Friday 28 July 2023

Let us be of the few who are grateful

We begin our post today with an anecdote that dates back to the times of the second caliph of Islam ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb (whose reign spanned over about ten years, that is from August 634 until his assassination in 644). He was also an expert Muslim jurist known for his pious and just nature, which earned him the epithet Al-Fārūq ("the one who distinguishes (between right and wrong)").

Once, Umar bin al-Khattab RA was walking in the market, he passed by a man who was supplicating, “O Allah, make us of Your ‘few’ servants! O Allah make us of Your ‘few’ servants!” Surprised by his supplication, Umar said to him, “Where did you get this dua from?” And the man said, “Allah in His Book says ‘And few of My servants are grateful.’ (Qur’an Surah 34. Saba:13)” So Umar wept and admonished himself, “The people are more knowledgeable than you, O Umar! O Allah make us of your 'few' servants.”

This verse is part of the narration of blessings of Allah on prophets Dawud and his son Sulaiman (David and Solomon) علي السلام. They both were given bounties and blessings beyond the imagination of any man. And then Allah says:

(اعْمَلُواْ ءَالَ دَاوُودَ شُكْراً Work you, O family of Dawud, with thanks!) Dawud said, "O Lord! How can I thank you when thanks itself is a blessing from You'' He said: "Now you have truly given thanks to Me, for you have realized that it is a blessing from Me.'' (وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنْ عِبَادِىَ الشَّكُورُ But few of My servants are grateful. This is a reflection of reality.

"Work gratefully": work like grateful servants. The mere verbal thankfulness of a person who acknowledges only verbally the favors done by the benefactor but uses them against his will is meaningless. The truly grateful person is he who acknowledges the favors with the tongue as well as uses and employs the favors according to the will of the benefactor. 

But few of My servants are grateful: This is an admonition as well as an expression of trust by God in a trusted servant. The implication is that the test of gratitude is a difficult one. Few succeed in it. However, it is hoped that Solomon (sws) will be among them.

In the backdrop that Allah placed miraculous things, that we cannot imagine, under Solomon’s command. It is being said “We said: ‘Work thankfully, family of David.' "All this was given you by God’s grace, through David and Solomon. You must not take false pride in it, but instead give proper thanks. Good action is an important form of thanksgiving.

However, “Few of My servants are truly thankful.” This comment also serves as a directive. It tells us on the one hand that the grace and favours God bestows on His servants are so great that few of them are able to express due thanks for them, and on the other that people often neglect their thanksgiving duty. In fact, however much people try to express their gratitude, they cannot give due thanks for what God bestows on them. What is their status, then, if they slacken and overlook this duty?

Now let us get back to our times and look around and see how many who have been blessed with blessings from Allah and are really grateful. Even look inside you and truly adjudge yourself and ascertain your level of thankfulness to Allah. I am sure we will find ourselves wanting to thank Allah from the core of our hearts and in all sincerity.

In fact, truth is the other way around. If we ask someone to leave a sin, they would respond with 'But most people do it, it’s not just me!' Open Qur'an and look for the words 'most people' in the Qur’an, we will find that Most people:
So, what do we do? Should we adopt the democratic way and side with the majority? Those gathering a large group of people, entice them with their flowery tongue and engulf them with their aura and make them fools with false promises of a better future. Or should we listen to the fascinating tunes of the Pied Piper and follow him till we disappear forever? 

Or should we look around and try to find a few people with wrinkled foreheads and deep-thinking eyes, the ones who know the truth but no one is prepared to listen to the truth? Yes, we should look for the few people who know the truth contained in Qur'an and try to convey it to the others, whether someone listens or not. Let us follow a path of truth and still not feel lonely because there are few who take that path, and beware of the path of falsehood and do not be deceived by the greatness of the perishers".

Let us be of the 'few', whom Allah says about them: 
We will explain each of the verses mentioned above to enlarge our canvas to see and know the truth of being among the few, rather than being among a crowd where we are taken not by our choice but by the sheer weight of the pushing crowd. Let us follow a few for we are not being pushed by the thrusting crowd, but by the force of our quest to know what is the truth. And let us be thankful, not merely as lip service, but being grateful from the core of our hearts and in words and actions to the best of our abilities. And yet asking for forgiveness for not being able to thank enough.
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages  and Understanding Al Qur'an for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
Photo | Tafsir References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | Wikipedia: | ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb |

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from the following sources: 
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Translation Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Qur'an Wiki
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
In addition, references of other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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