Showing Gratitude

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When we are given exactly what we’ve always wanted, how do we thank Allah?

After four years of searching and abundant duas, Zakirah has finally found her life partner—one that was so worth the wait.

Luqman has been borrowing money from friends since he couldn’t find a job. Despite the terrible job market, he managed to get hired at a prominent company and now he can even send money back home to his parents.

Fariha and Zubair have been childless for seven years and their marriage seems to be breaking. But before the divorce papers are finalized, they are suddenly blessed with a child, thus saving their marriage.

Maryam has spent countless hours studying and preparing for her entrance to graduate school. There have been so many bumps in the road that she has given up all hope. But the day her acceptance letter arrives, she can only put her head down and cry.

In the midst of routine and daily tasks, there are moments when we suddenly attain what we have wanted for so long. And when we receive that beautiful result, it’s as if everything else has stopped for the time being and we feel an overwhelming emotion of happiness and contentment.

Recently, I have had this happen to me and it is a little difficult to describe the barrage of emotions I experienced. I couldn’t help but be struck in awe that Allah had answered my prayers and the prayers of those individuals who I kept asking to pray for me. It made me realize that I had not achieved the result on my own—there was no doubt of divine intervention. Allah had ignored all my sins, all the times I had neglected my Deen for the time being, and answered my prayers. This in itself was a miracle to me.

Of course, it was a little foolish of me to doubt Allah’s ability and Mercy in answering prayers and rewarding us so fully despite our drawbacks. But I couldn’t help but feel an uneasy fear every time I raised my hands in du’aa that Allah would not answer my prayers because simply put, He had every right not to. I was undeserving of His blessings, of His kindness. Just think for a moment—would you help somebody that kept coming back to you for help over and over again but neglected what little you asked of him or her? This is not to compare Allah to His creation however, because He is beyond comparison subhanahu wa ta’ala, but just to illustrate His Immense Mercy and Blessings upon His slaves even while we fall short in our duties to Him.

Allah illustrates to us the common reaction to His blessings in the following verse,

“And when harm touches man, he invokes Us, lying down on his side, or sitting or standing. But when we have removed his harm from him, he passes on his way like he never invoked Us for a harm that touched him…” [10:12].

Although it is not necessarily harm that we may be asking protection from, but whenever we want something very badly, we commit quite a lot of time and effort in praying for it.  But once that result is achieved, perhaps we aren’t as motivated to pray to the same extent or remember to be grateful for what it is that we obtained.

So the relief and contentment that I experienced was accompanied by a desire to please my Lord. We hear of wonderful stories of positive changes but a personal experience makes all the difference. Now that I had another reason to believe in the unparalleled Mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (though I have a million reasons already) I couldn’t go crazy partying all night in happiness. Instead, I felt an eman rush —one in which I was desperately looking for ways to express my gratitude to Allah; I felt I was in very much indebted to Him. What could I possibly do that would prove to Allah that I really was thankful to Him, that this time I wouldn’t be neglectful of all His blessings upon me?

The answer was so simple that I failed to see it at first. Of course there are obvious ways of conveying gratitude to Allah, such as the prostration of thankfulness. But something even simpler than that is to pick up a good deed and give up on a bad deed for the sake of Allah. After all, what better way to say thanks than to improve upon our character, our actions, and our overall Deen?

So take a moment, especially during this blessed time in Ramadan, to reminisce a time in your life when you were blessed with something so spectacular and special —something above and beyond the blessings you receive daily. And then take a moment to convey true gratitude to your Lord.

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