The Attitude of Gratitude
This article first appeared in the Standard Newspaper Ramadhan series on 1/5/2020
Abu Yahya Suhaib bin Sinan reported that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “How wonderful is the case for the believer, there is good for him in everything and this applies only to a believer. If prosperity attends him, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him, and if adversity befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is better for him.” (Muslim)
Having a positive outlook on things is one of the characteristics of a Muslim. For he knows that all his matters are in the hands of his Lord, who the prophet says: “…is more merciful towards him than a mother is to her child.” If you would consider how soft a mother is and how she’s always looking out for the good of his child and weighed that on this anecdote, you would not despair at the troubles life throws at you for, in the grand scheme of things, there’s so much wisdom behind everything that we’ll perhaps only discover in retrospect.
God didn’t promise us an easy life. In the holy Qur’an, He says: “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.” (Q2:155). This world is a prison for the believer; trials are certain. The test for Gold has always involved a great deal of heat in a crucible and likewise is our affair in this world. In (Q29:3) He says: But We have certainly tried those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars.” It’s upon the believer not to despair and be grateful for everything that befalls him for it goes to raise him in rank before his Lord.
Then how does one keep his sanity when chaos is promised to him over and over again. It ultimately falls on attitude and your thought of Him. The law of attraction is a big part of Islam. Allah poses the question in the Qur’an: “Then what is your thought about the Lord of the worlds?” (Q37:87) and proceeds to say in a hadith Qudsy: ((I am as my slave expects me to be…)). The sahaba Ibn Mas’uud says on that ayah: “I swear by Allah, no one has ever thought a thought about Allah except He gave him by that thought. And that is because all favour is in the hands of Allah.”
Having good thoughts on your Lord will have you see the silver linings in the darkest and the most seemingly hopeless of situations. It’s upon the Muslim to always carry two things; which are the root to all good and that is gratitude and patience. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an, “…If you are grateful, I will increase you in favour…” (Q14:7) Gratefulness is the source of abundance in the universe. For every breath you take, God gives another when he simply could have taken away the borrowed time you live on. In the face of trouble, Allah does not burden a soul beyond what they can bear. How just is your Lord when he only tests you on what he already told you can handle. Hardship shouldn’t be a reason to despair from the mercy of your Lord.
The scholar Ibn Qayyim says, “The whole world from its beginning to its end is not worth an hour of sadness, so what about the sadness of a whole life.” A Muslim is not saddened by temporary occurrences. The Qur’an does not speak of sadness unless when negating it.
For most Muslims around the world, this is a sad Ramadhan in that we don’t get to experience it like the Ramadhans before. He is at a loss he who Ramadhan reaches him and does not take full advantage of it. And it almost seems like this Ramadhan is one where we take the losses but I urge you to remember the words of your Lord, to see this situation as a test; and a blessing. In situations like this, it’s upon us to uphold patience and be grateful for even making it to Ramadhan, when many who’d been planning quite some time for it didn’t make it; some due to the Coronavirus.
It is upon us to first accept our circumstances and take advantage of the situation however we can. All the time placing full reliance on Allah. He says: “And whoever relies upon Allah- then He is sufficient for him.” (Q63:3). So have faith that this too shall pass. But more than anything, be grateful. Gratefulness is the fuel for blessings. We will not stop being in abundance so long as we thank our Lord in all situations, we’ll always find a way out of our hardships as long as we are grateful.