The English dictionary defines gratitude as:
The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return the kindness.
In Arabic Shukr (شكر ), denotes thankfulness, gratitude, or acknowledgment by human beings and is a highly esteemed virtue in Islam. Gratitude (Shukr) is often used in conjunction with Patience (Sabr). It is a condition of the heart and a form of worship through which a believer glorifies his Lord. A heart which contains gratitude is content with its portion of sustenance. It is at the Mercy of Allahﷻ that He has placed this quality within the natural predisposition of human beings. The quality of gratitude is exhibited towards Allahﷻ first, and then towards the people, as mentioned in the Quran
“Which of your Lord’s favors will you – you men and jinn – then deny?”
[Surah Ar-Rahman: 47]
Allahﷻ is the source of every single thing that happens in our lives.
“And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from Allah”
[Surah An-Nahl: 53]
In Islam gratitude is an inclusive part of purifying oneself from the various diseases of the heart to develop an Islamic personality and therefore it is not an option, rather, being in a constant state of gratitude is a form of worship and one of the ways to achieving Allahﷻ’s closeness, pleasure, and reward.
There are many benefits of gratitude, not only does one earn Allahﷻ’s pleasure, the one who is grateful, experiences more happiness, better health and deeper relationships. It generates a wholesome approach in terms of one’s social, emotional and physical well-being. It increases productivity and propels an individual towards developing an ideal Islamic personality.
Let’s take a look at these benefits in each of these areas individually إن شاء الله.
In the social aspect, a person is able to engage with people in a better manner leading to better friendships and deeper meaningful relationships. When a person is grateful to Allahﷻ for the innumerable bounties He provides, they drop their expectations from people around them and expect only from Allahﷻ, this, in turn, helps drops any inhibitions and judgments resulting in improved communication skills and constructs a healthy married life as well. Grateful people are active members of the community and volunteer as much as they can to benefit the society at large.
Grateful people are aware of the rights their bodies have on them, they treat them as an Amanah, and know that it belongs to Allahﷻ and to Him is its return. They respect their bodily needs and develop a healthy routine, sleeping well at night because there is no room for negativity in their hearts, therefore they have good energy levels. They give importance to their fitness and overall health, understanding that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. They face the day with a good exercise routine, do not binge eat and make healthier food choices. They fall sick less often and live long beneficial lives.
One of the other biggest plus points of gratitude is that a person values their time, and keeps an account on how they spend it. They are equal and efficient managers of various areas of their life in general. They are goal oriented and focused on the task at hand, taking each moment as it comes. This guarantees success in keeping procrastination at bay and enables them to make better decisions because their mind is not cluttered with things that are of no benefit.
A person develops not only a go-getter but a go-giver attitude as well, when practicing gratitude, hence they are happier and relaxed in their demeanor. There is no room for envy and jealousy because they are occupied tending to their own garden and have no time to look at other people’s businesses. When the judgments drop they tend to have Husn Adh Dhan for others, and even if something doesn’t make sense to them, they do not try to analyze the situations or people and let things go easily. They are more resilient and bounce back after hardships fairly quickly and easily. They are more concerned about creating and holding on to good memories than dwelling on bitterness and past grudges.
Wholesome Islamic personality
Overall those who practice gratitude have a profound, intense connection with Allahﷻ, they work towards developing a Qalb un Saleem (a sound heart), they are the true people of Alhamdulillah (الحمد لله) . They are content with every test Allahﷻ put in their path and are a people of tawakkul (complete reliance on Allahﷻ). They understand that as Muslims they are supposed to strive for excellence, hence have a sound self- esteem and an optimistic outlook towards life. They do not have attachments towards worldly gains and materialism, they are less self-centered and more giving. سبحان الله
Gratitude puts a person on a quest to gain control of their Nafs (the soul/the self) from base desires and keeps them content with Allahﷻ’s decree. Their hearts are at rest knowing whatever befalls them was in the qadar of Allahﷻ, and was never meant to miss them and whatever misses them was never meant for them.
It is not difficult to develop these characteristics, one of the methods of getting into the habit of being grateful is to have a gratitude journal and noting down at least one thing that an individual is grateful for each day. This simple habit, done consistently every single day can go a long way in shaping a grateful heart and an Islamic personality.