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Thanksgiving: Alien to Islam?

Thanksgiving in Islam
Thanksgiving is not a holiday of any particular religion
Allah Almighty says:

{Then do you remember Me; I will remember you. Be grateful to Me and reject not Faith}. (Al-Baqarah 2: 152)

{And remember! Your Lord caused to be declared (publicly): "If you are grateful, I will add more (favors) unto you; but if you show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed.} (Ibrahim 14: 7)

{We bestowed Wisdom on Luqman: "Show (your) gratitude to Allah." Any who is (so) grateful does so to the profit of his own soul; but if any is ungrateful, verily Allah is free of all wants, worthy of all praise.} (Luqman 31: 12)

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The National Day of Thanksgiving in America is a beautiful holiday. It contains a good spirit and noble message. It is not a holiday of any particular religion. It is not a Christian or Jewish holiday but it has many deeply religious and spiritual meanings. America at thanksgiving is America at its best. It is unfortunate that like many other moral and spiritual things this holiday is also turned nowadays into too much indulgence and commercialism. It is important that we remember and remind others about the spirit of thanksgiving.

The Qur’anic word for thanks is "shukr." It is mentioned in the Qur’an many times. It is the quality of human beings and it is also the quality of Allah. According to scholars shukr means: "It is the consideration of the favor and its acknowledgment. Shukr from the human means the recognition of the favor. Shukr from Allah means the reward and appreciation."

Shukr is a very important principle in Islam. It is a quality of the believers and it is a source of all goodness. Shukr is used in the Qur’an sometimes as equivalent to faith. The faithful are thankful people and the unfaithful are ungrateful people.

Allah has described His prophets and messengers among those who were thankful people. Prophet Nuh was a grateful servant of Allah (Al-Israa’ 17: 3). Prophet Ibrahim used to thank Allah for His many blessings (An-Nahl 16:121). Prophet Dawud and his family were told to be grateful to Allah (Sabaa’ 34:13). Allah told His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him): {Nay, but worship Allah, and be of those who give thanks.} (Az-Zummar 39: 66)

In Islam thanksgiving is not only a particular religious act or service; it is the whole life.

Allah also promised: 

{Nor can a soul die except by Allah's leave, the term being fixed as by writing. If anyone desires a reward in this life, We shall give it to him; and if anyone desires a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give it to him. And swiftly shall We reward those that who are thankful.} (Aal `Imran 3: 145) 

In Islam thanksgiving is not only a particular religious act or service; it is the whole life. The whole life should be lived in obedience to our Ultimate Benefactor, Allah. God has been good to us and so in our thankfulness we should worship Him, obey His commands and orders. Our daily prayers, our fasting during Ramadan, our Zakah and Hajj are all our acts of thanksgiving. We should do them not only as duties that must be performed but as our gratitude to our Lord and Creator.

Furthermore we should remind ourselves that we are constantly under Allah's favors and blessings.

Islam does not only teach us to thank Allah, but we are also told to thank our parents, our spouses….
There are many special prayers that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught us to keep us on the path of gratitude and thankfulness: 
  • When we eat, he told us that we should say: When the Prophet used to eat or drink, he used to say, "Thanks be to Allah Who gave us food and drink and made us Muslims." (At-Tirmidhi, 3379)
  • Whenever the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) put on any new dress, he would say its name 'Amamah or shirt or shawl, then he would say, "O Allah, Thanks be to You, You gave me this to wear. I ask You to give me the good of this dress and the good for which it is made and I ask You to protect me from the evil of this dress and from the evil of that for which it is made." (At-Tirmidhi, 1689)
  • When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to mount his camel going on a journey he used to say “Allah Akbar” (God is the greatest) three times and then he would say, "Glory to Him Who has subjected these to our (use), for we could never have accomplished this (by ourselves). And to our Lord, surely, must we turn back!" (Az-Zukhruf 43:13) O Allah, we ask you this journey righteousness and piety and the deeds that are pleasing to you. O Allah, make this journey easy for us and shorten its distance. O Allah, You are the Companion in journey and You are the Guardian for the family (left behind). O Allah, We ask you to protect us from the exhaustion of journey, from bad scenes and from bad return to our property and family." When he used to return he used to say, "Returning, repenting, worshiping and praising our Lord." (Muslim, 2392)

Islam does not only teach us to thank Allah, but we are also told to thank our parents, our spouses, our friends, neighbors and all those who do any good to us. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Those who do not thank people, they do not thank Allah." (At-Tirmidhi, 1878)

 

Islamic scholar of North America; Director, Orange County Islamic Center, California.

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