Gratitude in Islam

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“Give thanks to Allah, and whoever gives thanks, he gives thanks for (the good of) his own self”

 Quran 31:12

We know we should give thanks; we have been taught the word Alhamdulillah. Prayer, and the words of remembrance we offer after prayer, come easy enough. But Allah says:

“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested.”

Quran 29:1

Our gratitude will be tested to see if it remains on our lips or fortifies our character. We must embody gratitude, in our most difficult times, like the ones we face today.

Recently the number of COVID-19 deaths in the UK has hit an unsurpassed high. We face disease, change, uncertainty, economic instability, loss, and grief. Some of us face new heights of physical, emotional, and psychological distress simultaneously.

We have all heard the phrase “patience is a virtue”, and know that patience is what was practiced by the prophets in times of hardship. However, how do we exercise patience in the most difficult of times? How can we train ourselves to be patient for the difficult times ahead? Here are some practical tips to help us become patient through keeping a gratitude journal. 

How to be thankful?

1) Have the correct intention

“Actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended…”

Related by Bukhari and Muslim

For this gratitude journal to have any meaningful weight in this life and the Hereafter, our intentions must be renewed with the purpose of pleasing Allah only.

2) Preparation

The Prophet ﷺ said, “The most beloved deeds to Allāh are those which are consistent even though they may be small”. Remember that small consistent actions are best. Therefore make a plan to ensure that you do not overburden yourself. Remember this is beneficial for you and should feel pleasant, not a chore.

  • When will you record your journal? Try to set aside a time in the day that is easiest to commit to. First thing in the morning if you are an early riser. Or possibly before you retire to bed when your home is quiet and peaceful?
  • How will you record your journal? Notes on your phone if that is easiest? A notebook and pen kept by your bedside table? Or a variety of calligraphy pens in a beautiful journal if that is what motivates you to be consistent.

3) Use the following prompts

Overwhelming anxiety or grief is difficult to navigate out of. It can be hard to think of blessings or be grateful.

Download your gratitude journal prompt sheet & Daily Planner for FREE by clicking the link below. 

Pick something you are grateful for. Spend 5 minutes writing about it:

  • What is it?
  • How long did you have it?
  • How would you feel without it?
  • How has it impacted your life?

I have elaborated on a few points that are largely universal for readers of this blog.

Quran

In surah Ar- Rahman, Allah lists his blessings upon us. Firstly, He mentions that He bestowed the Quran upon us and only then Allah mentions the act of creating. A miracle that is heard, so it may be passed down from parent to child and have the same impact on us today as it did on the sahabah when they first heard it. Allah gave every single Muslim the opportunity to experience his miracle. The more you have heard, the luckier you are. The more you understand the luckier you are.

“The Most Beneficent. Has taught (you mankind) the Quran (by His Mercy). He created man.”

Quran 55:1-3 

A functioning body

If you are a parent think of how you felt when you first looked upon your child. How grateful were you for all their fingers and toes, hearing and sight? The physical and physiological? You were admired in this way by your parents when they first saw you. Allah is happy with his creation of us:

“Verily, We created man of the best stature (mould)”

Quran 95:4

Water

To have water to quench our thirst, perform wudhu, and bathe is a blessing that isn’t enjoyed everywhere in the world. Think of a time when your home has had a problem with plumbing. How difficult were those few hours when you couldn’t brush your teeth, make a cup of tea, or flush the toilet? Water itself is a blessing for the earth, sent down from the heavens, and recycled on earth, to create and sustain life.

“Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, and the ships which sail through the sea with that which is of use to mankind, and the water (rain) which Allah sends down from the sky and makes the earth alive therewith after its death, and the moving (living) creatures of all kinds that He has scattered therein, and in the veering of winds and clouds which are held between the sky and the earth, are indeed Ayat (proofs, evidences, signs, etc.) for people of understanding.”

Quran 2:164

Food

Are you able to eat enough to fill a third of your stomach? Are fresh fruits and vegetables available to you? Are you able to eat meat or fish once a week? Do you enjoy a variety of cuisines? A lack of food can lead to a plethora of diseases due to malnutrition. Think back to the lethargy and exhaustion you feel during Ramadan. Hunger affects mental concentration and can affect your studies, causing physical fatigue. Has Allah blessed you so you don’t have to experience this?

“So let them worship (Allah) the Lord of this House (the Ka’bah in Makkah). (He) Who has fed them against hunger, and has made them safe from fear.”

Quran 106:3-4

“Then let man look at his food, That We pour forth water in abundance, And We split the earth in clefts, And We cause therein the grain to grow, And grapes and clover plants (i.e. green fodder for the cattle), And olives and date-palms, And gardens, dense with many trees, And fruits and Abba (herbage, etc.), (To be) a provision and benefit for you and your cattle.”

Quran 80: 24-32

Home

Your home is a sanctuary from harsh weather and wild animals. It is a space where you can retreat from negative influences. Is your neighbourhood safe? Do you have a Muslim community? Access to halal food? Access to mosques and Islamic education?

  “And Allah has made for you in your homes an abode, and made for you out of the hides of the cattle (tents for) dwelling, which you find so light (and handy) when you travel and when you stay (in your travels); and of their wool, fur, and hair (sheep wool, camel fur, and goat hair), furnishings and articles of convenience (e.g. carpets, blankets), comfort for a while.”

Quran 16: 80

The Sun

Have you ever been grateful for the Sun? The Sun emits light so we are not in darkness. The sun radiates sufficient heat for life, in a solar system of lifeless rocks. The energy from the sun is harnessed by plants through photosynthesis, which in turn is the food for all life on earth. The orbit of the sun and cosmic bodies give us the day, night, month, and annual calendar.

“And from among His Signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon…”

Quran 41:37

4) To do:

  • Spend 5 minutes a day writing about something you are grateful for.
  • Read, reflect and say Alhamdulillah.
  • Throughout your day reflect on this blessing.

In my next article, I will endeavor to discuss how to gauge if keeping this gratitude journal has impacted you positively, inshaAllah.

Click the link below to get your FREE Gratitude Prompt Sheet & Daily Planner.