Reflection No. 2:43 on Q 40:61 – Ingratitude to Allah
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَشْكُرُونَ
Innallāha ladhū fadlin ‘alan-nāsi walākinna aktaharan-nāsi lā yashkurūn
Allah is full of grace to mankind, but most people are not grateful. (Sūrat Ghāfir, No.40, Āyat 61)
Ingratitude to Allah is a common quality among mankind. But that does not make it acceptable. It is an attitude that is defective, and can corrupt spirituality and closeness to God. A spiritual journey towards God requires a constant awareness of the presence of God. The more we advance on this journey, the more we see God in in all things, big and small, and realize how His guiding hand steers our life. This heightens our sense of gratitude. Thus a constant feeling of thankfulness and positive satisfaction with all that life has to offer is a sign of advancement in the journey towards God.
Note how this verse says that the majority of people are ungrateful. This shows that majority can be on the wrong. Having many people do something is not a criteria that it is correct, as is very obvious from this verse. We need to keep that in mind so we do not get deluded by the crowds of people following a certain path.
Why are most people ungrateful? The following reasons could be behind man’s chronic thanklessness:
1) Taking things for granted. Things that we enjoy all our lives often remain unnoticed. These could include our health, the functioning of our body, food, shelter, the people in our lives, access to amenities, etc. Not being consciously aware of these blessings can devalue them. Imam al-Askarī (a) says: No-one knows the blessing except the one who is grateful (MH, H. 9586).
2) Focusing on what is wrong in our lives rather than what is right. Difficulties in life hurt, and receive quick attention. It is easy to feel sad about them, and overlook all else. We forget the many things in our lives that are right. Imam al-Sādiq (a) says; For every breath from the breaths you take, a thank you is necessary, rather a thousand thanks and more (MH, H.9581).
3) Comparing with others and constantly yearning for what they have. Other people seem to have more, are happier, more successful, don’t have difficulties . . . these illusions cloud judgment and attitude, and make us dissatisfied with life. Imam Zaynul ‘Ābidin (a) says: The most grateful of you is the one who is most contented (MH, H. 9620).
Check your attitude each day. Remind yourself of this verse and tell God you do not want to be from the ungrateful ones. Only then can you be among those who race towards Him.
Tafsīr Namune, Aytaullah Nasir Makarim Shirazi (ed).
Mizānul Hikmah, Muhammadī Rayshahrī