Tag Archives: gratitude

18 Ways to Achieve Greatness through Gratefulness

By Taha Ghayyur

Whether you consider yourself a positive, easy-going person or a demanding, hard to please person, these tips can help you become a more grateful, caring, and content individual.

There is much more to gratitude and Shukr (thankfulness) in Islam than a mere “Thank You” that our ears have become so used to ignoring. Discover how you can be more thankful to Allah and His creation.

  1. Stop Complaining and be positive! This is the first step towards being thankful to Allah and people around you. We have become a community of complainers and whiners, which has lead to a collective psychology of negativity and unproductively.Stop complaining about the economy, weather, politicians, traffic, or ‘the system’. Refrain from blaming your Masjid, Imams, parents, spouse, in-laws, children, or boss. If you think with an open mind, you may find more positives in your circumstances and the people around you than negatives.
  2. Say “Al-hamdulillah” (All thanks and praise belongs to Allah) often: A constant utterance of this phrase reminds you of the source of all blessings and happiness in this life. This practice of attributing all good actions to Allah keeps you humble and content and has a positive affect on your relations with people.Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, has instructed us to say “Al-hamdulillah” on daily basis: “Allah is pleased with His servant if, when he eats something he thanks Allah for it, and when he drinks something he thanks Allah for it” (Muslim).
  3. Respect others’ time and schedule: Part of ungratefulness is wastage of time. As a scholar once said, “Time is not just money. It is more expensive than gold, diamonds and pearls. Time is life itself!”Arriving late at a meeting or a class, cancelling appointments last minute, or starting off a program late, are not only a big waste of time and disrespectful to others, but also a lack of appreciation of others’ time on your part.
  4. Seize the opportunity while you can. Procrastination in offering your prayers, delaying a donation to a humanitarian cause, or filling your leisure time with unproductive or unlawful activities is ingratitude to Allah for the limited time and opportunity He has given you to do good and to achieve Paradise.Prophet Muhammad warned us, “Good health and spare time are two of the blessings of Allah with respect to which many people are deceived.” (Bukhari)Even if you live till tomorrow, what guarantee do you have that there won’t be any obstacles in carrying out a good action. The Prophet used to call on Muslims to take the initiative to do good deeds before any problems arise.
  5. Spend 15 minutes daily to think about things that you should be thankful for: Recall people in your life, whom you may have taken for granted like your parents, spouse, children, co-worker, or teacher, who were caring and loving.List some of Allah’s gifts that are not tangible or were not obvious to you before. Sulayman, a follower of the Prophet’s Companions, once said: “Remembering His blessings makes one love Allah.”This simple mental exercise not only makes you a grateful person, but also a healthy one. According to a 2001 research bythe Institute for Research on Unlimited Love (IRUL), based in Ohio, just 15 minutes a day focusing on the things you are grateful for will significantly increase your body’s natural antibodies, will make you less vulnerable to clinical depression, and will keep your blood pressure and heart rate stable.
  6. Be patient and grateful when disasters strike: The depth and strength of your gratitude is tested in difficult times. Allah wants to see how thankful you truly are when you loose your job or a loved one, or when you feel ill and or get injured.It helps to know that in times of calamity and distress, there will be some good for you, provided you respond appropriately. The Prophet said, “How wonderful is the case of a Believer! There is good for him in whatever happens to him -and none, apart from him, enjoys this blessing.” (Muslim)Sufyan al-Thawri, a famous early scholar of Islam, said, “He does not understand religion properly who does not count affliction as a blessing and ease as a trial.”
  7. Donate your time, talent, money, and advice to social work and non-profit efforts: In our profit-driven culture, it is burdensome to squeeze out time and wealth for others. Your selfless service and generosity towards people in need and non-profit organizations is a sure way of showing gratitude to Allah and to your community.The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him said, “People are dependants of Allah; the closest to Him are those who are most useful to His dependants” (Muslim).”As the blessings from Allah to a servant increase, so will the people’s needs of that blessed servant’s services. If the servant ignores their needs, it will cause those blessings to be removed” (lbn Hibban).
  8. Visit the sick, the terminally ill, and the disabled: Frequenting patients and families of the deceased, not only brings comfort to them and brings multiple rewards from Allah to you, it also helps you appreciate your own good health and opportunities you have in life to serve others.
