It is Allah who has created us, made us an intelligent species, and favored us with many blessings. Whatever good we achieve – whether relating to material, professional, personal, or spiritual life – is ultimately from Allah. As He states in the Quran, “And He gave you from all you asked of Him. And if you should count the favors of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, humankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful.” (Quran 14:34)
The above ayah emphasizes the need for frequently expressing gratitude to Allah. However, many of us are unaware of how exactly to do so – what constitutes gratitude and what does not? Here are ten simple practices and attitudes you can adopt to show thankfulness to Allah.
1) Contemplate His blessings in your life
Begin by reflecting upon all that is worthwhile in your life. Recount all the good things in your mind or jot them down – including your relationships, abilities, possessions, and achievements. If you are not consciously aware of what there is to be thankful for, then you simply cannot be thankful for it. Also think about what could have been worse in your life: imagine being deprived of something valuable or picture yourself living in a homeless shelter. These scenarios, disconcerting as they may seem, allow you to appreciate your situation in life, and not take things for granted.
Also Read: Contemplation and Reflection in the Quran
2) Be content at heart
Do not yearn for what others have; rather, be content with what you can acquire, without overworking yourself or trampling upon someone else to get there. If you constantly compare your financial status or perceived well-being with anyone else, you are not going to achieve peace of mind. And without peace of mind, there is no contentment of heart. So, when you see someone living in luxury or doing great in life, just be happy for them instead of feeling envious. Try to give your best at everything, and know that whatever befalls you is by the will of Allah.
3) Express gratitude with words
Call upon Allah each day to express how grateful you are for His favors. Begin your daily supplication of gratitude with the words, “O Allah, I am thankful to You for giving me all these blessings,” and then recount them individually – as many as you can. Alternatively, reflect on one blessing each day that you are grateful for. Praise Allah by saying “Alhamdulillah” every time you eat or drink something, and whenever something good comes your way. Remember Allah frequently, call upon Him without any intermediary, and praise Him for His beneficence and generosity.
4) Obey the commands of Allah
Obedience to the commands of Allah is the most practical form of gratitude. By obeying Allah, you are acknowledging His supremacy over you, and His many favors upon you. Therefore, make every effort to enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. Strive for the truth even if it goes against you or those close to you. On the other hand, placing your personal interests above the commands of Allah is sheer ingratitude which hampers your spiritual growth.
5) Value your relationships
Appreciate the people around you who add value to your world. Think about what each important person in your life does for you. Make sure you don’t take anyone for granted – whether your parents, spouse, children, friends, relatives, co-workers, or anyone else you routinely interact with. Never let a disagreement or an unpleasant exchange with one person adversely affect your conduct towards others. Think of ways to improve your relationships, knowing that it is Allah who has placed you in the midst of certain people.
6) Thank people who do good to you
Express gratitude to any person who does something for you – no matter how small. Do not dismiss any kind word or deed as trivial, and make it a point to acknowledge the person who is there for you. Ingratitude to people is equivalent to ingratitude towards Allah, as the Prophet ﷺ said, “He who does not thank people is not thankful to Allah.” (Abu Dawud) Reciprocate kind gestures with a “thank you” or “may Allah reward you”. Thank the one who holds the door open for you, who facilitates you at a shop, or who calls you just for a friendly chat.
7) Share your blessings with others
Everything that you possess ultimately belongs to Allah; you are merely its custodian and beneficiary for a period of time. It thus makes sense to share your blessings with fellow humans. Allah describes helping those in need as giving Allah a “goodly loan” which He shall repay many times over (Quran 2:245). The more you share something with others that you love, the higher your level of gratitude towards Allah. Make sure you don’t allow greed or apathy to hold you back from selfless giving.
8) Do not waste your blessings
Wasting food, water, and other resources is a sign of indifference towards Allah’s blessings. The Prophet ﷺ used to urge people to “clean the dish” while eating and not to leave any particle of food behind. (Abu Dawud) Millions of people around the world are deprived of basic necessities such as regular meals and clean water. Hence, any food that goes to your bin, rather than to someone who needs it, is contributing to hunger and poverty. On the other hand, if you value the blessings at your disposal, and minimize wastage, you are not only being grateful for them but also contributing to a more equitable distribution of resources.
9) Exercise patience in difficult times
What better way is there to counter a difficulty than to show patience and determination? Instead of feeling dejected or angry, trust Allah to help you, and take you over the line. As Prophet Yaqub said, “Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people.” (Quran 12:87) Learn and grow through the difficulties you encounter, and remember that no hardship lasts forever. Impatience in a tough situation is a sign of weak faith and short-sightedness. It does nothing to alleviate the suffering, but only leads to more frustration.
10) Remain committed in times of ease
In good times, it is easy to imagine that nothing can go wrong. Hence, one may end up neglecting the remembrance of Allah, and becoming absorbed into worldly life. The Quran gives the example of a group of sailors whose ship is surrounded by a storm in the ocean. They call out to Allah alone for help, but once He rescues them and brings them safely to shore, they start associating partners with Him. In the same way, we often promise to reform ourselves if a certain trial is averted from us, but once we are safely delivered from it, we revert to our sinful conduct. It is important to remain thankful to Allah and conscious of His commands at all times, not just when it is convenient to do so.