One of the aims of sending Prophets (PBUT), including Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) , was to recite to faithful people the signs of Allah Almighty, to purify them and to teach them the Book and wisdom (3:164). Therefore, the Quran considers Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) as an excellent exemplar for the believers (33:21). It means that all his deeds and behaviors at the individual, social, political, and cultural levels and even with other nations of that era, are instructive and he (PBUH & HP) is a perfect role model to be followed. Besides, he (PBUH & HP) was sent as a mercy to all the nations (21:107), both Muslims and non-Muslims. Hence, his approach in spreading peace and concordance in the world can be an excellent model to be followed. Here, we review how Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) acted in this regard.
Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH & HP) Sunnah did not ignore other nations and their internal independence at all. On the contrary, Islam is a worldwide religion that has recognized other tribes and nations, whether inside or outside of the Islamic state’s territory. Clear evidence for that are the treaties that have been made between the Islamic state and different nations or tribes during the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP). In the pre-Islamic Arab era, fighting other tribes, killing, and bloodshed was a culture. But, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) made various treaties and emphasized on adhering to them to demonstrate how the tension between parties can be peacefully reduced and fighting back is the option only when invaded. The Islamic state was always faithful to the peace treaties as far as other parties were so.
As an example, as soon as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) arrived at Medina, he drew up a covenant among those who had emigrated with him from Mecca (Muhajirin) and the Jewish tribes of Medina including Aws and Khazraj (who were known later as Ansar (i.e. helpers, since they helped Muhajirin). This covenant was called the Constitution of Medina. This constitution aimed to guarantee the security and coexistence of various groups who lived in Medina and formed the basis of a multi-religious Islamic state. Some of its articles were:
• Muslims and Jews constitute “one nation” (Ummah Wahidah). Muslims are on their religion, so are Jews;
• Muslims and Jews are gracious to each other;
• The Jews adhered to this constitution should be protected and helped. No oppression upon them. No alliance with their enemies;
• Each party of this constitution should be allied with the other in case one of them is invaded;
• Both parties should ally whenever Medina is invaded;
• Both parties should take part in the expenses in case of a war. Muslims should pay their expenses, so do the Jews .
At the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP), Mecca was under the control of one of the most significant Arabian tribes called Quraysh, who were polytheists. They had forbidden Muslims to enter the city and perform Hajj rituals. After Prophet (PBUH & HP) had dreamed entering Mecca doing Hajj rituals with companions, this Ayah confirmed his (PBUH & HP) dream: “Certainly Allah has fulfilled His Apostle’s vision in all truth: You will surely enter the Sacred Mosque, God willing, in safety, with your heads shaven or hair cropped, without any fear.” (48:27). Hence, The Prophet (PBUH & HP) and a group of Muslims with some other Arabs of around Medina, marched peacefully towards Mecca without arms, in the hope of making a pilgrimage. At first, Quraysh prevented them from entering Mecca. Still, after some negotiations, a treaty called the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah was drawn up between the two parties, which helped to decrease the tension between them.
This treaty guaranteed a 10-year peace between Quraysh and Muslims and authorized Muslims to return to Mecca in the following year to perform a peaceful pilgrimage .
- M. A. Amini, “The principle of peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims in Islam,” Ma’rifat Journal, no. 165, p. 35-52.
Islam's history from the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) until now has witnessed many challenges that were overcome through the flexible and rational set of rules offered by Allah. The way Islam deals with the requirements of each era and how its principles and rules can be applied to new cases are among the reasons for the quick spread of Islam during ages, which are addressed in this part of the topic.
Islam is basically sensitive to the evolutions and the requirements of each epoch. This is not the case for many religions and sects, especially those founded by humans. Imam Ali (AS) has advised: “not to impose the customs and traditions of your time on your children because they belong to a different era from yours” .
Unlike other creatures of the world such as animals, plants and inanimate objects, humans have memory, tradition, and history; animals might have memory, but not tradition nor history. This makes it possible for humans to compare different periods of their life and form the concept of progression and retrogression; which is not the case for animals and plants.