  9. Share the message of Islam: If you appreciate the guidance of Islam as your most precious treasure, don’t hesitate to share it with others. If Islam has changed your life for the better, what’s holding you back from inviting your friends, family, neighbours, and co-workers to explore this message of hope and positive transformation?
  10. Recite and memorize the Duas of Prophet Muhammad: The most natural and beautiful way to thank Allah is the words of the Prophet himself.The Prophet told Muadh, “By Allah, I love you, so do not forget to say at the end of every prayer, ‘O Allah, help me to remember You and to give thanks to You and to worship You well’” (Ahmad and At-Tirmidhî).
  11. Fall in Prostration (Sajda) when you receive a blessing from Allah:Prophet Muhammad used to prostrate (Sajda) to Allah whenever he received something pleasant or was told good news to thank Allah for the grace he had received.
  12. Don’t consider any blessing too small: Treat all gifts of Allah with equal respect and gratitude, lest you lose it one day for good. Aishah said that the Prophet entered upon her one day and saw a small piece of bread on the floor, so he picked it up and wiped it, then told her: “O Aishah, treat the blessings of Allah with respect, for when it departs from a household it may never come back to them” (Abud Dunya).
  13. Use and display Allah’s blessings moderately. Part of being grateful to Allah is to look presentable and clean, and spend money on yourself with moderation.Abul-Akhwas nar­rated that his father said: “I came to the Messenger of Allah looking dishevelled and scruffy. He asked me, ‘Do you have any possessions?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He asked me what sort, and I told him, ‘I have all sorts. Allah has given me camels, horses, slaves and sheep.’ The Prophet said: ‘If Allah has given you all of that, then let Him see His blessing on you.’”
  14. Don’t be too picky and accommodate others! Some people express their discomfort (perhaps unintentionally) with anything that they are not used to. They may be too picky about their taste of food, clothing and furniture; they may get irritated easily in new environments; they may like meeting only a certain type of people; they may not like working with others.This insensitivity to other people’s preferences and inability to accommodate others is a sign of selfishness, arrogance, and ungratefulness. Be content in every situation and you will become grateful.
  15. Admire those below you and keep your expectations low:  A lot of times the reason for our ungrateful behaviour is that we are constantly comparing our material success with the wealthier, healthier, and more accomplished. In our race to ‘keep-up-with-the-Ahmad-family’ next door, we forget so many obvious blessings that others may not enjoy and we should be thankful for.The Prophet admonished us, “Look at those people who have less than you and never look at those who have more grants than you, this will ensure that you will not depreciate Allah’s favours” (Muslim).
  16. Thank people for littlest things: People like to be appreciated for little favours they do for us, which often get ignored in our busy routines. When was the last time you thanked your little son for taking care of simple chore for you? Has your husband heard a compliment from you lately?Take the time to thank them for their thoughtfulness. As the Prophet stated, “The one who does not give thanks for a small blessing will not give thanks for a great blessing, and the one who does not give thanks to people will not give thanks to Allah” (Abud Dunya).
  17. Compliments & recognition and motivate team members: Whether you are an employer or a manager at work, or lead a volunteer based project, or simply a team player, a personal recognition significantly boosts the employee or volunteer morale.As Stephen Robbins in his book “The Truth about Managing People” explains, several organizational behaviour studies have indicated employees and volunteers rate personal thanks and recognition from a superior for a job well-done as the most motivating of a variety of incentives; yet not many team leaders use this simple, cost-effective technique that works like magic! What kinds of personal recognition and group success incentives does your organization have in place?
  18. When you thank someone, make sure you mean it: When you say “Jazakallahu Khayran” (May Allah reward you the best) to your wife, does it come from your heart? Or is it received as another cold cliché?Be a little creative when you really want to express your gratitude to someone. Say it with a personal thank you card. Show it with flowers. Accompany it with a genuine smile. Charge it with emotions. Enhance it with a meal or a meaningful gift.


Filed under Family, Personal Development

Interview – What Are You Thankful For? (Radio Islam – Nov. 27, 2014)

Leave a comment

Filed under Khutba & Lectures

10 Ways to Shower Your Spouse with Appreciation

By Taha Ghayyur

Whether you are married for just a month or for a decade, you often take your spouse for granted. Courtesy, gratitude, and care for each other wears off. The same person whom, once upon a time, you would thank for little things, now feels unappreciated by you for all that they do for you everyday.

