Some see no reason to celebrate Thanksgiving because they find nothing worth celebrating, especially from the perspective of the people who were living here when America’s original, illegal immigrants, the Pilgrims, arrived. Others find it difficult to be in a festive mood given the state of our country and world today – wars raging in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan; apartheid going unchecked in Palestine; racism resurgent in the United States; rape, murder, domestic violence, child abuse, and countless other crimes and atrocities crowd their way onto the news headlines each day; an uncertain economic future fills many with fear and trepidation while poverty, homelessness, joblessness, and hunger have countless others languishing in economic and social stagnation – some might find it difficult to say that they have anything for which to be thankful.
However, if we take our eyes off of ourselves and the distractions of this seen world focus on Allah (SWT) and the unseen world;
• If we stop looking at the natural and focus on the spiritual.
• If we stop looking at what is happening to us and reflect on what Allah (SWT) is doing for us.
• If we stop thinking about our problems and start thinking about our Provider;
• If we stop focusing on what is going on around us and reflect on the One Who rules over us;
Then we will see that we have many, many things for which to be thankful three of which are plainly provided by Allah (SWT) in the religion, Islam, that He (SWT) has perfected for us (QUR’AN 5:3) and are briefly summarized below.
1. Islam Is The Way Out of Wickedness
And We delivered him and Lot to the land which We had blessed for the worlds. And We gave him Isaac and Jacob in addition, and all [of them] We made righteous. And We made them leaders guiding by Our command. And We inspired to them the doing of good deeds, establishment of prayer, and giving of zakah; and they were worshippers of Us. And to Lot We gave judgment and knowledge, and We saved him from the city that was committing wicked deeds. Indeed, they were a people of evil, defiantly disobedient. – QUR’AN 21:71-74
Just as Allah (SWT) gave Lot judgment and knowledge and saved him from a city that was committing wicked deeds, Allah (SWT) has perfected Islam as a religion for us and given Islam to us so that we, insha’Allah, might learn judgment, acquire knowledge and have Allah (SWT) save us from a world that is committing wicked deeds.
2. Islam Is The Way Through Worldliness
And the worldly life is not but amusement and diversion; but the home of the Hereafter is best for those who fear Allah, so will you not reason? – QUR’AN 6:32
Islam teaches us to place higher priority on the Hereafter than the worldly life of the here and now so that by doing so we can navigate our way through the temporary amusements and diversions of this world and, insha’Allah, enter into the eternal peace and prosperity of the Hereafter.
3. Islam Is The Way Into Righteousness
Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous. – QUR’AN 2:177
Islam empowers us to be patient that Allah (SWT) will deliver us during hardship and thankful for the provision from Allah (SWT) during prosperity so that by persevering with patience and gratitude we remain steadfast in our belief in Allah (SWT); the Last Day (of Judgment); the angels; the Book (Qur’an); the prophets; our obligation to be and our reward for being givers and not takers; the keeping of required prayers and performance of supererogatory prayers; and paying part of our wealth to be used address economic hardship among other Muslims.
So, on next Thursday, when you sit down to dinner and list the things you are thankful for please reflect on these three, that Islam is:
THE WAY OUT OF WICKEDNESS
THE WAY THROUGH WORLDLINESS
THE WAY INTO RIGHTEOUSNESS