Ways Of Thanking Allahu Ta'ala (Part II)

The question of how men should thank for the favors of Allahu ta'ala is answered in various ways by different scholars. According to some, the most important way of thanking Him is to think and contemplate about His existence. Mathnawi:

Thanks be to Allahu ta'ala, Who sends so many blessings,
First, He gave me the blessing of existence!
The Human power would fall short of tallying His blessings,
Power and all kinds of superiority belong to Him by rights.

According to others, men can thank Him by realizing that blessings come from Him and by acknowledging this fact through his speech.

According to some others, thanking Him could be done by practicing His commandments and avoiding the prohibited actions.

According to some, man should first cleanse himself and thereby be closer to Allahu ta'ala.

According to others, man should try to give guidance (irshad) [1]to others who are in need of finding the correct way of living. He should try to help others so that they may become correct (salih) [2] people.

According to some, there is no particular way of thanking Him. Everyone can follow different ways of thanking Him. According to later scholars, man's duty toward Allahu ta'ala can be summarized in three groups: The first one is the worship he performs by using his body, i.e., "salat" [3] and fasting; the second one is the duty he performs through his soul, i.e., having correct faith [having a belief agreeable with the prescription taught by the Ahl as-sunnat [4] scholars]; and the third is the endeavour to get closer to Allahu ta'ala by doing justice among human beings. This could be accomplished by being a trustworthy person and by giving advice to others and by teaching Islam to others.

We could summarize the acts of worship in three groups: Correct belief, correct speech and correct behaviour. The commandments which are not clearly stated in the last two categories could be modified, depending on times and places. Allahu ta'ala is the only authority entitled to make this change, and He has done so through His Prophets. Human beings cannot change acts of worship by themselves according to their own understanding. Prophets, and the Ahl as-sunnat scholars, who are the inheritors of the Prophets, communicated in detail the kinds of worships and how they would be performed. Everyone should learn these properly and practice them.

I would summarize all the aforesaid facts by saying that in a nutshell a Muslim's duty toward Allahu ta'ala is to hold the correct belief, to be a trustworthy person, and to perform good deeds ('amal-i saliha).

Islamic scholars and great guides of tasawwuf [5]stated that the most necessary thing for a human being is to have iman [6] (belief), perform good deeds ('amal) and do them with sincerity (ikhlas) [7]. Happiness in this world and the next world can only be achieved by erecting these three pillars. " 'Amal" means acts that can be accomplished through the spiritual heart, tongue, or body. Acts to be accomplished through the spiritual heart are ethics or morals. Sincerity (ikhlas) means doing all the good deeds and worships for the sake of Allahu ta'ala and for the purpose of obtaining His love and approval.

[1] irshad: enlightenment; guiding; inspiring.
[2] salih: (pl. sulaha') one who is pious and abstains from sins, (opposite: fasiq); see Wali.
[3] salat: i) prayer; (with salam)= salawat; ii) ritual prayer of at least two rak'as; "namaz", in Persian; salat janaza: funeral prayer.
[4] Ahl as-Sunna (wa'l-Jama'a): the true pious Muslims who follow as-Sahabat al-kiram. These are called Sunni Muslims. A Sunni Muslim adapts himself to one of the four Madhhabs. These madhhabs are Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali.
[5] tasawwuf: (Islamic sufism as defined by Islam) knowledge and (after adapting oneself to fiqh) practice of the manners of the Prophet ('alaihi 's-salam) which strengthens iman, makes the practice of fiqh easy and provides one to attain ma'rifa; 'ilm at-tasawwuf. [See the book Maktubat by Ahmad al-Faruqi as-Sirhindi (rahmatullahi ta'ala 'alaih)].
[6] iman: faith, belief, beliefs of Islam; kalam, i'tiqad.
[7] ikhlas: (quality, intention or state of) doing everything only for Allahu ta'ala's sake; sincerity.