Why is it that today if some “stranger” offers you a drink or holds the door for you, you jump to thank them even before their act of kindness is completed, and yet, you show no gratitude to your husband or wife’s hard work all day long?

What we fail to realize is that expressing gratitude benefits both partners in the relationship—the recipient and the giver. When you give appreciation, you often receive even more in return.

One researcher found on days when spouses felt more gratitude toward their partner, they felt more attached to him or her and more pleased even the following day. Recipients of gratitude also increased their satisfaction on days when it was expressed.

Researchers refer to gratitude as a booster shot for romantic relationships. Moreover, each unit of improvement in expressed appreciation decreased by half the odds of the couple breaking up in six months, based on Scientific American’s December 2009 article, “The Happy Couple: Secrets to a Long Marriage.”

Thank you to your spouseEvery day is filled with wonderful opportunities to tell the special person in your life, how grateful you are for this relationship. Here are some simple ways to shower your husband or wife with well-deserved appreciation everyday:

  1. Thank your spouse because they care, not because it’s their job. When your spouse helps with a chore, whether it’s doing dishes, taking out garbage, feeding the baby, or doing groceries, don’t think it’s their job. Moreover, don’t take their work for granted just because you do your share of chores also. Appreciate the care and thoughtfulness that your husband or wife invests in this day-to-day grunt work.
  2. Tell them why you appreciate their act of kindness. Your spouse would be delighted to know why you are grateful. Moreover, specifying what makes you thankful shows you are sincere in your appreciation. Say: “Thank you for cleaning the snow. It gave me some time to relax!” or “It was nice of you to take kids to play outside as I was able to work on my assignment in peace.”
  3. Be creative in expressing thanks. Learn and use different phrases everytime. If you keep using “Thank you” all the time, it looses its charm and meaning after a while. Try more personalized phrases: “I appreciate it”, “I love it when you….”, “I am grateful for…”, “May God bless you!”, “Jazakallahu Khayran”, “What would I do without your help”, “I will pray to Allah for you…”…etc.
  4. Appreciate the time and thoughtfulness, not only the results. Even when your partner goofs up and is unable to deliver up to your expectations, thank them for their effort and time. If your spouse forgets to buy an item from the long list of groceries, or if he or she burns the dinner, don’t make them feel all their work was wasted. “It’s not a big deal, honey. Thank you for your effort.”
  5. Look for positives to appreciate even in negative circumstances. How often you get upset when your husband or wife tells you: “Honey, I have to work extra hours next weekend to meet a project deadline,” or “I am running late tonight,” or “My mom is feeling ill and she will need my help this week.” Instead of whining, thank them for calling you and informing about the situation. This way, your spouse will do their best to reciprocate and make up for the inconvenience.
  6. Write and leave surprise “Thank You” notes. You would be surprised, how powerful these little acts of gratitude can be in making your husband or wife feel special. These can make their day. You can hide a note somewhere for your partner to discover, or send a quick text message on your way to work, or shoot a heartfelt email, to simply say “Thank You!”
  7. Thank you to your spouse Let them know how important they are to your success. Count your blessings and accomplishments in life, and inform your husband or wife about the impact they have in your success. Whether it’s your career, academic pursuits, parenting, community work, or spiritual growth, appreciate how your spouse contributes to the achievement of your goals.
  8. Praise and thank them in private and public. Many a times a husband or wife feels appreciated at home, but feel they are worthless when they step out in public domain. Some couples don’t think there is a need to thank their special ones in public. On the other extreme, some spouses only thank each other in public to show people how well-mannered they are, while they are abusive at home. When your gratitude is consistent and sincere in all spheres of your married life, you will see the positive impact of it in your relationship.
  9. Go out of your way when they need help. The true test of a grateful attitude is when you take initiative to make someone feel special and serve them when they need your care the most. If your wife or husband feels down or drained one day, be more thoughtful. Offer to do the chores rather than waiting to be asked. Let them take a nap, give them a message, or given them a break from children.
  10. Use the time-tested method to thank. Say thank you with a gift. Doesn’t have to be fancy. Flowers, or a box of chocolates, or a dinner out at a restaurant, or a custom engraved stationery, or a gift certificate to a spa.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Personal Development

What Does It Take To Win Over Your Dad’s Heart?

