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
Fundamental needs of animals in Islam includes their rights in Islam, and human beings have to fulfill them. The very first needs of animals which are vital to them include sufficient and proper food, water, a comfortable place to rest and live, and physical health. These and some other rights of the animals are discussed in this article.
Animals are unable to talk and express their needs. Captivating the animals and inhibiting them from the blessings that God has reserved for them are unfair . Every animal with either lawful (Halal) or unlawful (Haram) meat, with or without benefit to its owner, birds or cattle, should be provided with adequate food and water, otherwise should be released to seek for its requirements . The animals’ rights in food provision can be listed as:
Feeding the animal adequately, otherwise, it should be released in pastures or nature to find food ;
Paying special attention to the animal, with whether lawful [i] (Halal) or unlawful [ii] (Haram) meat, which gives milk to its baby because it requires double food supply . Imam Ali (AS) ordered the alms-tax collectors nor to separate the camel from its baby neither to milk the whole milk of the camel as it might be harmful to the baby camel ;
Not to feed the animal with unlawful food since it is detestable (Makruh) ;
Not to leave the animal hungry. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) blamed a man who had left his camel hungry: “you should fear God!” ;
Watering animal. Partial (Wudu) and full (Ghusl) ablution are some sorts of washing body which are obligatory for Muslims in certain conditions and are prerequisites for some religious duties. Regarding Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh), if an animal is dying of thirst and there is not enough water to both water the animal and perform the ablution, at certain conditions, watering the animal is the priority . Imam Baqir (AS) said that whoever waters a thirsty animal, God will place him at the shelter of His Throne the day that there is no protection except Him .
Hygiene and health of the animal are emphasized in Islam. Providing animals with healthy food and water, a clean place to live and the required treatments and medications are of the duties over their owners. Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh) obliges the owner of the animal to pay the expenses of the treatment of the animal .
It is over every Muslim to consider the rest and peace of the animal. Thereby, an appropriate place should be provided for the animal. Also, a suitable time should be considered for the exploitation of the animal, especially during the night that they need to rest. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) advised to let the animals rest whenever they are utilized and ordered not to oppress them.
These and other Islamic advises demonstrate how much care is given to the animals in Islam. This is contrary to the modern thinking ideas that consider animals as machines to serve humans without needing any rest.
Human beings are not allowed to deprive animals of reproduction . According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), sterilizing the animal is equal to dismembering it .
An animal raised by a human being has the right of affection over its owner. Hence, it is detestable that the owner of the animal slaughters the animal that he\she has raised . This shows that Islam considers the rights due to a harmonious cohabitation for humans over each other as well as for animals over humans. Imam Sajjad (AS) made a will to bury his camel after its death so that it might not be torn apart by the wild animals .
Animals trained for purposes such as companionship, detection, protection, farm work, etc. have received great care in Islamic teachings such that keeping a trained dog at home is permitted if the hygiene tips are considered . It is narrated that a man who had his horse with him, saluted Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). Prophet (PBUH&HP) saluted both the man and his horse in return .
This demonstrates the importance of keeping respect for the animals, especially those that are trained. In this regard, branding iron animal on the face (which was common in the past among some ethnic groups) is forbidden in Islam and is considered unfair . Also, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) ordered not to rest while seated on the animals’ back .
Respecting the rights of the animals in Islam is so important that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said that whoever ignores the rights of the animals that he\she had owned, he\she should wait in the judgment day until those animals pass over while crushing or butting him\her .
[i]. e.g., cow or sheep.
[ii]. e.g., dog.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 675.
- Sheikh al-Tusi, “Al-Mabsoot”, vol. 6, p. 47.
- H. T. Nuri Ṭabarsi, “Mustadrak al-Wasail”, vol. 8, p. 36.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 678.
- “Nahj al-Balagha”, letter 25.
- Sheikh al-Tusi, “Tahdhib al-Ahkam”, vol. 9, p. 115.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 61, p. 111.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 681.
- “Makarim al-Akhlaq”, p. 135.
- M. H. Najafi, “Jawahir al-Kalam”, vol. 36, p. 436-437.
- J. Suyuti, “Jami al-Sagheer”, vol. 1, p. 102.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 686.
- A. Al-Barqi, “Al-Mahasin”, p. 634.
- Shaykh al-Saduq, “Thawab al-A'mal wa 'Iqab al-A'mal”, p. 50.
- Animals in Islam
- F. Rawandi, “Al-Nawader”, p. 41-42.
- Shaykh Saduq, “Al-Amali”, p. 507.
