Gratitude is Shukr. For most of us, Alhamdulillah has become our slogan, but do we truly mean it? Gratitude goes beyond merely saying Alhamdulillah; it involves recognizing and appreciating the countless blessings that Allah (SWT) has bestowed upon us, both big and small, seen and unseen.
In this social media era, things are not helping matters at all. This is where you compare your unfiltered lives to the heavily filtered content you scroll through. That’s undoubtedly a recipe for discontent and ingratitude. However, trust me, the grass is always greener on the other side.
As I write, my mind keeps wandering with a lot I want to touch on this topic. But I will write to the best of my ability and ask that Allah guide my thoughts.
Gratitude in the Qur’an and Hadith
The blessings Allah SWT has bestowed upon us are countless. You will never be able to count them. At times I feel the abundance of health is one of the reasons we are lost and so ungrateful. A healthy person can have hundreds of wishes but a sick person has just one wish. Do you know the price of Oxygen per hour in the hospital that you and I breathe for free for days months and years?
One thing with gratitude is that the more and more we thank Allah, the more He increases us in blessings. So much so that He assures us in the Qur’an.
…لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ ۖ…
“…If you are grateful, I will certainly give you more…”
-Surah Ibraheem Verse 7
This ayah should promote contentment in our hearts. Whatever we want more of we should be grateful for it and opens doors to further blessings, and strengthens our connection to Allah.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) emphasized gratitude in numerous hadiths. One that comes to my mind is:
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ لاَ يَشْكُرُ اللَّهَ مَنْ لاَ يَشْكُرُ النَّاسَ
Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever does not thank people has not thanked Allah.”
-Sunan Abī Dāwūd 4811
This era of “I owe no one anything” is something else. In this hadith, it is evident that thanking people is also a form of gratitude to Allah (SWT).
If you want to read further on gratitude from a Qur’anic perspective read this.
How to Practice Gratitude
The easiest way to gain the blessings of Allah is to become grateful, and always practice gratitude:
- Gratitude could be through using your tongue: Through Dhikr, or by simply saying Alhamdulillah for everything we see and are surrounded by. Appreciate the gift of the faculty of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, etc, and many more.
- Be thankful for the ability to do ibadah: Your salah on time, the ability to recite the Quran daily, nafil, the ability to help people, and many more. It is not by your might or power.
- Recognize Allah’s blessings upon you and use all his blessings to serve Him better to the best of your ability in aspects you are capable of.
- Rather than feeling down about things you don’t have, or cannot afford. Focus on what you have that thousands of people cannot even afford.
We are ungrateful to Allah through not recognizing countless of the blessings He has given us. Take baby steps, small and consistent, and watch the growth.
The Fruits of Gratitude
Once you can incorporate the act of Gratitude (Shukr) in your life. You begin to reap from it immense benefits, both in this world and the next:
- Gratitude invites more blessings in your life. As promised by Allah (SWT) in Surah Ibraheem Verse 7.
- Gratitude also impacts your mental health. You feel this level of calmness, contentment, and satisfaction. That can help you reduce your symptoms of anxiety and depression. That comes from recognizing the divine source of your blessings is Allah. And He is Just.
- Gratitude can inspire you to do good for others and contribute positively to the world.
- Gratitude Strengthens your relationship with Allah. And also spreads into your relationship with others around you.
- Gratitude turns blessings and obstacles/challenges into building blocks for a better, brighter you.
Gratitude in the Digital Age
In a day and age where you get to see other people’s lives through social media. You scroll through those perfectly staged photos, strategically worded captions, and seemingly picture-perfect lives. And you often compare them to your life consciously or unconsciously.
It will now look as though your life is stagnant, meaningless, or boring, you might even begin to feel depressed. I will share some tips I use to stay grateful in the face of these carefully crafted online personas. Because They only show you what they want you to see.
Social media mostly consists of people showcasing carefully crafted moments that rarely reflect the full picture. We see glimpses of their success, vacations, and celebrations, but rarely do they show us the struggles, failures, and mundane realities that make up the majority of their life. Comparing our own lives to those 30secs reels is us being unfair to ourselves.
- Practice mindful scrolling: Be very intentional about what you consume on social media. Unfollow accounts that trigger feelings of envy or feeling inadequacy, and focus on those that inspire or uplift you.
- Challenge the curated narrative: When you see someone’s seemingly perfect life online, remember that it’s just one side of their reality. Remind yourself that everyone has their silent battles. Focus on your journey and celebrate your successes, big or small.
- Focus on your offline life: Taking social media breaks is something I practice from time to time. I go offline for up to 4 months. Most of us begin to restlessly scroll out of habit. Disconnect from social media regularly connect with nature, engage in meaningful conversations with loved ones, and practice mindfulness. This will help you appreciate the simple joys that social media often overlooks.
- Use social media for good: Share inspiring content that promotes positivity, gratitude, and Islamic values. You can just use it to solely focus on your business. Strategically post your products or services, check messages, and go offline.
If none of this is working for you. Just delete the apps for a while to reduce the noise. Trust me the world will not END because you went offline. And you will not miss anything by going offline. Rest and come back to choose a healthier circle.
Don’t wait for the perfect moment to start practicing gratitude. The perfect moment is now. Take a deep breath, say ‘Alhamdulillah,’ and begin your journey towards a richer, more fulfilling life.
Life is unpredictable, and challenges are inevitable. Instead of quickly resorting to complaints when faced with adversity, allow the moment to settle, and redirect that energy elsewhere.