Is Gratitude the secret to happiness: Teachings from the Quran and Sunnah

is gratitude the secret to happiness teachings from the quran and sunnah
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Publié le 20 mai 2022, par Samir | 15 h 47 min
Temps de lecture : 9 minutes

Did you say Alhamdulillah today? We all possess this habit of saying thanks to The Almighty, but what does it mean to say Shukr or be grateful? Is gratitude the secret to happiness in the modern world? We will explore the elements of gratitude and what the Quran and Sunnah tell us about being grateful. Furthermore, let’s also understand what it means to observe gratitude more productively by the end of this post.

What is gratitude?

In his essay, ‘Why Gratitude is Good,’ Robert Emmons, the most famous scientific expert on gratitude, defines gratitude as « an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts, and benefits we’ve received. »

Then he explains, « We recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives. »

Is gratitude the secret to happiness?

In simpler terms, gratitude is a positive emotion that helps us focus on the good aspects of life and be thankful for our blessings. This quality of showing gratefulness encourages us to pause for a while, revisit and acknowledge the little things that we otherwise take for granted. It could be our place where we live, the food we eat, good friends, family, and all essential commodities of life.

Being grateful is about sitting back and sparing a moment to reassess how blessed we are. No matter big or small, gratefulness lies in realizing every good that happens in our life. It’s called being grateful if you hear something saying he’s feeling blessed, fortunate, lucky, or humbled.

Islamic perspective on gratitude

Islam, the most comprehensive religion of Allah, has given several insightful perspectives on gratitude and the power to be thankful. It is indeed a divine gift that leads to peace, prosperity, and contentment, especially in the modern world where everyone is chasing materialistic modes of happiness and satisfaction. Allah, The Exalted says, « And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe. » [Qur’an, 14:7]

We believe in the Oneness of Allah; we have firm faith that He is the only Creator and Sustainer, yet how many times do we actually pause and thank him genuinely for everything he has gifted us? This world is temporary, and we all have to experience an end sooner or later, which is another important concept of death and the afterlife in Islam. But in another perspective, this fact reminds us that nothing belongs to us; instead, Allah is the Qaadir. He exercises power on our life, death, health, and well-being. Then why not spend our most precious time showing gratitude with words and actions.

The above verse of the Holy Quran teaches us that Allah promises to multiply His favors upon us if we observe gratitude and remember him. This emotion of being thankful for Allah and His blessings is not temporary; instead, it’s a complete lifestyle. It demands us to be content and thankful under all circumstances; in happiness and health, peace and joy, sorrow and loss, bowing down to the Lord to express gratitude and increase His favors.

The Holy Quran says, « Be grateful to Allah. And whoever is grateful is grateful for [the benefit of] himself. And whoever denies [His favor] – then indeed, Allah is Free of need and Praiseworthy. » [Surah Luqman 31:12]

When we are grateful to our Lord for his countless bounties and become immune to worldly desires, it takes us to the height of excellence. Allah loves those who show patience, gratitude, and humbleness with every breath and in each small action. This is the essence of life because everything has to return to Him.

How to be a grateful Muslim?

As modern studies look into how gratitude can lead to a better world and productive life, the Holy Quran introduced this term 1400 years ago. Allah explained the concept of gratitude in multiple instances in the Quran, which is the source of eternal guidance for Muslims today. Isn’t it profound that a subject under thorough research by the most accomplished researchers today, Allah discussed it in His beloved Book centuries ago?

To practice gratitude requires a mindset shift, to realize and admit that our existence is temporary and we will return to Him. This feeling brings self-realization and personal responsibility to make the most of our unpredictable lives by always remembering Allah SWT and His countless favors upon us. And thus, a practicing Muslim tries to please Allah and thank Him immensely through his deeds and words.

Being a grateful Muslim is not a short-term commitment. It’s a process, practice, and a continuous journey that takes us to the road of happiness, fulfillment, and spiritual wellbeing. Although we have to be mindful of Satan’s evil intentions in terms of distracting us from the right path, as he said:

« Then I will certainly come to them from before them and from behind them, and from the right-hand side and the left-hand side, you (Allah) shall not find most of them thankful. » [Surah Al-Araf 7:17]

But our Lord is Al-Shakoor, The Most Appreciative, The One who gives multiple rewards for even a little obedience. So how can not a Muslim surrender his wishes and desires to earn acceptance from the Lord of the Universe?

