Remaining grateful to Allah

Updated 15 October 2015

Remaining grateful to Allah

People in general turn to God in humility, expressing obeisance only when they feel to do so that is mainly during an occasion when it brings good news to them, or so.

The question is however do we require a particular occasion to thank Allah Almighty? Haven’t then we reduces this whole relationship with God to a mere ritual? We need to answer this and look into reasons behind this religious observance that God commanded to His servants? How is it described in the Qur’an?
Giving thanks to God, which can be described as feeling grateful at every moment and expressing it verbally and through one’s demeanor, is a very important religious observance frequently mentioned in the Qur’an and it has to be done all throughout one’s life.
However, a great many people have different ideas about this practice and believe that it needs to be done only when something they want happens or when they receive new blessings.
Yet giving thanks means feeling grateful to God unconditionally, and in every waking moment of one’s life, regardless of the circumstances being positive or negative. It means considering everything from God as beautiful, knowing that there is a great wisdom behind everything created by God and surrendering to destiny fully and submitting to God completely and earnestly.
At this point one might ask: It is quite expected for one to give thanks when something good happens but why should he give thanks when things go awry and how he should do it?
In order for a person to be able to give thanks to God no matter what the circumstances are, he has to have a very deep and unconditional love towards God. He also has to comprehend the astonishing qualities of God.
A person who knows God, who loves God very much and attached to God with a very deep love, will want to express his love for Him at every opportunity. For this reason, giving thanks is one of the ways of showing his admiration, his love for God, both verbally and through his demeanor.
He will want to express and show this deep and intense love in his heart all the time. Just like he cannot live comfortably without breathing, he cannot live without remembering, talking about and thanking his Love. With his soul, his heart and all his being, he feels God at every moment and comprehends the infinite evidence and manifestation of God’s existence everywhere.
In every direction he looks, he will see God and will want to talk about His infinite art, power and will wish to express it every waking moment. This desire will naturally make him give thanks for everything that comes from God.
A lover of God is also aware of the fact that he is surrounded by blessings from God and that he cannot have slightest control over any of them and that he has all these blessings only because God gave them to him.
He knows that the causes do not really matter, and that every blessing and everything that happens comes from God only. He will never get tired of giving thanks to God as his love God is never tired of giving him blessings. He will never get tired of loving God as his love as God is never tired of loving him.
One aspect of giving thanks is being content with whatever God gives him. He will always be content with his situation no matter what happens. He continuously remembers and praises his love God.
There are some people who say that they love God and that they are happy with everything that He creates. Yet when things don’t go according to their plans or when they don’t get what they wanted, when a person they love doesn’t reciprocate their love, when they think that they are not appreciated, or perhaps they cannot go on that vacation they have been planning, or when they lose money, health, or success, their attitudes might suddenly change.
Overwhelmed by feelings of defiance and pessimism, such a person’s thoughts suddenly take a turn for the worst. He continually asks himself ‘Why did I get sick when everyone else is healthy? Why am I struggling so much when everyone else is living so comfortably? Why am I not appreciated although I’m working so much?’
Such thoughts put him in a vicious circle. Because he gives in to these negative thoughts and after a while he becomes incapable of segregating right from wrong. Such people have one problem: Not knowing God enough; not understanding that He can do anything, not grasping His love and compassion.
A person who knows God with all His names, who knows that He does everything with a perfect reason and wisdom and that He loves His servants very much, will not be disheartened no matter what happens and will not lose his hope in God. He has one answer to such negative thoughts, in other words, the whispering of the satan: ‘Whatever my Lord does, He does it with a perfect reason. There is definitely a beauty, a blessing in this for me.’
This is not a consolation, but a fact. God creates everything with a perfect reason. Nothing He does is to make His servants suffer or to upset them. Since this world is a place of testing, it is necessary for people to be trained and achieve the morality that will be worthy of Paradise.
To be able to achieve that morality, it is important that people are sometimes tested with difficulties, diseases, problems and poverty. For this reason every person is tested with different things.
A lover of God knows this and patiently goes through everything that happens. He always gives thanks, no matter what happens and continues to watch his destiny unfold and even if he cannot understand the wisdom of the things that happens, he says, ‘My Lord, you created this with a perfect reason. I’m happy with everything you give to me, and need every good deed you give to me.’ He always prays to God continuously and expresses his gratitude.
It is important to understand the times of testing and to these opportunities to prove oneself, to give thanks and to show happiness with everything God created.
It is also very important to avoid becoming one of the ungrateful when things go bad. If one cannot see the beauties behind the difficulties, then he is not able to appreciate God and is not giving thanks to God the way he should.

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

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.