Islam is not just a religion. It teaches us much more than that. It teaches us, among other things, the etiquettes of interacting with others. Saying ‘Jazakallahu Khairan’ is one such etiquette.
Saying ‘Jazakallahu Khairan’
We say this phrase when someone does something good to us, helps us in some way. Instead of merely saying ‘thanks’, the Prophet (SAW) taught us to do much more for the person who did us good; to give them back a gift – the gift of dua.
Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said: “If one is done a kindness and [expresses his gratitude] to his benefactor by saying ‘May Allah give you a good reward’, he has fully expressed his appreciation.” [at-Tirmidhi, qt in Bulugh al-Maram 1383)
When someone does good to us, we should first of all try to reciprocate by doing good to them. That’s the way human society can function, when we help one another. But sometimes it’s just too difficult or unaffordable to give something back. Or maybe giving back is simply not possible. For instance, how do you give back the love your mother shows you by cooking your favourite dinner?
But even if a return is not possible, there’s still dua. It’s easy and always affordable.
The Prophet (SAW) said: “If anyone seeks protection in Allah’s name, grant him protection; if anyone begs in Allah’s name, give him something; if anyone gives you an invitation, accept it; and if anyone does you a kindness, recompense him; but if you have not the means to do so, pray for him until you feel that you have compensated him.” (Abu Dawud 1672).
The Prophet (SAW) also said: If someone is donated something, and he mentions it, he thanks for it, and if he conceals it, he is ungrateful for it. (Abu Dawud 4814)
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Thankfulness to People
Showing gratitude and appreciation is an integral part of the religion of Islam. We express our gratitude to Allah in every prayer when we say ‘Alhamdulillah’. In fact, Allah (SWT) promises us that, if we are grateful for what He gives us, if we appreciate it, then He will give us more and more.
“O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship.” (2:172)
“So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.” (Quran, 2:152)
“And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.’” (14:7)
But we were talking about being grateful to people, right? What’s that got to do with being grateful to Allah? These two types of gratefulness are related to each other, because the former is a part of the latter.
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “Whoever is not grateful to the people, he is not grateful to Allah.” (Tirmidhi 1954)
Being Grateful to Parents
If there is one set of people whom we can never thank enough, it’s our parents. Allah (SWT) specially mentioned being thankful to them, right after commanding us to be grateful to Himself:
“And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.” (31:14)
Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar saw a Yemeni man performing Tawaf (circumambulating the Ka’bah in Mecca) while carrying his mother on his back. This man said to Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar, “I am like a tame camel for her! I have carried her more than she carried me. Do you think I have paid her back, oh Ibn ‘Umar?” Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar replied, “No, not even one contraction!!” (Source: Al-Adab al-Mufrad Bukhari, 1/62*)
Imam Nisabori has explained why Allah (swt) mentioned gratitude to parents right after mentioning gratitude to Himself.
- “Parents are the reason for the presence of their children and the source of education; therefore, they deserve to be appreciated after Allah.
- “This appreciation resembles that of our case with Allah, as we do this with them and they do not ask to be praised or rewarded.
- “This also includes the fact that Allah never prevents His servants from His blessings, even if they commit major sins. The same applies to parents who never stop giving, even if their children are ungrateful.
- “In addition, parents never leave a source of perfection without seeking it for their child. The same is the case with Allah with His servants, as He always does what is good for them. On the contrary, we find other people conceal, envy, and hate those who are better than them.” (Ayoob, Social Manners in Islam 309)