Complains Do Not Negate Gratitude: Counsel From The Quran

Complains and gratitude are not mutually exclusive. You can grieve and complain to Allah, and yet remain grateful. When Prophet Yaqoob lost his 10year old son Yusuf, he was devastated and he cried so much he lost his eye sight. Yet when Allah narrates us the story,  NO WHERE does He mention anything about gratitude. Allah never tells him to be grateful that his other sons are alive. None. In fact, Allah captures his struggle by actually telling us that his grief did in fact affect his health, people around him were uncomfortable with his sorrow so they told him to move on- all things that every single one of us unfortunately have heard or told others. 

In this very famous verse Allah actually glorifies the fact that this prophet did complain. He kept telling Allah about his sorrow UNAPOLOGETICALLY. Unlike us humans, Allah did not guilt trip him into being grateful to supress his emotions. In His immense wisdom Allah never tells us to suppress our emotions because He knows it is not healthy.

What is also remarkable is that Allah revealed this story when His messenger (peace be upon him) needed counsel, when he was goung through the most difficult phase of his life. So basically even to his messenger (peace be upon him) Allah did not condemn his grief or ask him to stop complaining and be grateful. Allah gave both these prophets the time and space to grieve, to mourn. Allah acknowledged their sorrow and if any He actually tells us that through their legacies that we can turn to Him too to complain. Complain with unwavering certainty that Allah will change our condition for the better.


Even in this very famous verse of gratitude if you look at the background, Allah revealed it to the Children of Israel after Pharaoh killed their baby boys. Allah through His messenger Moses consoled them and encouraged them to be grateful. But Allah did NOT negate their grief or ask them to stop complaining. That is not a practice of Allah. He gives us the leeway to be grateful and still lament.

Basically what I am trying to convey is that we shouldn’t be ungrateful. We shouldn’t try to negate the value of what we have. But that does not mean that we settle with our miseries. It does not mean we pretend life is a bed of roses when in reality it might be not. There is a reason Allah says in the Quran “and do not forget your share of the world” (28:77)

So relieve yourself of that burden today. That burden where you are “supposed” to be only grateful and not complain. You can do both. You can complain to Allah, complain like nobody’s business, pour out to Him every bitterness that is there. As long as you are not being ungrateful, as long as you are not dismissing the favors He has done to you, you are good. “Remember Me, I will remember you. Be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.”(2:152). 

If you are still unsure, try it today. I do this experiment with myself. I was at a very bad situation and I complained to Allah a lot, but the whole time I kept an eye on my attitude. I figured that I did not feel “ingratitude”, I did feel grateful for what I have, but the pain of what I dont have, that sense of inadequacy created from that void was unbearable. 

Pain is given to us for a reason, to feel it. Feeling the sense of incompleteness for the things we do not have in life, for our unfulfilled dreams, wishes and desires, its part of our human creation. It is how Allah created us. We cant cloak them up with veils of gratitude and run away from acknowledging those emotions. Gratitude has its own place and so does our want and need for a better life.

That Faith Muscle

So my friend and I were discussing the topic of certainty and belief in the prayers that we make. Discovering that we both suffer from that hollow in the pit of the stomach or the sinking of the heart that is felt when we are to take a leap of faith, was an eye opening experience, much to our chagrin. We both felt it is something we need to help each other with, and I just wanted to share some of the realisations we had in the process.

So let’s start with an example. You are ravenously famished and you still are en route to home from work, so you call home to your mother and ask her to have the food ready. Would it ever occur to you in the fragment of your imagination that your mother might NOT keep the food ready for you? Would you ever have that feeling of “What if I go home and she doesnt make food for me so I have to spend the night hungry?” The thoughts wouldnt even cross your mind. Because you are certain and you have that trust in her that she will.

But unfortunately this equation gets horribly messed up when we are put in a position to place that same unwavering certainty in Allah. No matter how much we know and learn, the human psychology defies them. May be some very highly spiritual scholars have that level of certainty, but I believe I am speaking for the everyday Jane/John Does like you and me. 

So my friend and I have decided to take the following actions and monitor our progress on a weekly basis:

1) We ask Allah to give us our wishes despite our lack of sufficient, unfaltering faith. He is Al Wasie (The all Encompassing)- so His love and generosity encompasses our shortcomings. 

2) Even Prophet Ibrahim asked Allah to fulfil his dua and use that as a means to firm his faith. So realise that weakness of the heart is a human phenomenon which Allah actually acknowledges in the Quran. Allah teaches us from the example of this great Prophet that we can ask Allah to increase our faith by actualising our prayers and desires.

3) Positive affirmations dont work. If any, the closest it can get to is by talking to Allah. Now what to do I mean by that? For eg, you want to be married. So you call upon Al Wali (The Guardian) in a manner where you explain to Him the significance of His name. Its not that Allah doesnt know the significance of that particular name; but it is through explaining to Allah that you basically strengthen your own faith muscle. For eg you tell Allah that ” You are my guardian, so You are responsible for finding a spouse for me. You have assigned Yourself as my guardian so You have to find someone who You trust me with, who will be my guardian in this world. You have to find this person for me because no one else will do a better job than You.”

As you will keep talking like this to Allah you will feel a sense of power inside you- that is the power from having trust on Allah. The power that you are aided, helped, assisted. This will grow your faith muscle. But just like any workout, you got to be diligent and focussed. Its no less than a workout trust me.

4) Make little duas everyday and as they manifest write them down- details of the experience and what you learnt.

