Giving thanks is expression of our love for God

Updated 17 September 2015
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Giving thanks is expression of our love for God

Our Lord created us out of nothingness, gave us countless blessings, protects us, healed those in sick, succors those in troubled, and gave us never-ending sustenance. One of the most important ways of showing our love for our Creator is by giving constant thanks for all of these blessings He gives to us.
Giving thanks is not only an obligation, but is also a practice that soothes our souls. From the moment we are born until the moment we die, our Lord gives us great beauties and blessings. Beautiful flowers, cute animals, delicious food, tasty drinks, vegetables and fruits of different flavors, shapes and colors, although they all come from the same soil, or vehicles that make transportation extremely easy are only few of the blessings that our Lord creates for our comfort and enjoyment. They are the manifestations of His beautiful love for His believing servants.
Our Lord creates so many blessings for us as explained in the verse: “If you tried to number Allah’s blessings, you could never count them. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an, 16:18)
And the only thing He expects in return is for us to be aware of these blessings and offer our earnest love to Him. The way to show our love is seeing that everything given to us is a gift from God and being in a constant state of gratitude toward Him.
Many details we might overlook when we don’t think about them are actually great blessings for us that are quite crucial for us and we don’t even have to make an effort to obtain them. Most of the time we understand that these details in our lives are precious gifts only when we lose them. Many people don’t even think about giving thanks to God for countless details in his life, in his body, around him. God says: “But very few of My servants are thankful’ and warns believers against such negligence.” (Qur’an, 34:13)
Whether we realize it or not, God continually bestows His blessings on us in an uninterrupted manner so that we can continue our lives and so that we are happy.
But there are people who nevertheless forget to give thanks and God refers to this ungrateful side of human nature: “It is He Who has created hearing, sight and hearts for you. What little thanks you show!” (Qur’an, 23:78)
We have established you firmly on the earth and granted you your livelihood in it. What little thanks you show! (Qur’an, 7:10)
Being ungrateful is a serious danger. People are powerless servants of God, who are capable of nothing for themselves except for those which God allows. Despite this, people want to be appreciated and recognized when they do something good, when they help another person.
A believer puts a special effort in the comfort and peace of others around him as a way of showing his love. He takes into consideration small details to ensure the comfort of others and uses his intelligence to make them happy and healthy. Of course, he does it all for God’s pleasure, but also expects to be loved in return too. However, if his efforts are ignored and an indifferent attitude is shown as though no special effort has been made, this will be a sign of a problem with the morality of the person who is receiving that special treatment and also shows that he lacks necessary love in his heart.
Acting unaware of all the incredible beauties, details and blessings that surround us, all coming from our Lord, Who created us and Whose infinite wisdom manifests everywhere in the universe, would be a sign of a soul that is unworthy of such beauties. That is also a serious character defect that might bring upon the wrath of God. Our Lord refers to this in a verse as follows: “And when your Lord announced: “If you are grateful, I will certainly give you increase, but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is severe.” (Qur’an, 14:7)
Even humans, the powerless servants, who have nothing more than the limited talents, intelligence and wisdom that God bestows upon them, expect gratitude in return for their good deeds. Therefore, it is clear that there should be no flaw in our gratitude to our Lord, Who gives us countless blessings every moment from our breathing, to our sight, from our ability to walk to our ability to fall asleep and many others that we cannot enumerate here.
For this reason, every time we are given a blessing, saying ‘Alhamdulillah, thank you my Lord’ would be a great reflection of our love and gratitude for our Lord. It will also be a reminder to the people around us. Furthermore, in addition to this verbal expression, protecting the blessings we are given, preventing any damage from coming to them and being considerate to show that one is aware of these beauties will also be another beautiful character trait that God will appreciate.
Our health is one of the greatest blessings that God gives to us. Giving thanks to God for every moment we are healthy, is a requirement of our love for God and making an effort to protect our health by staying away from harmful habits is a physical way to show our gratitude. For this reason, supporting our verbal gratitude with our considerate actions will be a beautiful sign of our faith.
Saying, ‘My Lord, I give thanks to you’, is not only an expression of gratitude, but also is a sign of a humble spirit that is always content and obedient towards God. Therefore, giving thanks is a practice that should be done not only in times of comfort, but also during times of poverty, difficulty or loss of blessings. Indeed, it is done even more enthusiastically at those times.
People who love God, who are content with God, give constant thanks for their health; they also give thanks when they get sick, for the fact that God has protected them from even worse conditions, for the fact that God created medication, treatment, doctors and medical instruments that will be means for their recovery. When they are in pain, they know that it could be worse and give thanks that it is not so. They know that every difficulty, every hardship is a part of the test in this world. They turn to God and give thanks to Him with joy, knowing that God creates these tests so that they can get achieve the morality that God will be pleased with.
For this reason, even if the believers live their lives full of difficulties and problems or in relative comfort and ease, they experience the peace of mind, the beauty and the blessings of feeling constant gratitude toward God and hope to gain the approval of God.

The writer has authored more than 300 books translated in 73 languages on politics, religion and science.


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.