SHUKR – شكر
Literally: A feeling or expression of gratitude. Gratitude. A thanking. A giving thanks.
Feeling or expressing of gratitude and thanks to Allah (‘Azza wa jalla) for the ni’mahs that He gives.
“Furthermore, there is the well-known meaning of hamd: the display of the attributes of Kamâl1 .
How this is achieved: Allah Subhânahu created man and made him a comprehensive summary of the universe and an index of the book of the ‘âlam, which comprises eighteen thousand ‘âlam, and lodged in his essence a sample from each, in which is manifested one of the Names of Taâ’lâ. If man spends all of what is bestowed on him in the way of that for which they were created, for the purpose of performing shukr al-‘urfî which is a sort of hamd, and obeying the Sharî’ah which removes the rust of nature, each of those samples opens a mishkât2 and a window to the ‘âlam which they belong to, and becomes a mirror to the attribute that manifests in that ‘âlam and the Name which manifests there. In this way, with both rûh and material, man becomes a summary of al-‘âlam ash-shahâdah and al-‘âlam al-ghayb, and manifests what is manifested on them. Through offering hamd man becomes a place of manifestation for the Ilahî attributes of Kamâl. This is implied by what Muhyi al-Din al-'Arabi said in explanation of the Hadith:كُنْتُ كَنْزًا مَخْفِيًّا فَخَلَقْتُ الْخَلْقَ لِيَعْرِفُونِى 3 That is, I created creation to be a mirror in which I might observe My Jamâl.” Signs of Miraculousness
“do not say: "I am nothing. What importance do I have that the universe should purposefully be made subject to me by an Absolute Hakîm, and universal shukr required of me?" Because for sure you are as though nothing with respect to your nafs and form, but from the point of view of duty and rank, you are an observant spectator of this majestic universe, an eloquent, articulate tongue of these beings so full of hikmah, a discerning reader of this book of ‘âlam, a supervisor of these creatures full of wonder at their tasbîh, and like a foreman of these beings full of respect for their ‘ibâdah.
Yes, O man! In regard to your vegetable physical being and animal nafs, you are a minor particle, a contemptible fragment, a needy creature, a weak animal, who tossed on the awesome waves of the flood of beings, who is departing. But being perfected through the tarbiyyah of Islam which is illuminated with the nûr of îmân that comprises the radiance of Ilahî love, and in regard to humanity and being ‘abd to Allah, you are a sultân, and a universal within particularity, and within your insignificance, an ‘âlam, and within your contemptibility, a supervisor of such high rank and extensive sphere that you can say: "My Rabb Ar-Rahim has made the world a house for me, the sun and moon lamps for it, and the spring, a bunch of flowers for me, and summer, a table of ni’mah, and the animals, He has made them my servants. And He has made plants the decorated furnishings of my house.”
To conclude: If you heed shaytan and your nafs, you will fall to the asfal sâfilîn. But if you heed Al-Haqq and the Qur'an, you will rise to the a’lâ ‘illiyyin and become the Most Excellent Pattern of the universe.” The Words (337- 338 )
The Fifth Matter which is the Fifth Part On Shukr
بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
وَ اِنْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ اِلاَّ يُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِهِ4
Through repeating âyahs like, اَفَلاَ يَشْكُرُونَ ٭ اَفَلاَ يَشْكُرُونَ ٭ وَسَنَجْزِى الشَّاكِرِينَ ٭ لَئِنْ شَكَرْتُمْ َلاَزِيدَنَّكُمْ ٭ بَلِ اللّهَ فَاعْبُدْ وَ كُنْ مِنَ الشَّاكِرِينَ 5 the Qur'an of Miraculous Exposition shows that the most important thing Al-Khâliq Who is Rahmân wants from His ‘abds is shukr. The Qur'an, Al-Furqân Al- Hakîm, calls men to offer shukr, giving it the greatest importance. It shows not offering shukr to be a denial and negation of ni’mahs, and in Surah Ar-Rahmân, utters a severe and fearsome threat thirty-three times with the decree, فَبِاَىِّ آلاَءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ 6 It shows that not offering shukr is denial and negation.
