Tag Archives: gratefulness

To Be Grateful…

By Hooriya Ikram

Gratitude is a trait that is admired by all religions and philosophies and is also deemed valuable by every individual. The term ‘gratitude’ means to acknowledge the benefit of something that grants value. In a broader sense, it doesn’t only mean to value something at heart or verbally rather it also means being content on whatever you have either more or less and to use that very blessing in an appropriate way.

It helps one lead a healthy and content life full of merriment. As we know that today’s corporate worldview has changed the whole perspective of our lifestyles, we do not earn to live rather we live to earn and hoard wealth in order to boast about our achievements. In such an individualistic society, we can never be satisfied even if we get mountains of gold until we learn to feel grateful on our little achievements. The era we are living in is full of vulnerabilities and economic threats as technology is replacing manpower and consequently job opportunities are growing lesser than ever before. We hear about these issues every now and then through media. Though we are badly being enveloped by day-to-day emerging problems, we need to consider them, ensure to prevent them and take measures to counter them, and not to prattle and complain about them all the time. In my view, our approach to problems is extremely counterproductive as our talk shows are loaded with the discussions on national issues but they aren’t adequately devising implementable solutions to them. From a bird’s eye view, the biggest problem of the contemporary world is that the focal point of everyone is to gain more and more and to ignore, belittle and be thankless on what is already there. If we, as a nation, learn to be positive by focusing on the blessings we have and by holding discussions about how to exploit them in a productive way, believe me, we can excel with a far greater pace than that of developed countries.

Many researches were conducted to determine the effects of gratitude on psychological emotions. Most of them have shown that grateful people are less prone to depression, anxiety, stress, sadness etc. One of such researches was conducted by a well-established psychology expert Martin Seligman from the University of Utrecht, Netherlands in which he sampled a group of students and asked them to remember those people of their lives whom they are grateful for and to list three things they are blessed to have. As a result, an apparent increase in the contentment of students was observed.

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Gratitude is given a lot of importance in the Divine religion of Islam as it has associated it with incentives that instigate its followers to observe it. For example, Allah, the Exalted stated in the Holy Quran;

“…if you give thanks, I will give you more..”  [14; 7]

“…soon We will reward the thankful..” [03; 135]

Throughout the Quran, Allah, the Exalted repetitively reminds us of His blessings and then incites in us the very spirit of gratitude.

“If you count Allah’s favours, you will not be able to enumerate them.” [14; 34]

We owe a lot to our Creator. Although we can’t pay His right at all, we may acknowledge His favours in true sense of words and actions. Every blessing we have, no matter how diminutive, is worth all we seek to achieve, yet we keep on whining about things we don’t have and ignore what we already have. The moment of whine is actually the time for gratitude. For instance, a scholar named Sa’di was once heading somewhere barefoot. He complained to his Lord about his state of deprivation. As soon as he arrived, he saw a man without feet. There and then he acknowledged the sublime blessing of feet and regretted his whining. Therefore, we infer from this very incident that we need to keep on going with fortitude and gratitude by seeking Allah’s help.

A relevant verse from the Holy Quran states;

“If you are thankless, Allah is in no need of you, yet He is not pleased by the ingratitude of his servants….” [39; 7]

This life is a test, we cannot lead an ideal life here. So we are supposed to learn to be happy regardless of what circumstances we face and accept ourselves the way we are, which cannot come true until we stop comparing ourselves to others.

The Prophet ﷺ said;

“When one of you sees another who is superior to him in point of wealth and creation, let him look to him who is below him. That is more appropriate that you hold not in contempt the favor of God towards you.” {Recorded in Bukhari, Muslim and Tirmidhi}

We are reminded of Allah’s eminent slaves so that we learn from their examples. These people, His renowned prophets, were tested either by hardships or by good times, but they remained grateful and patient at the same time, Allah extols them in His book with unrivalled words that shows his deep love for this trait. Our trials are incomparable to those of them, but they are there to set difficult examples for us to seek guidance relevant to our conditions. The most important thing we learn from these people is that only grateful people can sustain in difficult times and ingratitude is detrimental altogether.

