Gratitude may be in the heart, in submission and humility; on the tongue, in praise and acknowledgement; and in the physical faculties, by means of obedience and submission – Ibn al-Qayyim
“Wish we could have our home at the bank of Yamuna!”
I always had this dream when I was young. Being a nature-lover, I was always fantasizing picturesque streams, beautiful ponds and dancing rivers. I wanted to live near the water. However, being born and brought up in one of the most populated cities of the world-Delhi- in India, where water resources had already started diminishing at a pace faster than my growing childhood, a picturesque stream was out of sight, if not out of the dream. I had never seen any jewel-blue stream splashing, moving through the trees in real life. The only water body I knew was the river Yamuna in Delhi. Hence, having a home at its banks was the only realistic dream of a precocious child whose imagination was reined by her acumen.
Elders in the home always talked about it. Once there used to be a lot of water in the Yamuna. Just like any other ‘river’ it used to hop over the stones happily. That’s a different case that we siblings neither witnessed any glitter on its surface nor any ducks paddling there, ever.
With the course of time, I had stopped dreaming of Yamuna but not of ‘the water’. I still wanted to live near the water. As life ran fast, finally, I grew up one day growing up; and, got married overseas. I took off to join my husband in a new country leaving the Yamuna back. As the flight landed, a new life gift-packed in the layers of the darkness of the midnight greeted me. The next morning, when I opened my eyes rays of the sun had unwrapped everything hidden. I went straight to the window of my room and looked outside.
On my right side from the window, the sea was there. I got home near the water.
I always wanted to live near the water; and, here it was, a gigantic sea in front of me.
Now I could stare at the gigantic strength of the water for as long as I wanted.
Now I could feel the water crawling gently to the shore for as long as I wanted.
Now I could play with the water creeping steadily towards me for as long as I wanted.
Today, it had been six years of my marriage and with that the six years living across the water. Sipping tea by the window feeling the palpitating pulse of the sea, steady and peaceful, I looked at the water. The water stared back at me and asked, “where are the grateful ones?”
“where are the grateful ones?”
Sometime back I read the book ‘Aina-sh-shaakiroon’ meaning ‘where are the grateful ones’ in Arabic. In the light of the book I ask myself how much gratitude I have shown for a home near the water, a dream fulfilled. What it means to be grateful?
Being grateful to God is the Ultimate Gratitude
Gratitude is a means of reciprocating kindness and giving praise to the one who has done good and kind things. And, the one who deserves it most is the exalted God because of the infinite blessings He has bestowed upon us. As mentioned in the Holy Qur’an…
And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Verily, man is indeed an extreme wrongdoer, a disbeliever. [Al-Qur’an; 14:34]
Again, it is His blessing only that He forgave us our shortcomings in giving thanks for these blessings. As mentioned in the Holy Qur’an…
And if you would count the favours of Allah, never could you be able to count them. Truly, Allah is Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful. [Al-Qur’an; 16:18]
What it Means to be Grateful
Gratitude is the head of faith. It is based on three pillars: acknowledgment of the heart of all the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon him, and upon others, and talking about them; praising Allah for them; and using them to obey the One Who bestowed the blessings and to worship Him. The ultimate gratitude should fulfill all the necessary conditions, which are gratitude of the heart, gratitude of the tongue and gratitude of the physical faculties. All these three pillars, integrated, hold up the spirit of gratitude and make us grateful in a true sense.
The gratitude of the Heart
The essence of gratitude is to sense the value of the blessing and to attribute it to God. To fully acknowledge that the One who has bestowed these great blessings is Allah alone, with no partner or associate.
And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from Allah” [Al-Qur’an; 16:53].
It is important to take a note here that this acknowledgment is not just recommended, rather obligatory as faith and monotheism cannot be attained except by attributing blessings to Him. Denying attributing our blessings ultimately to God could throw us out of the bond of faith.
The gratitude of the Tongue
Acknowledging verbally is equally important. Speaking of the blessings attributing them to God with humility and keeping the tongue moist with the praise of the Lord is the gratitude of the tongue. Some of the righteous predecessors used to say that whoever conceals a blessing has denied it, but whoever manifests it and spreads it has given thanks for it.
“When Allah bestows a blessing upon a person, He loves the effect of His blessing to be seen on His slave.”- Ibn al-Qayyim
However, gratitude just on the tongue contradicted by action otherwise does not deserve to be called grateful at all. It should be confirmed by the action too.
The gratitude of the Physical Faculties
As said by a great man, “The one who gives thanks with his tongue but does not give thanks with all of his physical faculties, his likeness is that of a man who has a cloak and takes hold of the edge of it but does not put it on, so it is of no benefit to him against cold or heat or snow or rain.” Keeping all the physical faculties away from sins and using them to do acts of goodness is the ultimate form of being grateful. The gratitude of eyes is to not look at the bad with them. The gratitude of hands is to serve others with them.
Gratitude in a Nutshell
Being grateful is not just feeling overwhelmed and saying thanks. Being grateful is acting gratefully. Being grateful is to be more in obedience to God and that makes us truly grateful. Gratitude is to feel good, say good and do good. To give is gratitude. To serve is gratitude. The gratitude for blessings is also a blessing that needs to be given thanks for. Alhamdulillaah.
Being grateful means ‘many more things’ that I definitely need to learn.
Nevertheless, ‘Alhamdulillaah’ for this home near the water, a dream fulfilled.
And, ‘Thanks’ Allaah for helping me to make me say ‘Thanks’, for this blessing of gratitude.
I thanked Him. Did you?
Write in the comments below ‘what it means to be grateful’ for you 🙂
The Might of Pen
(‘A Writer in the Making’ writing ‘Tales & Thoughts’ fusing ‘Mind & Soul’ for ‘Life, Death & Beyond’…)