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Cultivating Gratitude in Our Lives – Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil explores ways for us to begin cultivating gratitude in our day-to-day lives.cultivating gratitude

Allah Most High says in the Qur’an;

“Verily, We sent (Messengers) to many nations before you (O Muhammad). And We seized them with extreme poverty (or loss in wealth) and loss in health with calamities so that they might believe with humility.” (Sura al-An’am, 6:42)

Overcoming Tribulation

We are all walking a challenging path in this dunya. No matter who you are, no matter where you find yourself in your life, please know that you are not alone. Lean on your support network; we were created to be social beings.

Allah places difficulty in our lives as a way to help us grow. How we choose to respond to our difficulties is up to us.

Facing Reality

“I did not create the Jinns and the human beings except for the purpose that they should worship Me.” (Sura al-Dhariyat, 51:56)

Outwardly, it may not look like it, but each of us is carrying a story. We are all the products of our different circumstances, and we are all headed to that same, inexorable final destination – a meeting with our Creator.

Everything in this life that happens to us is an opportunity to draw closer to Allah, or further away. None of us can control so many things in our life – the kind of family we are born into, the weather, what happens at work or school – but we can choose how we respond.

Gratitude

“(Recall the time) when your Lord declared, ‘If you express gratitude, I shall certainly give you more, and if you are ungrateful, then My punishment is severe.'” (Sura Ibrahim, 14:7)

No matter how difficult things may feel for you right now, I invite you to ask yourself – what is one thing you can be grateful for? And when you can name one, then name another. Aim to find at least five specific things you can feel grateful for, and take a moment to truly let that sink in.

There is so much we all take for granted, until it is taken away.

Falling Back Into Childhood Patterns

So many of our problematic behavioural patterns begin from coping mechanisms in childhood. What may have worked to help us survive childhood end up working against us, when we become adults.

It takes awareness, hard work and often, professional support, to help rewire an adult brain. But it is possible. Change, through Allah’s help, is always possible.

Teaching Gratitude to Children

Teach the habit of gratitude to your children. Make it a daily bonding practice, perhaps at dinner time, or during your bedtime routine. Depending on the age and temperament of your child or children, you can make it into a game and ask them to describe three things they are happy about. What are three things they can say alhamdulilah for? The tasty meal Mama cooked, the way Baba helped put them to sleep and the company of sibling(s) to play with.

As your children grow older, you can help them create their own gratitude journals. The act of writing down what they’re grateful for makes it all the more real. This also becomes a wonderful way for you, the parent, to also grow your gratitude muscle.

Children learn from who we are – not always from what we say. And when they see us work hard to be grateful, no matter how difficult the circumstances – they will take after us. What blessed seeds to plant within the heart of our children. May the next generation have hearts full of gratitude and love for Allah and His Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.


Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.


 

Questions and Answers – Radical Gratitude Series

Whgrateful servantsat is true gratitude, and how can it make a difference in our lives? In this segment, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Ustadh Amjad Tarsin answer some commonly asked questions about this topic.questions and answers

 

Q: How do you find ways to forgive when it’s very difficult?

A: This is a good question, because we should be real in how we cultivate spiritual ideals. The first thing to do is look at the life of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and see the incredible honor that stemmed from his forgiveness. His forgiveness of the Quraysh after the Conquest of Mecca was more than about a few arguments. He and his followers had suffered 20 years of serious aggression, wars, torture, and physical and psychological harm. However, his heart was so attached to Allah, and he wanted what was best for his people. Therefore, when he was given the upper hand, he chose forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of the biggest steps to healing from pain, and resentment continues to burn us. Sometimes our nafs blocks this meaning from us. If someone is being harmed, then we have the right to prevent that. After that, we can try to look for excuses for them. If that’s difficult, you make duaa for them, that Allah guide them.

Q: How is it possible to have patience without being passive?

A: Scholars say that everything has a knowledge-based response, and then an action-based response. Before we try, we should keep in mind what patience means. Neither patience or gratitude are passive. Gratitude is more than seeing the good; it is using things for what it’s used. For example, being grateful to live in Canada does not mean ignoring the wrongs done by the Canadian government. Rather, we use our blessings to do what Allah has commanded us to do-work towards truth, justice, mercy and the prevention of harm.

