All praise and thanks are due to Allāh, Who sustains all creations with His favour. He is the only deity worthy of worship. O Allāh! We only worship You, seek and invoke You for help for eaeh and everything, and appreeiate and praise You for Your bounties. I hereby testify that none has the right to be worshipped exeept Allāh Alone, without partners and that Muḥammad is His slave and Messenger whom He sent as merey for mankind and the jinn. O Allāh! Send Your merey and blessings to Muḥammad, his progeny, Companions and people of knowledge and eorreet guidanee.
O worshippers of Allāh! In today’s khuṭbah, we shall discuss the subject of gratitude or thankfulness and gratefulness to Allāh (SWT). What is gratitude all about? What is its importance and essence? What are its benefits? How to attain it? These are some of the issues to be addressed in today’s khuṭbah.
Gratitude is at the core of man’s relationship with Allāh (SWT). Gratitude helps us focus our minds on Allāh, something that has unfortunately become so difficult today on account of life’s attractions and distractions. Showing gratitude to Allāh is part and parcel of having faith in Him. This means that a person who is ungrateful to Allāh has no true faith in his or her heart. Gratefulness to Allāh may be expressed by the heart, by the tongue, or through good deeds and gestures. True gratefulness by the heart is manifested through sincere belief that all the blessings we have—the known and the unknown—our very existence, our life, our body, our physical appearance, and all our abilities and accomplishments are from Allāh. The Qur’ān says,
وَمَا بِكُم مِّن نِّعْمَةٍ فَمِنَ اللَّهِ
Whatever blessing you have is from Allāh. (Q. 16:53)
Gratefulness or thankfulness by the body is shown by using one’s limbs, organs, faculties, and abilities for the purposes for which they were created. It is reported that the Prophet Muḥammad (SAW) used to pray at night until his feet became swollen, and when asked why he was doing this, when Allāh had forgiven all his past and future wrong actions, his reply was, “Should I not be a grateful slave?” Muḥammad (SAW) always thanked Allāh and recommended his followers to do so. One of his favorite supplications was,
اللَّهُمَّ أعِنِّي عَلَى ذِكْرِكَ وَ شُكْرِكَ وَ حُسنِ عِبَادَتِكَ
O Allāh, help me remember You, to be grateful to You, and to worship You in an excellent manner.
The more we thank Allāh, the more He will grant us from His bounties, for He promises,
لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ
If you are thankful, I will give you more. (Q. 14:7)
Yet, if we were to be ungrateful, Allāh does not say outright that He will punish us; rather He leaves it open as if to remind us, ‘look, My Punishment is severe – that is all you need to know; so start becoming thankful for your own benefit.’
وَلَئِن كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِي لَشَدِيدٌ
But if you are ungrateful, then know that My punishment is severe indeed. (Q. 14:7)
The words shakartum and kafartum used in this āyah are derived from shukr, meaning thankfulness and kufr, meaning thanklessness. The root ka-fa-ra means to cover something up, and that is why linguistically, a farmer in the Arabic language is also known as kāfir because he covers up the seeds with the soil. In the religious sense, the kāfir is one who is ungrateful because he covers up or conceals his Īmān—his inborn faith; the faith that is embedded in the soul of every human being. Thus, he shows his ingratitude to Allāh (SWT). Shukr and kufr are diametrically opposite to each other. This relationship between the two opposing concepts is highlighted elsewhere in the Qur’ān where Allāh pairs these two words together:
فَاذْكُرُونِي أَذْكُرْكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِي وَلَا تَكْفُرُونِ
So remember Me; I will remember you. Be thankful to Me and do not be ungrateful. (Q. 2:152)
Shayṭān’s ultimate goal is to make people disbelievers through ways and means that will prevent them from being thankful to Allāh. In a dialogue with Allāh (SWT), Satan openly declared,
ثُمَّ لَآَتِيَنَّهُمْ مِنْ بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَعَنْ شَمَائِلِهِمْ وَلَا تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ
Then I will surely come to them from before them and from behind them and from their right and from their left, and then You will find most of them ungrateful. (Q. 7:17)
How important it is then to be grateful to Allāh (SWT)? To develop a feeling of gratitude and consciousness of Allāh’s boundless favors, the first and foremost task is to acknowledge and appreciate those favors. It is a general human weakness that if one is afflicted with a misfortune, one keeps complaining about it to others. However, a person hardly speaks about the countless bounties that he or she enjoys. The Qur’ān declares,
وَإِن تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
If you tried to count God’s blessings, you would never be able to calculate them. God is ever forgiving and most merciful. (Q. 16:18)
A little reflection on the blessings we enjoy should be enough to make us realize that our lives would be miserable without them. Let me give you a very simple example. Do we truly thank Allāh on coming out of the rest-room after relieving ourselves? We often take things for granted. Just imagine the uneasiness one would feel, not to talk of the pain and agony one would undergo if one could not relieve oneself properly. That is why we are reminded through a Prophetic supplication to thank Allāh every time we relieve ourselves by saying,
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي أَذْهَبَ عَنِّي الْأَذَى وَعَافَانِي
All praise and thanks be to Allāh who removed the difficulty and gave me ease.
