Digging Deeper into Gratitude
Written by Tara, Modefa's CEO & Co-Founder
As Muslims, having an “attitude of gratitude” is part of the core of what it means to be Muslim. But in our busy lives, how many of us really take the time to regularly reflect on and appreciate the things we have in our life?
As a convert, one thing that I've always admired is the fact that other Muslims who grew up in Islam, have this focus on gratitude more engrained in their everyday lives through the use of the word "alhamdulilah." Through their environment, they were able to build the habit of saying “alhamdulilah” every chance. For example, I've often observed the habit among many ‘native’ Muslims to say “alhamdulilah” when anyone asks them how they are. At first this practice confused me, because it seemed a strange response when translated to English.
"Hi, how are you?"
"Thank you Allah!"
But it makes more sense when you look into the deeper meaning. What these Muslims are really saying is, "thank Allah, I am doing well." It's an expression of gratitude to Allah for the situation they are in, whatever that situation may be. Even getting down to the basics of being thankful to be alive, thankful to be present.
For American Muslims, Thanksgiving is a good opportunity to reflect on our blessings and the importance of being grateful to Allah every day of the year. This year, I've been journaling to help me focus and reflect on my journey in Islam, including the things I'm grateful for. But what I've also realized through this process is that it's often kind of hard to think about what exactly I am grateful for. Of course, there are the obvious — my family, my home, my business, financial stability — but I have found that on most days, I keep writing down these same blessings. But I've realized lately that part of the purpose journaling is to get us to think more deeply about the everyday things, big and small that we are grateful for. For the little joys as well as big successes; for the special moments and even for the fact that our basic needs are taken care of. It might help to get into this mindset by thinking of people less fortunate than you, and to remember that there are even simple things in your life that you might be taking for granted, that others don't have. Things like your health, food on the table, and a roof over your head.
I would even encourage you to go further and consider that some things are blessings in disguise — on the surface they might be considered misfortunes, but maybe that will lead the way later to a better blessing. Things like not getting a job you wanted, missing a flight. We need to learn to be grateful for everything happening in our lives, and see it as the will of Allah in our lives. This is what was meant to happen, this is where I am meant to be, this is all a part of Allah's will in my life, and trusting that Allah's path for you is better than you could have imagined.
"If you are grateful, I will surely increase you in favor." Holy Quran 14:7
As Muslims, we should make it an effort as much as possible to recognize, every day, multiple times a day, the blessings that Allah has given us. Get into the practice of saying "alhamdulilah" at every opportunity, for the good things, and the bad things. Personally, I've noticed that the more I journal and focus on thinking of my blessings, the easier it comes to me. And I find that every day, it is becoming easier for me to recognize and say "alhamdulilah." Just remember that nothing you have is guaranteed, nothing is permanent. So be thankful for Allah's constant blessings.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May Allah help you to be more grateful every day and increase your blessings.
Recommended resources for helping you to practice gratitude every day:
The Dua Journal
The Productive Muslim Book (and website here, Attitude of Gratitude article)
Muslyfe 5 Ways to Practice Gratitude in Islam
Salam Girl Podcast (and especially this week's episode "Alhamdulilah for Everything!")