Q: How does one explain gratitude to children?

A: Syed Naqib al-Attas, one of the most brilliant minds in education of the 20th century, broke down children’s education into three components. Firstly, there is tarbiya, or education, raising the child. Secondly, ta’deeb is the instilling of correct manners and etiquette to any situation.  Finally, ta’leem is teaching the child, which can be done in many ways.

Q: What about someone who isn’t feeling the essence of gratitude in his heart?

A: Ultimately, Allah does not squander an atom’s weight of good. The scholars define a good action as, “anything that has even a residual aspect of good.” The devil will try to suggest that you are not grateful enough, or not sincere enough, but flee from those thoughts.

About the Series

“If you are grateful, We shall surely grant you increase,” Allah promises in the Qur’an. “Should I not be a truly grateful servant?” said the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In this seminar, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Ustadh Amjad Tarsin explore Radical Gratitude: How Thankfulness Transforms Our Life and Religion.


The Reality of Gratitude – Radical Gratitude Series

What is true gratitude, and how can it make a difference in our lives? In this segment, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani helps us understand the reality of gratitude.

All Gratitude is for Allah

As Muslims, our perspective on gratitude is very different from the commonly accepted definition. We practice gratitude for every situation we come across, not just the ones that we enjoy. This has a radically transformation effect on our mental state, spiritual state, and standing with Allah. This is the reality of gratitude.

The word for gratitude in Arabic is shukr. It’s essential meaning comes from the word “increase,” which gives it the meaning of a response to something with increase. A shakira was a type of bush that would grow in very dry environments, and would produce a lot of vegetation despite the difficult circumstances. Camels and other animals were also referred to with that word, because of their ability to give much benefit despite the little they ate and drank.

Outwardly, gratitude is a spiritual act. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, “Whoever is not grateful to people, is not grateful to Allah.” This teaches us that even our gratitude to others is a means of showing our gratitude to Allah, since ultimately all gratitude is for Allah.

Imam Ahmad Zarruq defined gratitude as, “the heart’s rejoicing at the Bestower of blessings, not merely the blessings. This is manifest on one’s limbs, such that one’s tongue actively praises Allah, and one’s limbs express good works and leave contraventions.”

This is why sometimes blessings can be a more difficult test than sadness. When in a difficult situation, it’s easy to turn to Allah with sincerity. However, in times of ease, people tend to forget Allah.

For Every Situation, A Sunna

Allah says, “If you are grateful for my blessings, I will grant you increase.” (Surah Ibrahim 14.7) There are two levels of gratitude; gratitude, and true gratitude. Gratitude is to respond to blessings with joy and thankfulness to Allah. But true gratitude is to see all situations, good or bad, as coming from Allah.

The bridge to love to Allah is true gratitude. Allah says, “Few of my servants are truly grateful.” When Imam Junayd was asked about it the reality of gratitude, he said, “To do your utmost in the presence of your Lord.” Gratitude is not just to say “alhamdulillah,” but to use the blessing well. He also said, “Gratitude is to not disobey Allah with what He has given you.” Since Allah has given us all our facilities, true gratitude entails doing our best to never disobey Allah.

About the Series

“If you are grateful, We shall surely grant you increase,” Allah promises in the Qur’an. “Should I not be a truly grateful servant?” said the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In this seminar, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Ustadh Amjad Tarsin explore Radical Gratitude: How Thankfulness Transforms Our Life and Religion.


Day 22: Be Thankful – 30 Deeds 30 Days

Day 22: Be Thankful

Thankfulness, or shukr, is a fundamental part of our faith. It’s so integral that its opposite is kufr, which means to cover or hide, but also means disbelief. Some people criticize a person or their community, thinking that they are showing concern. But in reality, they are making the situation worse by making others feel hopeless.

In these last few blessed days, try to display shukr, the blessings that Allah has given you. Avoid statements like “My life is horrible,” “Nothing is going well,” “The people at my mosque just don’t care.” If you hear others making these statements, try to encourage them to change their perspective. Not only will your mental outlook improve, but so will your thankfulness to Allah.


