Fellow Muslims! Allah has bestowed many of His Great favors on His slaves. His right Hand is always full of gifts and He is generous every all day and night. He portions out provision for whomsoever He wishes with no reckoning. He tests His servants with blessings as He tests them with calamities. He says,
“And We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good, and to Us you will be returned.” (Al-Anbiyaa 21:35)
Allah gives favour with all this and the trial of luxurious life is greater than that of difficult times, for the beneficiary needs to be patient and grateful. Poverty and wealth are sources of trial, but man must always be persevering and thankful to Allah in all things He commands or forbids and all things He decrees.
Piety is based on these two things. Allah makes a combination between gratitude and eemaan when He says,
“Why should Allah punish you if you have thanked (Him) and have believed in Him.” (An-Nisaa 4:147)
Almighty Allah also tells us that showing gratitude to Him is the purpose of creation. He says,
“And Allah has brought you out from the wombs of your mothers while you know nothing. And He gave you hearing, sight and hearts that you might give thanks (to Him).” (An-Nahl 16:78)
He says that He is pleased when thanked,
“… And if you are grateful, He is pleased with you…” (Az-Zumar 39:7)
He created the night and the day for reflection and for showing gratitude to Him. He says,
“And He it is Who has put the night and the day in succession, for such who desires to remember or desires to show his gratitude.” (Al-Furqaan 25:62)
He divides His slaves to two: the grateful and the ungrateful. He says,
“Verily, We showed him the way whether he be grateful or ungrateful.” (Al-Insaan 76:3)
Allah also tells us that He regards only those who thank Him as those who worship Him and that whoever does not thank Him is not among His worshippers. He says,
“And be grateful to Allah, if it is indeed He Whom you worship.” (Al-Baqarah 2:172)
“O offspring of those whom We carried (in the ship) with Nooh (Noah)! Verily, he (Noah) was a grateful slave.” (Al-Israa 17:3)
He commanded Prophet Moosaa to receive the prophethood, the message and His Divine speech with him with gratitude, He says,
“O Moosaa! I have chosen you above men by My Messages and by My speaking (to you). So hold that which I have given you and be of the grateful.” (Al-A‘raaf 7:144)
He praises His friend Ibraaheem for being thankful to Him. He says,
“Verily, Ibraaheem was a leader, obedient to Allah and he worshipped none but Him, and he was not of those who were polytheists. (He was) thankful for His (Allah’s) Graces.” (An-Nahl 16:120-121)
He commanded Prophet Daawood to be thankful and He says,
“Work you, O family of Dawood with thanks.” (Saba‘ 34:13)
Allah also tells us that Prophet Sulaymaan said,
“My Rabb! Inspire and bestow upon me the power and ability that I may be grateful for your favours which you have bestowed on me and on my parents.” (An-Naml 27:19)
Allah also commands His Messenger Muhammad (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to be grateful to Him and He says,
“Nay! But worship Allah (alone) and be among the grateful.” (Az-Zumar 39:66)
The first admonition that Allah gave man was to be grateful to Him and to his parents. He says,
“And give thanks to me and to your parents, unto Me is the final destination.” (Luqmaan 31:14)
The Prophets also commanded their peoples to thank Allah. Prophet Ibraheem told his people,
“Seek your provision from Allah and worship Him (Alone), and be grateful to Him.” (Al-‘Ankaboot 29:17)
Fellow Muslims! None draws lessons from signs of Allah but the grateful. Allah says,
“Thus do We explain variously the signs for a people who give thanks.” (Al-A‘raaf 7:58)
Showing gratitude to Allah is also the admonition that the Prophet Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam gave to his companions. He said to Mu‘aadh: “O Mu‘aadh! I love you. So do not stop from saying at the end of every prayer, “Allahumma a‘inee ‘alaa dhikrika washukrika wa husni ‘ibaadatika.” Meaning, “O Allah! Help me to remember You, to give thanks to You and to worship You in the best way.” Ibn Taymiyyah said, “I ponder over the best invocation and I found that it is: “Allahumma a‘inee ‘alaa dhikrika washukrika wa husni ‘ibaadatika.”
When Satan, the enemy of Allah knew the high position that showing gratitude to Allah occupies and that it is one of the greatest acts of worship, he made efforts to keep people away from it. Allah tells us that he said,
“Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and you will not find most of them as thankful ones.” (Al-A‘raaf 7:17)
Our Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) was the most grateful one to his Rabb. He left this world while he never ate his fill of barley bread. He once tied a rock unto his stomach out of severe hunger. His past sins and future sins were forgiven for him. He would stand up in prayer during the night so long so that his feet would be cracked and yet he would say: ’should I not be a thankful slave?’