Indeed, both Al-Qur’an Al-Hakîm shows shukr to be the result of creation, and the mighty Qur'an of the universe shows that the most important result of the creation of the ‘âlam is shukr. For if the universe is observed carefully, it is apparent that all things result in shukr in the way each is arranged within it; to a degree, each looks to shukr and is turned towards it. It is as if the most important fruit of the tree of creation is shukr, and the most elevated product of the factory of the universe is shukr. The reason for this is as follows:
We see in the creation of the ‘âlam that its beings are arranged as though in a circle with life as its central point. All beings look to life, and serve life, and produce the necessities of life. That is to say, the One Who created the universe chose life from it.
Then we see that He created the ‘âlam of the animated being in the form of a circle and placed man at its centre. Simply, He centred the aims intended from animate beings on man, gathering all living creatures around him, and subjugating them to him. He made them serve him and him dominant over them. That is to say, Al-Khâliq Zuljâlal chose man from among living beings, and willed and decreed this position for him in al-‘âlam.
Then we see that the ‘âlam of man, and the animal ‘âlam too, are formed like circles, with rizq placed at their centre. He has made mankind and the animals enamoured of rizq, has subjugated them to it, and made them serve it. What rules them is rizq. And He has made rizq such a vast and rich treasury that it encompasses His innumerable ni’mahs. Even, with a faculty called the sense of taste, He has placed on the tongue fine and sensitive scales to the number of foods so that they can recognize the tastes of one sort of the many varieties of rizq. That is to say, the strangest, richest, most wonderful, most agreeable, most comprehensive, and most marvellous haqiqah in the universe lies in rizq.
Now we see that just as everything has been gathered around rizq and looks to it, so does rizq in all its varieties subsist through shukr, both material and ma’nawî and that offered by word and by state; it exists through shukr, it produces shukr, it shows shukr. For appetite and desire for rizq are a sort of fıtrî shukr. Enjoyment and pleasure also are a sort of unconscious shukr and it is offered by all animals. It is only man who changes the essence of that fıtrî shukr through dhalâlah and kufr; he deviates from shukr to shirk.
Furthermore, the exquisitely adorned forms, the fragrant smells, the wonderfully delicious tastes in the ni’mahs which are the invitation of shukr; they awake an eagerness in animate beings, and through eagerness urge a sort of appreciation and respect, and prompt a ma’nawî shukr. They attract the attention of conscious beings and engender admiration. They encourage them to respect the ni’mahs; through this, they lead them to offer shukr verbally and by the act, and made them offer shukr; they cause them to experience the highest and sweetest pleasure and enjoyment within shukr. That is, they show that, as well as a brief and temporary superficial pleasure, through shukr, these delicious rizq and ni’mahs gain the favours of Ar-Rahmân, which provide a permanent, true, boundless pleasure. That is, they cause to ponder over the infinite, pleasurable favours of Al-Mâlik Who is Karîm of the treasuries of rahmah, and in ma’nawî aspect to tasting the everlasting delights of Jannah while still in this world. Thus, although by means of shukr rizq becomes such a valuable, rich, all-embracing treasury, through not offering shukr it becomes utterly valueless.
As is explained in the Sixth Word, when the sense of taste in the tongue is turned towards rizq for the sake of Janâb-i Haqq, that is, when it performs its ma’nawî duty of shukr, it becomes like a shâkir inspector of the numberless kitchens of infinite Ilahî rahmah and a highly-esteemed supervisor full of hamd. If it is turned towards it for the sake of the nafs, that is, without thinking the shukr of the One Who has bestowed the rizq, the sense of taste falls from the rank of being a highly-esteemed supervisor to the level of a watchman of the factory of the stomach and a doorkeeper of the stable of the belly. Just as through not giving shukr these servants of rizq descend to such a level, so does the essence of rizq and its other servants fall; they descend from the highest rank to the lowest; they sink to a state opposed and contrary to Al-Khâliq of the universe's hikmah.
The measure of shukr is contentment, frugality, and being satisfied and grateful. While the measure of not offering shukr is greed, wastefulness; it is disrespect; it is eating whatever one comes across, whether haram or halal.
Like not offering shukr, greed causes both loss and degradation. For example, it is as though because of greed the blessed ant even, which has a social life, is crushed underfoot. For, although a few grains of wheat would be contentment for a year, it is not contented with this, and collects thousands if it can. While the blessed honey-bee flies overhead due to its contentment, and through an Ilahî command bestows honey on human beings for them to eat.