Lastly, I would suggest a practical tip from the Quran that can help us remain grateful all our life. It is stated in the Quran;

“And do not extend your eyes toward that by which we have given enjoyment to (some) categories of them, [its being but] the splendour of worldly life by which we test them. And the provision of your lord is better and enduring.” [20; 131]

To conclude, I’ll say that In order to revel the fruits of gratitude, we are obliged to be satisfied on what we have and not to think wishfully about others’ blessings as it arouses envy and ingratitude.

 

 

 

 

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Ramadan Challenge: Gratitude to the One!

By Abdul Rehman Raza

The One who is most worthy of our gratitude, more than anyone else, is Allah, our Lord! But why should we be grateful to Him anyway?

The basic thing that separates humans from every other living thing is the ability to think and ponder. A rabbit would never sit under a tree, stare at the sky and think why is it blue, why are there clouds or how was it made? The purpose of this post is to make you use this very thinking ability of yours. Think about what? Think about the one who has given you this ability to think! Your Creator! Almighty Allah!

Take a break from life and THINK! The One who made you, made the world for you, made everything around you, gave you the ability to think and ponder, gave you faculties of seeing, hearing, gave you this gadget that you’re using right now to read this article, the ability to read and understand this, the food you eat every single day, the clothes you’re wearing… But this list would keep going on and never end!

Let’s do a short exercise: write down all the things that Allah has blessed you with, everything you can think of. Now think again, did you deserve all this? Could you really pay Allah for this? Obviously not! But Allah still blessed us with all of this and He doesn’t stop, His Mercy is continuously falling on us even at this very moment!

Now comes the golden question, if someone gives you a glass of water, you thank that person, right? Should we not be grateful to the One Who created us and who has given us so much and keeps on giving us every moment of our lives?

Indeed, we should be! In fact, being grateful to Allah is a very important part of our faith. Feeling grateful is one thing but there is a practical aspect to being grateful as well.

Being grateful actually means having gratitude in the heart, professing it through the tongue and showing it through actions.

Some points below can help you be grateful to Allah in a practical way:

‘Ibadah, Worship Allah Only

Be His righteous slave, offer your prayers regularly, fast, especially in the month of Ramadan, give in charity, remember Him regularly, read and understand His Book, do what He likes, follow the role model of Prophets (AS) especially our final Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

Hope and Patience in Tough Times

Being grateful in good times is easy, the real test is when we face trials and hardships. A person who is truly grateful, does not become ungrateful even in hard times. He believes that Allah does everything for the person’s own good. Even in hard times, a believer finds something positive, he thanks Allah irrespective of good or bad times.

Be Good To Others

One of the best ways to be grateful to Allah is being good to others around us. Have mercy and love for your fellow human beings as well as other creatures of Allah. We should love others the same way we want others to love us and in order to acquire Allah’s love.

Mention Allah’s Blessing Upon You

Instead of complaining to people, we should tell them about how much has Allah blessed us and praise Him.

“But as for the favour of your Lord, mention [it].”, (Surah Duha, verse 11)

THE REWARD

This one verse from the Quran should be enough (though there are many other benefits not being mentioned for brevity’s sake):

“If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]”, (Surah Ibrahim, verse 7.)

May Allah make us truly grateful to Him!

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Gratitude – An Attitude

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For quite some time, I’ve been noticing a trait that is very common amongst us, irrespective of whether we’re religious or not. We all have, more or less, ingratitude! We don’t have gratitude. The reason I use the word ‘have’ and not ‘show’ is that gratitude is an attitude, it’s a whole different paradigm.

If you have the blessing of gratitude in you, you feel it in your very veins. Your heart feels ‘alhamdulillah‘; you don’t just say it like a ritual. You’re less concerned with what’s missing and you’re thankful for whatever you have. We can’t ever have enough anyway. But we’re always complaining, sometimes with our words, but more often with our attitudes and body language. Maybe we want things to be perfect and when they remain imperfect (as they’re meant to be, this isn’t Jannah), we start complaining. If only we remember that this world is temporary and meant to be stressful.

Just have a look around today and see what people talk about; observe their tones. You’ll see they’re complaining most of the time. I’ve noticed that when I’m in my worst lows, I’m not grateful enough; enough to be thrilled about moments, about the littlest things in life, and to feel content and happy from within.

