Why Can’t I Be This Thankful To God?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

There’s a video a friend recently posted on Facebook about a Syrian refugee who was able to immigrate to Canada with the help of a sponsor:

Aziza Toubeh spent her first Canada Day on Parliament Hill six months after coming to Canada as a refugee. Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/1.3661635

Posted by CBC Politics on Friday, July 1, 2016

Initially, I was extremely moved by the heartfelt gratitude of this young woman. I thought that there was something so raw and real about it. We have a hadiths in both the Sunni and Shia tradition which denote that this is essential to thanking Allah.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ‏ لاَ يَشْكُرُ اللَّهَ مَنْ لاَ يَشْكُرُ النَّاسَ

Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “One does not thank Allah, who does not thank people.”

I remember seeing this exact hadith quoted on the authority of the Prophet in a Shia source, but I can’t find it. Here’s one on the authority of Imam al-Ridha:

قال الإمامُ الرِّضا (عَلَيهِ الّسَلامُ): مَن لَم يَشكُرِ المُنعِمَ مِنَ المَخلوقينَ لَم يَشكُرِ اللّه‏َ عَزَّوجلَّ 
Imam al-Rida (AS) said, ‘Whoever does not thank the one who does him a favor from among Allah’s creatures has not thanked Allah either.’

My second thought when I saw this video was, “she should be thanking Allah like that.” My third thought was, “how do I know that she doesn’t thank Allah like that?” My fourth thought was, “why don’t I thank Allah like that?”

Allah is the ultimate cause of all things. Despite recognizing the innumerable bounties my Lord has bestowed upon me, I find my heart hard and refusing to cry in sincere gratitude to the Lord. Have I really recognized the bounties of my Lord if this recognition is merely in the mind, but not in the heart?

رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ وَعَلَىٰ وَالِدَيَّ وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ وَأَدْخِلْنِي بِرَحْمَتِكَ فِي عِبَادِكَ الصَّالِحِينَ

…”My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to do righteousness of which You approve. And admit me by Your mercy into [the ranks of] Your righteous servants.” (27:19)