Allah (SwT) has said,
“… so that He may pay them back their rewards in full and give them more out of His grace: surely He is the Forgiving, the One Who multiplies the rewards” (Qur’an, 35:30).
Linguistically,”al-Shakur” is derived from the root word shukr which conveys the meaning of: an increase. Arabs describe a land as such if its plants are abundant. They describe an animal as such if it is fattened. Plants sustained by a little amount of water are called Shakur. Al-Shakur thanks quite often; He appreciates acts of righteousness, charity and kindness. A servant of Allah (SwT) who is Shakur is one who perseveres to thank his Lord by obeying Him and by carrying out the obligations which He has mandated on him. Shukr is recognition and propagation of goodness.
Al-Shakur, Allah (SwT), appreciates even the few good deeds His servants do, doubling His rewards for them manifold. His way of thanking them is by giving them of His bounties though He was the One Who enabled them to do such good deeds in the first place. He planted in their hearts the desire to do them, then He provided for them all the means to carry such desires out.
He enables His servants to be grateful for the blessings which He bestows on them, so He rewards them even for small acts of obedience to Him with an abundance of His good things. He grants a bliss in the hereafter that never ends for a few days’ endeavor.
Al-Shakur accepts the little and gives a lot. Allah (SwT) has called Himself al-Shakur in order to tell us that He rewards His servants for thanking Him; hence, the reward for such gratitude is called shukr, just as the penalty for a bad deed is called bad; He has said,
“And the recompense of evil is a like punishment” (Qur’an, 42:40).
One of the tokens of accepting one’s expression of appreciation is that he receives an increase of Allah (SwT)’s blessings according to 14:7:
“If you are grateful, I will certainly give you more, and if you are ungrateful, My chastisement is truly severe.” (Qur’an, 14:7)
The truth about appreciation is not related to the qualities of Allah (SwT): appreciation comes from people; it is simply the expending of the blessings granted by Allah (SwT) in the way for which He created them. Linguistically, appreciation is coupled with blessing, grace, gratitude. Nobody can do Allah (SwT) a favor for which He has to thank him; therefore, His appreciation must be understood metaphorically according to Tafsir al-Manar. Allah (SwT)’s gratitude means that He is capable of rewarding the doers of good, that He does not permit the deeds of such doers to be wasted or unrewarded.
It is in this sense that rewarding the doer of good with what he deserves is called appreciation, and Allah (SwT) has thus called Himself appreciative. Allah (SwT) has also promised those who appreciate His blessings to increase His blessings on them; so, such gratitude also falls under the same type of appreciation. The most Appreciative One has said,
“... and whoever does good spontaneously, surely Allah is Grateful, Knowing” (Qur’an, 2:158).
Thus do we come to know that Allah (SwT), Glory to Him, has a conduct which is surely the most perfect when He called Himself appreciative of His beings although whatever good they do neither benefits Him nor harms Him in the least; rather, its benefit is surely for our own good. It is, in reality, a sign of His own blessings on us that He guides and enables us to do it; so, it does not suit any sensible person to observe the great favor bestowed on him by Allah (SwT) without thanking Him for it, or without obeying Him.
Allah (SwT) also says,
“… Therefore remember Me, so I will remember you, too, and be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me” (Qur’an, 2:152).
In this verse, Allah (SwT) teaches His servants to be appreciative, ordering them to remember the blessings which He has bestowed on them by their hearts, tongues and senses…, by their actions, for actions speak louder than words. Their reward for it is that He reminds them of His permission to continue to enjoy such blessings, and to increase them, ordering them to praise Him by His Attributes, to discuss His countless blessings, to glorify Him openly and secretly, so that He may mention them in His high company and mention His being pleased with them.
In a qudsi tradition, the Messenger of Allah quotes the Almighty as saying,”I am as My servant thinks of Me: I am with him; if he mentions Me silently, I shall mention him likewise, and if He mentions My Name before a crowd of people, I shall mention him before a better crowd; if he gets closer to Me as much as a span, I shall get closer to him as much as a yard; if he gets closer to Me as much as a yard, I will get closer to him more than twice that much.
If he comes to Me walking, I shall come to him running.” Allah (SwT) commands His servants to be grateful to Him and not deny the blessings which He has bestowed on them. This is a warning for this nation against that wherein previous nations had fallen due to the latter’s denial of the blessings which the Almighty had showered on them. He granted them the powers of reason, emotion, judgment and many other such blessings. His blessings are countless, innumerable.
A servant of Allah (SwT) should never tire of thanking and praising Him, incessantly and unhesitatingly. In a supplication, the Messenger of Allah says,”Lord! I am incapable of praising You enough; You are as You have praised Yourself.” Praising Allah (SwT) and thanking Him as He really deserves is not within the human capacity. A servant of Allah (SwT), therefore, must leave it to the One Who can do so: Allah (SwT), Praise is due to Him, and only to Him.
How can man acquire perfection in such an area while he contemplates on some blessings bestowed on him by Allah (SwT) and says to himself:”I was mere naught and Allah (SwT) caused me to be, then He granted me the beautiful outward appearance, and the power of reason which is the very best of my inner qualities, then He granted me hearing and vision and guided me to know Him, then He made His great rewards attainable and even praised me in his Great Book”?
If you move your tongue and say: Alhamdu-lillah (Praise Allah (SwT)), thinking that mere saying so is sufficient to express gratitude for all the great favors He has bestowed on you, then you surely have taken leave of absence from your sanity, for you surely will not have thanked Him at all.”Talk is cheap,” says an axiom, whereas”Actions speak louder than words.” Express your gratitude towards your Maker by actions, not just by words. A servant’s true expression of gratitude is his own admission that he simply is incapable of sufficiently expressing his gratitude to His Maker, Sustainer, and Benefactor.
Jabir ibn Abdullah al-Ansari has quoted the Messenger of Allah (S) as saying,”If one is given something while being capable of finding a way to likewise give, let him do so, but if he is not, then let him praise the giver, for one who remains silent and says nothing commits kufr, apostasy. And if one were to put on clothes which he was not given, he would then be like one who wears two outfits of forgery.”1
- 1. al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, Vol. 4, p. 379.