One of the finest of blessings is 'giving thanks to Allah'
People spend their entire lives in need of Allah. From the air they breathe to the food they eat, from being able to use their hands and feet to being able to speak, from finding shelter to laughter and happiness, they need Allah’s creations and the things He bestows on them. However, some people fail to realize their weakness and need of Allah. They think that everything happens spontaneously, or that they acquire the things they possess through their own efforts and endeavors. This is both a grave error and also terrible ingratitude toward Allah. These people, who are ignorant even of how to thank someone who gives them a small gift, spend their whole lives blind to the countless blessings that Allah bestows on them. But the fact is that the blessings bestowed by Allah are more numerous than can ever be counted. Allah reveals this in a verse in the Qur’an:
If you tried to number Allah’s blessings, you could never count them. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surat an-Nahl, 18)
Being Numbered among Those Who Give Thanks to Allah Is a Characteristic of Believers
Various blessings that people must give thanks to Allah for are revealed in the Qur’an, and they are reminded to give thanks time and time again. These blessings include the way human beings are created with a regular form, their being endowed with the senses of sight and hearing, Allah's teaching the True Religion to them, His revelation of verses, His purification and cleansing of believers, His forgiving their sins when they repent, His making worship easy, His granting victory over unbelievers, believers being rescued from the oppression of the unbelievers, His settling human beings on Earth and giving them the means by which to live, the creation of water to drink, the products of the soil, animals being placed at human beings’ service and disposal, the fruits of the sea, adornments, the ships on the seas and the creation of night an
d day. As revealed in verse 18 of Surat al-Nahl, "If you tried to number Allah’s blessings, you could never count them. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful,” it is impossible to count even the different classes of Allah’s blessings, let alone those blessings one by one.
Giving thanks for a blessing means expressing one’s happiness and gratitude and appreciating the value of the blessing bestowed.
Giving thanks to Allah, on the other hand, is the expression of that gratitude in one’s heart and words, knowing that all blessings belong to Him and that all things come from Him alone. The opposite of giving thanks, however, is expressed in the Qur’an by the term “kufr,” meaning ingratitude. This definition alone is enough to show what an important observance giving thanks is in the Sight of Allah and the terrible situation that ignoring that obligation puts a person in.
Giving thanks to Allah is revealed as an important religious obligation in many verses of the Qur’an. The importance of giving thanks to Allah is mentioned in some 70 verses, and examples of people who do and do not give thanks are cited, and their respective ends are described. Giving thanks to Allah is a proof that indicates one’s faith in Allah and the Oneness Of Allah. In one verse, “gratitude to Allah” is described as one of the preconditions for “worshiping Him alone”:
You who believe! Eat of the good things We have provided for you and give thanks to Allah if you worship Him alone. (Surat al-Baqara, 172)
In other verses of the Qur’an, giving thanks to Allah is mentioned alongside serving Allah, as the opposite of ascribing equals to Him:
It has been revealed to you and those before you: ‘If you associate others with Allah, your actions will come to nothing and you will be among the losers.’
No! Worship Allah and be among the thankful. (Surat az-Zumar, 65-66)
Believers give thanks to Allah by reflecting on their weakness and need for all their blessings. Wealth and property are not the only blessings believers give thanks to Allah for. Believers, who know that Allah is the Lord and Ruler of all things, also give thanks for their health, beauty, knowledge, intelligence, love of faith, the way they regard idolatry as unpleasing, their being on the true path, their living with other immaculate believers, and for their understanding, comprehension and foresight. They immediately give thanks to Allah for an attractive view or when their work comes easy, when something they desire happens, when they hear a kind word, when they see love and respect and for many other innumerable blessings, and they reflect on His mercy and compassion, and on how He is the Rahman and Rahim (the All-Merciful and Most Merciful).
