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Practicing Quran’s Advice On Gratitude

Friday September 22, 2017 11:05 PM, Moin Qazi,

Surah Adiyat

One of my favorite chapters of the Qur’an is the 100th chapter called Al-'Adiyat. It opened up for me unique insights into the human condition, particularly my own and more generically those of people all around me, helped me to see the Qu'ran and in turn Islam through more than the legalistic framework I often was taught about it in, and served as a starting point in my continued spiritual quest to understand God through His own words, rather than the words of those who claim to speak on His behalf.

Like many other chapters of the Qu'ran, the initial verses of Al-'Adiyat start with an oath. In Islam, a person can only take an oath, if ever, by God. God, however, can take oath by any of His creation. The chapter title takes its name from the oath as God is swearing by Al-'Adiyat, a group of horses that He describes quite vividly.

Horses in a Meccan Arabia were considered to have great worth and to conceptualize the impact these verses have, its important to recognize their dissemination was not in a book form that we have today, but rather as the verses were revealed they were told to the people. The description given of these horses is quite captivating and it's key to understand this to get the point of the chapter.

In the first five verses of the chapter, they are described as a group of horses, pushing themselves to their limits as they run forward, breathing heavily and nostrils flaring. Their feet move at such a speed that they leave a trail of sparks behind them caused by their hooves striking the ground. They come upon the people they have been charging against in the morning, having no fear of it being known that they are coming. Their hastened arrival causes clouds of dust to arise with them, and as they reach their destination, they go head on and penetrate into the middle of the group, essentially surrounded.

At this climactic point, when everyone is waiting to hear what happens next, the listener is given a most important message:

Inna-al insaana li rabbihi la kanood
Inna-al insaana li rabbihi la kanood
Indeed, mankind, to its Lord, is ungrateful.

The word kanood in this verse can denote a few things:

  1. A person who always looks at the hardships, but never looks at the blessings . Our blessings come in so many different shapes and forms, but we become those people who focus on the negative always rather than the positive.
  2. A person who misuses the blessing in a way that the one who gave it to us did not intend for us to use it.
  3. A person who acknowledges the presence of a blessing, but fails to recognize the one who gave it to them in the first place.

If you want to tap into the power of gratitude, it's simple: Just imagine how many favours Almighty has blessed you with .Comparing with those more fortunate than us is just one side of the coin ;we must also see those for whom destiny has been harsh.. Gratitude has always been one of the most powerful emotions e. And it's no coincidence that "grace" and "gratitude" have the same Latin root, "gratus."

Whenever we find ourselves in the rat race of people pursuing wealth and big careers, we can remember that there is another way and open ourselves to grace. And it often starts with taking a moment to be grateful for this day, for being alive -- for anything. Throughout our lives, many of us at times feel underappreciated and unrecognized for our efforts, which can lead to a spiral of depression, loneliness, apathy, or sadness. I've found the best way out of the spiral is to give to others what you feel you're missing, and soon it will come back to you bountifully and joyously.

To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy but to be grateful for all of our lives—the good as well as the bad the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow the successes as well as the failures the rewards as well as the rejections—that requires hard spiritual work. Still we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment.
We can build into the lives of a family, friends and colleagues by providing nutrients of love kindness and gratitude, and by investing our time and energy in enabling them to realise their hopes and aspirations. If a tree is given minimal nourishment, it will live, but it will not grow. But if abundant nourishment is given, the tree will live and grow, even producing fruit. In an individual’s life, nourishment comes in the form of blessings of fellowmen. Individuals who have been successful in life find that a person who is sensitive and loving generates greater amount of what Putnam calls “social capital” and enjoys strength of character.

The Qur'an sometimes deplores the behaviour of an ungrateful, graceless people: "Most of them do not give thanks" (Q10:60). Even though God is "bountiful to people, most of them are ungrateful" (Q27:73).

Gratitude in our life seems to be disappearing fast. We seem to forget how much we have grown, how much we have received. The mind continues to crave for more and more, it forgets the past easily.

Gratitude rises to the surface but, like a bubble, it dissipates very soon. Today, we cannot say that no one is grateful. Everyone is grateful, but for the moment and then it is the same story all over again. Grace is that gratitude which can remain all the time. If gratitude remains around the year like the evergreen forests, you call it grace. It is like the snow in the Himalayas that stays throughout the year.

Surah Adiyat

Of all the healing tools that there are, gratitude is the strongest and most pure. If you are grateful, it is impossible for you to feel anger, resentment and jealousy; those feelings cannot co-exist with gratitude.
The Quran enjoins us to view the whole of nature as "signs for a people who hear" (1Q0:67; 16:65; 30:23), "signs for a people who reflect" (Q13:3; 30:21), and "signs for a people who understand" (Q2:164; 13:4; 16:12, 67; 30:24; 45:5).

Yet, in our rapacious approach to nature, we have failed to reflect and thus become like those of whom the Quran says, "they have hearts with which they understand not; they have eyes with which they see not; and they have ears with which they hear not" (Q7:179).

Unable to see, listen and understand, we have become like one of whom the Quran warns, "when he turns away [from God's signs], he endeavors to work corruption upon the earth, and to destroy tillage and offspring" (Q2:205).

We must heed the wisdom of the Qur’an. Think of the rewards awaiting you in the Hereafter. God says: {Whatever things you have been given for the life of this world are merely [temporary] gratification and vanity: that which is with Allah is better and more lasting– will you not use your reason?} “(Q 28:60)

Gratitude has been said to mould and shape the entire Christian life. Martin Luther referred to gratitude as “the basic Christian attitude” and today it is still referred to as “the heart of the gospel”.In Judaism, gratitude is an essential part of the act of worship and a part of every aspect of a worshipper’s life.

The Quran encourages its followers to be grateful and express their thanks to God in all circumstances. Islamic teaching emphasises the idea that those who are grateful will be rewarded with greater bou;nty. The pillar of fasting during Ramazan is for the purpose of putting the believer in a state of gratitude. Spirituality is capable of enhancing a person’s ability to be grateful and, therefore, those who regularly attend religious services are more likely to have a greater sense of gratitude in all areas of life.

[Moin Qazi is the author of the bestselling book, Village Diary of a Heretic Banker. He has worked in the development finance sector for almost four decades. He can be reached at]

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