Allah [swt] in the Qur’an-e-Karim has ordained us to do shukr. Shukr means to have gratitude for the blessings of Allah [swt]. In a very powerful way, Allah [swt] has equated shukr with kufr: Fashkuruli – have shukr towards me, wa la takfuru – and do not have kufr; because kufr in Arabic means to deny.
To acknowledge the blessings of Allah [swt] and therefore be thankful & grateful for them
A person, who does not have shukr, is in reality denying the blessings of Allah [swt] which is a kind of denial of Allah [swt] Himself.
To illustrate this, let’s look at the types of Kufr:
- To deny Allah [swt]’s existence, His being. [i.e. Atheism]
- To deny Allah[swt]’s attributes, His Asma-ul-Husna [ i.e. shirk]
- To deny any of the blessings of Allah[swt] or any of the commandments of Allah[swt]
[That is essentially a sin & Allah [swt] is also referring to it as ‘kufr’ in the above ayah]
So, ‘Be grateful to me and do not be ungrateful” =“Be grateful to me and do not be an unbeliever”
Now, what exactly is Shukr?
1.) First way to do shukr is – to be grateful and thankful with your tongue i.e. what we normally do in our lives with one another. You’ll be amazed that we’re so trained in being polite that if anybody gives us something it is considered impolite if we don’t say thank you i.e. for a fellow human being we are so insistent on doing shukr. Somebody can give you a single coke and you will feel obliged to say thank you. While Allah [swt] can feed us a whole meal and we still forget to say Alhumdulillah after it.
According to the first way, to do shukr of Allah [swt] with our tongue is by means of doing Hamd of Allah [swt], saying ‘Alhumdulillah’
2.) The second way to do shukr is through obedience, ita’at – a grateful servant is an obedient servant i.e. to do shukr of Allah [swt] through performing obligatory and voluntary worship & good deeds etc.
3.) Another way is to use the blessings that Allah [swt]’s given us in His obedience or at the very least not to use them in His disobedience.
E.g. If a person is truly grateful for having eyesight – he will say that Allah[swt] you have blessed me with this gift of vision and my shukr to you will lie in using these eyes in Your obedience and not Your disobedience.
4.) Remember our humility.
True Story: RasulAllah [saw] said that there were three men of the Bani Isra’il, a leper, a bald man and a blind man. Allah [swt] sent an angel to test them. The angel met the leper and asked him, “What would you like best?” He said that he would like a beautiful complexion and skin and a relief from this sickness which drove people away from him. The angel stroked his body and he had what he wished for. The angel then asked him what he would like for wealth and gave him a pregnant camel when he asked for camels, saying ‘May Allah bless this for you.”
Next the angel met the bald man, and asked him the same questions. He wished to have healthy hair and a cure from the disease which drove people away from him. On a stroke of the angel’s hand, he got beautiful strong hair and when he wished for cows, the angel gave him a pregnant cow, praying for Allah [swt]’s blessings.
The angel then went to the blind man who wished to have his sight restored to him. The angel passed his hand over his eyes and he regained his sight. “What wealth do you wish for?” “Goats” the man said. The angel gave him a pregnant goat and prayed for Allah [swt]’s blessings for that.
All the animals procreated and soon there were camels, cows and goat with them in large numbers. Then Allah [swt] sent the angel in the same form as before and he said to the leper, “I am a poor man who has exhausted all his provision and means and cannot reach home. I ask you in the Name of Allah [swt] who has blessed you with a nice skin and complexion give me a camel that it may take me home.” He shouted, “Away with you, I have other things to do and do not have anything to give you.” The angel exclaimed, “Oh I think I do recognize you! You were the poor leper whom people despised but Allah blessed you with wealth. He shouted, “Nonsense!” This wealth I inherited from my ancestors.” The angel prayed, “If you lie, you may become as you were.”
The angel went to the bald man after that and he turned out to be no better than the first and the angel said, “If you lie you may become as you were.”
Next, the angel went to the blind man and repeated his plight to him, seeking a goat from him in the name of Allah [swt] Who had given him eyesight. He replied, “That’s right, I was blind and the Merciful gave me eyes to see. Take away whatever you want and leave for me whatever you like. The angel said, “By Allah, I have not come for anything except to try the three of you. Allah is pleased with you but displeased with the other two.”
Just like this, we also get into the same process. We do our MBA’s PhD’s, get good jobs etc and forget that all these are simply the bestowals of Allah [swt]. If you have a Mercedes etc you feel like you are on top of the world that you are something really great. The reality is that we are nothing in front of Allah [swt]. So, we should remember our humility.
A part of the reason why we have so much heedlessness [ghaflah] is laziness. In fact, the biggest illness in Pakistani youth is ‘Laziness’. The second illness is ‘Takkabur’ – not having humility in front of Allah [swt]. Without humility there is no way a person can come on this Deen. Allah [swt] said that anyone who has an atom’s weight of takabbur would not enter Jannah. This is one of His attributes ‘Akbar’ – His Greatness [Kibriyaee] that nobody can have a share in it. Although we are supposed to adorn ourselves with Allah [swt]’s other attributes like His Karam, Rehma etc. But about His Kibriyaee Allah [swt] has revealed in a Hadith-e-Qudsi that ‘‘Pride is My cloak and greatness My robe, and he who competes with Me in respect of either of them I shall cast into Hell-fire.’”
So, we need to make ourselves among the shakireen; if we become shakireen, we will automatically be amongst the zakireen.