Showing gratitude to Allah is safety from punishment. Allah (s.w.t.) says,
“Why should Allah punish you if you have given thanks (to Him) and believed (in Him)?” (An-Nisaa 4:147)
Prophet Loot was saved from punishment because of his gratitude to Allah. Allah says in His Book about the people of Loot,
“Verily, We sent against them a violent storm of stones (which destroyed them all, except the family of Loot, them We saved in the last hour of the night; as a favor from Us. Thus do We reward him Who gives thanks.” (Al-Qamar 54:34-35)
When the people of Saba showed ingratitude to Allah and disobeyed Him. Allah removed His favour from them and made them taste punishment.
Also, in Sooratul Qalam, the people of the garden were ingrate to Allah for His Blessings and denied the poor the part thereof. So Allah visited their crops with a tragedy that turned them into particles of dust.
Al-Fudayl bin ‘Iyaad said, “Always thank Allah for His blessing, for seldom does a favour of Allah return to a people after it has been removed from them.”
Any blessing that does not bring man closer to Allah is actually a calamity. Showing gratitude preserves the existing blessing and brings about the lost one.
Alee bin Abee Taalib said, “The favour of Allah is retained by showing gratitude to Him and showing gratitude brings more blessings; and more blessing will not cease to come from Allah until man stops giving thanks. If a Muslim has a favourable position in the sight of Allah and preserves this position and thanks Allah for it, Allah will give him a greater position; but if he is ungrateful, Allah will make that blessing a trap for him.”
Al-Hasan said, “When you see your Rabb showering blessings on you while you are disobeying Him, be careful. For Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
“We shall gradually seize them with punishment in ways they perceive not.” (Al-A‘raaf 7:182)
Sufyaan said while commenting on this verse, “Allah will continue to shower them with blessings while He will prevent them from giving thanks.”
Almighty Allah has condemned ingrate among His slaves. He says,
“Verily, man (the disbeliever) is ungrateful to his Rabb.” (Al-‘Aadiyaat 100:6)
Fellow Muslims! It is by thanking Allah and obeying Him that doors of the blessings of this world and the Hereafter are opened for man. Allah (s.w.t.) says,
“And if the people of the towns had believed and had the piety, certainly, We should have opened for them blessings from the heaven and the earth.” (Al-‘Araaf 7:96)
Showing gratitude to Allah can be with tongue, heart and the limbs. Thanking Allah with the heart means attributing all favours to Him. Thanking Him by the tongue means praising Him much for the blessings. Praising Allah is the highest degree of gratitude and it is among the first verses of the Glorious Qur‘aan.
Thanking Allah with the limbs means making use of them in deeds that please Allah and not to use them in things that displease Him. Showing gratitude with the eye means one should not use it to see forbidden things; gratitude of the tongue means one should speak only the truth; gratitude of the ears is to refrain from using them to listen to gossip, slander and all kinds forbidden things.
Allah also commands that the parents must be thanked. He says,
“Give thanks to Me and to your parents.” (Luqmaan 31:14)
Among manifestations of showing gratitude to them (parents) is to be dutiful to them, to seek for their pleasure and to be humble to them. It is an act of sin to be unkind to them, to be angry with them or to disobey them in matters that do not contradict Islaamic injunctions.
The most fortunate of men is the one who takes Allah’s blessings as means to the abode of the Hereafter and the most wretched is the one who makes use of Allah’s favours for his lustful desires. Allah (s.w.t.) says,
“Allah is full of bounty to mankind; yet most of mankind give no thanks.” (Ghaafir 40:61)
Brethren in faith! Gratitude is one of the qualities of our Rabb and the most beloved of His creation to Him is he who give thanks. Equally, the most detestable of them to Him is he who is ungrateful. So, Allah is Full of thanks and loves the grateful.
To give thanks to whoever does good to you among mankind is part of thanking Allah. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said, “He who does not thank men, does not thank Allah.” (Ahmad)
However, when you do a good deed to someone, do not expect him to thank you. Expect your reward from Allah and be satisfied with whatever Allah gives you, you will be the most grateful of all men. Do praise and extol Allah much, for that is of the greatest acts of worship. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said, “The one who eats out of the provision of Allah and gives thanks to Him is like the one who fasts and is patient.” (Al-Bukhaaree)
He who does not give thanks for little blessings will not give thanks for greater ones. When Aboo Mugheerah was asked, “How is your morning?” He said, “We wake up in the morning immersed in Allah’s favours but we are unable to give thanks to Him.” Men are only but two: one who is tested with well-being in order to know how grateful he will be, and the other who is tested with an affliction to know how patient he will be. Try, therefore, dear brethren to combine between patience, gratitude and piety in order to be among the most truthful worshippers of Allah.
By Sheikh Abdul-Muhsin Al-Qaasim
Khutbah (Friday Sermon) in Madinah Al-Munawarra
Shawwaal 23, 1422 (December 27, 2003)