- Q. Nu'man, “Da'a'im al-Islam”, vol 1, p. 347.
- Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, “Sahih Muslim”, vol. 3, p. 74.
One of the significant parts of responsibility in Islam is our responsibilities towards other people in our lives. Human beings are social creatures. Being in the society, humans are no more obliged to provide all their basic needs on their own. They might benefit from the skills of other people in various fields.
And in return, every individual should do something for what he\she gains from others. It means that everyone is responsible towards other people in the society. Being emphasized in Islamic teachings, it is over every Muslim to respect the rights of other people with the priority given respectively to his\her nuclear family, relatives, neighbors, other Muslims and other human beings .
Family as the basic unit of the society is the first community where one’s social interactions begin. The support and peace that one receives in the family make him\her responsible towards them. Thus, the concept of responsibility in Islam towards other begins with our duty towards our family.
The rights that parents have over children have been discussed in another article, but briefly, they include:
Obedience to parents as far as it is not against God’s orders or unjust. Even in those cases, one should respect his\her parents [i],;
Having deep respect and great affection for them;
Being humble, using a gentle voice and kind words when talking to them;
Praying and asking mercy for them (17:24), whether they are alive or not;
Offering father the property, honor, and life ;
The rights of the mother are superior to those of father  such that they can never be returned unless with divine providence.
A detailed review of husbands’ duties was presented in another article. These duties can be summarized as:
Paying the marriage portion (Sedaq);
Paying for the living expenses of the wife (Nafaqah) ;
Paying wife for the house chores if she asks for [ii], ;
Treating the family well, including wife;
Helping the wife in house chores ;
Ignoring minor errors of wife and forgiving her major mistakes.
The rights of the husband over his wife have been fully discussed before. Briefly:
Husband as the manager of the family is the only person who is fully responsible for all affairs of the family. Accordingly, every member of the family should obey him;
Wife as the source of peace and solace to the husband (30:21) has to submit herself to her husband except during menstruation sexually [iii].
The rights of children over parents begin before the conception and continue a lifetime. These rights already discussed in previous articles, can be summarized as:
Great care for the act of conception emphasized in Islamic teachings, which are important for the physical, mental and spiritual health of the child in the future;
Providing the necessary care for mother during the pregnancy to give birth to a healthy baby;
Reciting the Call to Prayer in the ears of the newborn];
Giving the baby a proper name at birth;
Breastfeeding the baby until the approximate age of two ;
Behave the children nicely and respectfully;
Gradually familiarizing the children with religion after the age of Three ;
Starting necessary religious education and guidance in belief and act during middle childhood;
Providing academic education at school;
Teaching them moral characteristics and attributes;
Helping the children to perceive the physical and emotional changes of puberty to experience a pleasant transition during this period;
Allowing children to participate in every decision-making in the family when they are adults.
Preparing the children for the responsibilities of married life at the age of marriage, helping them to choose a proper mate for themselves, and providing them with some of the basic needs of a small family.
Imam Ali (AS) addresses Malik Al-Ashtar in a letter and explains that “people are either your religious brother or they are humans just like you. They might make mistakes deliberately or unintentionally, as you do. Hence, forgive them just as you hope God to forgive you”. Imam Sajjad (AS) also enumerates the rights of brothers over each other :
You should consider your brother as a powerful hand which is ready to help, a refuge in case of troubles, and a power upon whom you can always rely;
You should not take your brother as a weapon with which to disobey God, nor as a means by which to violate God's rights;
You should never forget to help your brother against his\her self-incitement and to support him\her against his\her enemies;
You should offer your brother wise counsel and should never leave him\her alone in case of need. However, if your brother does not obey God’s commands, you have to prefer God’s satisfaction with his\hers.
[i] For more information, see ref. .
[ii] However, some of these rights depend on how the wife respects her husband’s rights.
[iii] Much care is also paid to the sexual needs of wives in Islamic teachings, and there exist enough instructions on how to satisfy them.
[iv] The term “brother” here is not confined to siblings; it also refers to every two or more companions of the same religion.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-Hayat”, p. 219.
- Ibn Babawayh,”Fiqh al-Ridha (AS)”, p. 334.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-Hayat”, p. 224.
- Imam Zayn al-'Abidin (AS), “Treatise On Rights (Risalat al-Huquq)”.
- H. Vahid Khorasani, “Islamic Laws”, Create Space Independent Publishing, 2014, p. 393.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-Hayat”, p. 257.
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 2, p. 618
- H. F. Tabarsi, “Makarim al-akhlaq”, p. 115.