Shukr (gratitudecan be classified into three types:

  • The shukr of the heart, which is the thoughtfulness towards blessings; 
  • the shukr of the tongue, admiring the Sustainer; and being thankful for His blessings.
  • The shukr of the body is the mindful observance of the favors and giving it desired acknowledgment.

Hazrat Aisha (RA) narrated:

When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) prayed (the night prayers: Qiyam-ul-layl), he would stand until (the skin of) his feet swelled. So, I said:

“O Prophet of Allah, do you do as such while Allah has forgiven you all mistakes?”

He responded: “Should not I be a grateful servant of Allah?” [Sahih Muslim]

5 Ways to observe gratefulness

Researchers and Islamic scholars have shared ways to observe gratefulness and show gratitude (Shukr). We can make a daily list of specific practices as affirmed by the Quran and Sunnah to revisit our consistency and knowledge:

  1. Remembering and praising Allah by recalling His supreme qualities, His names, particularly those exhibiting His mercy, generosity, and blessings. He is Al-Rahman, Al Ghafoor, and Al Razzaq.
  2. Realizing that Allah’s attributes and wisdom are beyond our imagination. Only He knows the Universe’s secrets, and He has the authority over every small or big creature.
  3. Our prayers, good deeds like charity, and obligatory submissiveness like fasting, hajj, jihad, etc., prove our faith in His greatness and superiority.
  4. Different acts by which we can recall Allah SWT in terms of supplications and prayers, Quran recitation helps us realize the concepts behind those powerful verses and remind us of His forgiveness, mercy, and kindness. According to the beloved Prophet (PBUH) of Allah: “The best remembrance is: there is none worthy of worship except Allah (lā ilāha illa Allah), and the best supplication is: All praise and thanks are due to Allah (alḥamdulillah).”
  5. Gratitude also implies spending our time, skills, and ni’mah (blessings) in submission to His commands and service of His creation.

Teachings from the Qur’an and Sunnah

The most comprehensive book of Islam, Al-Qur’an, guided Muslims in various instances on how to take lessons to achieve entitlement, fulfillment, and gratitude. Each verse about gratefulness is a complete message for Muslims, teaching us how to earn Allah’s favors by showing gratitude towards His blessings through our words and deeds. Let’s go through some of the verses from the Holy Quran on gratitude:

  • “Thank Me and do not show ingratitude to Me.” [2:152].
  • “Eat of the sustenance of your Lord and give thanks to Him.” [34:15]
  • “Very few of My servants are grateful.” [34:13]
  • The Prophet (S) said: “He who eats and gives thanks will have the reward of him who fasts purely for the sake of Allah. He who gives thanks and enjoys good health will have the same reward as him who practices patience in his illness. He whom is conferred with graces and gives thanks will have the same reward of him who is deprived and satisfied.”
  • The Prophet, peace, and blessings are upon him, narrated, “Whoever is not grateful for small things will not be grateful for big things. Whoever does not thank people has not thanked Allah Almighty.” [Source: al-Firdaws lil-Daylamī 5962]

Allah SWT loves His creation seventy times more than a mother loves her child. He teaches the Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) to speak about His favors. However, Allah does not appreciate boasting and showing off one’s achievements. He reminds His followers to associate each blessing with the generosity of Allah and express humility, humbleness, and kindness in their words and endeavors.

“Then, on that Day, you shall be asked about the delight (You indulged in, in this world).” [Surah Al-Takathir, Verse 8]

Prophet Sulaiman (blessings upon him) said: “This is by the Grace of my Lord to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! And whoever is grateful, truly, his gratitude is for (the good of) his own self, and whoever is ungrateful, (he is ungrateful only for the loss of his own self). Certainly! My Lord is Rich (Free of all wants), Bountiful.”

[Surah An-Naml: 40]

Happiness in today’s world is not a difficult task. True happiness and real contentment lie in attaining Allah’s pleasure by following His teachings, showing gratefulness for all of His bounties, and remaining humble in good or bad times. He, The Exalted, commands His followers to please Him and get immense favors in t his world and the hereafter. Our Lord, The Most Beneficent is the Supreme Guide and Authority, it is upon us, as his followers to fulfill His commandments and turn towards Him for seeking guidance, eternal joy, and peace.

Qur’an says, “And among His Signs is this, that He sends the winds as glad tidings, giving you a taste of His Mercy (i.e. rain), and that the ships may sail at His Command, and that you may seek of His Bounty, in order that you may be thankful.” [Surah Luqman 31:46].

sam. 9 Joumada 1
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