By the end of the day, when I finally sit down to a glass of cool water and a few dates, I am overcome with a sense of gratitude. I realize what a blessing food and water are. I realize that many people do not have access to clean water or nutritious food. I realize that many people never feel the satisfaction I do at the end of a balanced and delicious meal. I become aware of how blessed I am, and as I take those first sips and savor the first tastes, I am filled with gratitude. Not only for the food and drink, but for the opportunity to express my devotion to God through fasting in daylight hours, just as He has asked me to do. I feel fortunate that I have been guided to an annual ritual that, despite the feelings of weakness I experience, strengthens me in every way – physically, mentally and spiritually.
Maryam, mother of Jesus, is a fine example of someone grateful for God’s many blessings. The holy Quran says that when Zachariah found food with her when he visited her, he asked where she got it from. Her response is quite interesting. Most people probably would have said, “The neighbor sent it to me” or “A caravan has just arrived from Yemen” or “I bought it this morning from the farmers’ market.” Although any answer would satisfy the most curious person, it didn’t satisfy her. She was so devout and so wise that she could see beyond the obvious and the circumstantial – she could see the Truth. So she answered, “This is from Allah. Verily, Allah provides sustenance to whom He wills, without limit.” (3:37)
We should respond as wisely as Maryam when asked about our blessings. The holy Quran says, “Whatever good has come to you, it is from God” (4:79).So if someone asks you, I love your clothes! Where did you get them? You should realize that they are from God. Or if someone remarks that you are so strong, you should acknowledge the source of all strength: “It’s from God!” Or if your kids ask, what’s for dinner, the best response is “rice and chicken from God.” That’s the outlook that Maryam had: appreciative, humble, insightful. Look around and start counting your blessings – from the food you expect to eat tonight, to the soft pillow on your bed, to the eyes that are reading these words. If it’s good, it’s from God.
Gratitude is one of the lessons of Ramadan. The Quran says, “[God desires] that you complete the number [of days required to fast], and that you extol God for His having guided you aright, and that you render your thanks [unto Him].” (285) Since gratitude is one of the goals of fasting, this Ramadan and always, follow the example of Maryam, mother of Jesus, by acknowledging the source of all your blessings. So great is our Lord, that he appreciates our appreciation, saying, “If you give thanks, I will surely give you more…” (14:7)
Courtesy of the TIES Center, whose mission is to empower Kuwait’s expats through social and educational services that promote a positive and productive role in society, and to facilitate opportunities for intra- and interfaith interactions that promote social solidarity. For more information, please call 25231015/6 or e-mail: [email protected].
By Teresa Lesher