One way to increase our shukr is: To give Charity [Sadaqah]
- Allah [swt] mentions in the Qur’an, describes people that they give from that which they love. One way, it can be interpreted is that we love our money or earnings i.e. it’s difficult to part with our hard earned money. Another way it has been interpreted is that we give from the good things we have, the things that we are fond of or attached to we give those away in the way of Allah. And when you do that, it becomes an act of sacrifice and you will become less attached to this world. We are talking here about Sadaqah not Zakat. Zakat is obligatory, its part of the necessities of life …like eating/drinking. Do you congratulate yourselves on the ability to eat and drink or breathe? So, we shouldn’t congratulate ourselves on giving Zakat.
- Sadaqa means to give from that which we have to someone who is more deserving of it; everyone should give Sadaqah according to their own means. The amount should be such that we should feel something when giving it away it shouldn’t so petty that we don’t feel anything when giving it away…like one, two or five rupees etc. It should ATLEAST equal the amount we usually spend on ourselves so that we FEEL the pinch of giving it away, because otherwise it goes against the Qur’anic philosophy of giving from that which you love. InshaAllah when you do that then you will feel the benefit of giving Sadaqa.
- Our pious predecessors used to give so much Sadaqa that they would endanger their own lives and even their family! The ultimate example of this is of Hazrat Abu Baqr Siddiq[ra]. When RasulAllah [saw] made a call for Sadaqa, he gave away everything he had, even his clothes; he wrapped himself in a type of rag/match and came to RasulAllah [saw] like that. So, RasulAllah [saw] asked him, ‘O Abu Bakr! What have you left for your family?’ He said, ‘I have left Allah [swt] and His Messenger [saw]’. Then the angel Jibra’el [as] came and he was wearing the same rag/match. When Prophet [saw] asked him what are you wearing? He replied that Allah [swt] is so happy with Hazrat Abu Baqr[ra] that he has asked all the angels to adopt his likeness and so all the angels are wearing this same rag/match. Allah-o-Akbar Kabira
- Prophet [saw] never used to keep any money. He used to spend it as it came; on the ashbab-e-sufa, poor people etc…there was really no concept of saving money at that time…
- A person who is on a tight budget but still gives Sadaqa, he/she will feel the baraqah immediately. They’ll start viewing money as a burden, that’s what the Sahaba[ra] used to feel that they would be accountable for each and every penny so they would give away as much as they could!
- Prophet [saw] said in a hadith that that person who gives someone something when they’re not expecting it, surprises that person, then Allah [swt] sends His special Mercy upon that person. Once someone came to Harun ur Rashid asking for 700 Dinars. He wrote something on a chit of paper and asked that person to give it to his treasurer. That man went to the treasurer and told him that I asked for 700 Dinars and so Harun Rashid has sent this so you’d give me the money. When the treasurer saw the amount it was for 7000 Dinar. He thought it was a mistake and went to Harun Rashid to notify him of the error. Harun Rashid took the chit wrote something else and gave it back. Later the treasurer came to Harun Rashid and asked him the whole story as to why he’d first asked to give 7000 Dinar when the man only wanted 700 Dinars and later issued an order for 14000 Dinars. So, Harun Rasheed related the same Hadith and said that since that person was only expecting 700 Dinars when he came to me, I initially asked you to give 7000 to him to surprise him. But when you revealed it to him, he must be expecting that amount and I had to double it now to give him more than his expectations so that Allah [swt] would send His special Mercy on me.
- Upon the call for Sadaqa, Syeddina Umar[ra] gave half of his wealth. And when RasulAllah [saw] asked him what he’d left for his family he said ‘half’.
- So, even among the four Khulafa-e-Rashideen we see different examples: Hazrat Abu Baqr gave all of his wealth, Hazrat Umar[ra] gave half Hazrat Uthman[ra] gave a lot of money, that was his tarz; he was very well-off and he gave away a lot. Hazrat Ali [ra] didn’t even have much money, his Zakat was obligatory. At times he was even eligible for Zakat, so he gave away a few dates; gave something whenever he had. So, we should also become people of Sadaqah.
- When you give Sadaqah you will feel humbled; thankful to Allah that He has enabled you to give it. And so, it will increase you in your feeling of Shukr towards Allah [swt].
- At the Conquest of Makkah, Prophet [saw] slaughtered many Camels for the Muslim Ummah as Sadaqah; the camels were willingly lining up to be sacrificed by the blessed Prophet [saw]. That is why Muslims now sacrifice an animal for Prophet [saw] because he [saw] did it many times for his Ummah. So, we can even also make the niyyah of sending the rewards to our loved ones, Muslim Ummah, whether living or who have passed away.
Whenever we don’t adorn ourselves with any attribute of the believers that Allah [swt] mentions in the Qur’an; we just don’t lose that attribute or the blessings associated with it…we also lose part of our iman. Our iman becomes weak, and it will affect our entire practice of Deen. Similarly then, if we do adorn our self with any of these attributes, like shukr we not only get the state of shukr but our heart is also adorned with the part of iman and deen associated with that attribute.
May Allah [swt] accept our Sadaqa whether it is monetary, our time, helping our fellow muslim in time of need, kindness, giving council or advice or even a smile…May Allah[swt] make us such people of perpetual shukr that whenever we receive any nai’ma in our life, we are grateful for it and use it in His obedience and not in His disobedience. May He enable us to remember Him every moment of the day and May Allah [swt] accept us among His shakireen and enable us to give more and more Sadaqa. Ameen.
NOTE: [This is a transcript[not word-by-word] of the talk delivered by Shaykh Kamaluddin on 09.24.2008. ]
This material may be used for non-commercial use, provided it is unaltered and this copyright information and a link to Shaykh’s official website ‘www.islamicspirituality.org‘ is included.