The Benefits in Being Grateful

thankGratitude (Shukr) is an important characteristic; and the one who instills it, is endowed with great blessings.

Allah (swt) 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 Allah).” (An-Nahl 16:78)

Also, it is mentioned, “Allah, it is He Who has made the night for you that you may rest therein and the day for you to see. Truly, Allah is full of Bounty to mankind, yet most of mankind give no thanks.” (Ghafir 40:61)

Gratitude infiltrates a person with happiness, and evicts pressure and anxiety. It teaches one to be content and happy in whatever state he is. Also Allah (swt) has made mankind grateful by nature; thus, we should express gratitude- not just to Allah (swt), but also to the people we deal with.

Many a times in the Quran, Allah (swt) divides people as being grateful and ungrateful in order to motivate us to join the camp of those who are grateful. In one of such verses, Prophet Sulaiman (as) said, “One with whom was knowledge of the Scripture said: “I will bring it to you within the twinkling of an eye!” then when (Sulaiman (Solomon)) saw it placed before him, he said: “This is by the Grace of my Lord to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! And whoever is grateful, truly, his gratitude is for (the good of) his ownself, and whoever is ungrateful, (he is ungrateful only for the loss of his ownself). Certainly! My Lord is Rich (Free of all wants), Bountiful.”(An-Naml 27:40)

Gratitude is escorted with many blessings. Some are discussed below:

Gratitude- A blissful attitude

We, today, are busy like robots; having full plate and swamped by work the whole day- we tend to forget the countless blessings around us. Being grateful to Allah (swt) helps us to focus on the gifts gifted to us by our Most Generous Lord Allah (swt); and hence, it reminds us that everything is decreed by Allah (swt), and whatever happens with us is by the will of Allah (swt).

As He says in the Quran, And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from Allah. Then, when harm touches you, unto Him you cry aloud for help.” (An-Nahl 16:53)

He also says, “And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from Allah. Then, when harm touches you, unto Him you cry aloud for help.” (Ad-Duha 93:8)

Let’s therefore, constantly remind ourselves of Allah’s (swt) bounties by expressing our gratitude to Him in prayers and at other times.

Gratitude- The best mind craftBy paying gratitude for our blessings, prevents us from focusing on other peoples’ lives and blessings. When we allow our minds to look into other peoples’ lives, we welcome a lot of different problems and negativity along with it to enter our brains. Let’s therefore, use gratitude to motivate ourselves to look for solutions and possibilities, and not the negativity associated with the problem.

Gratitude- Wards off Allah’s wrath

Allah (swt) is happy with His slaves if they are thankful to Him. Such people are protected from all evil- hidden or evident. If you are not grateful, then one deserves wrath and resentment of Allah (swt). We know that if Allah (swt) were to punish us for our negligence, He would be justified for it.

He says in the Quran, And if Allah were to punish men for that which they earned, He would not leave a moving (living) creature on the surface of the earth, but He gives them respite to an appointed term, and when their term comes, then verily, Allah is Ever All-Seer of His slaves. (Fatir 35:45)

At the same time though, Allah (swt) provides us a way to escape His punishment by being thankful to Him. He says, Why should Allah punish you if you have thanked (Him) and have believed in Him. And Allah is Ever All-Appreciative (of good), All-Knowing.” (An-Nisa 4:147)

Gratitude, therefore, is not an option; and we should clean our hearts to thank Allah (swt) for everything that He has provided us, for not doing so would bring the displeasure of Allah (swt).

