One of the ways through which a believing Muslim is recognized is by the way they show gratitude to Allah (ta’ala), especially in bad situations.
We all believe that He has blessed us with whatever we have, and as good Muslims, we are grateful for all the blessings.
But a thankful Muslim shows gratitude to Allah (ta’ala) not just for the blessings that they receive, but also for the trials that He has placed in their path.
As we have been told, the affairs of a Muslim is all goodness. If something good happens to us, it is for our benefit. And whenever something bad happens to us, it is also a source of good from Allah (ta’ala), because this seemingly bad event could be an expiation of some of our sins, and the way we react to the bad situation may even earn us rewards.
So, in all of our affairs, good or bad, we are advised to practice the art of gratitude But how do we show gratitude when something we don’t like happens to us?
Recognize the Source of this Occurrence
Nothing happens except by the permission of Allah (ta’ala), and this knowledge should always be at the forefront of our minds.
When we are stricken by a calamity, one of the ways to show gratitude is to remember that everything we face has been decreed by Allah (ta’ala).
The illness that strike us may have been as a result of some deficiencies in our bodies, for example. But we should remember that both the deficiency and illness have been put there by our Creator.
Believing that something bad happened to us from another person is a type of disbelief in Allah (ta’ala). For example, believing that all the things that went wrong on your way to work is because your zodiac sign has predicted that today will be a difficult day.
Express Gratitude for what Happened
It seems counter-intuitive to be asked to show gratitude when something bad has happened. Imagine hearing a deadly diagnosis from the doctor. The first few emotions that many people will express will range from shock, fear, to anger and disbelief.
Not many people will hear something bad and immediately say “Alhamdulillah”. But this should be the habit for us as Muslims. Whenever we are faced with a calamity, we should thank Allah (ta’ala) for this calamity.
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) has told us that patience is at the first stroke of calamity, and all of his life, he demonstrated this patience and gratitude whenever he was struck by calamity.
Every time he lost a loved one, the Prophet (ﷺ) would grieve, but he would also show gratitude.
If this is something that you’ve never done before, try to internalize it as you go forward. Whenever something you don’t like happens to you, say “Alhamdulillah”, or even do a sujood of shukr (prostration of gratitude).
Have Hope of a Reward
It is possible that something bad happened to us as a punishment for a sin that we have committed. It is also possible that this was a trial for us from Allah (ta’ala).
Whatever the case, you can’t know, and what is best to do in every situation is to hope for the best from Allah (ta’ala).
As narrated by `Aisha (the wife of the Prophet), Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “No calamity befalls a Muslim but that Allah expiates some of his sins because of it, even though it were the prick he receives from a thorn.” (Bukhari)
One of the ways by which a Muslim shows gratitude in seemingly negative situations, is to be patient.
You often hear people use the terms sabr and shukr together, meaning patience and gratitude. Even when it hurts, even when it’s difficult, patience with the tests from Allah (ta’ala) is a trait that goes well with gratitude.
When we are patient in situations that are less than desirable, it shows our reliance on our Creator, as well as our belief that whatever He has decreed for us is best.
Ibn Mas’ud (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “He who (on befalling a calamity) slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes and follows the ways and traditions of the Days of Ignorance is none of us.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Practicing gratitude in difficult situations may not be something easy for us. We are humans after all, and can’t ignore our emotion. But even at that, we as Muslims strive to look deeply at our circumstances all the time, so that we can see the reason to be grateful in every situation.