There are numerous Prophetic supplications for different times and occasions that teach us to thank Allāh for His blessings. Although thankfulness is a religious act of great significance, few people truly do it. Allāh says,
وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ
Few of my servants are truly thankful (Q. 34:13)
Also, we should avoid looking at those who have been blessed more than us, rather we should look at those who have been blessed less than us, and they are so many. Those who fail to do this are always complaining about their problems, and are never blessed with satisfaction or contentment. It is impossible for anyone to be in a state that is in all respects better than that of everyone else. Not recognizing Allāh’s blessings can prevent us from gaining His pleasure. We know that if Allāh were to punish us for our negligence, He would be justified for it. We are informed in the Qur’ān,
وَلَوْ يُؤَاخِذُ اللَّهُ النَّاسَ بِمَا كَسَبُوا مَا تَرَكَ عَلَى ظَهْرِهَا مِنْ دَابَّةٍ وَلَكِنْ يُؤَخِّرُهُمْ إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى فَإِذَا جَاءَ أَجَلُهُمْ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِعِبَادِهِ بَصِيرًا
If Allāh were to take people to task for what they have earned, He would not leave a single living creature on the surface of the earth; but He grants them respite until an appointed time; and when their appointed time comes, then they will know that Allāh is indeed observant of all His servants. (Q. 35:45)
But Allāh provides us a way to escape that punishment by being thankful to Him. He says,
مَا يَفْعَلُ اللَّهُ بِعَذَابِكُمْ إِنْ شَكَرْتُمْ وَآَمَنْتُمْ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ شَاكِرًا عَلِيمًا
Why should Allāh punish you if you are grateful to Him and believe in Him. Allāh is all- appreciative; all-knowing. (Q. 4:147)
May Allāh make us among those who sincerely praise Him and thank Him for all His blessings and favours.
أَقُولُ قَوْلِي هَذَا وَأَسْتَغْفِرُ اللَّهَ لِي وَلَكُمْ وَلِسَائِرِ المُسْلِمينَ وَالمُسْلِمَاتْ فَاسْتَغْفِرُوهْ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
I say this and ask Allāh for forgiveness for me and you, so invoke Him for forgiveness, for He is the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.
الحمد لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على سيد المرسلين وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين. ( ثم أما بعد)
All praise is due to Allāh, the Lord of the Worlds. May the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon our Master Muḥammad, his pure family, companions, and all those who follow them in righteousness till the Day of Judgment.
Sheikh Sa`di (Raḥīmahullāh) narrates a story in which he says that while he was traveling, he reached Damascus in a miserable condition; he did not have any money to buy new shoes to replace his old ones. It pained him that he was unable to buy a new pair of shoes. With these thoughts he entered the mosque where he observed a lame person, without feet. On seeing this, he immediately fell into prostration, thanking Allāh profusely for having provided him with feet, if not with new shoes.
This incident identifies the perspective in which we should look at things.
Those with a feeling of gratitude observe numerous manifestations of Allāh’s favors, which then fill them with greater gratitude. However, there are others who are always complaining of what they do not have and are, therefore, unable to thank Allāh for the many blessings He has bestowed upon them. Allāh does not need our thanks and gratitude. It is in our benefit to be thankful.
وَمَنْ يَشْكُرْ فَإِنَّمَا يَشْكُرُ لِنَفْسِهِ وَمَنْ كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ حَمِيدٌ
He who is grateful, is grateful only for the good of his own soul. But if anyone is ungrateful, then surely Allāh is self-sufficient and praiseworthy. (Q. 31:12)
Gratitude helps us to slow down and to enjoy what we have rather than always waiting for the next wish to come true. Gratitude can help us recognize that we already have enough of what many people have for long been yearning for. We must therefore tame our nafs to understand that if we can’t find happiness in the blessings that we have today, then we won’t be happy with what we get tomorrow. You see, gratitude is a sense of fulfillment that comes not from wanting more but rather from a sense of knowing that Allāh has already blessed us with what we need.
Gratitude helps us recognize other people’s favors to us. The Prophet (SAW) said, “He who does not thank people, does not thank Allāh.”
Thus, he made it quite clear that expressing our gratitude to Allāh by thanking Him also involves that we thank people who do favors for us. There is another Ḥadīth that says, “Whoever does you a favour, then reciprocate, and if you cannot find anything with which to reciprocate, then pray for him until you think that you have reciprocated him.”
Gratitude also trains our minds to focus on the right things in life. When we let our minds look for problems, we see plenty of them. Instead, if we rather look away from problems and focus on possibilities and go for solutions, we will get those too. Let’s, therefore, use gratitude to motivate ourselves to find possibilities and solutions and not the negatives associated with problems.
Let me conclude by saying that having a sense of gratitude is a great blessing and those of us who instill that sense within ourselves not only seek Allāh’s pleasure but embody a sense of happiness, relieving us of many pressures and anxieties.
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَأمُرُ بِٱلعَدلِ وَٱلإِحسَٰنِ وَإِيتَايِٕ ذِي ٱلقُربَىٰ وَيَنهَىٰ عَنِ ٱلفَحشَاءِ وَٱلمُنكَرِ وَٱلبَغيِ يَعِظُكُم لَعَلَّكُم تَذَكَّرُونَ
Surely Allāh enjoins the doing of justice and the doing of good (to others) and the giving to the kindred, and He forbids indecency and evil and rebellion; He admonishes you that you may be mindful. (Q. 16:90)
O Allāh, please confer Your blessings and grant peace upon our Prophet Muḥammad (SAW), his family and all of the companions. May Allāh have mercy on the honourable martyrs of our country and those of the coalition and gather them with the righteous. May Allāh make their dwelling with the ones upon whom Allāh has bestowed favour of the prophets and the steadfast affirmers of truth, O the Most Gracious the Most Forgiving.
© Mubin Olatoye Raji