It teaches us to slow down, rather than always waiting for our next wish to come true. It trains our minds to be happy and content with our blessings, today and always

Gratitude- A self-guide

It teaches us to slow down, rather than always waiting for our next wish to come true. It trains our minds to be happy and content with our blessings, today and always. It also shows us that if we are not happy with our life today, then we will never be happy with the blessings to come tomorrow. It helps in controlling the unnecessary wants and desires by restraining our Nafs; and recognizing that we have what many people are yearning for. Gratitude is a sense of fulfillment that comes not from wanting more, but rather from a sense of knowing that Allah (swt) has already blessed us with what we need. In one of the Ahadeeth reported by Ahmad, the Prophet (sa) said: “…if the son of Adam has one valley, he will wish that he had a second, and if he had two valleys, he would wish that he had a third. The stomach of the son of Adam will be filled only with dust (i.e. he is never satisfied)…” (Saheeh Al-Jaami’). So, let’s use gratitude to enjoy what we have today, rather than fretting over it and losing it tomorrow.

Patience

With restraining our Nafs, comes the lesson of patience as well. As per Ibn Qayyim, “Patience in resisting desires is easier than patience in dealing with the consequences that result from desires. It is because consequences either lead to pain and punishment; or they prevent a more complete pleasure; or it deprives one of a blessing which would be more pleasurable and better than the fulfillment of desires; or they cut off an oncoming blessing; or they have a life-long negative impact on one’s character – because deeds have a great impact on one’s character and behaviour.” (Al-Fawaa’id) Exercising patience against the forbidden commands prevents us from harmful results coming thereafter.

Good attitude, Good life

Gratitude makes us less demanding and teaches us to remain happy in all states. Thus, personal desires fulfillment can be easily sought with less. As a result, we can be happy with others easily by having fewer expectations, which thereby, withdraws burden from our close relationships. This trait makes our company more pleasing instead of making us unhappy, demanding and burdensome for other people.

Gratitude says go to ego

Holy prophet (sa) made it quite evident via his sayings that thanking Allah (swt) also comprises of thanking people who have done any favour on us. To be grateful to people is also an important factor. The Prophet Muhammad (sa) said, as narrated by Abu Hurairah (ra): “He who does not thank people, does not thank Allah (swt)” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi) He also said: “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 )In another Hadeeth, he said: “Whoever has a favour done for him, and says to the one who did it,‘Jazak’Allah u Khairun,’ 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.

 Actions speak louder than words

The prophet (sa)  continued to strive for His pleasure, although his sins were forgiven. It was narrated that A’isha (ra) said: “When the Messenger of Allah (sa) prayed, he would stand for so long that his feet would become swollen. ‘A’isha said: O Messenger of Allah (sa), why are you doing this when Allah (swt) has forgiven your past and future sins? He said: “O ‘A’ishah, should I not be a thankful slave?” (Bukhari, Muslim). Let’s, therefore, pray the Nawafil to thank Allah (swt) for His blessings.

Gratitude augments one’s blessings

Allah (swt) says, “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 (i.e. disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.” (Ibrahim 14:7)

Let’s, therefore, make thanking Allah (swt) an integral part of our morning and evening remembrances (Adhkar) to get Barakah in our blessings.

Gratitude- Allah’s (swt) pleasure here and hereafter

The People of Paradise will say, “You (Allah) have given to us what You have not given to anyone among Your creation,” Allah (swt) 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 (swt) will say, “I bestow My pleasure upon you, and I will never be angry with you after that.” (Muslim)

What better reward can we expect? So, why not be grateful to Him for what He has blessed us with?

Finally, remember that being grateful is not an option, but an obligation; and being one brings us closer to those whom we thank and appreciate.

Conclusion

Gratitude’s importance was emphasized by the Prophet (sa) when he took the hand of Mu’aadh Ibn Jabal and said: “O Mu’adh, by Allah (swt) I love you, by Allah (swt) I love you.” Then he said: “I advise you, O Mu’adh, do not fail to say this after every prayer: O Allah (swt) help me to remember You, to thank You and to worship You properly.” The Arabic version of this Hadeeth is the following. Let’s ensure that we memorize it and recite it after every prayer.

Finally, remember that being grateful is not an option, but an obligation; and being one brings us closer to those whom we thank and appreciate.

