Dear Brothers in Islam,
If there is ever an aayat in the Quran that is heartbreaking, that should put us in a shame when it's recited, it is where Allah SWT says in the Quran: "wa qaleeloom min ‘ibaadiyash shakoor", "and few of My servants are thankful". There are so many blessings that Allah SWT blesses us with. By night and by day, Allah A.J is providing for us and protecting us, and pushing away so many harms and giving us so many bounties; and yet, very few people thank Allah SWT. And this is sad because Allah SWT describes His blessings in the Qur'an as countless, saying: "wa in ta'udduu ni'matallaahi laa tuhsuuhaa", "and if you were to try to enumerate the blessings of Allah A.J, you will not be able to count them".

And those who do thank to Allah A.J., they normally thank Him for the usual things. Very few of us hardly ever remember to thank Allah A.J for specific things, and there are so many things we take for granted. Who remembers to thank Allah A.J. for the teeth, for example? If just one tooth gives you a head-splitting pain, you rush to a dentist. And after the dentist pull it for you out and throw it to the trash, you thank him for doing that. What about thanking Allah A.J. for all the teeth we've had for hours and days and minutes that they never cause any pain or any problem?

Who remembers to thank Allah A.J. constantly for this great blessing of having eyesight? We know the greatness of this particular blessing from the hadith of Rasul Allah SAW where he described a man in the Day of Judgment who comes with good quality and quantity of worship that he did for 70 years. He then asks Allah to judge him not based on Allah's mercy but based on his good deeds. Allah SWT out of His wisdom then gives him that option and tells the angels to take just one of the so many blessings, which is the blessing of the eyesight, and then put it on one side of the balance against all his good deeds. This just one blessing of eyesight then outweighs all the 70 years of excellent worship. With this hadith hopefully we begin to understand the aayat, wa qaleelum min ‘ibaadiyash shakoor, "and few of my servants are thankful".

Dear Brothers rahimakumullah,
A man came to Ibrahim ibn Ad-ham rahimahullah and told him, I've been committing sin constantly against Allah. So give me some advice that will help me in this. Ibrahim ibn Ad-ham told him, you can continue to disobey Allah if you want to do so, but do not use any of the wealth that comes from Allah A.J. So he replied, how can I do that while everything belongs to Allah SWT? He says, so does it make sense that you use the wealth given by Allah A.J while you disobey Him? He says, no. Then Ibrahim ibn Adham says again, when you disobey Allah A.J while you're taking His provisions for you, at least you should do it outside the land of Allah A.J. The man said this is even more difficult because all the land belongs to Allah SWT. So Ibrahim ibn Ad-ham said, does it make sense then, that you use the wealth of Allah A.J. and then you disobey Him on His Land? He says, No.

Then he says, so if you're going to use the wealth of Allah A.J. while disobeying Him in His land, then at least go where He SWT can't see you. The man realized that it's even more difficult, because Allah A.J. knows what we conceal and what we reveal. So then, Ibrahim ibn Adham tells him, if you're going to use the blessings of Allah, His provisions, and disobey Him on His land, and disobey Him while He sees you, at least when the Angel of Death comes to you, tell him to give you time to repent to Allah SWT. He says, he won't allow me. He then says, when the angel is commanded to throw you to the hellfire, tell him that you won't go. He says, they won't let me. So finally the man realized the value of the admonition given to him by Ibrahim ibn Adham. Many people would fall into that category, so we ask Allah SWT to not make us from those people whom Allah SWT gives all His blessings, and He provides for them, and yet they disobey and sin by day and by night, and they hide the sins from humanity and make sure that no human being will catch them, but they do not care in the least that Allah A.J. sees everything.

