(2:60-62) How to Increase your Blessings
The Gratitude Mindset
When Musa sought water for his people, We said, “Strike the rock with your staff,” And twelve springs gushed forth from it. Each group of people came to know their drinking place. “Eat and drink of what Allah has provided, and do not go about the earth spreading disorder.” And when you said, “Musa , we will no longer confine ourselves to a single food: So, pray for us to your Lord that He may bring forth for us of what the earth grows – of its vegetable, its cucumbers, its wheat, its lentils and its onions.” He said, “Do you want to take what is inferior in exchange for what is better? Go down to a town, and you will have what you ask for.” Then they were stamped with disgrace and misery, and they returned with wrath from Allah. That was because they used to deny the signs of Allah, and would slay the prophets unjustly. That was because they disobeyed and transgressed all limits. Surely, those who believed in Allah, and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabians, whosoever believes in Allah and in the Last Day, and does good deeds – all such people will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no reason for them to fear, nor shall they grieve. (2:60-62)
If we were to sum up our human condition on earth, it would be that Allah Almighty continues to provide for us and we continue to grumble and moan.
Acute ingratitude can be viewed under a magnifying glass in the episode of the Israelites who are wandering the desert, parched and desperate. In reality our dependency on Allah Almighty is the same, but most of the time we don’t realise it. As Musa (peace be on him) eloquently put it in another ayah:
‘My Lord! I am truly in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!’ (28:24)
We ourselves have no power to provide even a drop of water, if Allah Almighty does not will it. However because we have running water at our disposal we don’t think twice about it.
Yet we benefit from Allah Almighty’s generosity on a daily basis through the provision that He grants us. His generosity is vast and we see this when Musa (peace be on him) makes du’a for water and Allah responds by providing water – not just a trickle, not even a stream, but in twelve distinct gushing springs. Simultaneously He provided ample water for each tribe and prevented any jealousy or conflict between them, as each one had control over their own supply.
How did Bani Israel respond to this? Not with thanks. Instead we have a complaint about their food. In just two ayahs, Allah Almighty sketches the absurdity of complaining when you have no ability to provide for your needs by yourself, and when you are blessed with heavenly food and miraculous water, finding fault with it.
Multiply Your Blessings
Allah Almighty promises that if we remember to thank Him, He will increase our blessings. So it is in our interests not only to appreciate what we have as He will multiply it, but to recognise which blessings we have been given that we are not utilising in His service. The preservation of Allah Almighty’s favours is always related to thankfulness. To preserve naima (blessings), be grateful. Allah Almighty has provided everyone with valuable gifts – each one of us has a unique set of abilities and we have to reflect upon what we have been given, so we don’t waste this, but put it to a use that pleases Allah Almighty.
The Acceptance of Du’a
We also learn that there is an etiquette required from us when making du’a, or communicating with Allah Almighty and with His prophets. When Musa (Allah be pleased with him) made his du’a it was answered spectacularly. The Israelites would have been expecting rain to quench their thirst. Yet, through completely unexpected means, as if out of nowhere, Allah Almighty provided water from a stone. Allah Almighty poured forth His favours to the one who had complete confidence that He could and would provide for them. The acceptance of du’as is not free of conditions. Though Allah Almighty promises to accept du’as, He expects obedience. He also chooses the time and place of granting them. Therefore we require patience and trust in His wisdom.
By contrast, when Bani Israel pined for the food they used to eat in Egypt, their manner of asking was simply rude. They were demanding and aggressive and passed their demands onto Musa (Allah be pleased with him), as if they had no link to Allah Almighty themselves. They felt they deserved better, that they had the right to demand whatever they wanted. They showed a lack of respect towards their prophet who had looked after their interests against the odds for so long. Their attitude was fundamentally wrong.
Disobedience and Ingratitude
The Qur’an is not talking about a one off incident, but highlighting acts of continuous disobedience. Disobedience is a fatal flaw. Allah Almighty wants us to accept and obey. Treating Allah Almighty’s commands with indifference and irreverence is a serious internal issue. Disobedience ruins one’s faith.
Some people feel numb when they sin and this is what enables them to overstep the limit. Immersing one’s self in disobedience leads to a point of depravity from which return becomes increasingly tough. Disobedience is like being drunk, it emboldens one to break any limit. As that boundary keeps shifting, one may reach a point where one may do anything. And indeed, Bani Israel’s lack of respect for Allah and His prophets ultimately led to certain people among them murdering their own prophets. Of these we know Zakariyya and Yahyah were killed brutally.
Detox the Soul
As long as one keeps turning back and keeps repenting, this detoxes the soul, and can keep one’s imaan intact. Being aware when one has sinned and seeking forgiveness at the beginning and end of day is a good habit to develop. We also have to nip anger in the bud otherwise we could end up spiritually numb.
Bani Israel were punished repeatedly for their attitude and each time Allah Almighty says that the punishment was so that they ‘would give thanks’. Despite all the bitterness, their tests were for the betterment of their people, reforming them to bring them back to Allah Almighty. Just as surgery is painful but brings relief afterwards, we either accept this pain as necessary to bring us a cure, or we don’t benefit from the resulting gain. Yet Bani Israel failed each time to reflect on their sins, to appreciate their blessings and to express gratitude for them. Ultimately they incurred Allah’s wrath and fell out of favour, ‘stamped with disgrace’.
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