We can never count all of Allah SWT’s blessings. There are those which we are acutely aware of in life such as our wealth, health, status and intellectual abilities in life. We are able to recognize these quite often.
Then we have those blessings in our life which we occasionally remember such as a time when our loved ones do something for us, i.e. our children, parents etc.
Then there is the ultimate recognized blessing of being Muslim. Being part of the truth. Being submissive to Allah SWT, following in the footsteps of the best of creation, Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him, and belonging to the religion of Islam.
The imam mentioned a hadith in relation to this which is translated to say:
“How wonderful is the case of a believer; there is good for him in everything and this applies only to a believer. If prosperity attends him, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him; and if adversity befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is better for him”.
Dear brothers and sisters, from this hadith we can see that the life of a believer is defined as a series of highs and lows. There is sometimes a misconception in that people believe being a believer means that life will be all plain sailing and blissful.
This is not the correct assumption to make. Consistent bliss is reserved for the Jannat that we will all reach in the next life insh’Allah. This temporary existence however, is the test that we are living in order to achieve the high status of that eternal bliss.
We need to understand therefore that the good times of this life will be intermixed and entwined with times in which we will need to be patient. Times when we will struggle and times when we will strive to remain steadfast and resolute on our faith.
Allah SWT rewards us in our times of struggle and He rewards us when we give thanks during the times of ease. We know this as it’s mentioned in the Glorious Quran in Sura Al-Qamar ayat 35 which translates to say:
As a Grace from Us: thus do We reward those who give thanks.
Dear brothers and sisters, how often it is that we turn to our Lord when a test is upon us but we forget during the times when ease is blessed upon us? Gratitude to Allah SWT is all about remembering the times when we need to be patient but not forgetting the time when the blessing is upon us too.
A point to note in the reminder today is that the act of showing gratitude is for our sake and not for the sake of Allah SWT. It is for our benefit and us being ungrateful does not take anything away from our Lord, it is only us that will be adversely affected by ingratitude.
This is clearly explained in Sura Az-Zumar, ayat 7 in which it is translated to say:
If you show ingratitude, surely, Allâh is Independent of you (He does not require your thanks). Yet He does not approve of His people to be ungrateful. (Indeed it is for your own sake that) He approves of you being grateful. And no soul that bears a burden can bear the burden (of the sins) of another. Behold! to your Lord shall you all return so that He will inform you of all that you have been doing. He knows full well (even) the innermost secrets of the hearts.
It is clear that the key to success for us is to demonstrate gratitude to Allah SWT but often it is not taught how this can be done.
The classical scholars of Islam have outlined three ways in which we can show Shukr or thanks to Allah SWT for all the blessings we receive from him.
Firstly, it is through the Shukr of the heart. This means that one should aim to have the intention to do good for the sake of Allah SWT. This assists in purifying the heart as it is lent towards doing things that will please Allah SWT.
It is not the concern of the believer as to whether the intention materializes into action or not as that is down to Allah SWT, but you must have the intention there as without it there can never be any action to do good.
Secondly it is through the Shukr of the tongue. This is performed through remembrance of Allah SWT. A simple act of saying Alhamdullilah at all times and meaning it. Understand there is a blessing regardless of a time of ease or a time of test. Bring this words into your vocabulary more so as to perform shukr in this manner.
Thirdly it is through the Shukr of the limbs. Simply put, this is the most direct form of shukr and it is through our physical actions. Whether it be the performing of optional prayers or the smallest acts of charity such as picking up an obstacle from a path – this is yet another way to demonstrate your gratitude to Allah SWT.
Dear brothers and sisters, we live in a time a place where it is easy to become complacent over the blessings that we have received from Allah SWT. However, we mustn’t forget that for all of our blessings, there are people who can only dream to have what we have. Each and every salah should be an occasion in which we convey that back to Allah SWT as well as demonstrate it in the three manners described today.