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By Maha Elgenaidi, Executive Director.
This speech was delivered at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in San Jose on Sunday, November 18th, 2018 as part of the annual Interfaith Thanksgiving service.
Quranic verse on Gratitude
Wa Laqad ‘Ātaynā Luqmāna Al-Ĥikmata ‘Ani Ashkur Lillāh ۚ Wa Man Yashkur Fa’innamā Yashkuru Linafsihi ۖ Wa Man Kafara Fa’inna Allāha Ghanīyun Ĥamīd.
“We bestowed wisdom on Luqman: “Show gratitude to God. Anyone who is grateful benefits his own soul, but whoever is ungrateful, verily God is free of all wants and worthy of praise.” (Qur’an: 31:12)
Gratitude in Action
Gratitude is a reminder that everything that happens to us comes from God and that we shouldn’t take the many bounties in our lives for granted. The Quran says: “And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from God” [al-Nahl 16:53]. The fires up North are a potent reminder to be grateful for normal aspects of our daily lives: our homes, our belongings and our security. As the very air we breathe has now become a health hazard, it is a potent reminder not to take any of the smallest blessings of our daily lives for granted. Exhibiting gratitude helps us recognize how much we have in our lives that many people do not and to count our blessings rather than yearn for what we are lacking.
The ability to be grateful is a great blessing and can actually change one’s entire frame of reference and mood. Studies have shown that a litany of gratitude can alter negative thoughts and help relieve anxiety and lessen the stresses of our daily lives. Gratitude has the power to improve one’s physical, mental and emotional health. Gratitude, even in a time of difficulty helps us to stay positive and thankful rather than the opposite. One of the supplications that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) taught his followers was the following: “Oh God help me to remember You, to thank You and to worship You properly.”
Gratitude in action is the sense of fulfillment that comes not from wanting more, but rather from a sense of knowing that God has already blessed us with what we need. We can put this gratitude into action by helping those are in need, be it spiritual, emotional, or physical.
Gratitude in action is also to remember to express appreciation to other people. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “He who does not thank people, does not thank God” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi). He also said: “Whoever does you a favor, then reciprocate, and if you cannot find anything with which to reciprocate, then pray for that person until you think that you have reciprocated them.” Abu Dawood (1672).