Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan
Question: Assalam alaykum,
What is the best way to express our gratitude to Allah?
Answer: Wa alaykum salam
May Allah reward you for your question.
Expressing gratitude to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is of the greatest deeds and one of the salient characteristics of the Prophets of Allah. Regarding its virtues and praise, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said:
Indeed, Abraham was a [comprehensive] leader, devoutly obedient to Allah , inclining toward truth, and he was not of those who associate others with Allah. [He was] grateful for His favors. Allah chose him and guided him to a straight path. [16:120]
Then eat of what Allah has provided for you [which is] lawful and good. And be grateful for the favor of Allah , if it is [indeed] Him that you worship. [16:114]
And We have certainly established you upon the earth and made for you therein ways of livelihood. Little are you grateful. [7:10]
Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah be well pleased with him, in his Madarij al-Salikin explained the manners of showing gratitude to Allah when he said, “showing gratitude (shukr) is either with the heart by being submissive and tranquil or content; with the tongue by praising [Allah] and acknowledging [His favors]; and with the limbs by performing acts of worship and showing obedience.” Consequently, the best way we could show gratitude to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, is through all three mediums: our hearts, tongues and limbs.
Regarding a specific formula of expressing thanks, this could be done with any formula of thanks and praise. One could recite by way of example, al-Hamdu liLlah (all praise is for Allah) or al-Shukr liLlah (all thanks is for Allah). One of the better formulas however was mentioned in the Prophetic tradition narrated by ibn Majah and others from AbduLlah ibn ‘Umar radiyaLlahu ‘anhu. The Prophet sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam said,
“One of the slaves of Allah said:
يا رب لك الحمد كما ينبغي لجلال وجهك ولعظيم سلطانك
Ya Rabb laka l-hamdu kama yambagi liJalali Wajhika wa liAzimi Sultanik
O Allah, for You is all praise as befits the Glory of Your Countenance and the Greatness of Your Might.
The angels were then uncertain and did not know what (reward) to record for this praise. They ascended to the heaven and said: O our Lord, Your slave has said a praise that we do not know how to record. Allah replied – and He knows best what His slave said – “What did My slave say?” They said: O Lord, he said: O Allah, for You is all praise as befits the Glory of Your Countenance and the Greatness of Your Might. Allah then replied: Record it as My slave pronounced it, until he meets Me and I shall [personally] reward him for it.”
Another reality that the scholars have mentioned, however, is that we will never be able to thank Allah as He ought to be thanked. Whenever we thank Allah, it is through His guidance and favour. Thus, every praise and thanks requires us to thank and praise Allah again. Similarly, the second praise is another favour from Allah that requires another thanks and so forth without end.
May Allah allow us to truly acknowledge His constant Blessings and Favours, so that we could forever be in a state of expressing gratitude and thank, Amin
[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan
Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.