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How to Properly Thank Allah for the Blessings in My Life?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

How do I properly thank Allah for the blessings in my life? What about halal things which I use in a haram way? Is my prayer accepted even though I pray in clothes bought on my credit card?

Answer: Asalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Gratitude

“And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.’ “ [Qur’an, 14:7]

It is praiseworthy to develop a daily practice of thankfulness for Allah’s blessings.

In a nutshell, a holistic expression of gratitude for one’s blessings is using it in a way that pleases Allah e.g. using one’s body to perform acts of good, using one’s free time in a beneficial way, using one’s wealth for the sake of Allah etc.

Repentance

“But whoever repents after his wrongdoing and reforms, indeed, Allah will turn to him in forgiveness. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Qur’an, 5:39]

If you are using blessings in a way that is displeasing to Allah, then know that it is not too late to repent.

Prayer

The validity of your prayer is not affected by whether or not you have bought your clothes on credit.

Please see:

A Reader on Thankfulness to Allah and True Gratitude
A Reader on Tawba (Repentance)

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

Overcoming Greed, Opening Yourself To Gratitude, by Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said reminds us that one of the worst attachments we have is to greed. It blinds us and incapacitates us. How did the men and women before us overcome this?

Bismillah-ir Rahman-ir Raheem
Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) said in the Qur’an, in Surah Yusuf (3):  “Indeed We have related to you the most beautiful of stories…”
In these stories, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) speaks in the Qur’an about the Anbiya, the Saliheen and sometimes He also mentions the oppressors so that we may take from it a lesson for ourselves.
Also, by relating to us stories, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) is telling and teaching us about human nature; and one of the worst attachments to our nature is greed.  Greed for money and more broadly, greed for loving and wanting everything, which can turn into jealousy and envy and can also cause undue stress.
In this regard, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) tells us in the Qur’an the story of Ibrahim (alaih salam): a Nabi, standing in front of the oppressor king Nimrod, and in describing this meeting Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) tells Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) and us in the Qur’an:  “Have you not considered the one who argued with Abraham about his Lord [merely] because Allah had given him kingship?”  (Surah Al-Baqarah, 258)
In this ayah, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) is saying that He is the one that made Nimrod a king and gave him power, and Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) gave kingship and power to someone who was a disbeliever.  But Ibrahim (alaih salam) was certain in his knowledge that in reality Nimrod was given nothing, as he was not given the gifts of iman, guidance and piety!
This are the Saliheen! They are lost in counting the blessings of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala)!
Also, Nimrod did not only have kingship and power, but that power extended to having control over Ibrahim (alaih salam) as well, but it was Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) who gave Nimrod that power, and if there were to be any khayr in it, than it would have been given to Ibrahim (alaih salam), hence the thought of jealousy never occurred.
In Surah Al-Qasas, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) tells us a story about Syedina Musa (alaih salam), in which Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) describes how Musa (alaih salam) was going through a lot of hardship, while Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) gave his cousin, Qarun, power and wealth beyond imagination.  Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) gave an example of the extent of Qarun’s wealth in describing the key to the doors of his stores, which was so rich that it could only be lifted by the strongest man of that era.
Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) shows us human nature in telling that when Qarun went out with all his wealth, supporters and subjects, it was the human nature in people that made them feel jealous of Qarun, and they all wished to be him. What they saw in Qarun was his wealth, his comfort and his ease; but no one wanted to be like Musa (alaih salam)!  The people did not see a Nabi, or the one who speaks to Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), all they saw was an exterior of a man who was going through hard times, and hence no one wanted to be like Musa (alaih salam).
But when Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) destroyed Qarun and the earth swallowed him and his wealth, the same people who were in awe of him said that it was a blessing that they were not like him; these are the very people who wished before to be Qarun, and now they were thanking Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) for not being like him!
In these stories, there is a lesson:  the people that were following the opponent of Ibrahim (alaih salam) saw that he was a powerful king, and as such they did not see the khair of Ibrahim (alaih salam), his Nabuwwah and that he was Khalilullah!
The people that were following the opponent of Musa (alaih salam) saw his opponent’s wealth and resources, which did not allow them to see the khair of Musa (alaih salam), his Nabuwwah and that he was Kaleemullah!
In applying the lesson to us we must know that in every time there will be Nimrods and Qaruns, but there will also be the Saliheen as well!  So in taking lesson, we should strive to align to the Saliheen and not the Nimrods and Qaruns of our time.  The Saliheen are in our time as well, and they are the ones that have been truly blessed, despite their apparent disrespect and neglect by people; people will only miss the Saliheen when they are no longer there!
If it was in the judgment of the previous people to want to be Qarun and Nimrod, we should be wise and learn from that mistake, and instead of wanting to be someone else, we should be grateful for what we have.
WE should be grateful and smile!
If you have the blessing of time, be grateful and smile, because many people wish for this.
If you have the ability to walk, talk and hear, be grateful and smile, because many people wish for this.
If you have food on your table and a roof over your head, be grateful and smile, because many people wish for this.
If you have a family, be grateful and smile, no matter how difficult they might be, because many people wish for this.
If you have a husband or wife, no matter how bad you may think they are, be grateful and smile, because many people

