“When it rains, it really does pour,” he said aloud. “Why do horrible things happen to me?” It was just too easy to think this way, to look around and see that so many people had it better than him. He lost his job and was finding it difficult to pay the bills. On top of it all, he had been feeling very sick and had no medical insurance to afford a doctor or medication. “Life is just too hard,” he said to himself. Tears began to swell in the corners of his eyes. But, just then, he received a text message from a friend. It read, “Call me when you get a chance. I’m going through something and need your amazing advice.”
He quickly wiped his tears, paused for a moment, and thought, “He needs advice from me? When I feel as if I have nothing to hold onto? Wow! Maybe I do have something to be thankful for after all.” It was just a simple reminder that helped brighten his perspective for the rest of the day. He smiled as he picked up the phone……….
Gratitude— a simple word with a dynamic power in its meaning and application. We often forget to cultivate and practice gratitude, overlooking how life-changing it can be. An attitude of gratitude has the ability to make a harsh reality seem tolerable, giving light to a gloomy disposition and dispelling negative attitudes, thoughts, and feelings with wondrous speed.
Research done by the University of California, Berkeley, has revealed that gratitude leads to a stronger immune system, healthier blood pressure, greater joy, optimism, and sense of overall well-being, acting with more generosity and compassion, and feeling less lonely and isolated.
According to Islam, our ultimate gratitude is to Allah, our Creator and Sustainer who grants us existence and furnishes us with cognitive and emotional faculties, as well as the potential to understand and appreciate their value and benefit.
وَٱللَّهُ أَخْرَجَكُم مِّنۢ بُطُونِ أُمَّهَـٰتِكُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ شَيْـًٔا وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ ٱلسَّمْعَ وَٱلْأَبْصَـٰرَ وَٱلْأَفْـِٔدَةَ ۙ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
“It is He who brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers when you knew nothing, and He gave you hearing and sight and intelligence and affection so that you may give thanks [to God]” (Quran, 16:78).
Allah, our Maker, has given us abundant opportunities, to live and thrive on this earth. From the greatest creative enterprise to the most basic regularity of our beating hearts — all is owed to Him first and foremost. If we forget the elemental requirement of thankfulness, then we are only doing a disservice to ourselves. If we do not feel gratitude to the Creator, how can we be thankful to anyone else? How can we appreciate the good things in our own selves and in our daily experience?
Not only did Allah give us our very lives, He has provided a beautiful world for us to abide in, with countless resources for our use. Allah says in the Quran,
ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ وَأَنزَلَ مِنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ مَآءً فَأَخْرَجَ بِهِۦ مِنَ ٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ رِزْقًا لَّكُمْ ۖ وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ ٱلْفُلْكَ لِتَجْرِىَ فِى ٱلْبَحْرِ بِأَمْرِهِۦ ۖ وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ ٱلْأَنْهَـٰرَ وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ ٱلشَّمْسَ وَٱلْقَمَرَ دَآئِبَيْنِ ۖ وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ ٱلَّيْلَ وَٱلنَّهَارَ وَءَاتَىٰكُم مِّن كُلِّ مَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُ ۚ وَإِن تَعُدُّوا۟ نِعْمَتَ ٱللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَآ ۗ إِنَّ ٱلْإِنسَـٰنَ لَظَلُومٌ كَفَّارٌ
It is Allah who created the heavens and earth, who has sent down water from the sky and with it brought forth produce to nourish you; He has made ships useful to you, sailing the sea by His command, and the rivers too; He has made the sun and the moon useful to you, steady on their paths; He has made the night and day useful to you and given you some of everything you asked Him for. If you tried to count Allah’s favours you could never calculate them: man is truly unjust and ungrateful. (Quran, 14:32-34).
All that we have accomplished and all that we possess are due to Allah’s bountiful provision. We must recognize the powerful concept mentioned in the verse: that we would never be able to even count the blessings Allah has given us. After realizing that Allah’s blessings are fundamental to our existence and endless in their scope, who are we to be heedless and unthankful? There is nothing less than delusion of self-sufficiency.