Clarifying Hamd & Shukr
By Lateefah Binuyo
What is Hamd (Praise) & Shukr (Being Grateful)?
Hamd is praising and glorifying Allah SWT because of the beauty of His Attributes and Actions with the utmost perfection, i.e. the way that has been legislated by Allah and His Messengers.
Shukr is recognising the favour of Allah and announcing it; affirming the favours of Allah on us by honouring Him; praising Him by doing what He has obligated in the matter of obedience and leaving what He has forbidden.
Differences between Hamd & Shukr
Hamd is more general and it is the praising of Allah because He is worthy of praise because of His Unique and perfect attributes and because He has obligated us to praise Him. Shukr, on the other hand, is specific to praising Allah after He has granted us some favour.
Hamd and Shukr in their absolute sense are only for Allah
Everything is through the Mercy of Allah. That is why it is not allowed to praise anybody else the way we praise Him. So, if we praise anyone, we praise that person because Allah has blessed us with the bounty through that person.
Equally we should not praise ourselves if we do any act of righteous deeds. However, it is okay if we are overwhelmed with feelings of happiness or joy resulting from obedience to Allah. Almighty Allah commanded us to rejoice over such things:
“Say: “In the Bounty of Allah, and in His Mercy (i.e. Islam and the Qur’an); therein let them rejoice.” (Surah Yunus:58).
The reality of being a believer is that Allah is our Creator and we are His servants. Being pleased and grateful for the provisions of Allah is a manifest demonstration of our belief. It is required by the Shari’ah that every creature praise Allah and even more so for the believer. Allah orders us in the Qur’an:
“And say, “All the praises and thanks to Allah, Who has not begotten a son and Who has no partner in His Dominion, nor is He low to have a Wali (helper, protector or supporter), And magnify Him with all magnificence” (Surah Isra’: 111)
We do not need to look around us to appreciate how great Allah’s mercies and bounties are, all we have to do is look at ourselves. He has created us, given us unlimited use of our limbs, eyes, ears, strength to do our day to day activities, bounties upon bounties. Above all, He has given us the greatest gift of all: Islam. The successful believers would testify to this in Jannah (paradise) saying, “All praises and thanks be to Allah, who has guided us to this, and never could we have found Guidance, were it not that Allah guided us! (Surah Araf:43)
How do we praise Allah?
The best statement concerning Hamd is “Alhamdulillahi Rab-il-alamin” (All the praises and thanks be to Allah-Lord of the mankind, Jinn and all that exists) because it is the statement with which Allah’s Book begins with.
The Prophet (SAW) once said to Abu Sa’id bin Al-Mu’alla:……“I will teach you a Surah which is the greatest Surah in the Quran and he said, “Alhamdulillah Rab-il-alamin”, Surah Al-Fatiha which is As-Sab Al Mathani (i.e. the seven repeatedly recited verses)…” (Sahih Bukhari)
What are the Benefits?
The most privileged du’a is ‘Alhamdulillah’ and the rewards that come with praising Allah and being grateful to Him are numerous.
The Prophet (SAW) said: “Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah) fills the scales, and “SubhanAllah” (How far is Allah from every imperfection) fills that which is between heaven and earth…." (Muslim)
“Whoever glorifies Allah (SubhanAllah) after every prayer thirty three times, praises Allah (Alhamdulillah) thirty three times and magnifies Allah (Allahu Akbar) thirty three times, them completes it by saying ‘La ilaha illallahu wahdahu la sharika lah, lahul-mulk wa lahul-hamd, wa huwa ‘ala kulli shayin qadir’, his sins will be forgiven, even if they were like the foam of the sea (Muslim)
We truly do not need any excuse to be grateful and thankful to Allah! But if we feel we do, what more incentive do we need when Allah says: “If you give thanks, I will give you more…” (Surah Ibrahim: 7)
· It is compulsory (Wajib) in Salah. The prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) says “whoever does not recite Surah Fatiha in his Prayer, his prayer is invalid” (Sahih Bukhari)
· It is Sunnah in all kinds of Khutbah (nikkah, jumah etc) and the following:
· beginning and ending du’a,
· before and after eating,
· after sneezing,
· When looking at the mirror,
· When someone sees something he likes or dislikes.
· It is disliked in unclean places e.g. bathroom
· Being thankful is part of our duty towards Allah
· Just praising Allah is the greatest of du’a
· Shukr is a matter for the heart (loving Allah), tongue (glorifying Allah) and limbs (obeying Allah)
· Being patient during calamity is a form of shukr
· Being content when deprived of something is another form of shukr
· Doing the things that Allah loves and keeping away from what He dislikes is a form of Shukr
This article was published in the second issue of SISTERS.
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