If we are grateful by being obedient to Allah, He will increase his bounties upon us. Whether it is from a worldly or religious perspective, there is so much we have to be grateful for. Below are three ways to express gratitude:
1. Attribute your success to Allah: When we face difficult moments we make lots of dua for a way out. However, when our duas are accepted and the difficulty is removed, we do not even attribute it to Allah. Instead, we forget him, attributing our relief to our own intellect, luck, money, or a friend who helped us out. What about Allah who helped you out? How quick we are to forget Him.
It is not the means which pulls us out of difficulty, it is the creator of the means who pulls us out of difficulty. Therefore, one way to express gratitude is to thank Him first and most, then thank everyone else. When your child does well in school, thank Allah first then the teacher. When you have medication and you get better, it was not because the doctor cured you. Allah cured you, thank Him first then the doctor.
2. Look at those who have less than you, not those who have more than you: Life can take a wrong turn at times. Rather than complaining at every given opportunity, look further towards people who are suffering more. This will silence our complaints and fill our hearts with the gratitude Allah wishes to see in us. When we were children, it was a norm for people to drive through plush suburbs on Sunday afternoons, when they had nothing else planned. It was a pastime activity, people would drive past marvelling at the big houses and the beautiful gardens.
However, once they would return home, their houses would suddenly look too small or too ugly. This is what happens when we look up towards that which we do not have. We will become discontented with our share of life, greedy and ungrateful. Instead, we should go to poorer areas and see how they live in their small shacks. Once you return to your humble home you will realise, it is not so small and humble after all. In the eyes of many, you live in a palace that they can only dream of having.
To us, life may seem problematic but there are many poor people that would dream of having all your “problems” instead of theirs. A man went to the masjid with no shoes on. He began complaining until he saw a man with no legs. Immediately, he sought Allah’s forgiveness. Therefore, look towards those who have less, not those who have more.
3. Be obedient to Allah: Our late Shaikh Hazrat Ml. Yunus Patel رحمة الله عليه used to always give the following example. Sometimes a person holds a family function or a wedding. In that function, a lot of sins take place like photography, intermingling, missing Salah and the playing of music. The event is planned in a way that is contrary to the Sunah. Yet at the end of it when someone asks the host, “How did it go?” he will reply, “Shukr, Alhamdulillah.” In other words, he will thank Allah for making his event run smoothly, though the event was riddled with sin. Hazrat رحمة الله عليه would say that sometimes, this type of gratitude may fall under utterances of kufr. This is because our gratitude is upon sin.
Thanking Allah with our tongues is not gratitude. True gratitude is to please Allah by doing good deeds. If our actions are in line with the Shariah, then even if we do not say “Shukr Alhamdulillah”, we will still be regarded as grateful servants. However, if we limit our gratitude to mere lip service whilst totally violating the laws of Allah, then that is hypocritical, not gratitude. It is like someone bumping into you by accident, apologising and then punching you. Does that make any sense? Would you even accept his apology? No, we would not. Therefore in our relationship with Allah, we must endeavour to make our actions in sync with our words. Express gratitude verbally but more importantly, show it in all that you do.
May Allah grant us the ability to be grateful, Aameen.
— Hazrat Ml. Dawood Seedat حفظه الله
Above is an extract from Hazrat’s talk on 19/09/17 in Masjid Hamza, Effingham Heights, Durban. To listen to the full talk, please click here.