BEING grateful is to render one’s thanks to someone who has shown favor, to express gratitude and to appreciate.

The concept of being grateful to Allah, on the other hand, is to grasp and express that every kind of grace and favor is granted exclusively by Allah.

In the Qur’an, the opposite of being grateful is defined by the term “disbelief,” which is synonymous to being ungrateful.

Only this definition indicates the importance attached to being grateful as a worshiper and the detrimental consequences it (ungratefulness) may have for a believer.

Gratefulness to Allah is one of the concepts mostly emphasized in the Qur’an. In almost 70 verses, the importance of rendering thanks to Allah is stated, the examples of those who are grateful and ungrateful are given and the end they face is described. The reason why so much importance is given to this concept is simply because it is a mere indication of one ‘s faith and affirmation of the unity of Allah. In one of the verses “being grateful” is described as “worship only to Allah”:

O you who believe! Eat of the good things that We have provided for you, and be grateful to Allah, if it is Him you worship. (Al-Baqarah, 172)

In another verse giving thanks to Allah is described as the opposite of idolatry:

But it has already been revealed to you, as it was to those before you , “If you were to join (gods with Allah), truly fruitless will be your work (in life), and you will surely be in the ranks of those who lose (all spiritual good)”.

Nay, but worship Allah, and be of those who give thanks. (Qur’an, Az-Zumar, 65-66)

The following statement of The Evil One (Iblis) emphasizes the importance of giving thanks to Allah :

He (Iblis) said: “Because you have thrown me out of the way, lo! I will lie in wait for them on Your straight way: Then will I assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left: Nor will You find, in most of them, gratitude (for Your mercies).” (Al- Araf, 17)

As stated in the verse above, Satan devoted his life to mislead people due to his envy. His ultimate aim is to make people be ungrateful to their Creator. When this ultimate purpose of Satan is considered, it becomes more comprehensible how a man goes astray when he does not render thanks to Allah.

Gratefulness is a part of the test by Allah. Man is surely endowed with favor from Him and is informed about how he should benefit from all this favor. In return, he is expected to assume a submissive attitude towards his Creator. However, it is again only man himself who chooses to be grateful or ungrateful to Allah: We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm, in order to try him: So We gave him (the gifts), of hearing and sight. We showed him the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will). (Qur’an, Al-Insan: 2-3)

As the verses suggest, the choice of a person in this world, namely being grateful or ungrateful, is explicitly a clear sign of his faith or disbelief.

Gratefulness is also closely related to the punishment in the Hereafter. No punishment shall befall those who have faith and are grateful:

What can Allah gain by your punishment, if you are grateful and you believe? Nay, it is Allah that recognizes (all good), and knows all things. (An-Nisa, 147)

This verse, together with many others give the good tidings that Allah rewards those who remain grateful to their Creator: 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.” (Qur’an, Ibrahim: 7)

That is (the Bounty) whereof Allah gives Glad Tidings to His servants who believe and do righteous deeds. Say: “No reward do I ask of you for this except the love of those near of kin.” And if any one earns any good, We shall give him an increase of good in respect thereof: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Ready to appreciate (service). (Qur’an,Ash-Shura, 23)

The people of Lut rejected (his) warning. We sent against them a violent tornado with showers of stones, (which destroyed them), except Lut’s household: them We delivered by early dawn – as a Grace from Us: thus do We reward those who give thanks. (Qur’an, Al-Qamar: 33-35)

“If you would count up the favors of Allah, never would you be able to number them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an, Al- Nahl: 18)

As this verse suggests, let alone counting up the favors of Allah, it is not conceivable to categorize them. Since there is no limit to the favors of Allah, a believer should unceasingly keep himself occupied with the remembrance of Allah and express his gratefulness to Him.

In expectation of some grand favor, some people wait for special occasions to render their thanks to Allah. Resolution of a major problem, or recovering from a serious sickness are the proper times to express one’s inner gratefulness to Allah, they assume.

However, if one reflects only for a moment, he would instantly comprehend that he is always surrounded with infinite favors. At every moment, every minute, there is an uninterrupted flow of favors reaching him; his life, good health, intelligence, consciousness, his five senses, the air that he breathes, in brief, everything that makes life possible is given to man as a favor. In return for all these, a person is expected to serve Allah in gratitude. Those who are heedless of these favors and accordingly neglect to turn to Allah for expressing their gratefulness, only acknowledge the importance of these favors when they are deprived of them. This is indeed a punishment for their ingratitude.