There are many references in the Qur’an as to how only those who give thanks can understand Allah's signs in the world and His verses in the Qur’an. Some of these read:
Good land yields up its plants by its Lord’s permission, but that which is bad only yields up scantily. In this way We vary the Signs for people who are thankful. (Surat al-A’raf, 58)
We sent Moses with Our Signs: ‘Bring your people from the darkness to the light. and remind them of the Days of Allah.’ There are certainly Signs in that for everyone who is steadfast, thankful. (Surah Ibrahim 5)
Allah Increases His Blessings on Those Who Give Thanks to Him
In the Qur’an, Allah reveals a secret in return for believers giving thanks for all their blessings. That secret is that He will multiply His blessings on the grateful. For example, Allah increases the health and strength of a Muslim who gives thanks for the health and strength he enjoys. Allah bestows greater knowledge or property on those who give thanks for their knowledge or property. This is because they are content with what Allah gives, rejoice at the blessings they enjoy and are sincere and close friends of Allah. Allah reveals this secret as follows in the Qur’an:
And when your Lord announced: “If you are grateful, I will certainly give you increase, but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is severe.” (Surah Ibrahim, 7)
Allah reveals that He will reward gratitude and increase the blessings of those who give thanks in many verses of the Qur’an. Some of these verses read:
That is the good news which Allah gives to His servants who believe and do right actions. Say: ‘I do not ask you for any wage for this –except for you to love your near of kin. If anyone does a good action, We will increase the good of it for him. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Thankful.’ (Surat ash-Shura, 23)
The people of Lot denied the warnings.
We unleashed a sudden squall of stones against all of them, except the family of Lot, who We rescued before dawn.
It was a blessing direct from Our Presence. That is how We recompense those who give thanks. (Surat al-Qamar, 33-35)
Being among those who give thanks is a sign of one’s proximity to Allah and of one’s friendship toward, and love of, Him. Grateful people always have the understanding and capacity with which to see the beauty and the blessings created by Allah in all things. But an unbeliever or ungrateful person always sees flaws and defects in even the finest settings, and is made unhappy and distressed by them. But the wisdom of Allah’s creation is such that these people will always experience events they regard as unwelcome or unpleasant. But Allah always increases His blessings on those who look at things positively and sincerely.
PRESENTER: As we have seen, Allah’s increasing His blessings on those who give thanks is one of the secrets of the Qur’an. But what must not be forgotten here is that thanks must be given with a true sincerity. Thanks that are made without sincerely turning to Allah, without feeling the joy of His love and mercy, that are expressed simply for show, are of course completely dishonest. And Allah, Who knows what lies hidden in people’s hearts, witnesses that insincerity. Those who give thanks in such a state of mind are unaware that Allah knows what lies hidden in their hearts, and what their true intentions are. They may make expressions of thanks when things are easy, but when things are difficult they can easily become ungrateful.
We must not forget that true believers give thanks to Allah under even the most difficult conditions. Someone who thinks superficially may see a reduction in the blessings enjoyed by believers. But since believers see the blessings in all events and climates, they know that this is also for the best. For example, Allah reveals that He tests people with a little fear, and hunger and a decrease in their possessions. Under such circumstances, believers rejoice and give thanks in the hope that Allah will reward them with paradise if they exhibit fortitude. They know that Allah will never load them with a burden heavier than they can bear, and exhibit fortitude and give thanks in trust and submission to Him. Being one of those who give thanks is therefore always a distinguishing feature of the believer, and Allah will enhance His blessings on the grateful in both this world and the hereafter.
Another verse reveals that Allah will always reward those who give thanks:
Why should Allah punish you if you are thankful and believe? Allah is All-Thankful, All-Knowing. (Surat an-Nisa’, 147)
Allah’s signs and the wisdom in His proofs may only be fully understood thanks to the understanding and sensitivity possessed by those who give much thanks. But ungrateful and insensitive people cannot understand the wisdom in Allah’s signs, and may not even be aware of their existence.
Allah also advised the prophets to be grateful. For example, in the Qur’an He tells the Prophet Moses (pbuh):
He [Allah] said, ‘Moses, I have chosen you over all mankind for My Message and My Word. Take what I have given you and be among the thankful.’ (Surat al-A’raf, 144)
Many verses of the Qur’an reveal how the Messengers were people who gave much thanks to Allah.
