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Of Gratitude and Thanks

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

It is human to want more and to want what we do not have. And once we have acquired what we want, the cycle starts again and we move on to the next thing on the list. This begins at a young age and progresses as we mature, and sadly it seems never to stop and it can become an obsession.


One way to combat this obsession would be to be grateful by acknowledging that Allah has blessed us with whatever He has given us and we have to use His blessings in the best way possible. We may not have all that our heart desires but there are many others who may not have what we have.


There are some people whom Allah has blessed with financial security. They have enough money for home and provisions and their children have what they need and most of what they want. On the flipside there are others who have far less than they have and life is a daily struggle of a hand to mouth existence.   


Yet we find that some of those and even us, who have been blessed with reasonable financial security, this is not enough, as we want a little more, increasingly we see that our children are also asking for more and this can be a sign that our children are on the path to becoming ‘greedy’ for more.

Many responsible parents are worried that some children do not value what they have and will grow up not to fully appreciate the true blessings that Allah has bestowed on them and us as a family. We have to start somewhere along the line to bring them to recognise and appreciate the favours and Blessings from our Lord and Creator.


‘If you are grateful, I will add more favours unto you, but if show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed’ (Qur’an 14: 7).’And remember with gratitude Allah’s favours upon you.’ (Qur’an 3: 103)


One of the most elementary steps to show gratitude is to simply say, Thank you. Above all, we have to remind ourselves and our children that we owe our gratitude to Allah for what He has blessed us with. We should explain to our children to realise that all that we have is through the Grace of Allah and we should always thank Him for it. We ourselves too have to learn to and also to teach children to live with an attitude of gratitude.   


And this means that we have to lead the way. When our children see us saying "Thank you" to one another, to our own parents and friends and especially to our spouses, they will mimic that behaviour. When we say "Thank you," we are not just using good manners, we are showing gratitude to someone else and acknowledging that someone else did us a favour.


‘Show thy gratitude to Allah. Any who is grateful does so to the profit of his own soul, but if any is ungrateful, verily Allah is free from all wants, worthy of all praise’. (Qur’an 31: 12).


How often do we hear parents complaining: "My children have so much and yet all they ever do is want more and more. They have the latest games and toys and they come home from school asking for more. They see things in the store and ask for it. They see things that others have and ask for it.”


Does that sound familiar? For many parents, this is all too common. We hear our children tell us time and again that they want what their friends have and that ultimately they are not satisfied with what they already have. And we are stumped with how to teach them to be happy and content with what they have. How do we teach them to be pleased with what Allah has already blessed them with? How can we teach them to be satisfied with enough when it is never enough?


As adults, sometimes we too forget what we have and get caught up in our daily routines and forget to say thanks. It is no wonder the children are always wanting something new; usually, we as adults are always striving and saving up for some new gizmo or gadget anyway.


Depending on the age of our child, we have to instil the values of good manners from an early age and the best way is for us to start saying thank you regularly and our children will learn this from us. Somewhere along the line many adults and even children seem to have forgotten the two golden words: ‘thank you’.


Muslims have always been taught that before we eat we should at the least, say Bismillah (in the name of Allah) at the beginning of a meal, and Alhumdo Lillah (Praise be to Allah) when finishing. But how many of us have taught this to our children to show gratitude for their meal to Allah.

I know that in Christianity many families used to say ‘Grace’ before meals, but think about it how many of us both, Muslims and Christians do so in this day and age? Starting and ending the meal with a short prayer of thanks is a stepping stone to teach the children about gratitude and thanks.   


Therefore, when we do so we should say it aloud so that our children can hear us and copy us and learn from us.  We have to remember that good habits are created, not born. If we observe them, children will easily follow and do what you do rather than do what you tell them to do. Constancy and regularity are keys to inculcating good manners. We have to be consistent with our good manners if we want our children to remember them as well.


However, after gratitude we should begin to introduce our children to the joys of giving, they will begin to experience the wonder of sharing. In this way they will appreciate what they themselves have. To appreciate what we have, we do not need to lose it but rather share it in this way we can appreciate what we have by sharing it with others. Only when we show gratitude and thanks will we be able to the joy of giving and sharing with those less fortunate than ourselves.


Islam not only teaches us to thank Allah, but we are also told to thank our parents, our spouses, our friends, our neighbours, and all those who do any good to us. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Those who do not thank people, they do not thank Allah”


Finally, ‘thank you’ to the readers and followers of this column.

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There is a saying in South Africa which avers that, “the White   man has no kin: his kin is money”.  The saying rings very true considering what Mayer Amschel Rothschild – he of the planet’s wealthiest family – once said, that, “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws!”

To the white man, the dollar sign looms so large in his optics that it was precisely the reason he appropriated Africa towards the end of the 19th century. The idea was to develop his continent, Europe, at the same rate as he underdeveloped Africa. Yet he was driven as much by economic imperatives as by sheer greed and prejudice.

