A heartbroken mother sat silently, staring at her 27-week-old baby’s motionless body.
Already inflicted with depression prior to pregnancy, she now most likely had to cope with losing a child, the biggest pain any woman could ever bear with. She was tearless, for tears were not enough to describe her sorrow.
Having gone through a long period of problematic pregnancy complicated with pre-eclampsia and diabetes, giving birth to a premature, sick baby was the last thing she wanted. On that day, her baby suddenly deteriorated in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
A group of pediatricians rushed to the scene and cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed for more than half an hour. But God’s decree was invincible. The baby passed away, returning to her merciful Creator.
A premature male baby was in the baby cot in the ward. He was gaining weight, feeding well and thriving. The doctors could not discharge him yet. The reason? His mother had just died two days ago in the Intensive Care Unit because of breast cancer and his father was in the process of arranging for some other relative who would take over the motherhood role for his son.
The dying mother, however, managed to have a first and last look at her baby before she fell unconscious and died. The poor little boy would never feel the love of a mother.
The two hospital scenarios above are true stories. A person’s world view is so limited that he can never keep track of the daily tragedies and disasters inflicting humankind in different corners of the globe.
Millions of people die every day. Hundreds of thousands are diagnosed with fatal diseases, many trying to cope with extreme poverty, and many more fleeing their lands out of fear and insecurity. Every minute there is a sad story in every part of the world, most of which are never unfolded to us.
The irony is: people remain indifferent and ungrateful. They are too busy with their daily lives and business to care about the suffering of their brothers and sisters. They are too worried about other stuff around them to sit and reflect even for a minute, to thank God for what they have. It is a common nature of people to complain about what they do not possess, and to forget about what they are blessed with. Those with sight feel worried about what color of contact lenses would most suit them, or whether they can afford LASIK surgery. They forget about babies who are born blind and will never know how their mothers look like.
Those with hands and legs are anxious about what shoes to buy, what accessories to put and whether they can get their nails done before a party. Disregarding those born handicapped, or victims of thalidomide in Germany, or diabetic patients who are amputated, they fail to thank God for what they have.
Those with stable jobs and some money are forever restless to make more, while the needy find happiness just in seeing food on the table.
|What is important is to recount what God has given us and to maintain a deeper sense of gratitude to Him.|
Are You Grateful?
Gratefulness is one of the best qualities a person can possess. God loves gratefulness so much that He promised to give more to those who thank Him for what they have, as stated in the Holy Qur’an. For humans always tend to overlook God’s blessings and mourn over what they do not get, Islam places the trait of gratitude in a very high rank.
Only men of understanding will be able to grasp the meaning of gratefulness and practice it. Grateful people continuously reflect on the blessings they enjoy, and look at the less fortunate, thus praising God for His bounties. They are content with what is little, appreciate abundance and do not complain about shortage. They portray their gratefulness to God by doing good to others and obeying Him. Being aware that this worldly life is temporary, they seek what is permanent and invest in the hereafter.
On the contrary, ignorant men always eye those who are richer, have bigger houses, drive nicer cars, wear more expensive dress, and go to better universities. They are in constant anger and anxiety over what they do not achieve, thus acting blind to what is in their hands. Seeing this world as an everlasting abode, they try to accumulate as much as possible and compete with others. Without realizing, they have thrown themselves into a trap of endless frustration.
Ignorance has tainted the definition of richness. Society today believes that material possession equals being rich, and thus confirming success. Those with less are looked down upon and often discriminated against for having failed to meet up with this expectation. Subsequently, people become forever stressed and frantic to earn more, for which they eventually begin to feel unsatisfied and unhappy with what they have, believing that excess is a must.
Islam in this matter emphasizes modesty and genuineness. It introduces a different, yet practical concept; the richest people are those who feel they have enough. How much one has does not matter; it is the appreciation and contentment that contributes to meaning and thus creating gratefulness. Moreover, contentment brings happiness and drives anxiety away. The Islamic teaching on this issue is meant only to give mental peace to men and save them from unnecessary worry. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon) narrated a Hadith Qudsi:
“0 man! Although you have enough for your living , you demand that which makes you insolent . In fact , you are neither content with little nor satisfied with much .Certainly, if you get sound in your body , safe in your life and having sufficient food for one day , anything else is unimportant." (Transmitted by Ibn 'Adiyy and El- Bayhaqi .)
This prophetic saying confirms the nature of humans who are constantly demanding for more, despite all that they have. If only people can spend some time to ponder and reflect, they will realize how much they have and be thankful instead of grumbling.
To ask for more is probably men’s weakness by nature, and the devil plays its role by manipulating and exaggerating this weak spot. It is a challenge on humans, especially those who believe in God, to suppress this relentless desire for possessing more, and dissatisfaction over what they lack. No doubt it is a difficult task, for God mentions in the Qur’an that humans have been created weak (meaning they are full of limitations) but there is no question about its possibility. As men are equipped with the ability to think and judge, unlike animals and plants, they are surely capable of enslaving their desire instead of becoming its slave.
|Despite all blessings, have humans been grateful? Or have they acted oblivious and showed disrespect to God by complaining about what is not there?|
From the moment of conception until the last breath, humans are drowned in God’s blessings, both seen and hidden. Every stage of growth in the womb before the very beginning of life on earth is a clear manifestation of God’s bounties.
Imagine a great, dazzling man you see on the street or a beautiful lady you adore so much was once a helpless little creature in their mother’s womb. Protected from the harshness of the outside world, human fetuses grow in the hands of the Almighty. Upon birth, humans are completely powerless and vulnerable, needing constant care and supervision. Thus God the Merciful puts immeasurable love into the hearts of parents for their children, for the sake of nurturing them until they become independent adults. Should there be no unconditional, infinite love in the hearts of humans for their children, what kind of harsh life an innocent child will be exposed to?
Nurtured with utmost care and love, babies grow into happy and energetic children where they start to learn and explore. Sharp brains and high curiosity help them learn and adapt to surrounding atmosphere until they become independent individuals. As mature adults, both men and women cannot lead balanced lives without companionship and proper conjugal lives. Thus God the Merciful, again, with his power and wisdom instills attraction into the hearts of men for the opposite sex and vice versa, and establishes marriage as a sacred bond, so that men and women can live together happily, enjoying each other’s company, support and love.
Reaching old age, men are still not left helpless and ignored. If they have led a proper family life, in most cases God blesses them with children, on whom they can rely and seek sustenance from, during this fragile period.
The second irony remains; despite all blessings, have humans been grateful? Or have they acted oblivious and showed disrespect to God by complaining about what is not there?
What matters most, in the end, is whether there is actually the smallest bit of gratefulness in our hearts, and how we manifest it. Perhaps there are multiple ways of doing so, besides merely a verbal expression. As action speaks louder than words, gratefulness is more evident when one acts constructively out of appreciation of what he has been endowed with, and inspires others to do the same.
Hankering after wealth and feeling jealous for what God has given others may not make us rich or happy. What is important is to recount what God has given us and to maintain a deeper sense of gratitude to Him. Else, humans will be continuously restless running after mirage in desert.
May God bless us with the supreme attributes of gratitude and contentment!
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