And, that is the reason why the specifications and the requirements of each time become meaningful; e.g., old vs. new, classic vs. modern, etc. This makes one pause once in a while to ask him\herself: am I going forward or actually taking a step back? And undoubtedly, getting advanced would be the most pleasant reflection that one can have. But, how can one be on an ever progressive path?
For self-development, one needs a set of values, disciplines, and rules with the help of which he\she can define a structure for his\her life that will consequently guarantee his/her success and advancement over time. This also applies to social development.
On the other hand, every human being is not able, nor has time, to contemplate every detail and strategy about life and to establish his\her framework. Hence, one usually relies on the teachings and instructions of a specific sect, religion or ideology. But, how is it possible? How can one select the best framework and then adjust it according to the specifications of each era such that it can apply to every period? That is possible with the help of wisdom.
Among various ideologies and religions known in the course of time, those who are more rational can be adapted better to the requirements of each period and are consequently more understandable and acceptable by humans. Such a religion or ideology provides the principles and rulings which can be perceived by the human’s wisdom and from which humans can conclude and extract the guidelines and codes that are exclusive to each era.
Among different religions, Islam is really the only one that is rational and is based on wisdom; So are the divine guidelines. Every good act and deed ordered to is rationally and truely useful in nature, not because it is a divine order. And something known devilish in Islam is intrinsically wrong; it is not wrong because God has told us so. In other words, it is not Islam who renders something good or bad, it rather provides the rational tools to identify what is wrong and what is right. That is the reason why Islam is more compatible with the specifications of each time, i.e., it provides the axioms and frameworks and leaves the rest to the human’s wisdom. This takes place through a process called Ijtihad.
Using Ijtihad, Islamic jurists (Faqih) derive the guidelines and regulations from the principles of the Quran, the narrations, and traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and the Infallible Imams (AS). In this regard, Imam Sadiq (AS) said that the Infallible Imams had introduced the Islamic axioms and it is a duty over Muslims to deduce the details and rules .
This is the Islamic jurisprudence which is a unique characteristic that enables Islam to propose rational solutions, to respond to new issues and questions at each time. It also facilitates for human beings the application of the Islamic axioms to their activities and dealings. Otherwise, religion or ideology that is limited to the text, and has no solution to become updated in the course of time, will be a temporary time-dependent one that cannot survive through the time evolution.
According to what has been mentioned above, Islam as a whole guide and roadmap is able to consider new situations, and issues raised at different periods and propose relevant solutions for them. Islam's history has shown it as a dynamic religion whose guidelines are not limited to the cases in a thousand years ago but meets the requirements of all time. Of course, it should be noted that being ever up to date does not mean to welcome every new change and circumstance; it rather means to derive the relevant Islamic orientation and ruling by considering the Islamic axioms.
- Ibn Abi l-Hadid, “Comments on Nahj al Balaqa”, vol. 20, p. 267, T. 102.
- M. Al-Hili, "Al-Saraʼir Al-Hawi Li-Tahṛir Al-Fatawi", vol. 3, p. 575.
In all books of success and in all seminars on the same topic, gratitude and being grateful is introduced as one of the most important keys to success. For example, Brian Tracy says “Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” or as Oprah Winfrey puts it: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” 
In this text we try to see if these types of sayings and ideas about gratitude and its impact on one’s life are accepted in Islam.
There are a few verses in the Quran that talk about the importance of gratitude and the consequences of showing both gratitude and ingratitude. To understand the meaning of gratitude and thanking God and His creations, it is important to have a deeper understanding of the Arabic root of the words gratitude (Shukr) and ingratitude (Kufr).
Allah Says in the Quran “… and thank Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me.” (2: 125) do not be ungrateful to me in Arabic is “wa la takfurun” that again comes from the root word “kufr”. The meaning of the word “kufr” is to cover or hide something. 
It is interesting that in another verse of the Quran the word farmer is also related to the root word “Kufr”; “…like rain, whose growth impresses the farmer…” (52: 20) and the farmer in the Quran is mentioned as “Kuffar”. The Quran commentators believe that the word “Kuffar” is used for farmers, since the farmer hides the seeds under the soil. 