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The Desolation Sacrilege

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THE UNHOLY EPIPHANY

 A “pagan” King violates the Jewish Temple by setting up an idol in the Holy of Holies

 

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Joy or grief in the hereafter

17th November 2020

Just a ‘teaser’: we are all complaining of the ‘hot weather’ and ‘heat’ – but think about it, is this a reminder / warning from the Almighty that if we find this weather ‘hot’ can you imagine what the ‘fires of hell’ will be like should we get there?

Let us take this as a reminder and a ‘warning’ that we should change our lifestyles so that we follow in the path of righteousness and that which our Lord has directed. Failing this we will face the ‘fire of hell’ which undoubtedly will be many times worse than what we are facing on this earth.

Because as humans we have been favoured and bestowed with the power of intellect thus we enjoy greatness over other creation, coupled with a greater responsibility. Should that responsibility be misused then only on the Day of Reckoning will he know we will live in joy or in grief forever.

Since the dawn of creation Allah has sent down thousands of messengers, dozens of Divine Books but only ONE universal Message to humanity. That message of Divine Revelation and guidance is clear, unambiguous and eternal:

  • Allah is One, He is Master and Creator of the universe and of mankind and to Him is due all worship and obedience.
  • He has sent humanity Divine Revelation and guidance through His Messengers and His Books.
  • As death is inevitable in this world, equally is our resurrection in the Hereafter where everyone will face the consequences of their belief, unbelief and conduct in this temporal world.

This is the basic message, teaching and belief of every religion and without doubt we will all be called to account for our lives in this world and the manner in which we conducted ourselves, will be rewarded thereafter, the consequences of which may be joy forever for some or grief forever for others.

“It is He [Allah] Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deeds and He is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” (Qur’an: 67: 2)

 

In Islam the teachings of the Qur’an and the Last and Final Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) give clear guidance to the believer on how to live a life in this world so as to achieve success in the Hereafter.

‘If any do wish for the transitory things of this life, We readily grant them, such things as We will, to such persons as We will…… those who wish for the things of the Hereafter and strive for them with all due striving, and have faith, they are the ones whose striving is acceptable to Allah’ (Qur’an 17: 18-19)

In this world when a person sets out on a journey towards our Maker (Allah), he finds two paths, one leading to God and the other path to different destinations. A sincere and faithful believer will always try to find the right path and to live by the Divine injunctions, laws and code that his religion lays down. This requires us to live in harmony with the will of the Creator, in harmony with our own selves, and with the needs of the rest of creation. Unfortunately we have a tendency at times to toy with Divine Law and to surrender it to the laws of man and in the process to translate and interpret them into what fits in with our lifestyle of today.

If we are to use the intellect and the freedom of choice bestowed to us by God Almighty and follow His guidance, we will then live consciously in a state of “submission’ to Him, thus we will be virtuous. On the other hand when we ignore our Creators injunctions we work against the natural order, we tend to create discord, injustice and evil – and we become one without guidance. Therefore it is the intellect and the freedom of choice given to us that we are fully responsible for whatever we do.

However, it would be foolish for us to think of ourselves as totally independent and self-sufficient. If a person thinks in this manner, we become proud and. We will be inclined to become ungrateful for the bounties that we enjoy – the air that we breathe and the food we eat to sustain us, the eyes and ears we use to perceive the world around us, the tongue and lips we use to express our needs, wants and our inner most feelings and emotions. And being ungrateful, we will be inclined to forget or to reject the truth of the existence of God Almighty.

Unfortunately, people have varying views with regards to what the most important characteristic of a person is: for some it is the colour of his skin; for others, it is his economic situation – whether he is wealthy or poor; others think it is his , social or political standing, whether he is ruler or ruled; for others it is his social standing as an aristocrat, middle or working class; yet for some is his birth place and the language he speaks or the tribe he belongs to, etc..

‘Do men think that they will be left alone on saying “We believe”, and they will not be tested? We tested those before them, and Allah will certainly those who are true and those who are false’. (Quran 29: 2-3)

In Islam, these have no significance rather they are merely taken as signs of the creative power of God to enable people to recognise one another. The Almighty declares “O Mankind! Indeed we have created you as male and female, and have placed you in nations and tribes that you may have mutual recognition. However, the most honourable of you, in the sight of Allah is the one who is most God-conscious” (Qur’an: 49: 13)

Hence, the most important characteristic of a person is whether he is conscious of his Creator, believes in Him and through that consciousness submits to Him at all times and in all circumstances.

According to the Islamic view man is created by Allah in a pure state, free from sin. He also created us with the capacity or power to do both good and evil. He gave us the freedom to choose between doing good or evil. The good and evil therefore is connected with mankind’s freedom of choice and responsibility for their actions. “Good” may be whatever is pleasing to Allah and therefore beneficial to us.  Whereas “Bad/evil” may be whatever incurs the anger of God and is therefore harmful to man.

‘By the soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right – truly he that succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it….. (Quran 91: 7-10)

Therefore one of mankind’s main tasks is to keep away from and ward off evil. This is why Taqwa, piety and God consciousness is repeatedly mentioned in the Qur’an as the most important quality a person should develop in this regard. This means one must be conscious at all times not to over step the limits set by God. It works as a defence against evil and temptation by keeping a person within the boundaries of piety.

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