“Are you not aware that it is God whose limitless glory all creatures in the heavens and on earth praise, even the birds as they outspread their wings?” (Qur’an 24:41-42)
“To God belong the most Beautiful Names.” (Qur’an 7:180)
Gratitude is not an emotion; it is more a state of the mind and heart. States of mind are different than emotions because they are like channels on a radio that we can consciously choose to dial into. When we are only thankful when we get what we want, then our gratitude is a product of our ego. True gratitude blossoms through the practice of praising the Divine regardless of the outcome we desire. Sincere gratitude is birthed from the womb of humility, because it is only when we truly believe that God is “the best of planners” (8:30) that our gratefulness is no longer dependent on our outer circumstances, which constantly change, but on a God who is unchanging and eternal. In fact, the mystics even say, “We must be grateful for being grateful, because it is by the blessing of Allah that we are grateful to Him to begin with.”
When we are in a state of shukr or gratefulness we are connecting ourselves to the divine name Ash-Shakur, which means “The Most Grateful.” When we are grateful we are closer to our Lord. When we are in a state of gratitude it is always of more value than what we are grateful for – because the gift will perish but the Giver of the gift is eternal. This is why when the Prophet’s (pbuh) wife asked him why he would undergo so much hardship in prayer and repentance if Allah had already forgiven him, the Prophet (pubh) replied by saying, “Should I not be a thankful servant?” In other words, the Prophet was not grateful to Allah to gain something, but rather he was grateful because he could not imagine responding to Allah’s infinite mercy, grace, love and forgiveness in any other way. As Rumi says, “Thanksgiving is sweeter than bounty itself! One who cherishes gratitude does not cling to the gift! Thanksgiving is the true meat of Allah’s bounty; the bounty is its shell. For thanksgiving carries you to the heart of the Beloved.”
The essence of gratitude is experienced through the acknowledgement and appreciation of the gifts Allah has given us. When we appreciate, and see His resources and gifts in ways that please Him we are given a greater means of experiencing Him and His divine names. We manifest true gratitude when we use our eyes to see God’s signs, when we use our ears to hear God’s words, when we use our tongue to remember our Lord, when we use our hands to give charity, when we use our feet to walk the path of truthfulness, love, kindness, justice, and mercy. “Alhamdullilah or “All praise and glory belongs to Allah” is the first thing that Adam expressed when he spoke, and “Alhamdullilah is among the first words the people of Paradise will say (7:43).
This blog is an excerpt from A. Helwa’s recently published best-selling book, “Secrets of Divine Love: A Spiritual Journey into the Heart of Islam.” Her book is available on Amazon.com
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About A. Helwa
A. Helwa believes that every single person on Earth is deeply loved by the Divine. She is a writer who has inspired hundreds of thousands of readers through her passionate, poetic, and love-based approach to spirituality. Her popular blog @quranquotesdaily, was established while obtaining her Masters in Divinity, as a means of helping others overcome personal and spiritual struggles on their journey of experiencing divine love.
With over 15 years of experience writing and speaking on Islam and spiritual development, A. Helwa draws from her personal experiences and traditional sources to help her readers access ‘Divine love in everyday life.’