wish for this.
Do not wish to be anyone else, and be happy with the hikmah of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), because the very person you
wish to be, you may not know what they are going through.  There are many things in life to be grateful and happy for, so smile!
At the end, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) said in the Qur’an:  “If you are grateful to Me, I will increase you!”
And this is our first message of the year.
May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) make this a year of khair, and may He guide us, as He granted us a great beginning, and continue to guide us. May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) clear from our heart all that is other than Him, remove any love other than His and that of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam); may Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) make our hearts a place for no one other than Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) and Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam).
We wish for you and for us a year full of ibadah, remembrance and praise of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) and a year of salawat upon Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam).  May it be a year of reconnecting with the Qur’an through reading, understanding and implementing it.

Resources for seekers

Shaykh Faid SaidShaykh Faid Mohammed Said is a jewel in the crown of traditional Islamic scholarship in the United Kingdom and we at SeekersHub are ever grateful for his friendship, guidance and support. He was born in Asmara, Eritrea, where he studied the holy Qur’an and its sciences, Arabic grammar and fiqh under the guidance of the Grand Judge of the Islamic Court in Asmara, Shaykh Abdul Kader Hamid and also under the Grand Mufti of Eritrea. He later went to study at Madinah University, from which he graduated with a first class honours degree. In Madinah, his teachers included Shaykh Atia Salem, Shaykh Mohamed Ayub (ex-imam of the Prophet’s Mosque, peace be upon him), Professor AbdulRaheem, Professor Yaqub Turkestani, Shaykh Dr Awad Sahli, Dr Aa’edh Al Harthy and many other great scholars. Shaykh Faid has ijaza in a number of disciplines including hadith, and a British higher education teaching qualification. He is currently the scholar in residence and head of education at Harrow Central Mosque, United Kingdom. Read his articles on the SeekersHub blog.

Keys to Having Presence with God, by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

“He is with you wherever you may be,” reminds Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, in this Friday sermon  at Masjid Jamiat-ul-Ansar. “The Lord of the Heavens and the Earth, the tremendous Reality, He is close and near you. Does this humble you?”

Allah has granted us the gift of being conscious of this reality. This is tremendous, and can only come in the form of a gift because none of us truly deserves it. This gift entails gratitude. Faith is a tremendous gift that has eternal consequences. Even if we chose to believe, who inspired us to it?
Allah tells us in the Quran, “Say: It is all from Allah.” The gift of faith is one we have not earned;  therefore, gratitude is the response.
So what is true gratitude? True shukr or thankfulness is using every blessing given to you in turning to Allah.

Never forget Him.

