Allah Taala says:
Rasulullah (saws) said: “If happiness reaches him (the believer), he is grateful.”
THE NATURE OF SHUKR
Accepting that all benefit is from the True Benefactor (Mun’im Haqeeqi), the effect of which is to be happy with the Benefactor and be ever ready to render obedience to Him, is the meaning of Shukr.
The meaning of Shukr envisages:
Acceptance of the fact that all benefit is from Allah, the True Benefactor (Mun’im Haqeeqi). This acceptance induces:
1. Happiness with the Benefactor.
2. Eagerness to execute the commands of the Benefactor and to abstain from his prohibitions. One should consider all benefit, goodness and pleasant conditions as the bounties of Allah and regard these to be in greater measure than what one really deserves. Praise is to be offered to Allah and His bounties should not be employed in evil and sin. His favours should be used in obtaining His Pleasure. This is the true meaning of Shukr.
This conception of Shukr will be comprehended only when one has realized the purpose underlying creation and the functions of the various aspects of creation. For instance, the eye is a ni’mat of Allah Ta’ala. Its shukr is to employ it correctly–to employ it in only lawful avenues, e.g. making tilaawat of the Qur’aan Majeed, acquiring knowledge, studying the wonderful creation of Allah so as to gain lesson and realize the greatness and splendour of Allah Ta’ala, etc. The shukr of the eye further demands that it be restrained from glancing at and viewing objects which Allah Ta’ala has prohibited. Similarly, the ear is a ni’mat. Its shukr is to employ It correctly, e.g. in listening to the thikr of Allah, to such talks which remind one of the Aakhirat, and to prevent it from listening to evil, nonsensical and futile talk.
The tongue is a ni’mat. Its shukr is to employ it in thikr, in expressing hamd, thanaa and shukr of Allah, and to restrain it from complaining in adversity and from all evil generally. It is highly inappropriate and sinful for such a worthless slave as man to complain about any condition which Allah Ta’ala, the True King, has imposed on him. A word of shukr emanating from the tongue is recorded as an act of obedience.
Mere expression of shukr with the tongue unaccompanied by the true state of shukr of the heart is only lip-service. It is essential that along with verbal expression of shukr, the heart should value and honour the ni’mat of The Benefactor. Mere verbal shukr will be like the outer-casing, like the outer-covering which is its external form. The rooh (soul and essence) of shukr is that the honour and appreciation of the Mun’im (Benefactor) and the ni’mat (the bounty) are ingrained in the heart.
The initial stage of shukr is at the intellectual level. In other words, it is the correct understanding of the true meaning of shukr and the realization of the honour of the Benefactor. The final stage of shukr is the manifestation of its effect on one’s body, movements and all states. In short, all the beliefs, acts of worship, mundane acts, moral and social life of the shaakir (the one who is truly grateful to Allah) will be in conformity with the Shariat.
Shukr is acquired by contemplating the bounties of Allah Ta’ala. Every ni’mat is to be related to Him. By degrees such meditation will imbue the Love of Allah in the heart, the result of which will be the attainment of the perfect stage of Shukr.