Friday, November 17, 2017, marks the death anniversary of the Seal of the Prophets: Prophet…
Our Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp) is reported to have said,
“Oh Abu Dharr! Value and revere five things before five others (happen).
1. Your youth before your old age.
2. Your health before your ailment.
3. Your wealth before your poverty.
4. Your leisure time before getting busy.
5. Your life before your death.” 1
Instead of waiting until we have lost something, it is better to be thankful when we have our youth, time, wealth, and so on. But why? Gratitude grounds us in humility and appreciation of the gifts that God has bestowed on us. When we appreciate these favors, God reminds us in the Holy Quran, that He will give us more.
“Remember when your Lord said to you, ‘If you give thanks, I shall give you greater (favors).” (14:7) 2
This concept is easier to understand in terms of our daily lives. If we are taking care of someone, feeding them, clothing them, helping them walk, meeting their every need, and they then thank us for our service, we will more likely continue the effort with greater enthusiasm. Of course, we cannot compare this example to the immense and innumerable favors God showers upon us or to the fact that God does not need anything from us. Everything we have, whether a small or great amount, is due to the Almighty’s grace.
Imam al-Sadiq (p) is reported to have said:
“[One] who is blessed with being thankful will be granted more. God says: ‘If you give thanks, I shall give you greater (favors).’” 3
A good practice to adopt is to spend some time reflecting and volunteering to support those who may not have everything that we do. The appreciation of what we have is an important life lesson for us to impart to our children. You do not have to look far to learn this important lesson. There are many volunteer opportunities to support those in senior citizen homes, hospitals, homeless shelters, prisons, or foster homes. Simple contemplation of these experiences can help us reevaluate how grateful we truly are for what we have.
Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (p) is reported to have said,
“Try to [contemplate] very frequently at those who are less than you are in the levels of livelihood, for this is a type of showing gratitude.”4
Sometimes we can fall into a harmful cycle of never being satisfied with what we have when we see others who have more, causing us not to appreciate what we have. This dissatisfaction only grows and leaves one’s heart filled with perpetual unhappiness and thanklessness. Even the actions we never think about, such as breathing, are a blessing when we consider those who have respiratory troubles.
Gratitude and Patience in Difficult Times
We face tests daily with our health, social lives, death, wealth, and so on. These are moments when we are truly subjected to internal turmoil. We may even question why certain things happen to us.
God, the Almighty, reminds us, “We shall test you through fear, hunger, loss of life, property, and crops. (Muhammad), give glad news to the people who have patience (2:155) and [they are those who if affected with] difficulty say, ‘We are the servants of God and to Him we shall all return.”(2:156)5
In times like these we must not forget that despite the pain or anguish we may be enduring, God knows what is best for us. The Holy Quran says, “You may not like something which, in fact, is for your good and something that you may love, in fact, may be evil. God knows, but you do not know.” (2:216)6
It is when we experience loss that we understand the meaning of gratitude. We have all experienced situations where we may have injured ourselves, become ill, lost a loved one, or have become heavily indebted. It is in these moments that we gather patience and remember what we had: the ability to use our limbs, the special moments we had with our parents, a time when we were not living hand to mouth, and so on.
Life of our Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp)
Perhaps we may think we are the only ones experiencing difficulties, but just think for a moment about the life of our beloved Prophet (pbuh&hp). His father died before his birth and his mother died when he was still a small child. He was an orphan in the truest sense of the word, living in an era of complete backwardness, ignorance, and hostility. Soon after the beginning of his divine mission, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp) and his followers were subjected to intense oppression and cruelty, to the extent that they were forced to migrate. Even after having to leave his home, his enemies continued to attack him and endanger the lives of those around him. Yet, he reminded us, and continues to remind us, through his words, to be thankful, to be mindful, and to fill our hearts with gratitude to the Almighty who brought us into this world and sustains our lives. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp) is reported to have said, “Be content and you will be the most grateful of the people (to God).”7
He (pbuh&hp) is also reported to have said, “One who eats and gives thanks will have the reward of one who fasts purely for the sake of God. One who gives thanks and enjoys good health will have the same reward of one who practices patience in their illness. One who is conferred with graces and gives thanks will have the same reward of a person who is deprived and satisfied.”8
The simple act of being grateful has immeasurable rewards for our mental well-being, peace, life’s satisfaction, and more importantly our Hereafter. We should appreciate what we have before we lose it and when we face tests, we should be patient, remember the life of our Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp), and be thankful in all conditions.
For more information on our Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp) click here.
1. Makarimu al-akhlaq
2. The Holy Quran, 14:7
3. al- Kafi, Vol 2 P. 95
4. Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-kafi, vol. 8, p. 244.
5. The Holy Quran, 2:155-156.
6. The Holy Quran, 2:216.
7. Mustadraku al-wasa’il, vol. 11, hadith 12,676
8. Al-kafi, vol. 2, p. 94.