This morning we continue to take a look at the amazing benefits of Gratitude.
Gratitude trains our minds to focus on the right things in life. It’s akin to walking in a room filled with various coloured items and focusing only on items of a specific colour. If you do so, your mind will be able to easily mask the other colours as you focus on items of that specific colour. Our life is no different. 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.
Gratitude helps us recognize other people’s favours to us. The Prophet ﷺ through his sayings made it quite clear that expressing our gratitude to Allah by thanking Him also involves that we thank people who do favours for us. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said as narrated by Abu Hurairah (RA):
مَنْ لَمْ يَشْكُرِ النَّاسَ لَمْ يَشْكُرِ اللّهَ
“He who does not thank people, does not thank Allah” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi).
He also said:
وَمَنْ صَنَعَ إِلَيْكُمْ مَعْرُوفًا فَكَافِئُوهُ فَإِنْ لَمْ تَجِدُوا مَا تُكَافِئُونَهُ فَادْعُوا لَهُ حَتَّى تَرَوْا أَنَّكُمْ قَدْ كَافَأْتُمُوهُ
“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” [Abu Dawood (1672)]. In another hadith, He ﷺ said:
مَنْ صُنِعَ إِلَيْهِ مَعْرُوفٌ فَقَالَ لِفَاعِلِهِ جَزَاكَ اللَّهُ خَيْرًا فَقَدْ أَبْلَغَ فِي الثَّنَاءِ
“Whoever has a favour done for him and says to the one who did it, ‘Jazak Allahu khayran,’ has done enough to thank him” [Tirmidhi]. Let’s therefore ensure that we do our part to sincerely thank our families and those who have done good to us.
Gratitude isn’t about ignoring our problems. On the contrary, gratitude helps us to be patient, accepting of life’s trials, and accordingly trains us to seek personal fulfilment with less. Gratitude thus makes us “low maintenance” in our demands and expectations. This trait reduces our burden on those around us, making our company more pleasing to others instead of leaving us always unhappy, more demanding, and impossible to please because of unending requirements.
Gratitude is going beyond words and instead thanking through our actions. We see this in the example of the Prophet ﷺ whose sins were forgiven by Allah although he continued to strive for His pleasure. It was narrated that Aa’ishah (RA) said:
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا صَلَّى قَامَ حَتَّى تَفَطَّرَ رِجْلاَهُ قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَتَصْنَعُ هَذَا وَقَدْ غُفِرَ لَكَ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِكَ وَمَا تَأَخَّرَ فَقَالَ “ يَا عَائِشَةُ أَفَلاَ أَكُونُ عَبْدًا شَكُورًا ”
“When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prayed, he would stand for so long that his feet would become swollen. ‘Aa’ishah said: O Messenger of Allah, are you doing this when Allah has forgiven your past and future sins? He said: “O ‘Aa’ishah, should I not be a thankful slave?” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (4557) and Muslim (2820). Let’s, therefore, pray the extra nawafil as one way to thank Allah for His blessings.
Gratitude helps increase one’s blessings. Allah says:
وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ ۖ وَلَئِن كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِى لَشَدِيدٌ
“And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: ‘If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings); but if you are thankless, verily, My punishment is indeed severe’” [Ibrahim 14:7] Let’s, therefore, make thanking Allah part of morning and evening remembrances (adhkars) to get more of Allah’s blessings in our lives.
Gratitude helps us to get the pleasure of Allah in the Hereafter when in Paradise. We express our gratitude to Allah for His blessings to enter us into paradise. Abul-Abbaas al-Qurtubi (r) said: “. . . gratitude for blessings – even if they are few – is a means of attaining the pleasure of Allah, may He be exalted, which is the noblest situation of the people of Paradise. When the people of Paradise say, “You (Allah) have given to us what You have not given to anyone among Your creation,” Allah will say to them: “Shall I not give you something better than that?” They will say, “What is it? Have You not brightened our faces, and admitted us to Paradise and saved us from Hell?” Allah will say, “I bestow My pleasure upon you, and I will never be angry with you after that.”
What better reward can we expect? So, why not be grateful to Him for what He has provided us day and night?