Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.
(Chapter 2: Verse 152)
Allah wants you to remember all of the bounties He blessed you with. These bounties surround you every minute of every day, and should always be present in your mind and your heart. More importantly, the One who gave you all these bounties should be ever present in your heart and mind. The more grateful you are, the more bounties Allah blesses you with.
God says in a sacred narration: "I treat My servant as he hopes that I would treat him. I am with him whenever he remembers Me: if he remembers Me in his heart, I remember him in Mine; if he remembers Me in a gathering, I remember him in a gathering far better; if he draws near towards Me a hand's span, I draw near towards him an arm's length; if he draws near to Me an arm's length, I draw near to him a mile; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running." Allah wants to grant you more and more; but first you have to be deserving of these gifts. God says: “So remember Me; I will remember you.” Meaning, you have first to appreciate God for all his bounties, protection, patience over your repeated sins, and for His mercy and forgiveness.
A righteous person said: “I have heard from those who have heard from our beloved Prophet that if one of us drinks a cup of water, he or she should divide it into three sips. Before the first sip say ‘in the name of God’ and when you finish it pause and say ‘all praise is due to God.’ Do the same for the second sip and then for the last of your drink. If you do so, then as long as that water stays in your body, you would be protected from sin.”
This narration shows you that when you receive God’s bounties with gratitude and you attribute everything to your creator, then even a drink of water becomes a source of good deeds and protection for you. God says:
Remember, your Lord proclaimed: "I shall give you more if you are grateful; but if you are thankless then surely My punishment is very great." (14:07)
Being grateful also diminishes arrogance. When you are thankful to your Lord, you become fully aware that it is His ability that provides for you, not your ability. Do not be fooled by the means at your disposal, rather always remember the One who created and provided these means to you. God says:
Seek the life to come by means of what God has granted you, but do not neglect your rightful share in this world. Do good to others as God has done good to you. Do not seek to spread corruption in the land, for God does not love those who do this,’ but he answered, ‘This wealth was given to me on account of the knowledge I possess.’ Did he not know that God had destroyed many generations before him, who had greater power than him and built up greater wealth? The guilty will not be questioned about their sins. (28:77,78)
Thus, Allah says “be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.” How would you deny God, you may ask? You deny God when you deny His favours and blessings. If you receive God’s blessings by being grateful, then you would have given the blessing its due and protected it from loss. If, on the other hand, you receive the blessings by saying that it is from you, and that you deserve it because of your knowledge, effort and brains, it is just a matter of time till this blessing leaves you or turns into a headache. We often tend to praise the creation and forget the Creator! When, for example, you see a beautiful flower or an attractive gem, you say: “what a beautiful flower”; “what a fabulous gem”. But the object that you just praised did not grant itself beauty. The gem has no power in the fine arrangement of its crystals. It is God who has instilled order and beauty in everything.
It is from God's mercy that He has made it effortless for us to pay him gratitude with two simple words: " الحمد لله " 'All praise is due to God'. Think about when you want to show sincere appreciation to a person for a favour that he or she has done for you. You may spend hours preparing the words of praise. You edit, omit a word here, add one there, and consult others until you finally prepare a letter or speech expressing your gratitude.
Now, take a moment to think about God's favors; you will quickly realize that no matter how much eloquence you may have, you cannot put into words the due praise that befit God's grandeur and bounties. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) painted this picture for us with these words: ‘Dear lord, I am unable to find sufficient words of praise that befit You. All I can say is: You are as You have praised Yourself.’ Thus, one of God's greatest bounties that He blessed you with is that He taught you to express your gratitude to Him in these simple words: (All praise is due to God) " الحمد لله ". And by specifying these words, God made it equal for all human beings; otherwise, the degree of praise would differ based on people’s abilities. For instance, an illiterate person who cannot read or write would not be able to find proper words to praise God. A scholar of literature, on the other hand, would express his or her gratitude with eloquence. But God's fairness granted all of us this equal expression: Now, the educated, the illiterate, the eloquent and the one with speaking disability can be equal in expressing their gratitude. Isn’t it fit then that you say " الحمد لله " for giving you the ability to say " الحمد لله "? We thank God Almighty for all He has taught us and we remain in his praise at all times.