Being happy in situations you’re put in and being content is gratitude too. Just saying ‘alhamdulillah’ isn’t enough; specially if it’s followed by a ‘but’, it is highly unacceptable. However, it is true that you’re unable to enjoy all the time, specially when you’ve gone through a trauma or when you’re ill. When your body is weak, your emotions weaken and you feel down naturally. That is where righteous companions come in. They will facilitate you and help you remain positive. They won’t just lecture you rather they will make you feel good about yourself. Pray that you’re blessed with such companions and friends throughout your life.

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Islam is the perfect way of life, it’s not just a boring set of do’s and don’ts. It teaches us to be content and happy and grateful and to enjoy life. We remain stressed, always on the go and feel responsible for things that aren’t in our circle of control. What we don’t realize is that if we’re having some off time in order to be refreshed and to feel better about ourselves, that too is good as it will bring the bounce back in us and increase our productivity.

Just remember, ingratitude is catching, and so is gratitude. I make this statement on personal experience. So stop complaining and comparing; you’re in the best situation you could possibly be in. Try to be cheerful and grateful and make others feel better around you. Also, make dua for companions who have a positive outlook towards life.

If we don’t feel good and happy with ourselves, how will others be happy with us? And guess what? Gratitude’s a way to get more blessings. 🙂

Allah says in the Quran:

 “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.” [Surah Ibrahim: 7]

P.S. It is a complete coincidence that the makers of The Happy Page have now made The Gratitude Page on Facebook. They weren’t inspired by this post. Lol.

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Build a Home in Your Hearts for Your Parents!

Just the other day, I was discussing with my undergraduate class how the first verse of Surat al-Fatihah is often translated: “All praise (and gratitude) is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds”. Here the Arabic word Rabb is translated as Lord. You know what the trouble with translation is? Sometimes some of the richness of meaning contained in the original words is compromised or not fully conveyed. So, translation may, at times, take away some of the power, beauty and depth of the Glorious Qur’an. We can re-discover the magic of the verse by exploring a bit, by reading commentaries, by doing some research, so to say. The word Rabb here when it is translated as Lord probably does not convey a lot to the uninitiated mind. What Rabb means, among other things, is Cherisher, Sustainer and Provider. On a deeper level, Rabb is someone on whom you are entirely dependent for your existence every single second and the One Who consistently sustaining you. This single word Rabb is a beautiful, amazingly concise and comprehensive, one-word rebuttal to the doctrine held by some early mechanists that states that God did create the universe but after setting the universe into motion like a gigantic automatic machine, He receded into the background leaving the machine to run by itself according to predetermined laws. Rabb is an antithesis to that doctrine and that states that not only did God create everything; He is still controlling, protecting, nurturing and holding it; enabling the universe and all life forms in it to grow and develop their full potential.  Oh what depths of power, love and purposefulness does this one little word contain! Alas, how blind we are to the meaning and majesty of the marvelous Qur’an. All gratitude is indeed due to Him, the Bestower of bounties whose Hands are widely outstretched (Al-Qur’an 5:64); the Generous who attends to our countless needs including physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual ones. Alhamdulillah!

He demands gratitude from us and rightfully so. We owe Him all that we are and all that we have. We owe Him our very being. At the same time, He demands that we be grateful to our parents. “Be grateful to Me and to both your parents” (Al-Qur’an 31:14). The order of the words tells us that after Allah, we should be most grateful to our parents. They protect and nurture and guide. They do all that is within their power to fulfill and attend to our needs. Allah has put in their hearts immense tenderness and mercy to give us a sense of realization of how merciful and compassionate is Allah. It is narrated from Abu Hurayrah that Rasul Allah (SAW) said: “Allah has one hundred parts of mercy, of which He sent down one between the jinn, mankind, the animals and the insects, by means of which they are compassionate and merciful to one another, and by means of which wild animals are kind to their offspring. And Allah has kept back ninety-nine parts of mercy with which to be merciful to His slaves on the Day of Resurrection.” (Muslim, al-Tawbah, 6908).

The responsibilities of parents are immense. From tending to the needs for nourishment, safety and comfort of the totally helpless human baby to teaching him skills necessary for effective living, parents are there every step of the way through the child’s journey of development. But most importantly they are entrusted with the duty of nourishing his spiritual self, preserving and enhancing his natural goodness and bond with Allah, helping him see the difference between ‘the two paths’ (Al-Qur’an 90:10) and striving and praying constantly that he chooses the right one.

