with You; All praise and gratitude is due to You.”
* He, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, would ask forgiveness saying: “I seek refuge in You from the evil of what I have done. I acknowledge the favours that You have bestowed upon me, and I confess my sins, so forgive me.”
* All his supplications would begin with the praise of Allah, which He is very worthy of.
* He, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, would begin all his speeches by praising Allah.
*The opening supplication for prayer, Surah Al-Faatihah, supplications whilst bowing and prostrating, and his supplications after concluding his prayers, were all filled with praise and gratitude to Allah.
* Whenever he, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, wished to eat, drink, travel or sneeze, he would praise Allah and thank him.
* On one of the nights when it was the turn of ‘Aa’ishah, radhiallah ‘anha, to be with him, she began looking for him in the dark by feeling around with her hand, then her hand touched his hands and she heard him saying: “O Allah! I seek protection against Your Wrath in Your Pleasure. I seek protection in Your Pardon against Your punishment; I am not capable of enumerating praise of You. You are as You have lauded Yourself”.
Expressing gratitude by the limbs: Any righteous deed or act of obedience which the son of Aadam performs is a form of expressing his gratitude to Allah, the Lord. There are different means of performing gratitude of the limbs; one of which is when one practises the instruction of Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, when he said: “When you get up in the morning, charity is due from every one of your joints. There is charity in every ascription of glory to Allah; there is charity in every declaration of His Greatness; there is charity in every utterance of praise of Him; there is charity in every declaration that He is the only true God (worthy of worship); there is charity in enjoining good; there is charity in forbidding evil. Two Rak’as of Dhuhaa (i.e., forenoon prayer) is equal to all this (in reward).” 
Thus, any of the things mentioned in the above narration is a righteous deed which reflects gratitude to Allah. One should exert all efforts to thank Allah using all his limbs and should never feel that he has thanked Allah enough, or that he does not need to do it again the next day.
There is no contradiction between thanking people and being grateful to Allah, because Allah commands us to thank and reward those who do us favours, the foremost of them being one’s parents, as Allah says (what means): “…Be grateful to Me and to your parents…” [Qur’an 31: 14] The problem is when one thanks people and abandons thanking Allah; this is a great disaster.
Additionally, there is a difference in the manner in which one thanks people and thanks Allah; one should be submissive and humble whilst thanking Allah because this reflects servitude, while on the other hand, one cannot do so with other humans; one should instead supplicate for their forgiveness and praise them. One who does not thank other people is evil and it is unlikely that he would thank Allah and express gratitude towards Him.
Moreover, favours and bounties from Allah are preserved and even increase by one being grateful, but what is it that helps a person to be grateful?
* By observing the condition of those who are lower than you in status, and to remember when seeing those who are higher than you in standard that it is only by the decree of Allah. Allah says (what means): “And it is He who has made you successors upon the earth and has raised some of you above others in degrees [of rank] that He may try you through what He has given you.” [Qur’an 6: 165]
* By realising that one will be held accountable for these favours, as Allah says (what means): “Then you will surely be asked that Day about [worldly] pleasure”. [Qur’an 102: 8] Even for bounties as seemingly minor as cold water. Some people, due to their misunderstanding of the concept of gratitude, deprive themselves from enjoying them, whereas in fact they were bestowed upon us to enjoy. Allah says (what means): “…Eat from the good [i.e., lawful] things which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship.” [Qur’an 2:172]
Thus, gratitude cannot entail deeming lawful matters as prohibited, which is one of the principles of the Sufis. If gratitude was a precondition of enjoying the bounties of Allah, then nobody would have been able to enjoy any of the favours or bounties from Allah, because no one can do enough deeds to appropriately express gratitude to Allah for what He bestowed upon us. The solution therefore is to utilise these favours and bounties in ways that please Allah, and to thank Him and seek His pardon for our shortcomings - and Allah will accept this much from us.
* By supplicating to Allah to help us to be grateful to Him, as in the prophetic supplication in which he, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, taught Mu’aath, radhiallah ‘anhu, to say: “O Allah! Help me remember You, express gratitude to You and worship You in the best manner.” 
It is more virtuous to be grateful when blessed with a favour than to persevere when one is afflicted. Allah loves to see the effects of His favours. Once, Imraan ibn Husayn, radhiallah ‘anhu, came out wearing a fine garment, and when he saw how his friends were looking at him, he said: “The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Allah loves to see the effect of His Bounties on His slaves.”
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Eat, drink and give out in charity without arrogance or exaggeration, because Allah loves to see the effect of His Bounties on His slave.” Therefore, the limit when expressing and showing the effect of the favours from Allah on oneself is to neither be boastful and proud, nor to exaggerate.
Allah hates a Kanood, or an ungrateful person, and punishes him. Imaam Al-Hasan said: “A Kanood, is one who remembers the disasters which befall him and always forgets to mention the favours from Allah (upon him).” This quality is more apparent in women; for example, a woman’s husband is kind to her for many years, but as soon as she experiences a minor shortcoming from him, she will immediately tell him that she has never seen anything good from him. This is a form of oppressing the husband, and thus the majority of the dwellers of Hell are women, the reason being that they are ungrateful to their husbands. If being ungrateful to one’s husband results in punishment in Hell, how will the case be for those who are ungrateful to Allah?
’Umar ibn ‘Abdul-‘Azeez would look at the favours of Allah upon him and say: “O Allah! I seek refuge in You from meeting Your favours with ungratefulness or denying them after knowing them, or forgetting them and not mentioning them with praise (i.e., praising You).”
It is also recommended that one prostrates whenever he receives news about a new favour or bounty from Allah, as was the practice of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Likewise, when Abu Bakr received the news that Musaylamah the liar (who claimed to be a Prophet after the death of Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) was killed, he went down into prostration. Ka’b ibn Maalik, radhiallah ‘anhu, also prostrated when he was given the good news of forgiveness from Allah after he failed to participate in a battle. On the other hand, this should not be a daily practice, but rather, it should only be done when one receives good news or a new favour.
An example of a new favour or good news is the incident when one of the Salaf who was hiding from Al-Hajjaaj, prostrated when he received the news of his death, because the death of a tyrant is a great bounty and favour from Allah. Also, the news of having a new baby, or a Muslim victory over the infidels, warrants such a prostration to be made.
Imaam Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “The religion consists of two halves; one half is represented by gratitude and the other half is by perseverance.” Scholars have disputed regarding who is better, a rich person who is grateful, or a poor person who is patient, but it seems that it is best for the rich person to be grateful, and for the poor to persevere.

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