Have you ever been driving down a road and seen someone waiting to turn onto the road from a side street, or even trying to get into your lane on the highway? Have you ever held the door open for someone on your way into the store? What did you expect in return for these kind gestures? Money? A lollipop? A gold star? No, of course not. We’re all above any kind of tangible reward. But you did expect something, didn’t you? Whether you want to admit it or not, you expect an acknowledgement of gratitude for any of these actions – a wave or a simple “thank you”. And you feel good about yourself when you receive it.
How then do you feel when you don’t get the expected “thank you wave”? You get upset, you feel disgusted and become angry at the nerve these people have not to thank you – even for such a minor, trivial thing as slowing your car down 5-10 miles per hour for 30 seconds or opening a door for someone, delaying your shopping spree by a minute. How dare they not thank you? You might even go so far as to remind them of your graciousness by harshly telling them “You’re welcome!” as they brush past you and enter the store (I know some people who’d trip the person they let in or let the door hit them as they walked in!).
If you go through all this trouble (be honest with yourselves, you’ve done it before) when someone doesn’t thank you for something that really wasn’t that big of a deal, what then about Allah? How much has Allah done for you (let alone every single creation)? How much does Allah continue to bless you with? Go ahead … take the next 30 seconds to think of things Allah has blessed you with in the last 24 hours alone.
Now, take the next 10 seconds to think of how you have thanked Him for each blessing on that list you just made. What, you haven’t thanked Allah for all He has done for you in the last day? How about for any of the blessings he has given you? Do you still have time left over from those 10 seconds? How much trouble would someone be in if you did anything even close to what Allah has done for you in the last day, and they thanked you exactly as much as you have thanked Allah? You’d be so mad, you might lash out at that person you’ve helped (considering how you treated them when you opened a door for them).
In Surat Al-Insaan, after telling us some of the blessings He has given mankind, Allah says “Verily, we have guided him (man) to the path, (he is) either thankful (shaakiran) or ungrateful (kafooran)”. Notice that the word for ungrateful has the same root as kaafir – disbeliever. We can take from this that a person cannot truly believe – he/she is not a true mu’min – until he/she is grateful and thankful for Allah’s blessings. So it’s either be thankful or be ungrateful – there is no third option.
Let me help you add to that list of things Allah has given you. You may already have thought of the following and said alhamdu lillah – I’m alive, I’m breathing, I live in a nice house, I have a car, I have my family, I have a job, mashaa’ Allah. Have you ever thought to thank Allah for … sweat? Yes, sweat. Allah has blessed us with the ability to sweat. Sweating allows us to get rid of some of the wastes and toxins in our body without even thinking about it. Sweating helps our bodies to cool down so we don’t overheat. Just like a car, when your body overheats, it will shut down. Now, think about how some animals cool down. A dog has to pant endlessly to heat can escape from its mouth. A pig can’t sweat either. Pigs have to go roll around in the mud to bring down their body temperatures. So be thankful to Allah for allowing you the ability to sweat. Even the fact that Allah has blessed the dog and the pig with the instinct/knowledge to know what to do when they need to cool down, out of His Infinite Rahmah to all of creation.
And so how do we fulfill this Mithaaq Ar-Rahmah (Covenant of Mercy) with our Creator? As we learned in the class, we can’t fool ourselves that we weren’t blessed and protected by Allah, as Bani Isra’eel did time and time again. Unfortunately, we all have endless examples in ourselves and in the Muslim Ummah that clearly show we are following in the same direction. Allah blessed the people of Musa with so much, and yet, they were not thankful. In fact, that was often the purpose of many of his blessings (when Allah says He blessed them with bounties “so that they may be grateful”), as we see in several ayaat in Surat AlBaqarah.
Many people today do the same thing in showing no concern or thanks for the multitude of gifts Allah has given each and every one pf us. People are arrogant and say that they earned what they got on their own, through their hard work. Others claim another being – Mother Nature, Fate, Coincidence. It doesn’t matter what they want to call it. They are all shutting their eyes to reality. Life and all that’s in it can’t happen by accident. Six billion humans alive now (and the billions who have died already) don’t happen by accident, nor do the billions of other creations – it’s not a logical conclusion.
Allah can easily take any of these blessings away in an instant – illness, financial problems, death, potholes, etc. What’s the first thing you say when you slam down on your brakes and come within inches of hitting that car in front of you? Alhamdu lillah. It’s built into our fitrah to thank Allah. But when we return to more prosperous circumstances, we relax and forget where it all came from – Allah subhanahu wa ta`aala.
How can we turn the tide and avoid a painful punishment in this life and in the hereafter? We can start by taking the time to remember Allah and what He has given to us all. Each day, when you wake up, think of three things Allah blessed you with. Each night, before you sleep, think of three different things Allah blessed you with. Repeat this every day, without repeating the same blessing twice. You’ll never run out of things, there is no doubt about it. When we start with ourselves, and those around us, then we no one can stop us from achieving the pleasure of our Lord, and all measures of success, in this life and in the hereafter in Jannatul Firdaws inshaa’ Allah.
First of all ... nice look to hidaya. Welcome back!!! We've been waiting for you writers.
And, what better article to start off with. Lets start teh semester with thanks to Allah ... Thanks for ending the last one well; thanks for letting us start this one peacefully (you could be in Iraq, not starting at all, for instance), and so on.
And thanks to Allah for reminding us of our duty through articles like these.on August 31, 2004 5:21 PM
MashaAllah wa Alhamdulilahon September 1, 2004 4:31 AM
Subhanallah great article Mostafa,
This is SO true. I was just having this discussion with Talal yesterday, speaking about our experiences in the haramain. Maybe we have to SEE with our own eyes how fortunate we are by observing those less fortunate than us. TV images don't just seem to cut it unfortunately for many of us. Alhamdulillah, Shukrillah should be on our tongues ALL the time. Instead of singing the lyrics of your favorite song, you should have alhamdulillah, shukrillah and astaghfirullah on your tongues. Insha'allah I'll write about my experiences on my trip to Makkah and Madinah before I go back to medical school.