Parenting is hard work. Developmental psychologists attach the greatest significance to the role of the early childhood years and the nature of parent-child interaction in the healthy or pathological development of the person. Theorists like Erik Erikson, Karen Horney and Sigmund Freud make parenting sound like an extremely difficult balancing act akin to tightrope walking. Parents have to attend to the child’s needs but they must not over gratify his needs either (Freud); They must give the child a sense of trust but he has to be taught to mistrust also when appropriate (Erikson); The child must not be neglected e.g. in the form of other siblings being given preference over him (Horney); The parents must strike the right balance between autonomy and discipline (Erikson). This makes parenting sound like a superhuman endeavor. Or we can say that it takes the best of what it means to be human to be a good parent. Little wonder then that Allah Ta’ala gives them this special status and mentions them right after He mentions Himself. I am inclined to say that of all the rights of parents, this constitutes perhaps the most basic right: the right of having gratitude paid to them by their children. For it is from sincere, heartfelt gratitude that all the other required behaviors will naturally spring forth: respect, obedience, kindness and compassion. Let us not deny them this right. It is a fardh (obligation) to be grateful to one’s parents in the light of the clear Qur’anic injunction.

It is only fair to say that the rights of parents increase manifold when they reach old age, the time that brings failing health, diminished physical and cognitive capabilities and other vulnerabilities. We find support for this in the Qur’an as well when Allah Ta’ala states: “If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) “ugh” nor chide them and speak to them a generous word” (Al-Quran 17: 23). This is the time when they need to be cared for most of all. They understood our semi-coherent words when we were learning to speak. We must reciprocate and understand them even when it is difficult to. They were there to support us with their strength and loving care when we were fragile and dependent. We have to do the same and shoulder their burdens. They spent on us without restraint. Let us not be stingy when they are no longer earning. We must return kindness for kindness!

The phenomenon of the “old home” is perhaps the supreme form of ingratitude to parents. This marginalization of the elderly in institutional settings following abandonment by their families is a brazen violation of the Islamic injunctions and of all that Islam stands for. It is the very opposite of what Islam demands from us: loving and protective care of elderly parents within families. By what standards of ethics and morality is it justified to any conceivable degree that your own parents who literally were your home, who gave you a home for all the years that you didn’t have one of your own be thrown out and deprived of home and hearth? We need to develop a special sensitivity for the rights of our parents and especially elderly ones. Let’s not build old homes. Let’s Build a Home in our Heart for our Parents!

Little Blessings

My friend and I entered the university gate in the late afternoon and started looking for some shade to sit under. We walked from tree to tree and umbrella to umbrella, but either the shade had gone or the place was occupied. Finally, after a long time, we saw a bench far off that gave some protection from the unrelenting sun rays. We rushed towards it, sat down and drank the cool water that we had just bought from the cafe.

tree shade

What a beautiful ending to a commonplace everyday story. SubhanAllah! This is what makes the summer season so delightful; a sip of cold water, a stick of ‘gola’ with your friend, sitting under the shade when all else is sunny, a dip in the pool and the list goes on.

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I realized it’s pretty simple if you think about it. Allah created diversity in the weather so that we appreciate little things. Would we ever be pleased with a glass of cold water if it snowed all the time? Would we ever be glad of long nights if they stayed long all year round? Would we ever be excited about the rain if it stayed humid 24/7? Of course not!

Imagine, if the sun never came out or if the sun was cold or if the crops never got any sunshine? Scary? Yeah!

And then, Allah does not ask us to accomplish big tasks all the time. We just need to thank Him for these little things. Saying Alhamdulillah after a shower or after having a slice of watermelon is good enough. This act of gratefulness is what will make us different from others. We need to spend more time focusing on the bright side and feeling blessed.
Optimism is infectious, trust me. Make it viral. Don’t let the summer heat get to your mood. Let’s not complain about the hot weather this year.

cold water

Make a list of the summer blessings and pin it on your bedroom wall as a reminder. Eat summer-friendly food. Make sure to increase your water intake and eat lots of seasonal fruits. Allah made different fruit for each season for a reason. 🙂

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May Allah give us the opportunity to spend our summers in the most productive and amazing ways.
In the comments section below, share your ideas of how you plan to spend your summer holidays.