Things to Be Thankful For*


As American Muslims there are many things to be thankful for but I would like to particularly mention three main important reasons why we American Muslims must be thankful.

By Imam Shamsi Ali

LAST week America celebrated a day known as Thanksgiving Day. The day is mostly perceived to be a day of family gathering to offer thanks and appreciation for God’s bounties in life. Traditionally it’s celebrated over a meal with turkey on the main menu.

Judging from an Islamic stand point, some Muslims are usually taking extreme views/stands on both sides. Some view Thanksgiving as a practice contradicts which Islamic teachings. Others view it as a part of Islam without any reservation.

For me, both views are extreme and counterproductive to our very reality and existence in America. This will be counterproductive to our existence as American Muslims, particularly to our young generation and also will be counterproductive to the very meaningful value of Islam as universal teaching.

Islam is a religion for all times and places. And it doesn’t come to any place to abolish or even to replace local cultural practices as long as they do not contradict the core principles of the religion. In fact Islam came to affirm those practices which are in line with the teaching or to perfect or complete those of in need of some change.

The Prophet affirms this in his statement: “I am only sent to perfect human character”. And the most important expression of human character is in the form of cultural practices of the people.

Here we can connect Thanksgiving to a very inherent teaching of Islam, namely “shukr” or thankfulness. Islam considers shukr (being thankful) as a fundamental goal of our obedience. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) for instance, when he was asked by his wife about his dedication to prayers and worship, he answered: “Am I not be a thankful person”?

And so rather than accepting it blindly or otherwise rejecting it blindly Islam must take a middle path approach based on its characteristic as a middle path religion (wasatiyah).

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