Do you wish to achieve a contented heart and an increase in blessings at the same time? All you’ve got to do is become a Shaakir and mix the simple ingredient of gratitude in your life. Allah has promised to give more to those who are grateful, and who can be more truthful in statement than Allah?! He says in the Quran:
“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.’ “(Surah Ibrahim, verse 7)
Being grateful is one of the essential qualities of the ultimately successful people; those who are successful in the realms of this world and the next. However, only a few manage to be truly grateful as Allah (swt) says in the Quran:
“And Allah is full of bounty to the people, but most of the people do not show gratitude.” (Surah Baqarah, Verse 243)
“And few of My servants are grateful.” (Surah Saba, verse 13)
How can I become a Shaakir?
Basically, Shaakir is the Arabic word for someone who is grateful. Below are some methods we can employ to become of the successful few who are grateful to Allah.
1. Look at those below you
This is the Prophetic advice for attaining gratitude. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “Look at those who stand at a lower level than you but don’t look at those who stand at a higher level than you, for this would make the favors (conferred upon you by Allah) insignificant (in your eyes)” (Muslim – 2963)
When we eye those who have been blessed more than us in terms of wealth, beauty, health, intelligence and other capabilities, we tend to develop an inferiority complex and a complaining attitude towards Allah. However, following the advice of Muhammad ﷺ, whenever you see someone who has been blessed more than you in any way, and a feeling of ingratitude creeps silently in your heart, be quick to remember those who haven’t been blessed with what you have.
If an expensive car or a huge mansion makes you feel low, think about those living in slums and squatters. If seeing someone who can speak better than you makes you feel ungrateful, look at those who cannot speak at all. The same goes for everything.
2. Be mindful of the blessings of Allah
We are indebted to Allah for all his favors. His blessings on us are innumerable. Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “And if you should count the favor of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful.” (Surah Ibrahim, Verse 34)
But then why do we think we’ve got nothing? It is because we take everything for granted and are not mindful of the blessings given to us. The second step towards becoming a Shaakir is to take some time out and reflect on Allah’s blessings. Start making a mental or written list of the blessings of Allah on you. Add all the little and the big things, people and opportunities that add value to your life. As an on-going activity, you can make a gratitude tree like this one, or write thank you notes to Allah in a journal made especially for this purpose.
3. Be grateful to people
Being grateful is not a once in a day or once in a month thing. It is an attitude that is reflected in all your actions and dealings. A Shaakir is not insensitive to the kindnesses and favors of other people. They are thankful to the people around them the same way they are thankful to Allah. In fact, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ informed us:
“Whoever is not grateful to the people, he is not grateful to Allah.” (Tirmidhi; Sahih)
When someone does good to you, be appreciative and thank them; not just out of courtesy, rather out of gratitude. Don’t be ungrateful!
4. Ask Allah for help
We can gain nothing without Allah! Ask Allah for help and supplicate to Him to make you a grateful person. There is no Might and Power other than that of Allah. You can learn the following dua taught by the Prophet ﷺ:
Mu’adh bin Jabal (radhiallahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ caught his hand and said:
By Allah, I love you, Mu’adh. I give some instruction to you. Never leave reciting this supplication after every (prescribed) prayer:
اللَّهُمَّ أَعِنِّي عَلَى ذِكْرِكَ وَشُكْرِكَ وَحُسْنِ عِبَادَتِكَ
“O Allah, help me in remembering You, in giving You thanks, and worshipping You well.” (Abu Dawud; Sahih)
You may also like: Connecting With Allah Through Prayers
The Shapes of Gratitude
Gratitude to Allah is manifested in different ways. Ibn Qayyim writes, “Shukr is to display the effects of the blessings of Allah upon the tongue by way of praise and acknowledgement; in the heart by way of witnessing and love; and upon the limbs by way of submission and obedience.” [Madaarij As-Saalikeen, 2/244]
1. Gratitude in the heart
A Shaakir realizes the blessings of Allah in the heart and is truly grateful for them. Whenever he/she thinks about their blessings their heart increases in faith and love for Allah.
Let’s Check: Does my heart acknowledge the blessings of Allah, or am I insensitive? In the case of the latter, I need to work on the above steps.
2. Gratitude with the tongue
When we truly love someone and are grateful to them, it does not remain hidden. We mention them and their favors often and thank them openly. Similarly, when a heart is filled with shukr it becomes obvious on the tongue. A Shaakir does not complain to people about things, rather he/she praises Allah for His blessings, remembers Him often and says Alhumdulillah.
Let’s Check: Do I praise Allah and thank Him? Or am I always talking about things/capabilities I don’t have? Have I ever performed the prostration of thanks like the Prophet ﷺ? If not, I’m not grateful enough!
3. Gratitude with the limbs
When we are grateful to someone we do not wish to anger them or disappoint them. We do all we can to please them. True gratitude to Allah is when we submit ourselves in obedience to Him and use His blessings in the ways He loves. For e.g. using the car He has given to go to the Masjid, stopping the eyes that He has given from wandering uncontrollably and using the wealth He has given to not only buy expensive dresses, but spending for His sake too.
Let’s Check: Am I using the blessings Allah gave me according to what He likes?
You may also like: Why Do People Convert to Islam?
Related Video: The Sabr Test – Mufti Menk