We can be grateful to Allah (swt) by utilizing our blessings, the way Allah (swt) has ordered. For example- if we have enough money, we should give a lot of Sadaqah and the prescribed amount of Zakat. This way Allah (swt) will increase our blessings. Similarly, if someone has adequate knowledge in any subject, the best way to be grateful is to spread that knowledge and expect its reward from Allah (swt) solely. This way gratitude helps us to seek Allah’s (swt) pleasure; and aids in transmitting positive energy around us by carrying an optimistic dynamism.

In a nutshell, gratitude is very essential for building strong relationship with the people in this Dunya;  and of course, our association with Allah (swt) will also have an impact, consequently affecting our Akhirah.

 

Confide in Who? Him or You?

fireworksLife is unpredictably weird. We don’t understand what it wants from us. It shows us its bright side- full of colors and happiness, but we tend to end up in the shades of darkness. If certain things are not meant for us, then why do we even get a glimpse of them? When some people share their achievement with the people around them, especially their family; they all get so excited for them. Excitement is just a gesture to portray that they are happy. But, here in our lives everything goes in an opposite direction.

Whenever we convey any good news to some people- they do get happy for a few moments, but then they are back to sort out their problems, regardless of the fact that someone has shared something with them. In such a situation, we must try our best cope up with everyone in the best possible manner.

Maybe, we are seeking our ultimate happiness in the wrong direction. Maybe, these achievements are not the only happiness for us; or the people with whom we are sharing the news are not the right ones who could bring cherish moments to us. And, we might have relied on wrong sources for wrong reasons. Well, we cannot wholly blame it on the people around us- after all they all are human beings. They will make mistakes, they will let you down, and they will not react the way you want them to. Hence, we are wrong from the very beginning. But, if we are wrong, then what is the right solution?

Who to confide into?

Okay, the simple solution is to share your news or achievements first and foremost with your Lord, who actually granted you that opportunity. Thank Him, praise Him, and value His power; take out everything in front of him, like- how you did it, what hurdles you faced or how you tackled the drift, even share that how you feel about it after achieving such a big thing in your life. Share it like you are sharing something with someone most important, who will surely understand you and will utterly be happy for you. And on a serious note- yes He will be happy for you; and secondly, He will actually listen to you (Who in today’s world is ready to give you time and listen to your struggle story?). He will regard you; He will make you feel better and positive. And, while sharing your precious news with your Lord, you will face no criticism or “the comments”.

“Expect from others, and expect to be disappointed. Expect from the Almighty, and He will provide. He will also pave the way for greater things.”
-Mufti Ismail Menk

How to confide in your Lord?

How should we deliver our thanks and praise to Him. One very simple way is to pray two Rakat extra prayer in order to say “Thank You” to your Lord. This way you will be thankful to your Lord’s blessing that He had bestowed upon you. You are able to share your news with Someone very special; and doing this you will be getting a reward as well. Moreover, it doesn’t mean, that you stop sharing your news or achievements with your family or people. You should share it with them, but after the above process for you will not be disappointed Insha’Allah. In the end, life is unpredictable but it is not weird at all; our approach, understanding and our reasoning makes our life weird. We need to change our approach towards life and life will turn out to be beautiful, Insha’Allah!

“The secret of happiness is accepting where you are in life, making the most out of every day, and always looking to Allah (swt) for what’s ahead.”
–Dr. Bilal Philips

A Smile is all I Have!

smile6Our preconceived notions about individuals often hinder us from gaining insight into the real meaning of life and learning novelty from unexpected people. Upon seeing a rowdy teenager, we immediately dismiss that he/she can teach us sense of responsibility. Similarly, aged people are instantly dismissed as agents of conformity.

For me, the realization that each individual has something different to teach came about six years ago. Sitting on the beach side, I remember being oblivious to everything but my failure. I had yet again failed to live my life up to the standards I had set. Even the captivating movement of the waves did nothing to alleviate my sense of despondency until I saw him – a young boy of around twelve.