Dear brothers, rahimakumullah
It would be beneficial for us, therefore, to understand and to nurture in ourselves the five characteristics of those who are grateful to Allah SWT. When you're grateful to Allah A.J, the first thing that comes naturally is that you submit to Him. This is something that comes naturally, especially when you realize that your wealth, your income, your sustenance comes to you and linked to Allah SWT. This is not something strange to us, because our employers, when they tell us to do something even if we disagree with it, we do it and submit to them to a certain degree because you recognize them and we link them to our source of income. So, if we link Allah SWT with every good that comes to us, then we would naturally submit to Allah SWT.

Secondly is the love of Allah SWT. Love comes naturally when any human being or anything brings you much blessing or much good. You will naturally have the affinity towards that object or that person. So when you recognize that all the good we have comes from Allah SWT, we then naturally begin to love Allah SWT. And the love of Allah SWT is not something that we proclaim every now and then, or that we boast with. Rather, it is proven or expressed by how much we praise Allah SWT. This leads to the third characteristic, that is constant remembrance, constant dzikr to Allah SWT. We realize that whatever we love in this dunya, it is constantly on our mind or we constantly talk about it with our companions or family. Those who love car will talk about car, those who love football will talk about football, and those who love Allah will talk about Allah SWT.

The fourth, is to acknowledge that the blessing comes to you by way of Allah SWT. The blessing does ultimately come from Allah SWT, not from somewhere else. And the fifth is that when Allah SWT gives you a blessing, you use it in obedience to Him SWT.

Our scholars then add the sixth characteristic of being grateful to Allah SWT. That is when a blessing comes to you through a human being, you must also show gratitude to that person. Messenger of Allah SAW said, laa yasykurullaah man laa yaskurun naas, "he who does not show gratitude to people does not show gratitude to Allah SWT. The Prophet SAW also showed us the best way to thank one another, saying: whoever has something good done to you, and then you say to the one who does it ‘jazaakallahu khairan' then you have given him his due praise.

Dear brothers, ghafarakumullah,
Allah SWT has distributed his blessings among His servants according to His wisdom. So some of us may be blessed with more wealth but some others have better physical strength. Some people have better intellectual understanding in natural phenomena or in social cultural aspects, while others are blessed with beauty, etc. Allah SWT says in the Quran (Az Zukhruf 32),

"Are they the ones who share out your Lord's grace? We are the ones who give them their share of livelihood in this world and We have raised some of them above others in rank, so that some may take others into service: your Lord's grace is better than anything they accumulate"

Realizing this fact, we then must be conscious and prepared that someday in the hereafter, everyone of us will be asked about how we have spent the blessing given to us by Allah.

Dear Brothers, in order to draw ourselves closer and closer to Allah's Mercy, we should develop different attitudes when dealing with worldly related blessings as compared to blessings related with religious life. So when it comes to the things of this dunya, you do not look to those who have more blessings than you, because that way you would feel to have less, and this will lead you to be less appreciative to Allah. Look to those who have less than you, and you would feel to have a lot. So when you're driving your car, for example, you do not look to those who drive a better car than yours. But look to those who are walking. Similarly, if you have a home, a small home, for example, you do not look to those who live in mansions or palaces because this way would make you feel that you're less blessed. Look to those who don't even have a house and have to live in the streets so that you can appreciate what Allah has given to you.
The opposite is when it comes to religion. With religion, you look at those who are more than you. Who're more religious, who have more taqwa, who are more committed to do good deeds. You don't look to those who have less than you so that you feel what you have is enough. Look at those who have more so that you're aspired to become like them. Because Allah says in the Quran: wallahu yuhibbul muhsineen. "Allah loves those who are excellent in their deen".