By Taha Ghayyur

I have always wanted to do one extraordinary thing for my dad to express my deep appreciation for his every little and munificent act of kindness and affection towards me.

I looked for material gifts, unique private moments, ways to fulfill his dreams for me, and every opportunity to win over his heart.

I often recall the things that my father did for me that only a loving and caring father could do: waiting patiently for hours at the doctor’s office when I was sick after an excruciatingly long day at work; making special efforts to help me learn the rules of Quran recitation and beautifying it; encouraging me to write and speak as he spent weekends editing my writings and speeches when I was 12 years old; walking around the Kaba in the jam-packed season of Ramadan with me on his shoulders; driving me to my friends’ parities and Islamic events in the middle of a blizzard; gently advising me when I got into trouble at school; his teary eyes as he raised his hands asking Allah to guide me and to make me an achiever in this life and the hereafter; and countless other sacrifices that even a book won’t be able to justice to.

You may be able to list similar favours that your dad has showered on you throughout your life.

Of course I realized I can never make up to my parents for their lifelong care and training, which is affirmed by the words of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

But I wondered, how could I truly implement God’s command: “We have enjoined on man and woman (to be good) to his/her parents; show gratitude to Me and to your parents; to Me is (your final) Goal” (31:14).

As I grew up, graduated, got married and became a father myself, I realized there really isn’t just “one special thing” you can do to express your gratitude to your father. There isn’t “one special day”, such as his birthday or the Father’s Day, that you can set aside to celebrate fatherhood. It would be unfair to “payback” your father with a material gift or a celebration once a year for his years of devotion and painstaking efforts to raise you and to transform you into a successful person.

It is supposed to be a lifelong commitment on your part to take care of your father, his needs, and his wishes. It is the little things you can do for him on regular basis that really count.

There are many genuine and proven ways to connect with your dad, to sincerely thank him for the remarkable sacrifices he has made for you, to raise his spirits, and to assist him as he ages.

1. Understand Your Dad’s Nature: Dealing with father is quite different from dealing with mother, especially in the traditional families.  Father is commonly perceived to be emotionless, difficult to comprehend, and hard to please. 

You may not ever be able to discover your dad’s true feelings at times for multiple reasons:

  • Like many traditional fathers, your dad usually holds his composure and rarely reveals his emotions;
  • He may not be able to spend as much time with you as your mother due to long work hours and community work commitments;
  • He is an introvert and a quiet person by nature;
  • He may not consider spending quality time with children a priority for one reason or another.

This fundamental understanding of your father’s nature and expressions will help you connect with him more effectively.

2. Acknowledge Your Dad’s Worries and Concerns for You:  What is the utmost concern as your father jumps out of his bed every morning? What stresses him out the most as he juggles multiple tasks at work? What goes on in his mind when he prays? What emotions and fears make his nights sleepless at times? What are his aspirations?

Chances are a majority of his anxieties, stress, prayers, and hopes involves you. Whether your father regularly shares his feelings or concerns with you and the family, make sure you make an attempt to identify and recognize his worries for you and your future. As parents grow older, they want to be heard. You may not agree with everything, but this simple gesture of listening to your father will give him the respect and sense of authority he deserves.

3. Involve Your Dad in Decision-Making: When was the last time you consulted your father regarding your academic or career goals? Did you ever update him on school grades (apart from the reason that the grades may be floating ‘below the C level’)? Do you discuss with him the criteria that you wish to use in selecting your marriage partner? Did you get his suggestion on naming your child?

This process of mutual consultation or ‘Shura’ is not only healthy, but it is a right of every family member, specially your parents, to be part of. Of course, you can’t incorporate everyone’s wishes in the making of you career or marriage, but the fact you sought your dad’s feedback and gave it a serious thought should be enough to ease his heart.

4. Fulfill Your Dad’s Dreams for Success: If there is one paramount concern shared by every father in the world, it is his son’s or daughter’s success. How often do you hear your dad say, “The only thing I want for you is success,” or “I want you to focus on building your career so you can be successful”.

While you may consider such wishes as insignificant, it is essential to pay due attention to his genuine desires. No doubt, most immigrant Muslim parents exhaust their time, energies, and finances to get their kids the best level of education.  This is their way of contributing to your success.