I remember wondering: what was it in his face that jolted me from my ponderings? How come this boy in tattered clothing compelled me to look at him? Then, I realized – it was his smile, a carefree, full of life smile. And yet again I wondered: what did this unfortunate boy have to smile about? His tattered clothing was evidence of the fact that he belonged to the underprivileged class. Also, he went around selling flowers, which was a further testament of the fact that he lacked even the basic rights of education, while indulging in child labour. Then how come his eyes twinkled, as if he had no worries at all?

So why should I sulk, when smiling is better. Allah (swt) does not give you everything. You have to do with what you have, and what I have is my smile.

My mind was occupied with these thoughts, when a voice called out, “Beautiful flowers for a beautiful lady!”

I looked up and saw it was the same boy. Before I could stop myself, I blurted out, “How can you smile so unconditionally, when life has nothing to offer to you?”

“Well,  I only have this smile, no money, and you ask me why do I smile? Does my smile make you feel insecure?” he inquired hurtfully.

I was taken aback by this; I said, “Dear, what I meant was how do you smile so beautifully, under such circumstances?”

He again flashed one of his smiles and said, “Well madam, you know what?

When I smile, people see only my face and they forget about my clothes. My smile is magic. It brings money. I smile, people pay. So why should I sulk, when smiling is better. Allah (swt) does not give you everything. You have to do with what you have, and what I have is my smile. You look sad, why don’t you smile too, and maybe everything will be alright.”

With that, I gave him fifty rupees. And with a smile, he moved on to his next customer, leaving me with my thoughts and his message.

This conversation changed my perspective. I realized that tough times come in everyone’s life, but those, who rise beyond them, know the real meaning of life. The boy was right – nobody has everything; but only those are happy, who believe what they have is enough to strive for a better life.

From the Diary of a Revert

diary-copyAs I look out through the window, I recall about how my life was before I met Him. I was born and raised in France till the age of 21. Then I moved to the UK. Many French and European young immigrants (including me) suffer from a social breakdown.

Sometimes, I think about how my life would have been if I had continued my life without Him. Before meeting Him, I was lost like an orphan without parents. But now I know He is there whenever I think of Him. I will never be lost again. Once being a non-Muslim, I am very grateful to Allah (swt) as He called me towards His path and made me a Muslim. Today, the Quran and the Sunnah are my way of life.  Now when I walk on the streets with my hijab, I feel secure and honourable.

When I pray, I ask Him to forgive my sins. May Allah (swt) forgive us. Ameen. I ask Him to protect Islam and guide the non-Muslims towards His path. There is a sense of peace that I feel when I meet my Lord five times a day during Salah. I love to share this feeling with all my Muslim  brothers and sisters around the world.

May Allah (swt) bless our parents and bestow His favours upon them; the favours of this Dunya and the Akhirah. I feel so proud whenever my parents are pleased with me. I am happy whenever my husband is happy. I pray to Allah (swt) to protect all the married couples from Shaitan and bless them with pious children. I thank Allah (swt) for giving me such beautiful and healthy children. May Allah (swt) bless the Ummah of  our  beloved  Prophet Muhammad (sa), the Prophet of Islam. Ameen.

A Whiff of Fancy

rollercoster2I can still remember that day down to the smallest detail at 1:08 in the morning, on the 11th of September 2004 when he said, “After you graduate from grade school, we will go to Enchanted Kingdom, there we will ride on a Roller Coaster and Carousel, let’s see on which of these rides we’ll spew!” I stared at him questioningly then he answered, “Never mind. Isn’t it obvious? Of course it would be the one that can lift and pull you up to the highest peak and move back and forth along the same section of the track!” he replied with pupils unfocused but a smile so serene, “Hindi rin…(Maybe not…)”

That promise was never brought to reality because four months later, my Daddy passed away. Since then I was left with this question, “What is the essence of making promises if they are made to be broken?” That simple promise of my Dad was like a whiff of perfume — it brought memories, bliss and excitement, but as it does, just like a whiff of perfume, it faded away so quickly. I still wonder if I could ever have the chance to see him again and tell him everything I should have said before.

