1. The Abundance and Capacity of Blessings and Talents
Everything in the heavens and in the earth has been created for our sake and has been subjected to serving us: the sun, the moon, the planets and the spatial beings, whether seen or unseen. All of them have been subjected by Allah to serve us and to achieve our advantage.
Mountains, deserts, seas, woods, plants, gardens, springs, rivers, animals and all the different creatures on the earth serve us in one way or another and assure our survival and the continuity of our activities.
The many gifts of Allah surround us like a distracted lover, or like a kind, suckling mother, in order to assure the growth and the guidance of this exalted creature and to take this high being to the sought after perfection.
The apparent and hidden blessings and talents are spread on the table of life and nature so that we can get whatever we need in life. There are no defects on this table at all. The Holy Qur'an has confirmed this fact:
“Do you not see that Allah has made what is in the heavens and what is in the earth subservient to you, and made complete to you His favors outwardly and inwardly? 31:20”
2. The way of getting blessings
Any kind of positive effort and work to earn a livelihood is undoubtedly a kind of worship and servitude to Allah the Almighty. In many verses of the Qur'an, Allah has ordered His slaves to enliven the earth and to find permissible livelihoods by practicing trade and every means of permissible dealing. He has ordered them to obey and worship Him, and in return, there will be rewards on the Day of Resurrection. Tasks like trading, muzara’a (agricultural partnership), musharaka (participation financing), mudaraba, industry; teaching others different crafts, such as sewing, dyeing, tanning, breeding chickens and cattle; many other activities if they are practiced according to Islamic and humane principles will be positive ways to get material blessings. If we try to get our livelihoods through these legal means, we will gain the love and contentment of Allah. However, if we get our livelihoods through illegal means, which are contrary to the Islamic principles and human values, we will be liable to the wrath of Allah.
The Holy Qur'an confirms this:
“O you who believe! Do not devour your property among yourselves falsely, except that it be trading by your mutual consent. 4:29”
“O men! Eat the lawful and good things out of what is in the earth, and do not follow the footsteps of the Satan; surely he is your open enemy. 2:168”
What is legal, permissible in the Islamic Sharia and utilized without waste is permissible. Things like food and drink, even if they are permissible, if obtained illegally, are forbidden, too. In any case, these things must be given back to their real owners.
3. Aiming at blessings
Making use of the Divine talents and blessings such as food, drink and clothes without paying attention to the Giver, how these blessings have appeared or were created, what factors are behind the colors of these blessings, their tastes, and their smells, making use of these blessings without thinking of the source of this bite of bread or that piece of cloth, arable lands, flowing springs, rivers and woods, and being indifferent to the millions of factors that are involved in preparing these blessings for the sake of the continuity of life and our survival befit only animals and ignorant people.
Ulama and wise men look at all the blessings before their hands with the eye of sight and reason to see the Giver of these blessings; therefore, they get the moral advantage of these blessings and make use of them in the way that the Giver of these blessings has intended.
The Holy Qur'an is a Book of guidance. It draws people’s attentions to these gifts and blessings in this way by saying:
“O men! call to mind the favor of Allah on you; is there any creator besides Allah who gives you sustenance from the heaven and the earth? There is no god but He; whence are you then turned away. 35:3”
Yes! All the Divine blessings and their benefits lead to the oneness of the Truth, which is the true evidence that leads to the oneness of the Sacred Being and to the easy way to know the Almighty Creator.
4. Being grateful for the blessings
Some people think that being grateful for blessings is achieved by saying, after making use of these divine blessings, “Thanks be to Allah,” or “Praise be to Allah,” or “Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.” It is not reasonable that a word or two we utter with our tongues can achieve real gratefulness for all these material and moral blessings.
Gratefulness should be suitable to the Giver and harmonious with the blessing. This cannot be achieved except by a series of sayings, doings and feelings.
Would we be grateful for all these Divine mercies and blessings just by saying, “praise be to Allah” or “thanks be to Allah?”
Can gratefulness be realized just by saying, “praise be to Allah” before all these material blessings? Think of our organs: the eyes, the ears, the tongue, the hands, the legs, the heart, veins, nerves and bones. Consider other material blessings like food, drink, fragrances; beautiful scenes of nature, like mountains, plains, woods, rivers, springs, seas; the different fruits, grains, vegetables and millions of other blessings that are considered as tools and means that keep the life and the survival of man.
Can man offer the real gratefulness to Allah just by saying “thanks be to Allah” in return for the blessings of Islam, faith, guidance, guardianship, knowledge, wisdom, health, safety, purification, satisfaction, obedience, love, worship and the likes?
Ar-Raghib al-Isfahani says in his book al-Mufradat, p.265, “The origin of thanking is from ein shukra.”
It means from an eye full of tears or a spring full of pure water. Therefore, the meaning of gratefulness is that the inners of man become full of the mention of Allah and that he pays full attention to the blessings of Allah: how he gets them and how he uses them.
Khawaja Naseeruddeen at-Toossi, known as the teacher of the human beings and the eleventh mind, says about the fact of gratefulness as mentioned by allama al-Majlisi: “Gratefulness is the best and most exalted of deeds.”
You should know that gratefulness is meeting blessings with saying, doing and intention. Gratefulness depends on three bases:
The first: knowing the Benefactor and His suitable aspects, and appreciating blessings and acknowledging that all the blessings whether apparent or hidden are from Allah the Almighty. The real benefactor is no one save Allah the Exalted and all the means between man and these blessings and talents are determined by the will of Allah.
The second base is the coming true of “The State.” The State here means being submissive and humble before the Benefactor and being happy and delighted with blessings. We should know that all the blessings are Divine gifts from Allah the Almighty to His slaves and as evidence of the care of Allah towards His slaves. The sign of the coming true of the State is that we should not be delighted with material blessings except in a way that brings us nearer to Allah.
The third base of gratefulness is doing. Doing should appear in three stages: the heart, the tongue and the organs.
The Doing of the Heart is glorifying Allah, praising Him, pondering on His creatures, doings, and mercy and having determination to give goodness to all of the creatures.
As for the Doing of the Tongue, it is accomplished by showing words of thankfulness, praise, glorifying Allah, enjoining people to do good and forbidding them from doing bad.
The Doing of the Organs is using them to worship Allah and obey Him and keeping them away from disobeying Him.
Hence, the real meaning of gratefulness shows that gratefulness is one of the aspects of perfection. It is so little that gratefulness appears in a full way by the people who have enjoyed the blessings as the Holy Qur'an says:
“…and very few of My servants are grateful. 34:13”
Gratefulness for the divine blessings, according to the previous meaning, is a reasonable and legal obligation. Gratefulness for blessings becomes real by using these blessings in the ways Allah has determined. In fact, worship and complete servitude to Allah is achieved by real gratefulness for the blessings.
“Therefore eat of what Allah has given you, lawful and good (things), and give thanks for Allah's favor if Him do you serve” Qur’an 16:114
“…therefore seek the sustenance from Allah, and serve Him and be grateful to Him; to Him you shall be brought back.” Qur’an 29:17
Being grateful for blessings is achieved by refraining from sins. Full gratefulness is to say, “Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.”
Being grateful for blessings is by using them in worshipping, being obedient, helping people, doing good to them and by refraining from all sins and bad doings.