Learn to show gratitude and concern. You cannot always fulfill your dad’s academic or career dreams for you by becoming either a doctor or engineer, but you can certainly excel in a profession that you are passionate about and could specialize in. Prove to him that you are ‘successful’ in your own way. Explain to him that ‘success’ is relative. What could be of greater joy to a father to see his son or daughter a winner in both worlds? Showing your dad you are achiever is a sure heart pleaser.

5. Attribute Your Positive Traits and Success to Your Dad: Many of us think that our success in life and positive qualities are exclusive to us. We ‘earned’ all the fame ourselves. We deserve all the credit.

If you are a successful business person, recall how your father trained you to deal with people and transferred his business acumen to you. If you are a charismatic leaders today, recognize the confidence your dad instilled in you to lead and move people. If you are a rising artist, remember how you father encouraged you to express yourself and helped you practice. If people praise you for gentle demeanour and honourable character, recount the noble manners of your father.

Studies on parent-child relationships and child welfare show that father’s love is a vital factor in predicting the social, emotional, and cognitive development and functioning of children and young adults.

Give your parents the credit they deserve. Say it publicly. Let people around you, who benefit from your success and positive qualities, about the source of your success. Even if your father didn’t play a direct role in your success and fame, acknowledge your father’s patience, support, and love in getting you there. Nothing could win over a father’s heart faster than a simple credit to his lifelong commitment to your development.

6. Spend Quality Time with Your Dad: It is strange that many of us, including practicing Muslims, could hang out at events and parties, or simply chat over the phone with friends for hours, yet have no time to spare for our parents. Such an attitude indeed reminds me of the reality of Prophet’s, peace be upon him, statement about the Day of Judgement: A time will come when people will greet their friends warmly, and approach their parents with a cold attitude (Bukhari).

Carve out a day and time at least once a week to visit your father and have a heart-to-heart conversation with him. Go on a long walk or take him out for lunch.

7. Express Your Gratitude: How often do you say a simple “Thank You” or “Jazakallahu Khayran” to your father for daily favours? What about expressing your gratitude to him for raising you as a good Muslim? You owe him big Jazaks, every breath of your life!

As the Prophet stated, “The one who does not give thanks for a small blessing will not give thanks for a great blessing, and the one who does not give thanks to people will not give thanks to Allah” (Abud Dunya).

Be a little creative when you really want to express your gratitude to your dad. Say it with a personal thank you card. Show it with flowers. Accompany it with a genuine smile. Charge it with emotions. Enhance it with a meal or a meaningful gift.

8. Be Extra Caring and Concerned in Your Dad’s Difficult Times: Whether it is an illness, chronic depression, or a job loss, this is the phase of life when he really needs you and your time. Your presence, physical help, comforting words, and prayers are crucial to his healing and happiness. Remember, nothing would hurt him more than him witnessing your insensitive attitude and indifference to his trying situation. These moments would haunt him for the rest of his life. Don’t delay your service to him. The Prophet, peace be upon him, once warned us, “May he be disgraced,” repeating it three times, “who finds his parents, one or both, approaching old age, and he does not enter Paradise by serving them.” What other chance will you have to serve your father?

As your father’s strength fails, he would require more attention and care, and more consideration of his even more sensitive feelings. He may become irritated and uneasy much quicker now. It’s regarding this phase of life, Allah tells us, “Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and that you be kind to parents. If one or both of them attain old age with you, do not say a word of annoyance (Uff) to them nor repulse them, but speak to them in gracious words and in mercy lower to them the wing of humility and say, My Lord, bestow Your mercy on hem, as they cherished me when I was little” (17:23-24).  A practical example to illustrate the import of this verse would be if your father is ill and unable to go to washroom by himself, you don’t make an undesirable facial expression or say ‘uff’ in annoyance as you clean up after him. That is a true test of your gratitude towards your father.

9. Ease Your Father’s Transition into Retirement and Senior Phase:  Every aging father has a fear of the unknown and financial insecurity, as he approaches 60’s. Comfort him constantly that you will do your best to support him in your capacity. Request him not to stress over the retirement phase. Brainstorm ideas and develop a plan and budget together so he feels secure. Also suggest creative projects and community activities for him to get involved as he retires. Knowing he has a loving and caring companion to rely on in the arduous journey ahead should be heartening and reassuring enough for him.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Muslim Youth