A fearful fact is the undeniable truth that this day could be our last. It is better to be prepared to face our Creator on a daily basis rather than wait or guess when our last day might be

September 11, 2004, my warrior had flown away from me. I found it hard to have the strength to let him go. Things happened so fast, fate took him away and left me vulnerable to misery. In a blink of an eye, his promise as well as his presence vanished out of sight. This unexplainable amalgam of hatred and longing was always there and I cannot deny the fact that I was broken.

Years went by and I became a lifeless robot, doing things just for the sake of finishing them. Then it started to intensify when I saw a carousel, it almost crushed my heart and broke me into pieces. Back then, I never believed that time is a big healer. I always thought it depends. I always believed that sometimes you only get to be healed when you decide to be cured. But Allah is so good and time indeed is a healer. During those times when memories weakened me and I felt like giving up, it was as if a small voice spoke to me and reminded of the people around me – of the family and friends that I had. It occurred to me that I was apparently gifted… that I was blessed. I realized that life should not be spent on crying over spilled milk. Yes, my father was gone but I still had a mother, a sister and a brother who could ride with me on a roller coaster and carousel. I realized that Allah was teaching me to trust in His timing. I should not be in a hurry. I should not be impatient. I should not try to make things happen in my strength because God has a timetable for all our heart’s desires. I learned that I should let God do it in His way and what I can really do is to trust Him and surrender my whole life to Him.

A fearful fact is the undeniable truth that this day could be our last. It is better to be prepared to face our Creator on a daily basis rather than wait or guess when our last day might be – for life is random. Who knows what will happen next? We’ll never know for sure.

I realized that Allah was teaching me to trust in His timing. I should not be in a hurry. I should not be impatient. I should not try to make things happen in my strength because God has a timetable for all our heart’s desires. 

I am Giselle M. Manabat, 20 years old. Though I already accepted the fact, for a hundred times over, that my father’s gone, I am still a girl who weeps like a frightened child and seeks for her father in the darkness of the night. I put in mind that his promise had been a fantasy and will always be a fantasy. But it still would be a pleasure if one day he would come back to me and bring that promise into reality. I still wish, deep in my heart, that one day, against all odds, he would be coming back to the door he walked out of… and I guess, I will patiently wait for that day to come, forever and always…

image courtesy: en.wikipedia.org

A Life Transforming Experience

villages-of-punjab-pakistan-2It was late in July when I came across a vision so touching in its splendour. It was indeed, a pleasurable morning with stillness all round, the sun was smiling gently down upon us, sounds of chirping birds were also gratifying to my ear, and the weather was as calm as sea in the fresh atmosphere.

My dad was sitting in his chair reading the newspaper while my mom was busy in the kitchen as she was preparing breakfast for us. My younger sister Sadia came rushing down stairs, shouting,’’ Dad, dad!’’ I asked if something was wrong but that little fellow just wanted the attention of her father. She went to him and said in a whining tone, “another month has gone and we have not yet been to a picnic.’’ Our dad never turned down a request from his daughter. He replied,’’ Well, you are right about that, but where to go?’’ My father moved into deep thought and said after a moment with excitement in his voice, ‘’ Oh yes, we can go to my friend who lives in a village!’’ I did not know much about villages so I thought it would be something new and I along with my mother and sister happily agreed.
Few days later, we were packing our bags; my mom and younger sister were putting on their jewellery and make up while my younger brother and dad together with me were waiting for them in the car. We prepared for the journey with great enthusiasm. Our cheeks flushed, boots were shining and excitement seemed to fill our body. My family was looking forward to a thrilling, sizzling and stimulating new adventure!

It was Monday so the roads were busy but my father smoothly drove to the village. After an hour or two, the car had reached its destination safely by the grace of the Almighty Allah. As we stepped out of the car, we saw a vast plain area. There were small houses of bricks, mud or clay. The people were not delighted to see us; we looked alien to them. I said in amazement,’’ Where are we?’’ My dad was not surprised and he called a pedestrian and asked if he could tell us about the residence of Hayyat Mohammad, the man replied, “right there,’’ pointing this finger towards a mansion. That was not far away but we had to cover that small distance on foot. After a walk, we were standing at the gate of the huge dwelling house which was a trendy flavour of structural design.

