By Jerrmein Abu Shahba
The divine blessings upon us are many and cannot be enumerated or encompassed. These blessings exist whether we are Muslims or non-Muslims, and whether we believe in God or not. Every human being has received and is enjoying countless bounties and blessings in their everyday life. The mere ability to move around, walk from one place to another, see things around us, and interact with people and make ends meet is a huge blessing not to be taken for granted.
Unfortunately, it is of human nature and tendency to take things for granted and “get used to” the bounties blessings which we have been favored by Almighty Allah (SWT). If you think about it, in almost every example of our lives, there is the tendency to take things for granted and take others for granted.
This morning we woke up and opened our eyes, yet many others never woke up from their sleep. Today we are able to enjoy a meal, but if tomorrow we get a stomach virus, only then do we remember the blessing of being healthy and being able to eat without pain. Today we are able to walk and go here and there as we wish, but if tomorrow we sprain our ankle, then we find ourselves restrained and perhaps in need of others. Today we have jobs and live a stable life, but if tomorrow we lose our jobs or homes, then we remember the good old days when we were independent employees and settled residents and didn’t thank God for those blessings. Yesterday we had hot water, electricity, and Wi-Fi connection, but once we lose that bounty for any reason, we realize how much our lives are affected.
Today we have our loved ones around us and often times we don’t pay much attention to them and take them for granted. Yet if tomorrow they are afflicted with a life-threatening disease or if they are separated from us geographically, only then do we realize their worth and miss them! As a son or daughter, we tend to take our parents for granted being that they’ve been with us all our lives and love us unconditionally. They offer us advice yet we don’t listen or prefer taking advice from a friend or stranger, and the reason is simply that we take them for granted. As siblings, we fight with each other and may even cut relations for a period of time, yet if one day a calamity befalls them, only then do we realize that our love to our blood relations is more precious than anything else. Even as parents, sometimes we take our children for granted; we think that by our divinely-bestowed authority over them, that we can behave or treat them in any ill manner and not worry about accountability, but children also expect love, respect, and justice.
As spouses, we get used to our partner whom we’ve been living with for so long and before you know it, we depend on their love and sympathy to forgive us and put up with our lousy behavior or inconsiderate actions. We think that just because they’ve tolerated a lot and swallowed a handful all along, that they will continue in that pattern without worry-ness on our part that perhaps one day, their bucket will reach its full capacity and their level of patience will run out. As friends, we depend on their companionship and lean on them when times are tough, but you never know when they have to relocate and you realize their value and loss! As neighbors, today we may be content with those living in our neighborhood who is harmless, yet we fail to give them their rights as a neighbor. But tomorrow if we move to another home and experience bad neighborhood, only then do we realize the bounty we had before and wished that we could enjoy it more.
As Muslims we take it for granted that we are born into the religion of Islam and have “inherited the faith” from our parents, but not every person has gained this advantage. As followers of the path of Wilayah and lovers of AhlulBayt (AS), we take it for granted that we are born from parents with Shia roots and from Sayyid family, but have we really believed in the truth by heart and mind, and with full conviction? Are we ready to educate others as to why we believe what we believe and why we practice what we practice? Are we ready to provide proofs and evidences to our children and to our community members of the different topics of controversy that exist in the sectarian realm?
As Shia’s, we even take our Infallible Imams (AS) for granted while depending on their intercession based on our love to them, even if we don’t comply to the divine obligations. Yet in his last moments of life, Imam As-Sadeq (AS) directed his words to the Shia and emphasized the importance of deeds couple with our love to them, “Our intercession shall not reach those who take prayers lightly and devalue them.” We even take our anticipation and “waiting” for our Living Imam (AFS) for granted while some Shia’s will be among those who see the Imam and disbelieve in him!
Allah (SWT) is not in need of our worship, nor is our Infallible Imams (AS) in need of our love and Wilayah to them. However, our worship and obedience to Allah (SWT) and our Wilayah to our Imams (AS) is something that we desperately need in order for us to excel and reach the ultimate goal of seeking the divine pleasure and proximity.
Indeed, taking things for granted and people for granted is a syndrome which many of us suffer from and we must seriously review ourselves and pay attention to that shortcoming before we lose it and before it affects our relationship with others. As the saying goes, “people say you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. The truth is; you knew what you had; you just never thought you’d lose it.” Surely, when you take things for granted, the things you are granted get taken.
Expressing continuous thanks, appreciation, and gratitude should be our habit and practice in our everyday lives to those who do any favor to us. None can come close to our creator, Allah (SWT), who gave us everything. As the Quran states: “Who created you, fashioned you perfectly, and gave you due proportion” [82:7]. As humans, Allah (SWT) has bestowed upon us the nature to be grateful and we should thus express that gratitude not just to Allah but to the people we deal with as well, be it our family, friends, or community members. The things we take for granted, someone else is praying for, so let us be thankful.
Allah (SWT) says in the Quran: “And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from Allah” [16:53] Even the very act of praising and thanking Allah (SWT) is a blessing that deserves thankfulness, as taught to us by Imam Zainul Abideen in the prayer in As-Sahifa As-Sajjadiya, “Whenever I say, ‘To Thee belongs praise!’, it becomes thereby incumbent upon me to say, ‘To Thee belongs praise’!” Let’s constantly remind ourselves of Allah’s endless bounties by expressing our gratitude to Him in prayers and to others who bless us and make our lives easier though we don’t fully realize it. Most importantly of all, let us thank Allah (SWT) profusely for guiding us to the path of Wilayah and bringing us to this lantern of light, whether by being born into it or being invited to it. The best way of thanks and gratitude is indeed our intense Mawadda (love), devotion, and adherence to the teachings of the Prophet’s purified progeny may Allah’s eternal peace and blessings be upon them!