The Prophet used to stand (in the prayer) or pray till both his feet or legs swelled. He was asked why (he offered such an unbearable prayer) and he said, “should I not be a thankful slave.”
Thanks or gratitude means reciprocating kindness and giving praise to the one who has done good and kind things. The one who is most deserving of thanks and praise from people is Allaah, may He be glorified and exalted, because of the great favours and blessings that He has bestowed upon His slaves in both spiritual and worldly terms. Allaah has commanded us to give thanks to Him for those blessings, and not to deny them. He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Therefore remember Me (by praying, glorifying). I will remember you, and be grateful to Me (for My countless Favours on you) and never be ungrateful to Me”
The greatest ones who obeyed this command, and gave thanks to their Lord until they deserved to be described as shaakir and shakoor (thankful) are the Prophets and Messengers (blessings and peace of Allaah be upon them).
How can a person thank his Lord for His great blessings? His gratitude should fulfil all the necessary conditions, which are gratitude of the heart, gratitude of the tongue and gratitude of the physical faculties.
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
Gratitude may be in the heart, in submission and humility; on the tongue, in praise and acknowledgement; and in the physical faculties, by means of obedience and submission.
Madaarij al-Saalikeen (2/246)
Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmaan al-Sa’di (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
What man should do is attribute blessings to Allaah and acknowledge them fully. Thus he will attain complete Tawheed. Whoever denies the blessings of Allaah in his heart or on his tongue, is a kaafir and has nothing to do with Islam.
Whoever affirms in his heart that all blessings come from Allaah alone, but verbally he sometimes attributes them to Allaah and sometimes attributes them to himself, or his actions, or the efforts of someone else — as happens on the lips of many people — this is something that the person must repent from, and he should not attribute blessings to anyone except their Creator, and he must strive to make himself do that, because faith and Tawheed cannot be attained except by attributing blessings to Allaah.
The gratitude which is the head of faith is based on three pillars: acknowledgement of the heart of all the blessings that Allaah has bestowed upon him, and upon others, and talking about them; praising Allaah for them; and using them to obey the One Who bestowed the blessings and to worship Him.
Al-Qawl al-Sadeed fi Maqaasid al-Tawheed (p. 140)
Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
Gratitude is of two degrees, one of which is obligatory, which is doing obligatory actions and avoiding haraam things. This is essential and is sufficient as gratitude for these blessings.
Hence one of the salaf said:
Gratitude means giving up sin.
And one of them said:
Gratitude means not using any blessing to help one to disobey Him.
In order to be grateful to your Lord for the blessings that He has bestowed upon you, you must acknowledge in your heart that the giver of these blessings and the bestower is Allaah, may He be exalted, so you venerate Him, attribute it to Him, and you acknowledge that with your tongue, so you give thanks to Him after waking from sleep for having given new life, and after eating and drinking for having provided you with them and bestowed them upon you, and so on with every blessing that you see in your life.
You give thanks with your physical faculties by not letting them see or hear any sin or evil, such as singing or gossip; you do not walk with your feet to haraam places; you do not use your hands to commit evil, such as haraam writing in a relationship with non-mahram women, or writing haraam contracts, or making or doing anything haraam. Giving thanks with the physical faculties for blessings also includes using them to obey Allaah, by reading Qur’aan and books of knowledge, listening to beneficial and useful things, and so on with all the faculties which you should use in various kinds of obedience and worship.
Remember that gratitude for blessings is a blessing which needs to be given thanks for, so that one will continue to enjoy the blessings of his Lord, thanking his Lord for those blessings and praising Him for helping him to be among those who give thanks.
[Taken from IslamQA. Read complete post here.]