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
Allah almighty has bestowed upon us so many gifts that even if you try your hardest, you cannot count them all:
He gave you all that you had asked Him. If you enumerate Allah’s blessings, you will not be able to count them. Indeed, man is most unfair and ungrateful! (Holy Quran, 14:34)
However, if you reflect further, you will realize that the greatest favor of Allah to us is the opportunity to use these gifts. Life is a priceless blessing that many people often overlook. We must appreciate this precious gift from Allah and use it in the best way possible. Regarding this, Allah Almighty warns us about wasting our time in the Holy Quran,
I swear by Time! * Mankind is indeed in loss, * except those who have faith and do righteous deeds, and enjoin one another to [follow] the truth, and enjoin one another to patience. (103:1-3)
This life is short yet crucial because it’s all we have got. Allah almighty says,
On the Judgement Day, He will gather them [it will be] as if they had not remained [in the world] except for a moment of the day getting acquainted with one another. They are certainly losers who deny the encounter with Allah, and they are not guided. (10:45)
Imam Ali (AS) also states,
Your opportunities pass just like the clouds pass; therefore use the good opportunities. (1)
Those who wasted their time in this world on trivial matters will lament on the Judgement Day:
They are certainly losers who deny the encounter with Allah. When the Judgement Day overtakes them suddenly, they will say, ‘Alas for us, for what we wasted in the world!’ And they will bear their burdens on their backs. Look! Evil is what they bear! (6:31)
Giving the importance of time, Islam has set some principles to make the most efficient use of it
Many of the activities we engage in during the day are unproductive. In the Islamic view, it is crucial to understand the importance of spending time on beneficial things. Imam Sadiq (AS) says,
One of the signs of a good Muslim is that he avoids things that have nothing to do with him (2)
Imam Ali (AS) says:
It is so necessary for one to have a time during the day allocated for self-Assessment so that they could see what they have done during the day and the night that had benefit or damage for them. (3)
Imam Kazim (AS) advised his pupil Hisham:
O Hisham! He is not one of us who doesn’t assess himself every day. (4)
Imam Ali (AS) said,
God bless the one … who sets goals. (5)
Imam Ali (AS) said,
For achieving success, manage your time, and to manage your time, think clearly, and for thinking clearly, hide your secrets. (6)
To effectively manage time the most important thing is to know how to allocate every part of our daily life for something needed. In this regard Imam Kazim (AS) says,
Try to divide your time into four parts: one for praying and talking to Allah, another for work, one for spending time with your friends and trustworthy individuals who let you know about your faults and imperfections and who sincerely love you. The last part is for your lawful pleasures and by this last part, you get ready for the other three parts.
Don’t talk with yourself about poverty or length of lifetime. Because anyone who thinks about poverty will become miserly and anyone who thinks about the length of life will become greedy. Give yourself your share of this world by pleasing yourself with lawful things which don’t harm your character or waste your time. (7)
Imam Ali (AS) said:
Thinking before acting saves you from regretting. (8)
One of the best ways to save time is to think carefully before taking any action. Some people think that acting impulsively leads to faster success. They think that overthinking is a sign of fear, so they advocate for thinking less and acting more. However, Islam doesn’t support this notion as it encourages thoughtful consideration and reflection before taking any action.
In this regard, Imam Ali (AS) said,
Every movement requires knowledge. (9)
Imam Sadiq (AS) also said,
The one who acts without needed insight is like a passenger on the wrong road. The faster he goes, the farther he gets from his destination. (10)
The holy Prophet (PBUH & HP) said:
When you want to do something, think about its results, if it brings benefits or progress, act and if it is harmful or causes regression, refrain from doing it. (11)
We only live this life once, but its consequences will remain in the Hereafter. Don’t squander this opportunity and by making the best of it, secure a better life for yourself in the Hereafter.
- Nahj al-Balaghah, Sayyed Razi, sayings no.12
- Vasa’il ash-Shia, Sheikh Hurr al-Ameli, vol.12, pg.199
- Ghorar al-Hikam, Amodi, pg.896
- Mustadrak al-Vasa’il, Muhaddith an-Nuri, vol.12, pg.153
- Bihar al-Anvar, Allamah al-Majlesi, vol.75, pg.51
- Nahj al-Balaghah, SAyyed Razi, sayings no.84
- Tohaf al-Uqul, Harrani, pg.409 & 410
- Bihar al-Anvar, Allamah al-Majlesi, vol.68, pg.337
- Tohaf al-Uqul, Harrani, pg.171
- Al-Kafi, Sheikh Koleini, vol.1, pg.43
- Al-Faqih, Sheikh Saduq, vol.4, pg.410 & 411
The hours of fasting in Ramadan vary based on the geographical position of the city where one lives. In some regions, the fasting hours might be extremely long while in other places it might be too short such that one wonders if the goal of fasting (Sawm) has been accomplished or not. Extended fasting might cause difficulties.
Some might complain that there is no advantage in fasting long days. Others might find excuses to avoid fasting altogether. But, Islam does not want Muslims to suffer. There are, therefore, some rulings on how to fast on very long days and very short days, that we review them all next.
In the case where the days are very short, one should perform fasting in its typical way, from dawn to sunset, according to the prayer times. Hence, short fasting hours does not change the default time rulings on fasting (Swam) .
Fasting is not a mere act of depriving oneself of foods or drinks, but it aims at spiritual growth and salvation, inner peace, exercising patience, strengthening the social ties and experiencing how poor people live their lives .
Hence, the obligation on fasting is not to make people suffer; as it is stated in Surah Baqarah: “Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship” (2:185). So, there are some rulings on long fasts which make them less difficult.
Long fast (Swam), especially in hot summer days, is tough. In this case, one should fast according to the prayer times of his\her city of residence. But, if it is extremely difficult, whenever during the day he\she feels unable to continue, he\she is allowed to break the fast (Swam) and have to fast (it is obligatory, Wajib) later on for those missing (Qaza) fasts in shorter days of the current year and before the next Ramadan 
However, different religious experts (Mujtahids) have different opinions on this matter. We explained one of those views above. There are two other opinions as follows and one of them might be the opinion of your religious expert (Mujtahid):
In any case, one should fast according to the prayer times of the city of residence;
One should fast according to the prayer times in a “moderate region,” with the normal day length, that is on the same meridian as his\her city of residence.
Fasting is obligatory due to its spiritual and physical benefits. It is not to put pressure and make people suffer. If it is tough to fast in very long days, one can fast according to the rulings stated above.