Gratitude of faith also entails that we nurture this faith. There is a tremendous difference between one that says I believe and the one who is present and conscious of the meaning of faith. Therefore, along with gratitude, knowledge is an essential key to attaining presence with your Lord.
The point of the prayer is the one you are praying to – Allah is the focus – and prayer is the key to being in His presence. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said “My complete joy, the joy of my eyes, was placed in the prayer.”
Why? Because prayer is presence with the one you love, with the one you are seeking…That is why whenever things were going on in the life of the Prophet, he would turn to prayer.
If Allah treated us as we deserved we would be lost, for our heedlessness is vast and our lack of gratitude is apparent. Allah deals with us with Mercy and enriches us when we provide him with as little as 10 minutes of presence and manifests good in it. Along with prayer comes continuous reflection and remembrance of God, in nurturing this our hearts find rest, solace and comfort.
[cwa id=’cta’]

Truly in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest

The first preoccupation of hearts is to seek answers to two fundamental questions: Who am I? Who is my Lord? In engaging in worship or remembrance, the restlessness leaves our hearts and we reconnect to our spirit. In a time before existence, we confirmed who our Lord is and in remembrance we return to this reality.

Be Busy With Allah.

So when you work, do it for Allah. The true meaning of your work is the potential to be in the presence of Allah and that is the true essence of your living. Those who are accomplished are those whose trade nor other dealings busy them from Allah. What are they busy with? They are busy with Allah. When anyone is with the one they love, does anything actually shake them?

Resources for the Seekers:

How to Seek Forgiveness from Teachers?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: In my early teens I was disrespectful towards my Qur’an teacher. Now I have realized the grave mistake of disrespecting him. I have repented and tried to make amends by buying my teacher gifts. However I have not asked for his forgiveness as I am shy. AlhamduliLlah he accepted my gift. What I should do?

Answer: Assalam alaykum

Teachers occupy a very important place in our tradition. While this is true of any individual instructing us in beneficial knowledge, it is particularly true of those who are our religious teachers. There is an extensive literature among scholars dedicated to the adab of a student towards a teacher, such as the famous work al-Ta‘lim wa al-Muta‘allim of al-Zarnuji, which is available in English.

As for your specific case, the best way to make amends is to continue respecting and holding your teacher in high-esteem. If you do wish to seek forgiveness for a specific past breach, you may do so in a general manner, such as by asking your teacher to forgive you for any wrong you may have done.

With that, some of the actions you have taken, such as buying gifts for your teacher, already indicate that you feel remorse about what you did and are taking steps to rectify past mistakes. You should continue doing this and also supplicate for your teachers, asking God to benefit you with what they have taught you. Additionally, express your appreciation for the time and energy he gave you. As the Prophet (God bless him) said, “He who does not give thanks to people does not give thanks to God.” [Abu Dawud] These are among the most important of things you can do.

[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.

Don’t Complain for a Day and Focus on the Blessings (30 Deeds, 30 Days), by Dr. Ingrid Mattson

Don't Complain

Don’t Complain for a Day and Focus on the Blessings (30 Deeds, 30 Days), by Dr. Ingrid Mattson

30 Days, 30 Deeds
Sacred Acts to Transform the Heart

Every night, our scholars in residence explore one simple deed that could have far reaching spiritual impact on our lives – and the lives of others. Every day we’ll make the intention to put that teaching into practice. Whether it’s forgiving someone who’s wronged us or putting service to others at the top of our list of priorities, these powerful lessons will remind us of the great gift the Prophet ﷺ‎  gave us: the best of character.

Daily at 8:10 pm EST. Attend in person at SeekersHub Toronto or watch live.

Let’s #GiveLight to Millions More

We envision a world in which no one is cut off from the beauty, mercy and light of the Prophetic ﷺ example. A world where the dark ideology of a few is dwarfed by radiant example of the many who follow the way of the Prophet ﷺ. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support. This Ramadan, we need you to help us #GiveLight to millions more. Here’s how.

Photo credit: Mycroyance

Completion of the Qur’an: Rejoicing and Supplication, by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Rejoicing and Supplication

Completion of the Qur’an: Rejoicing and Supplication, by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Recorded at the special gathering of prayer, recitation and remembrance on the 27th night of Ramadan with our guests Dr. Ingrid Mattson, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin and others from across the Greater Toronto Area.

Let’s #GiveLight to Millions More

We envision a world in which no one is cut off from the beauty, mercy and light of the Prophetic ﷺ example. A world where the dark ideology of a few is dwarfed by radiant example of the many who follow the way of the Prophet ﷺ. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support. This Ramadan, we need you to help us #GiveLight to millions more. Here’s how.

Photo credit: mrrehan