The Name of Rahmân -the Greatest Name after the Name of Allah, which signifies the Ilahî Essence and is the Greatest Name of the Most Pure and Holy One (Zhât Al-Aqdas)- looks to rizq, and is attained to through the shukr provoked by rizq. Also, the most apparent meaning of Rahmân is Razzâq.
Moreover, there are different varieties of shukr. The most comprehensive of these and their universal index are the salâh.
Furthermore, within shukr is a pure îmân, a sincere Tawhîd. For a person who eats an apple and utters, "Alhamdulillah!" is proclaiming through his shukr: "This apple is a souvenir bestowed directly by the hand of Qoudrah, a gift directly from the treasury of Rahmah." With saying this and believing it, he is surrendering everything, particular and universal, to the hand of Qoudrah. He recognizes the manifestation of Rahmah in everything. He announces through shukr a true îmân and sincere Tawhîd.
Of the many aspects of the great loss which ghâfil man incurs through kufr an-ni’mah, we shall describe only one. It is as follows:
If someone eats a delicious ni’mah and gives shukr, the ni’mah becomes a nûr and a fruit of Jannah in the âkhirah through that shukr. Through thinking of it being a work of Janâb-i Haqq's favour of rahmah due to the pleasure it affords, it gives a true, lasting delight and enjoyment. He sends ma’nawî kernels and essences and ma’nawî substances like these, to the sublime ranks, while the material husk-like residue, that is, the matter that has completed its duty and now is unnecessary, becomes excreta and goes to be transformed into its original substances, that is, into the elements. If he does not give shukr, the temporary pleasure leaves a pain and sorrow at its passing, and itself becomes waste. Ni’mah which is of the essence of diamonds is transformed into coal. Through shukr, transient rizqs produces enduring pleasures, everlasting fruits. But ni’mah which is not met with shukr is turned from the most beautiful of forms into the ugliest. For according to such a ghâfil, after a temporary pleasure, the end of rizq is waste-matter.
For sure, rizq is in a form worthy of ‘ashq, and that form becomes apparent through shukr. While the ‘ashq of the people of ghaflah and dhalâlah for rizq is animality. You can make further comparisons in this way and see what a loss the people of ghaflah and dhalâlah suffer.
Among animate species the neediest for the varieties of rizq is man. Janâb-i Haqq created man as a comprehensive mirror to all His Names; as a miracle of qoudrah with the capacity to weigh up and recognize the contents of all His treasuries of rahmah; and as khalîfah on earth possessing the faculties to draw to the scales all the subtleties of the different manifestations of His Names. He, therefore, gave him a boundless need, making him needy for the endless different varieties of rizq, material and ma’nawî. The means of raising man to 'Ahsan Taqwîm,' which is the highest position in accordance with this comprehensiveness, is shukr. If he does not offer shukr, he falls to 'asfal sâfilîn,' and perpetrates a great dhulm.
In Short: The most essential of the four fundamental principles of the tarîq of ‘ubûdiyyah and winning Allah's love, the highest and most elevated tarîq, is shukr. These four principles have been defined as follows:
"Four things are necessary on the tarîq of the impotence, my friend:
"Absolute impotence, absolute poverty, absolute fervour, and absolute shukr, O ‘Azîz...."
اَللّٰهُمَّ اجْعَلْنَا مِنَ الشَّاكِرِينَ بِرَحْمَتِكَ يَا اَرْحَمَ الرَّاحِمِينَ
سُبْحَانَكَ لاَ عِلْمَ لَنَا اِلاَّ مَا عَلَّمْتَنَا اِنَّكَ اَنْتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ
اَللّٰهُمَّ صَلِّ وَ سَلِّمْ عَلَى سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ سَيِّدِ الشَّاكِرِينَ وَ الْحَامِدِينَ وَ عَلَى آلِهِ وَ صَحْبِهِ اَجْمَعِينَ آمِينَ
وَ آخِرُ دَعْوَيهُمْ اَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلّٰهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
The Twenty-Eighth Letter
2 (A place where a lamp is specially placed)
3 (I was a hidden treasure, so I created creation that they may know Me.)
4 (And there is nothing but it does tasbîh Him with hamd.)
5 (Will they not then offer shukr? * Will they not then offer shukr? * And we shall surely reward those who offer shukr.* If you offer shukr, I shall increase [my favours] to you. * perform ‘ibâdah to Allah and be of those who offer shukr)
6 (So which of the favours of your Rabb do you deny?)