I’d like to share a reflection of one of the first verses of the Qur’an I ever properly and appropriately studied. Upon doing so, I was so amazed by the Qur’an that I realized I just had to continue my studies; this set me upon a journey that has lasted for years and one that I am still blessed to be upon today.
God says in the Qur’an, “…If you are grateful, I will increase you. But if you disbelieve, no doubt My punishment is severe.”
One of the prerequisites to studying the Qur’an is to understand certain general principles, one of which is that God establishes a level of balance in the Qur’an. When He speaks of the people of righteousness, love, and heaven, He also speaks of the people of wretchedness, hatred, and hellfire. There is always a balance between fear and hope, His pleasure and His displeasure, encouragement and warning.
I invite you to look again at the aforementioned verse. Taking into consideration the principle we just covered, it would seem the verse would be more logical as follows: “If you are grateful, I will increase you. But if you are ungrateful, you will be decreased.” This would make the verse seem more balanced, but God didn’t say that. He said, “If you are grateful, I will increase you. But if you disbelieve, My punishment is severe.” Therefore, it didn’t seem to me like the first part was in any way related to the second.
Contrary to my thoughts, the two are absolutely and beautifully related. The interesting thing to note here is that God specifically uses the word ‘disbelieve’ where one would think He would use the word ‘ungrateful’. The reason for this is that the essence of disbelief is actually ungratefulness. Based upon this verse, many scholars assert that an absolutely essential part of one’s belief in God is gratitude: gratitude to God and gratitude to mankind. The Prophet Muhammad PBUH said, “He who has not thanked mankind has not thanked God”.
This realization was one of the most transforming for me; I learned to make it a point to systematically spend some time everyday to thank God for what He’s blessed me with. God promises that when you are grateful, you will be increased. So in that moment when you’re having a horrible day or week, sit down and thank God for the good days that you’ve had and for the pleasurable moments of your life. When your life is going downhill, thank God for the moments your life was beautiful and thank Him for whatever blessings you still have. When you are going through a particularly difficult obstacle in life, thank God for the patience He has given you thus far. And beyond all the difficulties, thank God in good times and bad times. Always remain grateful and faithful. He promises that He will increase you, and our God does not lie. We have a loving, truthful, honest God.