Verse 15 of Surat al-Ahqaf shows the importance of giving thanks and asking to be grateful in the face of Allah’s blessings in the prayer a believer makes when he reaches the age of 40:
We have instructed man to be good to his parents. His mother bore him with difficulty and with difficulty gave birth to him; and his bearing and weaning take thirty months. Then when he achieves his full strength and reaches forty, he says, ‘My Lord, keep me thankful for the blessing You bestowed on me and on my parents, and keep me acting rightly, pleasing You. And make my descendants pious. I have sought forgiveness of You and I am truly one of the Muslims.’ (Surat al-Ahqaf, 15)
Knowing How to Give Thanks to Allah
In the Qur’an Allah also reveals, in these words of satan’s, that one of his main aims is to prevent people giving thanks:
Then I will come at them, from in front of them and behind them, from their right and from their left. You will not find most of them thankful.’ (Surat al-A’raf, 17)
Satan wishes to prevent people from giving thanks because the importance of giving thanks is set out in a great many verses. Of course, one of his principal objectives will be to cause people to ignore such an important truth.
In order to give thanks to Allah, one has to have the awareness with which to grasp its importance. Someone who gives thanks knows that the blessings he enjoys belongs to and is bestowed by Allah alone, as well as his own weakness before Allah. But the thanks of someone who foolishly ignores the greatness and might of Allah and who does not feel this manifest reality in his heart will be equally superficial.
People directed by satan are in any case not inclined to give thanks. Most of these people only remember such a basic religious obligation as giving thanks for a very short after having been troubled by an affliction or unwelcome situation of some kind, after which they return to their lives of idolatry. In the Qur’an, Allah reveals the situation of people who pray when struck by affliction but then return to ascribing equals to Him when their troubles are eased as an example of this:
Say: ‘Who rescues you from the darkness of the land and sea? You call on Him humbly and secretly: “If you rescue us from this, we will truly be among the thankful.”’
Say: ‘Allah rescues you from it, and from every plight. Then you associate others with Him.’ (Surat al-An’am, 63-64)
Yet the fact is that giving thanks to Allah is one of a person’s most fundamental obligations because everyone’s life is full of countless blessings to give thanks for. There is no limit to the giving of thanks in the Qur’an. People can use every available opportunity to give thanks. For example, someone who, like the Prophet Abraham (pbuh), knows that it is Allah Who permits him to eat and drink and must express his gratitude to Allah every time he eats or drinks something.
But giving thanks must not remain limited to merely eating and drinking. There are countless blessings a person enjoys during the course of the day that he generally never thinks of, and whose value he only appreciates after they have been taken away. The blessings of “seeing” and “hearing” are examples of these and are revealed as opportunities to give frequent thanks in the Qur’an.
Allah has given human beings eyes and ears for them to give thanks to Him. And what we must do is to give constant thanks for them:
Allah brought you out of your mothers’ wombs knowing nothing at all, and gave you hearing, sight and hearts so that perhaps you would show thanks. (Surat an-Nahl, 78)
In the same way, ships, used for travel and transportation purposes, the seas that make up three-quarters of the surface of the Earth, and even the winds must be instruments by which people give thanks to Allah. Allah reveals this thus:
It is He Who made the sea subservient to you so that you can eat fresh flesh from it and bring out from it ornaments to wear. And you see the ships cleaving through it so that you can seek His bounty, and so that hopefully you will show thanks. (Surat an-Nahl, 14)
Among His Signs is that He sends the winds bearing good news, to give you a taste of His mercy, and to make the ships run by His command, and to enable you to seek His bounty so that hopefully you will be thankful. (Surat ar-Rum, 46)
It is Allah Who has made the sea subservient to you so that the ships sail on it at His command, enabling you to seek His bounty, so that hopefully you will be thankful. (Surat al-Jathiyah, 12)
Believers giving thanks for their blessings is a sign that they appreciate these blessings. They thus repay that blessing and also, by Allah’s leave, prepare the way for even greater ones. While revealing that He will increase His blessings on His grateful servants, Allah also reveals that the ungrateful, who do not give thanks, will be punished:
And when your Lord announced: “If you are grateful, I will certainly give you increase, but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is severe.”’ (Surah Ibrahim, 7)
The way that the Prophet Solomon (pbuh), on whom the rank of prophethood was bestowed, asked Allah to inspire him to give thanks to Him must serve as an example to all believers because satan will approach people from in front or from behind, from right or left, and strives to prevent them from giving thanks by means of such trickery as causing them to forget their blessings, inspiring a sense of apathy regarding their blessings, or making people underestimate them.
