What is the meaning of being thankful to Allah?
Thanks or gratitude means reciprocating kindness and giving praise to the one who has done good and kind things. The one who is most deserving of thanks and praise from people is Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, because of the great favours and blessings that He has bestowed upon His slaves in both spiritual and worldly terms. Allah has commanded us to give thanks to Him for those blessings, and not to deny them. He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Therefore remember Me (by praying, glorifying). I will remember you, and be grateful to Me (for My countless favours on you) and never be ungrateful to Me” [Quran 2:152]
The Prophets and Messengers
The greatest ones who obeyed this command, and gave thanks to their Lord until they deserved to be described as shaakir and shakoor (thankful) are the Prophets and Messengers (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him).
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, Ibrahim was an Ummah (a leader having all the good righteous qualities), or a nation, obedient to Allah, Haneef (i.e. to worship none but Allah), and he was not one of those who were Al‑Mushrikoon (polytheists, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, and those who joined partners with Allah).
(He was) thankful for His (Allah’s) favours. He (Allah) chose him (as an intimate friend) and guided him to a Straight Path (Islamic Monotheism — neither Judaism nor Christianity)” [Quran 16:120, 121]
“O offspring of those whom We carried (in the ship) with Nûh (Noah)! Verily, he was a grateful slave” [Quran 17:3]
Some of the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon His slaves
Allah has mentioned some of the blessings that He has bestowed upon His slaves, and has commanded them to be grateful for them, and has told us that few of His slaves give thanks to Him:
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
1.“O you who believe (in the Oneness of Allah — Islamic Monotheism)! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you with, and be grateful to Allah, if it is indeed He Whom you worship” [Quran 2:172]
2. “And surely, We gave you authority on the earth and appointed for you therein provisions (for your life). Little thanks do you give”[Quran 7:10]
3. “And among His Signs is this, that He sends the winds as glad tidings, giving you a taste of His Mercy (i.e. rain), and that the ships may sail at His Command, and that you may seek of His Bounty, in order that you may be thankful” [Quran 31:46]
4. Among spiritual blessings, He mentions (interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! When you intend to offer As-Salah (the prayer), wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to the ankles. If you are in a state of Janaba (i.e. after a sexual discharge), purify yourselves (bathe your whole body). But if you are ill or on a journey, or any of you comes after answering the call of nature, or you have been in contact with women (i.e. sexual intercourse), and you find no water, then perform Tayammum (dry ablution) with clean earth and rub therewith your faces and hands. Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His favour to you that you may be thankful” [Quran 5:6]
There are many other blessings. We have only mentioned some of these blessings here; listing all of them is impossible, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Verily, man is indeed an extreme wrong-doer, a disbeliever (an extreme ingrate who denies Allah’s blessings by disbelief, and by worshipping others besides Allah, and by disobeying Allah and His Prophet Muhammad” [Quran 14:34]
Then Allah blessed us and forgave us our shortcomings in giving thanks for these blessings. He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And if you would count the favours of Allah, never could you be able to count them. Truly, Allah is Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful” [Quran 16:18]
The Muslim is always asking his Lord to help him to give thanks to Him, because were it not for Allah’s helping His slave, he would not be able to give thanks. Hence it is prescribed in the saheeh Sunnah (authentic prophetic teachings) to ask for help from Allah to give thanks to Him.
It was narrated from Mu’aadh ibn Jabal that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) took his hand and said: “O Mu’aadh, by Allah I love you, by Allah I love you.” Then he said, “I advise you, O Mu’aadh, do not fail following every prayer to say: O Allah help me to remember You, thank You and worship You properly.” Narrated by Abu Dawood and al-Nasaa’i .
Gratitude for blessings is a cause of them being increased, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: ‘If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My blessings); but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily, My punishment is indeed severe’” [14:7]
May Allah SWT make as amongst His grateful servants.