Names of Allah Series: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX | Part XXI
“Whosoever relieves from a believer some grief pertaining to this world, Allah will relieve from him some grief pertaining to the Hereafter. Whosoever alleviates the difficulties of a needy person who cannot pay his debt, Allah will alleviate his difficulties in both this world and the Hereafter. Whosoever conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah will conceal his faults in this world and the Hereafter. Allah will aid a servant (of His) so long as the servant aids his brother.” [Muslim]
Reading this hadith (saying of the Prophet ﷺ) always humbles me. We are given so much for doing things that we should be doing anyway, at the very least out of thanks because of all that we have been given. When we think of the concept of appreciation, what should immediately come to mind is that we should be appreciative and grateful for the blessings that Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) has bestowed upon us—everything from the material, to our friends and family, to the spiritual.
But do we realize that Allah has given Himself the Name ash-Shakoor?
Shukr is defined as recognizing and appreciating when good is done. Shakoor in Arabic is also used to describe an animal that is given little food but gives back much. So it revolves around receiving something, even if small, and giving back much because of it.
Allah is ash-Shakoor, which we will translate here as the Most Appreciative. Al-Ghazali tells us that ash-Shakoor is “the one who rewards the practice of a few pious deeds many-fold, and in response to the action of a few days, gives limitless happiness in the life to come. The one who rewards a good deed many-fold is said to be grateful for that deed, while whoever commends the one who does a good deed is also said to be grateful. Yet if you consider the multiplication factor in reward, only God—great and glorious—is absolutely grateful because His multiplication of the reward is unrestricted and unlimited; for there is no end to the happiness of Paradise.”
Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:
لِيُوَفِّيَهُمْ أُجُورَهُمْ وَيَزِيدَهُم مِّن فَضْلِهِ إِنَّهُ غَفُورٌ شَكُورٌ
“That He may give them in full their rewards and increase for them of His bounty. Indeed, He is Forgiving and Appreciative.” (Qur’an, 35:30)
We might think—what does Allah have to be appreciative for? Everything we have is from Him anyway! But that is why He, the Most High, is ash-Shakoor: The Most-Appreciative. In this form, it means He appreciates the smallest of deeds, He appreciates the deeds all the time, and His appreciation is unlimited.
وَمَنْ يَقْتَرِفْ حَسَنَةً نَزِدْ لَهُ فِيهَا حُسْنًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ شَكُورٌ
“…And whoever commits a good deed — We will increase for him good therein. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Appreciative.” (Qur’an, 42:23)
The Prophet ﷺ urged us to do good deeds no matter how small, as he said that we should protect ourselves from the Fire by giving even half of a date in charity [Bukhari]. Now imagine if you give even more?
This is why the Prophet ﷺ reminds us, “Do not belittle any good deed, even meeting your brother with a cheerful face,” [Muslim]. Allah appreciates the deeds that are done to all creatures, not simply humans. The Prophet ﷺ narrates to us a story of a man who was extremely thirsty, and found a well, which he climbed down to fetch water to quench his thirst. He then saw a dog which was panting out of thirst. Recognizing that the dog felt the exact same thing he was a few minutes ago, he climbed back down the well in order to give the dog some water. Allah appreciated his action (fashakara Allahu lahu) and forgave his sins [Bukhari and Muslim].
Simple acts like glorifying Allah (saying subhan’Allah – glory be to God) 100 times grants you 1000 good deeds.
