The other day while watching a network news program, I saw a Muslim woman in Kosova with her six-month-old infant, who was covered in sores and suffered from a malady of illnesses, all because it had not had a bath since its birth.
The mother explained that because of the heavy fighting, she and her family had been on the move constantly, and that luxurious such as decent food and clean water were not available to them. As the mother of a six-month-old infant myself, this struck to the very heart of me. Bath time for my son and I, is a very special time filled with play and laughter. It's a ritual we share everyday, and the fact that I would have clean water with which to bathe him, was something, until then, every time I bath my son, I try to remember to thank Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala (how far from imperfection is He and He is the Most High), for His Mercy to me. It also reminds me to be thankful for all the other "little things," that I take for granted everyday.
From the very beginning of Man's creation, the issue of gratefulness and thankfulness to Allah has been debated. After refusing to bow to 'Adam, Iblis (Satan) said:
"Then I will certainly come to them from before them and from behind them, and from the right-hand side and from the left-hand side, and Thou (Allah) shall not find most of them thankful." [Al-Qur'an 7:17]
This statement from the worst of liars has proven to be true, not only among the disbelievers, but also among the Muslims. Unfortunately, we Muslims have fallen into the trap of Iblees, and have gotten so caught up in our comings and goings, that we very rarely take the time to reflect on the Favors of Allah, and to thank Him with the thanks that is due Him. We are so busy conducting our daily lives that we forget who is really in-charge, and from where our sustenance comes. This is not the way, for Allah says:
"Therefore remember Me, I will remember you, And be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me." [Al-Qur'an 2:152]
The problem that most of us face is what I call the, "If I only…." syndrome. If I only had a better wife, I would be grateful. If I only had sons instead of daughters, I would be grateful. If I only had a bigger house, a better car, more money, a better job, and the list goes on and on. We are constantly focused on the things we don't have, instead of being grateful to Allah for the things we do have.
This is a very serious illness, for which the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam (may Allah's peace and blessing be upon him), has given the cure. He, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, admonished us, in terms of worldly things to always look to those beneath us, for this will keep us thankful. Allah says about the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, that in him we have the best of examples. In terms of showing us how to be thankful to Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala, he is as Allah says. It is narrated by al-Mughira that the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, used to stand in the salah (prayer) or performed salah until both his feet or legs swelled. He was asked why (he offered such an unbearable salah) he said, "Should I not be a thankful slave?" [Al-Bukhari]
As the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, advised us, the best way to stay thankful to Allah is to count His Favors in our lives everyday. For Allah says:
"And He gives you all that you ask for. But if you count the favors of Allah, never will you be able to number them. Verily, man is given up to injustice and ingratitude." [Al-Qur'an 14:34]
This statement of Allah is so true, yet we put so little value on it, and do not take heed.
The very fact that we got up this morning, that we can offer the salah that we had breakfast, that we have clothes to wear, water to bathe ourselves, that we have homes to shelter us from the elements, that we have our health, our families, etc., are all favors from Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala. We should take non of it for granted, or become arrogant enough to believe that we attained any of it because of our own efforts alone.
Thankfulness frees the heart from greed, jealousy and envy. When we are thankful to Allah, we remain mindful of Him and His continuous Mercy toward us, and this in return humbles us and improves our characters. The very fact that Allah has guided us to Islam and the sunnah of His Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, in itself should be a source of continual praise. Allah says:
"Surely We have shown him the way: he may be thankful or unthankful." [Al-Qur'an 76:3]
Allah also says that only few of His servants thank Him. Let us then strive to be among these few by keeping our tongues wet with His remembrance and our hearts soft with His praise.
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