Being Among Those who Give Thanks to Allah
People sometimes grieve when they lose a blessing they regarded as very great or important in their own eyes. That grief magnifies the heedlessness into which they fall, and may even lead to them rebelling against Allah (surely Allah is beyond that). On the contrary, believers know that “Allah is the Creator of all things and He is the true Lord of all.” People can only be “stewards” for a brief time of all the things belonging to Allah. It is known to Allah and by His will that we either enjoy a blessing for a short time, or else never attain it at all. What we have to do is know that there is wisdom behind everything we are given and to give thanks for all the countless blessings bestowed on us by our Lord.
Blessings are not bestowed as blessings because of any superior characteristics one has, but as a test. They are given so we can be grateful, not so we can become arrogant. If people fail to realize this then possessions, one of these blessings, will never bring anyone happiness and salvation in this world or the hereafter.
Possessions are given to be used for Allah’s approval, not to be saved and accumulated out of tight-fistedness. The end awaiting those who behave in such a way is revealed as follows in the Qur’an:
Those who are tight-fisted with the bounty Allah has given them should not suppose that that is better for them. No indeed, it is worse for them! What they were tight-fisted with will be hung around their necks on the Day of Rising. Allah is the inheritor of the heavens and the earth and Allah is aware of what you do. (Surah Al-‘Imran, 180)
Believers make use of all the blessings of this world bestowed upon them, to the extent that this is legitimate, but they are never deceived by them into forgetting Allah, the hereafter and to live by the moral values of the Qur’an. No matter how much luxury, glory, money or power come their way, they never permit these things to cause them to sit back and relax, to become spoiled or proud or, in short, to turn their backs on the moral values of the Qur‘an because they are aware that all these things are blessings from Allah and that Allah can take them all back if He so wishes. They never for a moment forget that the blessings of this world are transitory and limited, that they are tested through these blessings and that their genuine counterparts are those in paradise.
For someone who lives by the moral values of the Qur’an, worldly blessings such as property, possessions or rank are merely means of drawing closer and giving thanks to Allah. Therefore, he never makes possession of worldly blessings that he enjoys for a brief time his essential objective. For example, the benefit from a home, one of the longest-lived blessings in the life of this world, will only last for the extent of the average person’s life span, an average of 60 to 70 years. When the life of this world comes to an end, one will leave behind the home one strove for, loved so much and attached so much value to. Death clearly represents a definitive separation between a person and the blessings of this world.
A believer knows that the blessings bestowed on him in fact belong to Allah alone and that they come from Him alone. He does all he can to give thanks to our Lord, Who created these blessings, and to express his pleasure and happiness. He strives to be in a constant state of thanks, in both word and deed, in return for all his countless blessings, to remember Allah’s blessings, to keep them in mind and to tell others of them. Some verses on the subject read:
And as for the blessing of your Lord, speak out!
(Surat ad-Duha, 11)
…. Remember Allah’s blessings, so that hopefully you will be successful. (Surat al-A’raf, 69)
PRESENTER: There is no doubt that there is a purpose in all the blessings Allah bestows on us. Blessings must turn the person who enjoys them toward Allah. Because everything he is given requires gratitude in return. He must make every sincere effort to give thanks to Allah, Who constantly bestows the finest and the greatest blessings.
Giving thanks is both a great act of worship and also protects people against “excess” because every human being has a tendency to become cruel, oppressive and devoid of conscience when they acquire wealth or power. When some people become wealthy and acquire fine things they forget their weaknesses and start becoming arrogant. Giving thanks prevents that “excess.” A person who gives thanks to Allah knows that it is Allah Who gives him every blessing that comes his way. He has a responsibility to use that blessing as our Lord wishes, on the path of Allah. That is the real reason for the humility and maturity or prophets such as David and Solomon, who were given great rank, possessions and sovereignty. But Qarun, who took to excess because of the possessions given to him, met a painful end because of his failure to give proper thanks to our Lord.
As we have emphasized throughout this film, giving thanks to Allah is a valuable act of worship for believers. All the Messengers, and especially our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saas), are excellent role models on this subject for believers. What believers must do is to adopt the moral values of the prophets for themselves and be among those who constantly give thanks to Allah for his blessings, scrupulously avoiding all ingratitude.