Allah (swt) even appreciates our intention. The Prophet ﷺ describes two men: one man whom Allah has bestowed upon wealth and knowledge, and he acts upon that knowledge and gives from his wealth; and another man whom Allah has given knowledge but no wealth, and that man says, “If I had the wealth he had, I would do the same”. The Prophet ﷺ said “And they are rewarded the same”. [Ibn Majah]
Go out of your way to help someone, not expecting anything in return, and someone along the road will do that for you as a reward from Allah (swt). I remember someone telling my father and me about a time he was severely in debt. Only halfway through the month he was counting the little money that he had, not sure how he would feed his family for the next few weeks. He told us that as he was thinking about what he should do, a man who had borrowed money from him 10 years ago when he was a student called him and said he had the money to pay him back. Nothing we ever do is lost. Allah (swt) kept that money for him for when he needed it the most. And this man, may Allah bless him, had a habit of never asking for money back when he loaned it to people. It worked to his detriment sometimes, but Allah (swt) appreciated his selfless deed and returned the money to him when it was worth so much more. The Prophet ﷺ exemplified this and always gave people, so much that a Bedouin exclaimed, “O my people! Embrace Islam, for Muhammad gives away like the one who does not fear poverty.” [Muslim]
Other names of Allah relating to Ash-Shakoor
The Qur’an is a book full of virtues and benefits. At the end of certain ayat (verses), Allah pairs two of His Names together – “Al-’aleem al-Hakeem (the All-knowing, the Wise),” for example. This is not random or by accident. Allah shows us the relationship between the two attributes. With ash-Shakoor this is particularly amazing. Amr Khaled explained the relationship between ash-Shakoor and the other Names it is paired with in the Qur’an:
When it comes to doing good, some of us are hesitant. ‘I am such a sinner!’ We may think, ‘Will Allah really appreciate the pathetic deeds that I do when I commit such horribly bad deeds?’ Allah (swt) says, “Surely our Lord is indeed Ever-Forgiving, Appreciative”(Qur’an, 35:34), and “He is most forgiving, most appreciative.” (Qur’an, 35:30). This gives us the reassurance that even if we commit sinful deeds, we can return to Allah and He will, insha’Allah (God willing) forgive us, while rewarding us for the good.
Secondly, many of us crave recognition. We do good in secret and a part of us wishes that the person we have done good for knows. Or at other times, we may intend to do something good but everything goes wrong—and no one knew that your intention was to do good. To this effect, Allah (swt) tells us, “And ever is Allah Appreciative and Knowing,” (Qur’an, 4:147). Allah (swt) rewards and appreciates the things that people may overlook.
Remember that with Allah (swt) the cycle is never ending. When we deal with human beings, you could give them a gift and they respond with a thanks or a gift in return, but it ends there. With Allah (swt), He tells us that when we thank, He gives us more. So it is a cycle of increase and encouragement for you to be grateful and constantly doing good.
Being aware of ash-Shakoor
Awareness of ash-Shakoor should inspire in us the following things:
- Give as much as you can, be there for people and help where you can. Treat people as you like Allah (swt) to treat you. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Walking with a brother in order to fulfill his needs is better for me than fasting and remaining in devotional seclusion in my mosque for a whole month.” [Tabarani] Allah rewards for the tiniest things we do, so imagine if we start doing great things?
- Worship Allah (swt) in the best way that you can. Try to improve the devotion in your prayers, reflect over the Qur’an, fast voluntarily if you can—you will see the effect both in this life and the next insha’Allah! Also, adding a small amount that is continuous is better that doing so much and then burning out, so remember to do what you can bear.
- Sometimes Allah (swt) postpones the signs of His appreciation – and this is to build sincerity. Are you going to give up because you don’t see the immediate fruits? Do it for Allah (swt), because you know He is ash-Shakoor in this life and the next, and ask Him to grant you beautiful patience. Remember that the Prophet ﷺ was kind and forbearing and was not treated with the same in Makkah, but Allah (swt) gave him great companions and finally refuge in Madina.
- Appreciate people. The Prophet ﷺ taught us that “The one who does not thank people had not thanked God.” [Abu Dawud]
- Finally, be grateful for what you have been given by Allah (swt). Al-Ghazali states, “The best way of manifesting thankfulness for the blessings of God Most High is to make use of these blessings in obeying, and not disobeying, Him.”
Allah (swt) says:
“Is the reward for good [anything] but good?
May Allah enable us to be thankful and appreciative servants of the Most-Appreciative.