The Virtue of Thankfulness
By: Ayatullah Dastghaib Shirazi
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
And a sign to them is the dead earth: We give life to it and bring forth from it grain so they eat of it. And We make therein gardens of palms and grapevines and We make springs to flow forth in it, That they may eat of the fruit thereof, and their hands did not make it; will they not then be grateful? (36:33-35)
Eat dates and grapes and be thankful
These verses are related with the Uniqueness of God and the Hereafter and the proofs of both are very clear. You have seen how life is blown into a dead dry earth:
We give life to it and bring forth from it grain…
Various kinds of seeds grow out of it, which you eat – that is date trees and grapevines. Rivers are made to flow between them. So eat these fruits, think upon it and derive a lesson. Eat and be grateful and thankful to God by recognizing and worshipping Him. Be God worshippers. See who is their Originator. Also remember that what you see is only a drop, which shows the Might of God. The greater thing is God’s power, which will be clear to you in the world, which is after death.
And there is not a thing but with Us are the treasures of it, and We do not send it down but in a known measure. (15:21)
Dry and wet (fresh) dates are from the original sweetness, treasured in the higher world, which you will taste after your death. Then you will understand and realize what true sweetness is. All the greenery, flavor and fragrance are stored with the Lord of the worlds.
He is the bestower of bounties covering you (like the animals)
…will they not then be grateful?
An animal eats from the bounties of God and does nothing else. Its job is to graze and chew on barley and alfa alfa and that is all. But it is the duty of man to eat and go to the giver of this food and thank Him. Otherwise what is the difference between Him and the animal?
…and eat as the beasts eat, and the fire is their abode. (47:12)
Human intellect demands that he must be humble before the Benefactor, the Almighty God. Man must not be a denier (Kafir/ungrateful). ‘Kufr’ means cover, that is, covering or hiding. O the one who wears the bounty given by God and does not consider it to be from God, God is needless.
Allah, (there is) no god but He, the Ever living, the Self-subsisting by Whom all things subsist. (3:2)
Thanking God is better only for you. It is mentioned in the Holy Quran that if you show thankfulness to God He will add to that bounty. If you do not realize that the bounty is from God and if you do not appreciate it, the chastisement of God is very severe.
…and if you are ungrateful, My chastisement is truly severe. (14:7)
Wife, a divine bounty and thanklessness with regard to it
Among the bounties bestowed by God is a good wife. This bounty is mentioned in the Holy Quran at several places. It is narrated in Usul Kafi that, second to Faith, nothing is higher in rank than a wife who safeguards and protects the faith of man. Such a wife is a sign of God that brings peace and love to her husband.
And one of His signs is that He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest in them, and He put between you love and compassion…(30:21)
But some people do not regard her as a divine bounty and turn ungrateful. In marriage functions and likewise in matrimony, which is an occasion of having invocations answered, they indulge in sins and show ungratefulness to God with regard to this bounty.
A thankful companion of Prophet Dawood in paradise
There is a brief story on the topic of thankfulness.
Prophet Dawood (‘a) once prayed to God to show him his companion in paradise from among the faithful persons God loved. Came the voice from the unseen, “Tomorrow morning, go to the gate of the city and see who it is.”
Next morning when Dawood (‘a) went to the city gate he met Mata, father of Yunus, carrying some firewood on his shoulders, in search of a buyer. Then came a man who bought that wood. Dawood stepped forward, shook hands with him, hugged him and then asked, “Is it possible for you to have me as your guest today?” Mata replied, “It would be my pleasure. Come along.”
Mata bought some flour and salt with the firewood money to suffice three persons, viz, he himself, Dawood and Sulaiman. Finally he baked bread. Then before eating that bread, Mata raised his head towards the sky and said with tears running down his cheeks, “O Lord! It was You Who had sown the tree from which I obtained this wood. You gave me strength and ability to do this work. You also gave me capability to carry its burden. You sent its buyer. The wheat from which I got this flour was also created by You and Only You. You made all this possible whereby we are now able to use Your bounty.”
Dawood turned towards Sulaiman and said, “Thankfulness enhances a man’s status.”
Bounties of life, wealth, and thankfulness for it
A great wise man has said, “Do not go on saying, ‘O’ God! give me, give me,’ rather say, ‘O Lord! Make me thankful to You for Your bounties. Make me realize the truth so that I may be grateful to You by appreciating Your bounties.’”
Now these hours in the Holy month of Ramadan are divine bounty. Ask those who have died. They yearn to be in the world to earn its benefits. Really we should repent over our ungratefulness during these precious nights (Shab-e-Qadr) of Ramadan, because we did not appreciate the divine bounties. We did not recognize the Real Benefactor. We destroyed the bounty by utilizing it inappropriately. Frittering away of wealth is also ungratefulness. You should either eat or feed with it but do not squander money by extravagant spending like carpeting the staircases etc. Give it to a person who has no money. You should take benefit from this divine bounty and not waste it.
Thankfulness with regard to money is to spend it in the path of God
Haji Noori has described a story in Darus Salam. A devoutly pious worshipper had been busy in his worship for several years. He was informed in one of his dreams that Almighty God had decided that, “Half of your life span will be spent in poverty and in the other half you will be rich and wealthy. Now it is for you to choose which part of your life you prefer first”. He replied in that dream, “I have a wise wife. Let me consult her.” Of course there is no harm in consulting a pious lady who is intelligent and not mad after wealth and worldly desires.
The wise lady said, “Choose the first half for ease and needlessness.” Thus their wealth began to increase from the next morning. Then the wife said, “O man! As promised by God, just as He gives you bounty, you too should spend it in His path.” So wealth came to one hand and it was given to the poor and spent in God’s path with the other. Thus half of his age passed. Now, he awaited poverty. But there was no change. God’s bounties continued to rain on them as before. He asked, “O God! How is it like this?”
He was informed, “You thanked Us for the bounties so We increased them further.”
If you are grateful, I would certainly give you more, and if you are ungrateful, My chastisement is truly severe. (14:7)
Thankfulness of wealth is to spend it in God’s path, and similarly, squandering it away is ingratitude and thanklessness.