Therefore, ingratitude or ungratefulness in the Quran is used about people who see, feel and use the blessings of Allah (SWT) but they ignore those blessings in different ways such as complaining about what they have, keep asking for things they are not blessed with by the wisdom of God, or more importantly not using the blessings that Allah has given them properly.
On the other hand, the Arabic word “shukr” which is used for gratefulness and showing gratitude means, “to reveal” something. Therefore, the concept of gratefulness and gratitude is to see, feel and use the blessings of Allah, while at the same time trying to use these blessings in the right way.
There are different ways of showing gratitude for different blessings of God. For example, showing gratitude for the health is not possible while laying down in front of TV for hours and saying, “thank God for my health”. Instead, showing gratitude for one’s health is possible when, for example, one takes care of his/her health and uses his/her strength in helping the religion of Allah and helping other servants of His. There are thousands of ways in showing gratitude for our health, wealth, knowledge, good family and friends, etc. the key point is showing gratitude is to see the blessings and use them in the best possible ways.
A great definition for gratitude is explained by Imam Al-Sadiq (AS): “The least kind of gratitude is when a person knows the blessing is (directly) from God and does not know any reason for it except Him and when he/she is happy with what God has given him/her and does not commit sins through His blessings. And, he/she does not use the blessings of God as a means for opposing his commands.” 
What happens to those who are grateful and those who are not? Does it make any difference? As human beings, we expect others to be grateful to us if we do them a favor, and it is considered rude not to thank other people’s favors. However, thanking Allah does not have any benefits for Him, or being ungrateful to Him would not harm Him in any ways. So the reason why Allah (SWT) emphasizes on thanking Him can again be understood from the Arabic words used for gratefulness and ungratefulness. If we are grateful it means that we show “Shukr” that means we reveal the blessings of Allah. Noticing these blessings is the first step to appreciate what we have and to start using them in order to achieve success in different dimensions. However, if we are not grateful it means that we are committing “Kufr,” which means we are hiding or covering the blessings of Allah, the result of which is wasting His blessings and therefore, wasting our lives.
Allah (SWT) says in the Quran: “If you are grateful, I will surely enhance you [in blessing], but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is indeed severe.” (14: 7)
It is clear as day that if one understands the value of his/her blessings, then he/she can improve the life quality of him/herself and others using those blessings. And if one wastes the blessings, it is rational to take those advantages from him/her and give the facilities to someone who can best use them in improving his/her and others’ lives.
But, unfortunately Allah mentions in the Quran that “few of My servants are grateful.” (34:13) Therefore, it would be great if we can try our best to discover and recognize even the smallest blessings that Allah (SWT) has provided us. We have no idea how using the smallest blessings can bring huge changes and improvements in our life and our soul.
Thanking Allah (SWT) for His blessings is very important. However, Allah (SWT) gives specific attention to being grateful toward other human beings. Thanking those who have favored us the most is so important in the eyes of Allah that He obliges us to be grateful to them “We have enjoined man concerning his parents: His mother carried him through weakness upon weakness, and his weaning takes two years. Give thanks to Me and to your parents. To Me is the return.” (31:14)
In mentioning the importance of this verse Imam al-Ridha (AS) says: “Allah Almighty has put gratitude and thanksgiving for Himself along with gratitude and thanks to the parents, whoever has not done the gratitude of the parents has not done the gratitude of Allah.” 
Apart from thanking Parents, thanking other people in the society is very important in Islam. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “He who does not give thanks to the people (for their favors) does not give thanks to God.” 
May we all start seeing and discovering the blessings that Allah (SWT) has given us and start using them to the most, so we can make a better life and afterlife for ourselves and others.
- Qara’ati, M. Tafseer-e Noor, vol. 9. p. 477
- Gilani, A commentary on Al-Mesbah Al-Shari’ah, p. 61
- Oyoun Akhbar al-Riza, vol. 1. p. 258
- Man La Yahzuruhu al-faqih, vol. 2, p, 343