Extreme poverty was there, such that even their vessels were cracked. This made me realize that people work really hard for things that we take for granted.

At first the guards did not allow us in but as soon as our names were approved they were no more a hurdle for us. I walked into the mansion, observing the tallest ceiling ever, I could also see the wonderful garden that was covering a large area and the beautiful flowers there were also a fascination.

We waited for my dad’s friend in a luxurious room. He did not take much time and appeared just after five minutes. A tall middle-aged man with a broad chest, his beard was mostly black, with a few grey hairs sprinkled in it. My father saw him and stood up and embraced him warmly, he came to meet me too with his hand stretched out in welcome. We returned the greetings and got settled in the sofa which was quite comfortable. It was a perfect drawing room with a beautiful centre table, a book shelve in the corner along with a big TV that had two units on each side. Afterwards, that tall man served us coffee, biscuits and other snacks. Perhaps he was a rich land lord of the village that could afford such an arrangement of top class. Eventually, he turned his face towards me and said, ‘’in which school do you study?’’ I replied, “I am a student of ninth class in Beacon Light Academy that is in Karachi.’’ He was glad to know of it and further inquired about my studies which made him happier. He said to my father, “Your children are in good hands.’’ For a moment, silence had dominated the room when Mr. Hayyat looked at his watch and said, ”I will have to leave but my servant would lead you to your rooms.’’ The room was very well kept and it was a consolation for us. After a while all of my family members had fallen asleep except me because restlessness existed in my nature. I decided to visit the village.

I moved outside the mansion as curiosity forced me to explore the village life, although I was dead tired. Stepping outside the mansion was like leaving a bed of roses and welcoming a bed of nails. The common men of the village were leading a miserable life! They had dressed themselves very simply; most of their children were wearing ragged clothes living in small houses of clay that had insufficient space for the expanded families with empty stomachs. I was surprised, I never knew of people with such a pathetic life style. I felt blue and felt sorry for them, drowning in a sea of grief maybe because I was not at all familiar with that.  Only a cold blooded could pass by calmly. Extreme poverty was there, such that even their vessels were cracked. This made me realize that people work really hard for things that we take for granted.

On that day I made a promise to myself that I would not let a single morsel of food or a single drop of water go in vain because these are precious. Moreover, instead of whining, I would always be grateful to my Lord who has bestowed upon me so many uncountable blessings. I saw their elders working with their fingers to the bone in their farms yet they were unable to make enough money. ‘Why is that so?’ I asked myself. Perhaps it was education, I thought. Maybe education could have made their situation better.

On that day I made a promise to myself that I would not let a single morsel of food or a single drop of water go in vain because these are precious. Moreover, instead of whining, I would always be grateful to my Lord who has bestowed upon me so many uncountable blessings.

I found myself as empty as a lake without water. I did not pay much attention towards my studies although my school and teachers were very good. At that instant, I had recognized the significance of knowledge. I became even more acquainted with the importance of knowledge when I noticed a baby crying and her mother was preparing medicine for the child. The mother could not read and this is why she did not perceive the expire date on the label, I told her that it had expired and would rather be harmful but she refused to obey saying that she did not have enough money to get another one. I came to know of why we say that ‘knowledge is power’. It is because knowledge is a light that comes from the lighthouse in order to guide the ships when it is dark. My heart was sinking and I made a pledge to myself once again that from now on wards I will put my heart in gaining knowledge. Furthermore, I will try to spread the light of knowledge as much as I can. I said to the villagers that time would heal all their wounds but that was a cold comfort to them.

All that I had observed and pondered over turned me into a new leaf. It had transformed me into a careful and mature young man from a reckless and stubborn teenager.Whatever I saw had a noteworthy optimistic effect on me!