My dear brothers, rahimakumullah,
Lastly, let us draw some lessons from a story of Abdullah ibn Muhammad, a pious man of the past, as mentioned by Imam Adz Dzahabi rahimahullah in his book, Seerul a'lam an nubala. Abdullah ibn Muhammad once got lost in the desert during one of his travel. While looking for a man to ask direction to go back, he saw and old tent from the hillock. Then he went towards this tent which he found to be an old, broken and torn one. He then looked into the tent and saw and old blind man, with no hand, paralyzed, and no wealth whatsoever sitting on the floor. The unusual thing about this old man was that he kept on saying, alhamdulillahilladzee tafdhalanee ‘alaa katseerin min ‘ibaadihee tafdheelaa. "all praise is due to Allah, who has preferred me over so many of His servants". So Abdullah ibn Muhammad was surprised, gave him salaam went closer to the man. The man said, "who is that". He said, "I'am a lost traveler, but I have one question for you". The man replied, "I will respond to your question but you must do a favor for me". So he agreed.

He said, "why that I see you in this miserable situation that you're in, not able to walk, you don't have hand, you cannot see, and don't have any wealth whatsoever, but you thank Allah for preferring you over so many of His servants?" The old man said to him, "Do you not see that I am of sane mind?" He said, "yes". "How many of the servants of Allah are insane?" He said, "many!" "So Alhamdulillah, who has preferred me over His insane servants".

He said, "Do you not see that I am able to hear?" He said, "yes". "How many of the servants of Allah are deaf?" He said, "many". "So Alhamdulillah, who has preferred me over His so many deaf servants".
And then the man mentioned his speech, and asked how many people are mute. And he mentioned Islam, and how many people are worshipping idols, and believe that Isa AS is the son of Allah, or worship trees. So than Abdullah ibn Muhammad said, "You have spoken the truth. So what is this request that you have?"

The blind old man told him to find his small boy, the only person he had after all his family died. The boy was the one who served him for food and everything else he couldn't do it himself. But he has not come back to him since the day before.

Abdullah ibn Muhammad rahimahullah then went out to a top of a small hill and noticed in the horizon some birds circulating. Shortly he went to that area only to see that a dead body of the small boy was there, attacked, killed, and partly eaten by wolves. He then said to himself, "How would I go back and tell that poor man about this". He said, "I even thought to not go back to him, but I couldn't do that to him". He said, "On the way back to him, I remembered Prophet Ayyub AS".

Arriving at the old man's tent, the man asked him as if the boy was with him, "where did you find the boy". Abdullah ibn Muhammad took a deep breath and said, "Let me ask you first, who is more beloved to Allah, you or His Prophet Ayyub AS?" the man said, "no doubt is prophet Ayyub". "Then who has had a more difficult test, you or His prophet Ayyub? He replied, "no doubt, His prophet Ayyub". He tells him then, "seek the reward with Allah, I found your boy at a top of the hill, the wolf had attacked him, it had killed him, and eaten him".

He said, "when I said that, the man lower his head and started to say laa haula wa laa quwwata illa billaah, inna lillahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji'oon, asyhaduallaa ilaaha illallaah, he kept on repeating these phrases and then he started to take a deep breath like he's going to die". "So then I took his head, and I kept giving him water, he kept saying asyhaduallaa ilaaha illallaah, inna lillahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji'oon, until he died".
Abdullah ibn Muhammad then waited for a group of travelers that might pass to ask them assistance in the man's burial procession. After that he then went on his journey. He said, "That night I saw the old man in my dream, looking good, with excellent health and condition. So I asked him in dream, how did you get to this situation and you've changed so much?" "So the man told him, my Lord entered me into His paradise and it was said to me, salaamun ‘alaykum bimaa shabartum, fa ni'ma ‘uqbaddaar. Peace be unto you for what you have been patience upon, and what a good end you've got in the end".

Dear brothers in Islam,
Finally, let us ask Allah SWT, may Allah SWT make us of His servants who are thankful, who have patience, and realize that all blessings truly come from Allah A.J. Prophet Sulayman AS asked in his beautiful du'aa, and with this du'aa we join him in asking Allah SWT: Rabbee awzi'nee an asy kuraa ni'matakallatee an'amta ‘alayya wa ‘alaa waalidayya, wa an a'mala shaalihan tardhaahoo, wa adkhilnee bee rahmatika fee eebaadikash shaaliheen

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