4th Thursday of November is the traditional Thanksgiving Day in America- a tradition that is centuries old, celebrating the day Americans fed the undocumented aliens from Europe! The first official Thanksgiving is believed to be celebrated after the harvest in Plymouth, New England in 1621 by the pilgrims. Even prior to that, it was customary for many of the pilgrims to give thanks, mostly after the harvest in the autumn.
However, more recently people have pointed, correctly, the atrocities, and frank genocide of the native Americans and many native Americans do not celebrate Thanksgiving, instead referring it to a day of massacre. Many non-native American, are also starting to join them in this regard and support their views on this Day.
The ethnic cleansing notwithstanding, Thanksgiving has become one of the most widely celebrated family holiday in America, marked by family get togethers and traditional meals that includes turkey, meshed potatoes, and pumpkin pie among other items.
Thanksgiving has become a secular celebration though it does have religious roots, when gratitude was expressed to the Almighty God for the successful harvest.
For Muslims, giving thanks to God is part and parcel of their belief system. In that regard, Thanksgiving is very Islamic. From a Muslim perspective, every day is a thanksgiving day, every hour is a thanksgiving hour. The Qur’an is full of reminders for the all the bounties endowed by Allah to all of us- believers or non beliebers. He is known as Rabb- (often wrongly translated as LORD) , which implies the ultimate sustainer, nourisher. The opening chapter of the Qur’an says God is the Rabb of all the worlds- not just Muslims or other believers, but for non believers and all creatures.
The Holy Qur’an repeatedly asks the followers to be thankful to God and remember His bounties. Prophet Muhammad asked his followers to be thankful to others. Surah Rahmaan (The Beneficent), chapter 55 of the Qur’an, is a perfect example where God repeatedly reminds us of all the bounties, and then asks us this question in a verse that repeats over and over:
Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?
The following verse links the faith (‘Imaan”) with gratefulness, and ungratefulness with a state of unbelief.
Then remember Me and I will remember you. Be thankful to Me and do not reject the Faith and I will bless you. The Qur’an 2:152
And this verse pretty much sums it up.
And if you would count Allah’s favors, you will not be able to enumerate them; most surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. The Qur’an 16:18
In fact Thankfulness to God is one of the purposes of our creation.
And God brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers knowing nothing, and gave you hearing and sight and hearts that haply you might give thanks (to God). The Qur’an 16:78
For Allah is full of bounty to mankind, but Most of them are ungrateful. The Qur’an 2:243
In a set of verses that may most closely reflect the spirit of thanksgiving, we are reminded of the bounty that is in the harvest.
A Sign for them is the earth that is dead: We do give it life, and produce grain therefrom, of which ye do eat.And We produce therein orchard with date-palms and vines, and We cause springs to gush forth therein. That they may eat of the fruit thereof, and their hands did not make it; will they not then be grateful? The Qur’an 36:33-35
Thanksgiving in the Bible:
Thankfulness to God is an oft-repeated theme in the Old- and the New Testaments.
Give thanks to the God of heaven, For His loving kindness (graciousness, mercy, compassion) endures forever. Palms 136:26
Give thanks to Adonai; for he is good, for his grace continues forever. Psalm 107:1
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:8-9
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34
What am I thankful for?
I give my thanks to the Almighty for all His bounties- even though like the verse quoted above, I will never be able to enumerate them.
I give thanks for my health.
I give thanks for my parents.
I give thanks for my wife and children.
I give thanks to my extended family.
I give thanks to my friends.
I give thanks for peace in my neighborhood, realizing not everyone is so fortunate.
I give thank for all the Rizq– the sustenance.
Yes, I give thanks for my two beautiful and loving cats!
I give thanks for putting in a position to be of help to others.
I give thanks for being a believer.
I give thanks for things that I am not even aware of.
All the while keeping in mind the native Americans and their sufferings. Also keeping in mind all others who are not as fortunate as us.
What are you thankful for?