“All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the Alamin.” So say Muslims every time they repeat the Fatiheh. The common phrase “Alhamdulillah” means (roughly) “Praise be to God.” Thanksgiving is a major part of a Muslim’s life, or at least it should be. Because if we don’t thank Allah for all that He has given us, including our very lives, then we are missing out on one of the greatest experiences of life.
Thanksgiving is as important as asking for forgiveness, in my opinion. The Qur’an says, “Then, even after that, We pardoned you in order that ye might give thanks.” (2:52) Being forgiven is the greatest gift Allah gives. If we’re not grateful for that, we are sorry Muslims indeed.
Tomorrow the United States celebrates Thanksgiving. Some Muslims will not participate because they mistakenly assume that it is a Christian custom. There is nothing in the Bible that instructs Christians to set up a special day to show their gratitude to God. It is true that there has been some kind of day set aside for thanksgiving since before we even became a nation. But when Abraham Lincoln declared a national holiday for thanksgiving in 1863, he didn’t mean it to be only for Christians. He meant it to be for everyone who lives on American soil.
I’m writing this post at 5:30 in the morning because I had to get up to roast the turkey for a Thanksgiving luncheon we’re having at work today. All of the foreign doctors who study with us are invited. The turkey is halal since most of the doctors are Muslim. We’re concerned that some of them won’t attend because they think it’s a Christian holiday. But if we (Muslims) believe that we worship the same God as Jews and Christians, then we have every right, maybe even a responsibility, to celebrate Thanksgiving. After all, don’t we have things to thank God for, too?
“Therefore remember Me, I will remember you. Give thanks to Me, and reject not Me. ” (2:152) This is one of my favorite verses in the Qur’an. It tells me that giving thanks to God is one way of reminding us that we are His. In a sense, giving thanks is a prayer and certainly should be a part of our regular prayers.
I’m not celebrating Thanksgiving with my family this year because they’re all going to other relatives’ homes to celebrate. So this is the only Thanksgiving I’m going to get to participate in. I’m excited that I will be giving thanks with other Muslims and I pray that Allah will bless our gathering and prepare our hearts to give thanks to Him. Allahu Akbar!