Being grateful seems in short supply these days. Allah has blessed us with so much, and yet too often we spend all our time complaining or wanting more instead of appreciating what we already have.
The gift of Islam, joining this deen and ummah, is the greatest gift Allah has given us. When we talk about “born” Muslims versus “convert” Muslims, we often use the term “revert” to refer to converts who have actively chosen Islam as their life’s path. But in fact, the word revert should be used for all Muslims because even if one is born and raised in an Islamic home, at some point in that person’s life they must make a conscious decision to choose Islam as their way of life, to give up and stifle their ego and baser desires, and to live to serve Allah.
If we are grateful to Allah for this gift, we must obey Him, practice the Five Pillars and make effort to follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad (salalahi alahi wa salaam) in every possible way. His first gift to us was life itself. Man is created to worship Allah and bow in Islam to Him. This is the sign of gratitude.
Beyond this, Allah gives us everything we have. He gives us sustenance and answers our prayers. And He gives us hardships to test us and to help us to grow and draw closer to Him.
And He giveth you of all that ye ask for. But if ye count the
favours of Allah, never will ye be able to number them. Verily,
man is given up to injustice and ingratitude. (Qur’an Surah
Ibrahim, #14, Ayat #34)
Yet how many of us only turn to Allah when we want something, and then neglect to even make a du’a of thanksgiving to Him upon receiving our wish? How many of us forget to make salat or to give in charity when things are going our way, but when times are rough suddenly give a little to charity, betting on the hadith that says that everything we give will come back to us in greater quantities?
To be ungrateful for the many blessings from Allah is indeed a grave error. But it is a correctable error with effort on our part.
Here are some tried-and-true ways to increase your levels of gratitude:
1) Meditate on all the things that you have. Do not focus on what you do not have, or on what someone else has that you wish for. Think only of the many things you do have; loving family members, a roof over your head, food in your refrigerator, etc. All the “little” things that we tend to take for granted but could not survive without, Allah has provided to us.
2) Meditate on the abstract gifts that Allah has provided for you. Talents and skills, good health, etc. are also gifts from Allah and everyone has been given some.
3) Meditate on the situations of others than yourself. No matter how badly you feel about your own situation, there are millions of people around the world in a far more desperate plight than your own. How blessed are you? What do you see another going without, while you carelessly squander your portion of it?
4) Start a Gratitude Journal. On a regular basis, sit down and write out the things you have to be grateful for and re-read previous entries. If you catch yourself being negative, grasping, or selfish, this is the perfect time to sit down and think of something you can and should be grateful to have. Make du’a to Allah to thank Him for everything you have written down.
5) Make sincere du’a for others who are struggling. Do this because it is the right thing to do, do this solely for the Pleasure of Allah. If when you see another in need you make a heartfelt plea to Allah for their benefit, you will also benefit from it. You will be reminded at this time of what you have to be grateful to Allah for, and Allah will hear your du’a for another, and inshaAllah you will also receive similar blessing as you have wished upon another.