Reflection No. 301 on Q 14:34 – The Healing Power of Gratitude
In ta‘uddū ni ‘mata-llāhi lā tuhsūhā
If you count the favors of Allah you will not be able to number them
(Sūrat Ibrahim, No.14, Āyat 34)
The Blessings of Allah color all aspects of human life. From the beauty and organization of the universe to the human body full of efficient mechanisms, the physical and emotional joys allowed in this world, and the highest blessing of being able to know and communicate (albeit in a limited way) with the Creator, all speak of a merciful God who wishes the human being to be happy in this world and the Hereafter. It is the loss of the human being that he chooses to follow ways which wreaks havoc and sadness for himself and others on earth.
In this verse Allah says His favors are so many that we cannot count them. Not being able to count Allah’s favors is because:
– The blessings are so all-pervasive that it is difficult to recognize them
– There are so many encompassing us that it is not possible to count them
– There are many blessings that we don’t even know about, hidden things that are slowly being discovered over time.
In describing how to express gratitude to the Provider, Imam Khumaynī says:
“You should know that thankfulness means appreciation of the ni’mah (favor, blessing, bounty) provided by the Provider (Mun‘im) and the appearance of the effects of this appreciation in the heart, on the tongue, and in bodily acts and movements. As to the heart, the effects there are of such nature as humility, awe, love and the like. As to the tongue, the effects there appear as praise and glorification. As to the bodily members, the effects consist of obedience, the use of the bodily members for the good pleasure of the Mun’im, and the like.”
(Ayt. Khumaynī, 21st Hadith, Forty Hadith: An Exposition)
Being grateful to God can have a magical effect of the human spirit. It:
1) Connects us closer to Allah. When we appreciate His blessings, we appreciate Him. Our love for Him grows.
2) Makes us feel positive about our lives and removes negativity
3) Keeps us feeling happy, energetic and motivated
4) Improves our personalities, making us pleasant people to interact with. An unhappy person is miserable inside and makes others miserable.
5) Helps us handle difficulties in life. Being grateful makes us emotionally stronger and helps in coping with problems in life.
6) Increases our capacity to receive more blessings. Allah says: If you are thankful, I will increase it for you (Q 14:7) Imam Ali (a) has said: When Allah bestows bounty upon a servant, no sooner does the latter feel thankful for it in his heart than he becomes deserving of increase therein before the expression of thanks has even reached his tongue. (Āmālī of al-Tūsī, p. 580, H. 1197)
A lot of research has been done on gratitude and how it changes life. Spending five minutes each day being grateful can enhance your well-being by more than 10% – the same impact of doubling your income (http://happierhuman.com/
When Almighty Allah invites us to be grateful it is for our own selves. In it lies the secret of a better quality of life. We may look for it in outer circumstances but in vain. The key lies in appreciating what we have. Choose your own way of being grateful to God for a few minutes each day through remembering and counting some specific blessings each day. You may recite two rak’ats shukr salāt, perform sajdah of gratitude, recite with reflection Munājāt of Shākirīn (Supplication No. 74 in Sahīfa Sajjādiyya), being content with what you have, or anything else that works for you. Do it regularly, using the verse above to remind you. Watch how it transforms your life.
Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh;