Gratitude: A Fundamental of Faith
Gratitude is from the fundamental qualities of a Muslim. In fact, it directly impacts our relationship with our Creator. The following story illustrates this beautifully:
When Ayesha Bint Abi Bakr (RA) saw the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) praying a long night prayer in tears, she asked him a very practical question. She asked, “Oh Prophet of Allah, why do you go through so much effort (in worship) even though Allah has forgiven for you your earlier and later sins?”
His reply was extremely brief and profound, “Should I not be a thankful servant?” (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 1130 and Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 2819)
The Prophet’s (peace be upon him) relationship with Allah was founded on gratitude. As he is our role model, we too should aim to have a relationship with Allah based upon gratitude.
The results of such gratitude is clear in Allah’s promise:
And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you are ungrateful, indeed, My punishment is severe.(Surah Ibraheem 14:7)
The promise of Allah is simple and clear: be grateful, you will receive more bounties. Be ungrateful, and your sources of misery will increase
Positive Thinking And Self Help
In Self Help material, no matter how secular the author, there is a strong emphasis on gratitude. Many people around the world have experienced increase in blessings when they live a life of gratitude. Some secular sources list as many as 30 benefits of gratitude.
When modern research and Islamic principles agree on the importance of being grateful and thankful, why then is ingratitude so common today?
The Age of Complaining
Complaining and taking offence have become international hobbies. There doesn’t seem to be a single day in which Muslims are not upset, offended by, angry or ranting about something.
We complain about everything: politics, scholars, lack of scholars, people being too conservative, people being too liberal, someone using words we didn’t like, and of course Islamaphobia. The list goes on and on.
While many of these are legit grievances, ask yourself how much has your complaining actually helped the ummah?
At the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), did he not have as many things to complain about? He was exiled from his city, slandered by his people, lost many of those closest to him, and injured by his enemies. Yet his response to all this was “Should I not be a thankful servant?”
Despite all the negative events occurring around him, he always found something to be grateful for, so should we.
The Danger Of The Complaining Era
The problem with our current era is that all this complaining creates a negative vibe. We end up full of rage, malcontent, bitterness, and sadness. None of these emotions are productive, and as a result, we spend so much time complaining, but so little time actually doing anything constructive.
This needs to change, and the change has to start with us. We need to let go of our habit of complaining, and replace it with a habit of thanking Allah.
How to make the shift
The first step to change this is to become more selective in our social media. The way most of us configure our social media accounts, we are bombarded with negative news and comments all day long. This makes it almost impossible to experience any positive emotion at any point in the day.
Instead, create some filters. Let your main news feeds reflect only positive accounts, keep more depressing accounts aside for only when you need to read them. And PLEASE avoid the comment section at all costs!
Personally, I start each day by listing three things to be grateful for, and then thanking Allah for these blessings, and I try to make a unique list every single day. This helps me start my day on a positive note, and avoid negative emotions.
If you make the shift from complaining to expressing gratitude, you will experience inner peace, positive emotions, increased productivity, and an increase in blessings. So what are you waiting for, make the change today!