Be Among the Few: Express Gratitude
Many of us frequently exclaim: “Alhamdulillah!” (praise and thanks to Allah) when we are happy or receive good news, but Allah says, “Only a few of My servants are truly grateful” (Quran 34:13). Even though verbal gratitude is one way to express thanks, this basic form has lost its punch in our daily life. For this reason, as a reminder to myself and to you, here are seven habits to maintain a grateful heart with mindfulness.
- First, thank Allah by counting the blessings He’s given you.
Make a list of the good things in your life and thank Him consciously. Saeed al-Jurayri used to say: “Counting Allah’s favors is one of the ways to express gratitude.” If you do not realize the blessings in your life, remember what the Prophet ﷺ advised, as reported by al-Tirmizi: “Whoever wakes up feeling safe with their household, staying healthy and having the food for their day is like a person who is given life in its entirety.”
- Second, speak of Allah’s favors on you.
Share the good things you are grateful for in your life with the people who love you. This is not arrogance or showing off or being preachy! When you give thanks, you are praising Allah and attributing everything to Him. The Quran reads: “As for the favors of your Lord, report [them]” (Quran 93:11). Sharing gratitude can be a source of inspiration for others and holding ourselves more accountable.
- Third, wake up early and start your day with gratitude affirmations.
Every morning the Prophet ﷺ used to say:
اللَّهُمَّ مَا أَصْبَحَ بِي مِنْ نِعْمَةٍ فَمِنْكَ وَحْدَكَ لَا شَرِيكَ لَكَ فَلَكَ الْحَمْدُ وَلَكَ الشُّكْرُ
“My Lord, All the blessings that reach me this morning are from You alone. You have no partner. To You is all praise. To You is all gratitude” (Authentic Hadith as judged by Imam al-Nawawi).
- Fourth, end your day with gratitude.
The Prophet ﷺ used to offer the following prayer before sleeping:
الْحَمْدُ لله الَّذِي أَطْعَمَنَا وَسَقَانَا وَكَفَانَا وَآوَانَا، فَكَمْ مِمَّنْ لَا كَافِيَ لَهُ وَلَا مُؤْوِيَ
“Thanks are due to Allah who gave us food and drinks, sustained us and gave us shelter. There are many who are not sufficiently sustained or have a place to live in.” The Prophet ﷺ used to remember the favors of food and drinking water every night before he slept, even though he had less than what most of us have today.
- Fifth, when you say alhamdulillah, mean what you say.
We begin each daily prayer with the Fatihah ‘alhamdulillah…,’ and after finishing prayer, we say alhamdulillah 33 times. But, do we really mean what we say? Now say alhamdulillah mindfully and let the meaning sink slowly into your heart.
- Sixth, thank people who do favors for you.
Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and Ibn Hibban reported on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet ﷺ said:
لا يشكر الله من لا يشكر الناس
“Those who do not thank people are not grateful to Allah.” Call a friend, teacher, neighbor, or someone who did something nice to you and tell them that you are thanking them for being in your life. Your spouse looks out for your needs on a daily basis. Leave them a thank-you note for something good they did, no matter how small it is. Acknowledge the service provided to you by the postal worker, garbage collector, or your child’s bus driver by giving them a gift in appreciation of their work. A handwritten card is a heartfelt way of expressing gratitude as it illustrates your care and thoughtfulness. Make it your habit to give a compliment daily. By doing so, you will have more positive emotions, feel more alive, become more resilient, and develop better relations.
- Seventh, practice present-moment gratitude.
Here is one way to apply this habit: As you are doing a daily activity, as simple as drinking a cup of water, take a moment to pause, be mindful and feel grateful as you are drinking, and then say alhamdulillah with focus and awareness. Another way is when you receive good news, say alhamdulillah and fall down in prostration to Allah. This is a forgotten Sunnah known as Sujud al-Shukr (Gratitude Prostration) and is meant to protect us from any potential pride or arrogance. Whereas gratitude is expected every day, Sujud al-Shukr is for noticing and tracking any new blessing in our life. Many scholars see that it is not required to be in the state of taharah (ritual purity), facing the Qiblah or even for a woman to be wearing Hijab, as this sujud is a quick reaction to something that may have suddenly happened.
I pray that Allah makes us among the few who are truly grateful for His blessings so He may increase His mercy upon us.