The last five days of Shaban and the first few days of Ramadan find the Muslim community excited and anxious. Every one is enthusiastic about the upcoming month of fasting and maintains a list of habits to drop in this month of mercy. Everyone is looking forward to asking for forgiveness and oh-so-much-more in this blessed month; praying regularly, giving to charity, reading Qur’an and so on. Ramadan is a month of forgiveness and mercy, a month where we are given a chance to turn towards our Creator and learn more about our religion, to understand what Islam is made of, its principles, its teaching, its code of conduct. Yet, many Ramadan come and go, and people fail to realize one of the key component of Islam: Thanks.
I had a particularly tough fast yesterday that left me dry-mouthed for over 12 hours. In the blazing heat, when my room feels like the inside of a boiler, I was thirsty for the entire duration of the fast. Time did seem to stop and all I could do was stare at the clock and count the minutes left until I take my first sip of water. However, my 12 hour thirst made me recall something I had learned back in the 6th or 7th grade in my Islamic Studies course:
“Islam teaches us Patience. It makes us realize what a large percentage of the human population feel; the percentage that does not have food on their table or water in their glasses.”
And that thought made me realize that while I am waiting for the Mu’azzin to call for the Magrib Prayer so that I can quench my thirst, somewhere in the world, someone would not have the privilege for a glass of water for even longer. It made me realize how much I am blessed with things that I take for granted; so much that makes my life infinitely better than a large number of people around the world. And yet the first thing I do when I talk to Allah is ask for something else without even giving a thought to the infinite number of blessings that I hold in my hands.
How many times a day do we say InshaAllah or Ameen or pray for something that we desperately want? Compared to that how many times do we say Alhamdollilah; one simple word expressing our gratitude to Allah for all that He has given us. And the list is a long one, there are so many little things that we take for granted when we should be humble and thankful for them: Alhamdollilah for parents, Alhamdollilah for the clothes on my back, Alhamdollilah for the roof on my head, Alhamdollilah for the food on my table and water in my glass, Alhamdollilah for my education, Alhamdolliah for my health, Alhamdollilah for my fitness, Alhamdollilah for my senses, Alhamdollilah for my sanity, Alhamdollilah for my intelligence, Alhamdollilah for my popularity, and Alhamdollilah for my youth.
Alhamdollilah that I have enough money that I do not have to depend on anyone, Alhamdollilah that I am respected by people, Alhamdollilah that I can get whatever I want to eat when I feel like, Alhamdollilah that I have choices in my life, Alhamdollilah that I woke up this morning, Alhamdollilah that I am independent, Alhamdollilah that I have friends, Alhamdollilah that I can fast and pray, Alhamdollilah that I was born a Muslim, and Alhamdollilah for my life in general and the countless blessing bestowed upon me.
Even when we have so much to be thankful for, when we bow down in front of Allah, the first thing we do is ask more or complain about our problems. And I wonder, when we have been blessed with so much, do we really have a right to complain? Moreover, when stand up to pray the first line we utter is a quick thanks to Allah, yet how many of us really mean it, or recall our blessings, when we say:
ٱلۡحَمۡدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ
“Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds” (Al-Fatiha : 1)
So today, when you raise you hands towards the sky to ask for something new, don’t forget to send a quick vote thanks for the safety and health of a loved one or that exam you cleared. It is about time we started signing the received slips.
وَءَاخِرُ دَعۡوَٮٰهُمۡ أَنِ ٱلۡحَمۡدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ…
“And the conclusion of their prayer will be: Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds!” (Yunus : 10)