By Harun Yahya
Being grateful is to render one’s thanks to someone who has shown favor, to express gratitude and to appreciate. The concept of being grateful to Allah, on the other hand, is to grasp and express that every kind of grace and favor is granted exclusively by Allah. In the Qur’an, the opposite of being grateful is defined by the term “disbelief”, which is synonymous to being ungrateful. Only this definition indicates the importance attached to being grateful as a worship and the detrimental consequences it may have for a believer.
Gratefulness to Allah is one of the concepts mostly emphasized in the Qur’an. In almost 70 verses, the importance of rendering thanks to Allah is stated, the examples of those who are grateful and ungrateful are given and the end they face is related. The reason why so much importance is given to this concept is simply because it is a mere indication of one’s faith and affirmation of the unity of Allah. In one of the verses “being grateful” is described as “worshipping only to Allah”:
O you who believe! Eat of the good things that We have provided for you, and be grateful to Allah, if it is Him you worship. (Al-Baqara, 172)
In another verse giving thanks to Allah is described as the opposite of idolatry:
But it has already been revealed to you,- as it was to those before you,- “If you were to join (gods with Allah), truly fruitless will be your work (in life), and you will surely be in the anks of those who lose (all spiritual good)”. Nay, but worship Allah, and be of those who give thanks. (Az-Zumar, 65-66)
The statement of the Evil emphasizes the importance of giving thanks to Allah :
He said: “Because you have thrown me out of the way, lo! I will lie in wait for them on your straight way: Then will I assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left: Nor will you find, in most of them, gratitude (for your mercies).” (Al-Araf, 17)
As stated in the verse above, Satan devoted his life to mislead people due to his envy. His ultimateaim is to make people not to be grateful to their Creator. When this ultimate purpose of the Satan is considered, it becomes more comprehensible how a man goes astray when he does not render thanks to Allah.
Gratefulness is a part of the test by Allah. Man is surely endowed with favor from Him and is informed about how he should benefit from all this favor. In return, he is expected to assume a submissive attitude towards his Creator. However, it is again only man himself who chooses to be grateful or ungrateful to Allah:
We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm, in order to try him: So We gave him (the gifts), of Hearing and Sight. We showed him the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will). (Al-Insan, 2-3)
As the verses suggest, the choice of a person in this world, namely being grateful or ungrateful, is explicitly a clear sign of his faith or disbelief.
Gratefulness is also closely related to the punishment in the Hereafter. No punishment shall befall those who have faith and are grateful:
What can Allah gain by your punishment, if you are grateful and you believe? Nay, it is Allah that recognize (all good), and know all things. (An-Nisa, 147)
This verse, together with many others give the good tidings that Allah reward those who remain grateful to their Creator:
And remember! Your Lord caused to be declared (publicly): “If you are grateful, I will add more (favors) unto you; But if you show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed.” (Abraham, 7)
That is (the Bounty) whereof Allah gives Glad Tidings to His Servants who believe and do righteous deeds. Say: “No reward do I ask of you for this except the love of those near of kin.” And if any one earns any good, We shall give him an increase of good in respect thereof: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Ready to appreciate (service). (Ash-Shura, 23)
The people of Lut rejected (his) warning. We sent against them a violent Tornado with showers of stones, (which destroyed them), except Lut’s household: them We delivered by early Dawn,- As a Grace from Us: thus do We reward those who give thanks. (Al-Qamar, 33-35)
“If you would count up the favors of Allah, never would you be able to number them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-Nahl, 18)
As this verse suggests, let alone counting up the favors of Allah, it not conceivable to categorize them. Since there is no limit to the favors of Allah, a believer should unceasingly keep himself occupied with the remembrance of Allah and express his gratefulness to Him.
In expectation of some grand favor, some people wait for special occasions to render their thanks to Allah. Settlement of a major problem, or recovering from a serious sickness are the proper times to express one’s inner gratefulness to Allah, they assume. However, if one reflects on only for a moment, he would instantly comprehend that he is always surrounded with infinite favors. At every moment, every minute, there is an uninterrupted flow of favors reaching him; his life, good health, intelligence, consciousness, his five senses, the air that he breaths, in brief, everything that makes life possible is given to man as a favor. In return for all these, a person is expected to serve Allah in gratitude. Those who are heedless of these favors and accordingly neglect to turn to Allah for expressing their gratefulness, only acknowledge the importance of these favors when they are deprived of them. This is indeed a punishment for their ingratitude.
The Qur’an enjoins for careful attention to the favors of Allah and repeatedly reminds us of the favors we tend to forget. Volumes of book would surely be insufficient to name the favors of Allah. Allah fashioned man into a man, He endowed him five senses enabling him to perceive the world around him, guided him to the true path through His Book and Messenger, provided the explanations of the verses, desired no hardship for His servants, He saved them from the oppression of unbelievers, made their habitations homes of rest and quite for them, created fresh water, variety of food, sea- products, ships sailing together with night and day.
A person can never say: “ I fulfill my regular prayers and engage in righteous deeds but do not give thanks to Allah” he. A person who is not grateful to Allah is someone who does not occupy himself with the remembrance of Allah, and hence is heedless of Him. A worship performed in a heedless mood surely has no value in the presence of Allah. A person who consumes everything given to Him like animals without pondering over the reason why it is granted and the One who grants them, surely needs to change this attitude. Otherwise, expecting to get a reward from Allah and hoping to attain Heaven would be meaningless. That is why a believer should never neglect to render thanks to Allah:
We also know from the revelations of Allah that only those who give thanks to Allah can acknowledge the signs of Allah in the outer world and draw lessons for themselves. The related verse follows;
From the land that is clean and good, by the will of its Cherisher, springs up produce, (rich) after its kind: but from the land that is bad, springs up nothing but that which is niggardly: thus do we explain the signs by various (symbols) to those who are grateful. (Al-Araf, 58)
We sent Moses with Our signs (and the command). “Bring out thy people from the depths of darkness into light, and teach them to remember the Days of Allah.” Verily in this there are Signs for such as are firmly patient and constant,- grateful and appreciative. (Ibrahim, 5)
See you not that the ships sail through the ocean by the Grace of Allah?- that He may show you of His Signs? Verily in this are Signs for all who constantly persevere and give thanks. (Luqman, 31)
But they said: “Our Lord! Place longer distances between our journey-stages”: but they wronged themselves (therein). At length We made them as a tale (that is told), and We dispersed them all in scattered fragments. Verily in this are Signs for every (soul that is) patiently constant and grateful. (Saba, 19)
The wisdom related in these verses and evidences can only be comprehended by those who are granted with the insight and sensitivity. This is no doubt a reward of being grateful to Allah. Ungrateful and insensitive people, on the other hand, even do not notice these verses:
In many verses, Allah advises His Messengers to be grateful and Moses is one of them:
(Allah) said: “O Moses! I have chosen you above (other) men, by the mission I (have given you ) and the words I (have spoken to you): take then the (revelation) which I give you, and be of those who give thanks.” (Al-Araf, 144)
In Surat-Al-Ahkaf verse 15, a believer at his maturity age ( the age 40 is referred as the maturity age in the Qur’an) prays for being a grateful person:
“We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. The carrying of the (child) to his weaning is (a period of) thirty months. At length, when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years, he says, “O my Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Thy favor which Thou has bestowed upon me, and upon both my parents, and that I may work righteousness such as Thou may approve; and be gracious to me in my issue. Truly have I turned to Thee and truly do I bow (to You) in Islam.” (Al-Ahqaf, 15)