[FONT="]بِحَمْدِك [/FONT][FONT="]ذِي[/FONT][FONT="] الْإِكْرَامِ[/FONT][FONT="] مَا [/FONT][FONT="]رُمْت [/FONT][FONT="]أَبْتَدِي ~~~~[/FONT][FONT="][/FONT] [FONT="]كَثِيرًا[/FONT][FONT="] كَمَا[/FONT][FONT="] تَرْضَاهُ[/FONT][FONT="] بِغَيْرِ تَحَدُّدِ [/FONT]<o></o> With Your prolific praise, O Owner of Honour, I desire to begin<o></o> A limitless praise, with which You are Pleased <o></o> The author begins by praising Allah ‘azza wa jall, as He is ought to be praised. <o></o> The Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam would begin his Khutbas by praising Allah. The Quran starts by praising Allah in <st1><st1:city w:st="on">Surat</st1:city></st1> al-Fatiha. Hence, most of the scholars begin their works with Bismillah, and then praising Allah. Allah began the creation with praise, thus He said: ‘Praise be to Allah, who created the heavens and the earth, and made the darknesses and light’ (al-An’am 1) <o></o> Similarly, the end of the world will also be marked with Allah’s praise, as He said: ‘And it will be judged between them in truth, and it will be said: All praise to Allah, the Lord of the worlds’ (al-Zumar 75) <o></o> The Arabic word used for ‘praise’ is al-Hamd, an often repeated word amongst Muslims, for when one is enquired how he is, the usual response is: al-Hamdu liLlah, i.e. Praise be to Allah. <o></o> Al-Hamd refers to the act of praising, just as it refers to the praise itself. Hamid, is the one who praises, while Mahmud is someone praiseworthy. Muhammad, which comes from the same root, refers to someone highly praiseworthy. <o></o> Praising someone means to refer to one’s beloved by mentioning all of his excellent qualities. But one cannot praise his beloved, unless and until one knows those excellent qualities in the object of praise. <o></o> In case of Allah ‘azza wa jall, His excellent qualities and bounties are too numerous, as they are too obvious for anyone to deny or be unmindful of. Hence, one of the names of Allah ‘azza wa jall is: al-Hameed, which refers to the one immensely praised; for Allah, as al-Ghazzali beautifully states, is praised by Himself since eternity, and by His servants to eternity, for His Ibn al-Qayyim says, that a brief look at Surah al-Fatiha shows us how and in what ways Allah is always praised. <o></o> Allah begins the Quran by praising Himself: <o></o> Al-Hamdu li –Llahi Rabbi l-‘Aalameen<o></o> <o></o> ‘Praise be to Allah’ <o></o> Meaning, He is praised due to His quality of Deity and Lordship: ‘… Allah – The Lord of the Worlds.’ <o></o> He is praised due to His quality of Mercy: ‘The Most Merciful – the Most Gracious.’ <o></o> He is praised due to His quality of Sovereignty: ‘Sovereign of the Day of Judgement’ <o></o> Hence, Allah is praised for His Uluhiyya (His right of worship), Rububiyya (His Lordship), Rahmaniyya (His Mercy) and Mulk (His Sovereignty), thus Allah is praised for all of His perfect Attributes and qualities. <o></o> Thanks (Shukr) <o></o> Thanking someone is similar to Praising, yet different. <o></o> Praising is more general in meaning than Thanks, for the latter is usually performed in return for a favour, while the former does not depend on any favour. <o></o> For example: A person may be praised for the good he does to himself. But a person would only be thanked, for the good he does to others, and only by those whom he does the good to. <o></o> Hence, thank is more of an act than a comment, and therefore, every act of thanks is praise, but not every praise is necessarily an act of thanks. This is the main difference between Praise and Thanks. <o></o> Allah ‘azza wa jall is both, praised and thanked. Praised for His exalted Attributes, and thanked for His bounties. <o></o> There are many Ahadeeth concerning the virtue of praising Allah. <o></o> The Prophet SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam said: ‘The speech most beloved to Allah are four’, one of them being: ‘al-Hamdulillah (Muslim) <o></o> The Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam said: ‘Cleanliness is half of faith and Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah) fills the scale’ (Muslim) <o></o> The Prophet’s companion, Rafi’ states: ‘One day we were praying behind the Prophet. When he raised his head from bowing, he said, "Sami'a-l-lahu Liman hamida." A man behind him said, "Rabbana walaka-l hamd hamdan Kathiran taiyiban mubarakan fihi" (O our Lord! All the praises are for You, many good and blessed praises). When the Prophet completed the prayer, he asked, "Who has said these words?" The man replied, "I." The Prophet said, "I saw over thirty angels competing to write it first." Prophet rose (from bowing) and stood straight till all the vertebrae of his spinal column came to a natural position.’ <o></o> The Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam said: ‘Allah is surely pleased with His servant when he eats something, he thanks Allah for it, and when he drinks something, he thanks Allah for it’ (Muslim) <o></o> Ibn Zayd said: ‘There is in every gathering, the one person who thanks Allah ‘azza wa jalla, and thereby, fulfils all of the needs of the members of that gathering’ <o></o> One of the best times of thanking Allah is when one is faced with difficulty and hardship, for thanks to Allah in such a state demonstrates a true servitude to Allah, and happiness with what He has decreed. <o></o> The Prophet SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam said: ‘When a child of a servant of Allah dies, Allah inquires His angels: Have you taken into custody the soul of the child of My servant? They answer: Yes. Then He inquires: Have you taken into custody the soul of the flower of his heart? They answer: Yes. Then He inquires: Then what did My servant say? They answer: He praised Thee and affirmed: To Allah we belong and to Him we shall and return. Thereupon Allah says: Build for My servant a mansion in <st1>Paradise</st1> and name it `The House of Praise.'’ (Hasan, related by al-Tirmidhi and Ahmad) <o></o> Hence, the 8<sup>th</sup> Islamic century scholar, Ibn Taymiyya, would begin his letters from prison by praising Allah and thanking Him for his imprisonment, regarding it to be a great source of blessing from Allah. This attitude is indicative of one’s strong, noble and unbreakable character, with unshakable morale. <o></o> Can one ever thank Allah enough?<o></o> <o></o> This question arises when one contemplates on one hand, the obligation of thanking Allah, and on the other hand, one’s lack of ability to thank Him enough. <o></o> Al-Fudhayl b. ‘Iyadh said: ‘Whoever recognises the bounties of Allah from His heart, and thereupon thanks Allah with his tongue, he would not finish thanking Allah, except that he sees more (of Allah’s bounties), for Allah ta’ala said: ‘If you be thankful, We will increase you (in bounty)’ (Ibrahim 7) <o></o> Imam Ahmad reports in his book Kitab al-Zuhd from al-Hasan that he said: Dawud said: ‘O my God, if every hair of mine had two tongues glorifying you night and day at all times, I would not have returned the favour of even one bounty’ <o></o> Imam Ahmad also reports in the same book from al-Mughira b. Utba: When Allah revealed unto Dawud His statement: "Work O sons of Dawud with thanks! But few of My servants are grateful!", he said: ‘How can I be able to thank You? For You grant me Your bounties, then enable me to thank You for those bounties, due to which you grant me further bounties upon bounties?! All bounties are from You, O Lord! How can I be able to thank You?’ Allah replied: ‘Now, O Dawud, you have recognised me!’ (Kitab al-Zuhd p. 60) <o></o> Al-Saffarini comments on this: ‘Thus, a servant can never be satisfied with thanking Allah enough for the most insignificant of His bounties, except by acknowledging his inability to thank Him enough!’ <o></o> How to Praise and Thank Allah<o></o> <o></o> Allah is praised and thank in four ways: <o></o> 1) By acknowledging His right of Worship, Lordship, and His lofty Names and Attributes, as well as all the bounties He has bestowed us with. <o></o> 2) By verbally thanking and praising Him. For example: al-Hamdulillah <o></o> 3) By loving Him, longing to see Him, fearing His punishment and hoping for His reward. <o></o> 4) By acting in accordance with His commands, only to seek His pleasure. <o></o> One of the best ways of showing gratitude to Allah is by placing all one has been given by Allah in His service, to fulfil his/her role as a true servant of Allah. <o></o> If one has been bestowed with wealth, he should thank Allah by spending it on the needy and Islamic projects <o></o> If one has been bestowed with strength, he should thank Allah by using it in His cause. <o></o> If one has been bestowed with knowledge, he should thank Allah by educating others with that knowledge. <o></o> If one ponders over this, it becomes clear that a Muslim’s entire life, is in fact an act of Hamd and Shukr to Allah, ‘azza wa jall.