Gratitude to Allah

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Gratitude has been something that I struggle with from time to time and it is even more apparent in times of crisis. It’s difficult to be thankful for when whatever we’re facing feels like there is no way out. Previously when I hit a setback or face some difficult situation, I’ve always felt like what is there to be grateful for? I didn’t know any better then and I certainly couldn’t see the wisdom behind it.

While watching the lecture by Ust Nouman Ali Khan, I was gifted a new perspective of things and I invite you to listen to the following lecture as well:

The Story of Prophet Musa (a.s) and Pharoah

The verse is in context of this particular story of Prophet Musa (a.s.) and Pharoah. To put briefly, it was a difficult time for the Bani Israil. The Pharoah as we all know was a tyrant and life was difficult under his rule. The Bani Israil was often oppressed and male babies were ordered to be killed. Prophet Musa (a.s) made du’a and brought the Bani Israil to escape from the Pharoah. Allah told Prophet Musa (a.s) to strike the sea with his staff and Allah parted the sea for them to pass through. Upon passing through, they realized that they had nothing (to start life over with). Prophet Musa (a.s.) gave a sermon that Allah wants to remind them that if they are grateful, Allah will surely give them more. After all, Allah did see them through to safety from the oppressor.

Shift your Focus

Ust Nouman says to shift your focus on something that you are grateful for when times are hard.

“And ˹remember˺ when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will certainly give you more.”

Allah says that if we are grateful, He will increase us. Increase us in what exactly? Well, it can be anything – rizq, peace, blessings but only at His time. It takes a lot to find things to be grateful for when facing hardships, but when we practice it we can be sure that Allah will reward us. Shifting your focus also helps you to deal with your hardship better.

Positive Thinking

A believer thinking positive is to be grateful to Allah. The more I think about it, the more it made sense! When you shift your focus to be grateful for something, even if it’s for past hardships that Allah took you out of you are already moving towards positive thinking. When you are grateful for what Allah has blessed you with despite the situation, you will feel some sort of peace and calm flooding into your heart and mind. And truly, when you are grateful, Allah will give you more, because you know He will bring you through whatever hardships that you are facing again and again. When we don’t have a sense of gratitude, the only harm we do is to ourselves and we may even start to feel vengeful.

Allah’s Mercy

I remember listening to a lecture (I apologize, I cannot remember from where) that Allah’s mercy comes in layers and what we are experiencing right now is jut 1/100 of the mercy that Allah has. Subhanallah! I cannot imagine the rest, and even now the thought of Allah’s infinite mercy could make me tear up. How loving Allah is, how nice Allah is.

Ustaz Nouman mentioned we should also take note of the language used here. Allah used “if” and “then” which means if we are grateful, the direct consequence is an increase (in blessings).

“But if you are ungrateful, surely My punishment is severe.”

In the second sentence, it serves as a warning or a reminder that the punishment for being ungrateful is severe. Allah wants to only remind us to not go down that path towards your own destruction. He is saying that the punishment severe but He does not want that to happen to us.

Subhanallah. How loving Allah is towards us.

Reflection

Gratitude has to be constant. It has to be a way of life and not something you say once in a while just for the sake of. Gratitude isn’t just lip service. Gratitude comes from your heart and you need to feel it sincerely. I intend to start practicing gratitude by first remembering all those times that I didn’t have what I have now, and the countless times that Allah rescued me from my own crisis/bad days/hardships/unsavory situations in ways that I couldn’t imagine. He made it all better and that was His favour to me. Having gratitude shapes our attitude and actions. When we live in a state of gratitude, we will start to see the blessings of Allah.

Gratitude Journal (Action Plan)

Several weeks ago, I tuned in to Sumi’s seerah sharing and she mentioned gratitude journal. I decided to try it for myself and this is also one of the things that changed my perspective and made me more grateful for even the littlest things daily. I bought a notebook with gratitude prompts and made sure I wrote at least one thing I was grateful for daily. I remember writing down about being able to buy bubble tea even, because this rizq is indeed from Allah! I recommend you try it too. 🙂

Alhamdulillah ala kulli haal.

The Man with Two Gardens

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The Man with Two Gardens is the second parable in Surah Al-Kahf (18:32-44) in which lies the lesson of the trials of wealth.

It tells the story of a rich man whom Allah blessed with two beautiful and luxurious gardens. It is believed that the rich man’s lush gardens consisted of grape vines, surrounded by date palms. The gardens also yielded maximum output and the rich man did not have to lift a finger for irrigation as Allah SWT provided a river in the gardens. Apart from the gardens, the rich man’s wealth included gold, silver, horses and carriages.

One day, the rich man and his companion had a conversation, where the rich man boasted about his wealth and children. On a side note, wealth and children are mentioned together in the Quran as they signify worldly status. However, the Quran warns that the blessings are not necessarily the signs of Divine Favor and cannot protect one against Divine Punishment (as of the following verses: 9:55, 9:85, 23:55-56).

Despite receiving the blessings and rizq from Allah SWT, the rich man became arrogant and boastful. He opined that all of his blessings were the results of his own hard work. The rich man became ungrateful and did not attribute his wealth to Allah.

The rich man assumed that the wealth he had at that point were everlasting. He was engrossed with the paradise of the world that he did not care about the real paradise i.e. Jannah. The rich man was also doubtful of the Hereafter or resurrection as he was enjoying the paradise in this world. Despite his doubt of the Hereafter or resurrection, the rich man was confident that if he were to be resurrected, he would find something better than his abundant gardens. The rich man also believed that his wealth and good fortune belonged to him on the basis of his own personal merit and assumed that the merit transcends death. Therefore he expected to enjoy wealth and children in the Hereafter as well.

While the rich man spoke so highly of himself, inadvertently insulting his companion, the companion remained silent. However, the companion could not accept the man’s insult of Allah SWT. The companion advised the rich man against being ungrateful to his Lord and reminded the rich man of his origins as of all human beings.

The companion also declared that he would not associate any partners with His lord. This was in relation to the rich man attributing the success of his lush gardens to himself thus, making himself an idol besides Allah.

The companion also reminded the rich man to be less arrogant and have more humility when he entered his garden. The companion suggested that the rich man should be grateful to Allah SWT and ascribed to the blessings.

MasyaAllah La Quwwata Illa Billah

What Allah willed [has occured]; there is no power except in Allah

Surah Al-Kahf [18:39]

Despite having been insulted by the rich man, the companion accepted his qadr and believed that Allah SWT will grant him something better.

As the companion warned the rich man of Allah’s punishments due to the rich man’s arrogance, the rich man’s gardens were destroyed. Consequently, the rich man felt remorseful and regret.

From this parable, we learn that wealth is also a test from Allah as He is testing the recipient of wealth on their gratitude. Secondly, we also learn that things of this world are temporary and transient. All the pleasures and riches of the world are short-lived. Therefore, when they are available, one must thank Allah and spend on the ones who don’t have the worldly pleasures available to them.

May Allah keep us all away from arrogance and plant seeds of gratitude in our hearts. InsyaAllah.