بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Peace and blessings be upon our noble Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and his progeny and companions.
Have we ever painfully select Oxygen from other gases in our lungs, then distribute it to every cell in our body? Then carefully extract the carbon dioxide from every cell, transport it to the lungs to be exhaled?,
Nope, we merely indulge in the pleasure and blessing of taking in clean air.
Have we ever repaired a cell in our body? Maintain it? Protected it from harm?
Have we ever took the pain to digest our own food? Extract the nutrients from it? Made sure it goes into the blood and is distributed to the proper parts of the body? Every single time we eat? Nope, we merely indulge in the pleasure of eating.
How much effort does it take to see?
Did we go through pain to learn to see?
No, we just merely open our eyes by His Will every day and we get clear vision of the world around us. Did we make sure the photons from objects reach our eyes and took measure of its frequency and interpret them into colours? Nope, We merely indulge in the blessing of vision.
Our eyes, the most sophisticated visual instrument that can never be duplicated by man. It can zoom out to distant objects and zoom in to near objects at the speed of thought!
Do we own ourselves then? Surely this body is not ours for not a single moment in our life do we maintain it, but it is lent to us from One Who is Exalted, Intelligent, Loving, Extremely Powerful yet Subtle and Gentle. All Praises be to the Lord of the Worlds.
“Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.
Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.”
(Surah Ali-Imran 190-191)
When this verse was revealed, the Prophet pbuh. cried and stood for prayer for so long in the night till Bilal came to him to call him to the morning prayer. Our lady ‘Aisha then asked him, “What makes you weep when God has forgiven your sins past and present?” He pbuh. replied, “Should I not be a thankful servant?” Why should I not weep when God has revealed to me,” (the above verse)”
Thus we see the Prophet pbuh. the most thankful servant of God, expressing his gratitude with optional devotions to such an extent. Such is his love and gratitude to God. All good deeds are done on the basis of gratitude and love for God and this very basis makes the deed sweet.
When Imam Junayd al-Baghdadi was seven he was asked by his saintly uncle As-Sari about thankfulness and he said, “Thankfulness is that one not disobey God using the blessing (He has given).” We have mentioned many blessings of God in the beginning. They include our faculties and senses which we often use to disobey God. Thus we should continuously aspire and strive to not use these blessings and others in disobedience to God when we are already doing too little non-obligatory devotions.
In every moment there is a blessing to thank for. Our every breath is a blessing/a gift from God which we should use in a way that can make us attain His Good Pleasure. Every step we took and achieved in becoming better people are all thanks to Him, His guidance. Thus we thank Him for every step closer that we draw near to Him instead of applauding ourselves so that He may increase us in guidance, blessings, knowledge etc.. God Most High says, “If you are thankful, I will give you increase” (14:7)
God gave us parents, teachers and guides so that we may learn to be thankful and be grateful to His creatures. We learn how to appreciate them, not to disrespect and hurt them because in the first place we simply can’t repay their kindness. If we can’t respect the platoon commander how are we going to respect and honour the General of the army?
Back to that point about the fact that there is always something to thank for in every moment. This applies even in the event of adversity and calamity for surely there is good in all that happens. The shakir (thankful one) is he who is thankful for what is, and the very thankful one, shakur is he who is thankful for what is not. The shakir is thankful for a gift, the shakur is thankful for a rejection. The shakir is thankful for blessings, the shakur is thankful for adversity. This is probably as adversity removes attachment and love for the world in the heart and makes the heart easier attached to Divine remembrance. Shouldn’t it be then something we should be thankful for?
Thankfulness is recognizing one’s inability to be thankful. One sees that the act of giving thanks is from God’s enabling and thanks God for that and eventually realises that one has no capacity to give thanks.
The one who is immersed or absorbed in love/Presence of God is described in the words of ash-Shibli, “Thankfulness is awareness of the Giver of Blessings, not of the blessings.”
And God Knows best, and He grants success!
Al-Qushayri’s Principles of Sufism