I just wanted to say that everything I have written above is from first hand experience. I don’t if these doubts and self talks ever completely go away, but for what its worth, it most definitely gets better and lesser. Take it from someone who was a paranoid in asking something from Allah because of the ill thoughts and expectations, courtesy to the voice of the devil pretending to be God and telling you that you wont get your prayers.

Serendipity:From Snow To Spring of Showers

I started my Serendipity Series towards the end of Winter- in the last remaining days of  snow. Winter is beautiful- or may be this winter I actually was blessed with the ability to actually feel that beauty. This winter came with promises for a life I never knew existed- much to my own surprise, for the better. I learnt to smile this winter, I learnt to be grateful, but most importantly, I learnt one or two things about believing.

Believing- yes. This winter taught me what it means to ” Be Living”, beyond just a set of breathes and days culminating into an abyss of despair. It gave me a purpose, a reason to get up and marvel at the beauty of His Divine Creations. With every flake of snow falling soundlessly, I felt myself slowly changing,evolving and rising. Rising to be the person I never was. This winter taught me strength,and as I spent the long nights marvelling at the magnificent beauty of the moon and the snow, I learnt that the morning was near. The daybreak was nearer than I thought.


As the winter prepared to bid adieus for this season, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of poignancy creep in. To me, this winter was the best thing that happened after what seemed like an eternity. I was scared that perhaps spring will be harsh, despite its lushy green foliages. But winter was loving enough to quelch my fears. As it parted, it left behind for me a gift which forever changed the life I was living. It left behind for me a season full of promises, joy, unprecented amount of gratitude, and faith. 

Yes, winter left behind for me a Spring of Serendipities. Because more often that not, Serendipities Do Happen.


I started my serendipity series when it used to snow. As I continue with my journey and hence this series, its not snowing anymore now.

Its showering. Winter made sure to leave behind a spring of showers for me.



Thank you God.

Efforts Are Basically Placebos


When we pray for something, we are required to take actions as well towards achieving it. There is no free lunch in reality.

But what is important is that we realise that our actions really do NOT generate/ guarantee results. Results come from The All Able, from God. He uses our efforts to manifest results. Remember that time when you had a really horrible exam but your passed with flying colors, and you absolutely have no idea how it happened? Well there is your proof. He excused your poor performace and gave you a better result from Him, as a a token of His love.

So why then, do we need to work? Why can’t God just give us everything like that? Well it is because of our own accountability and ownership. It is for the same reason your parents let you work to earn your tuition for college, albeit they are very much able to afford it. It is to teach us accountability and take ownership of our achievements.

When Maryam (peace be upon her) was in the pain of delivery, she was asked to shake the tree above her so it would shed fruits for her to eat. Imagine how vigoriously could actually shake it? My guess she probably was barely able to touch the huge tree trunk, let alone shake it. But she did whatever she could, and the tree bowed down to reach her. 

So your efforts are subjective at times. Just because you can’t exert as much effort like others does NOT mean your doors to achievements are closed. Sincerity is all that counts. God does not need your efforts to give you. Your efforts are the best you can do in your particular situation, so when you achieve your success, you feel the confidence in seeing the fruits if your labor. It is all for you. 


So stop fretting about not being as good as others. Maryam wasn’t. So the tree came to her. It can come to you too, Because just like her, you too are no prophet.

Everyday believers like you and me are not excluded from the Divine Miracles.

Nostalgia Kills


You miss it. You miss those times. The people, the lanes, the streets- it is as life you lived an eternity among them. It is as if it was a whole different life, a whole different you.

Reminisce it. Soak yourself in the scent of those nostalgic fragrances as you breathe into your pillow, stiffling another sob under those staggering breathes. Allow your heart to swell and burst as it walks down the memory lane of those bittersweet cinnamon memories of the winter mornings.

And what better time to do it than the depths of the night? When the only One who lived through those experiences with you come down in the last third of the night- only for you. To reminisce your journey with you, laugh at your joy, weep for your sorrows, grieve the loss and hope for the future. He wants to walk those ailes with you, know about the taste of those salty cashwes you had, the sweetness of the fruits you got drunk in, the spices of the various colors that gave you ulcers.

He watches you twisting and turning in agony as you silently soak your pillow with another sleepless night. Thats why He comes down everynight and waits for you behind the clouds. To talk to you, to hear from you. 


Stop And Smell The Roses

When the road ahead looks too long, when destination seems like a mirage, then look back.When uncertainty of the future worries you and stillness of the present tires you, look at the past.See how far Allah has brought you. You thought you couldn’t do it, but the days that went by testifies to a different story. You thought you were wading aimlessly in the dark, but He was guiding you at every step.

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He is Al Lateef (The Subtle One). He takes care of you in a manner you don’t even have the ability to fathom. 

When you wander aimlessly in the street, not even aware of dodging a bullet or a car running you over, He is guiding every step that you take. Your guardian angels are always alert at your service, at the commands of your Creator to ensure your safety.Even when you do not care, He does.

Amidst the chaos of life, stop and smell your roses. Breathe into their scent, gaze at their beauty and recall how Allah created them out of nothing,then colored them into beautiful shades of red, blue and black- only for you.Thorns and petals- a rose comes with both.

Your roses.Your blessings.

…and if you were to count the blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Quran (14:34)

One Year Ago, I Made A Choice

Exactly one year ago, I made a choice.

I chose faith, I chose hope, and by leaving the retreating hand I want to grip so much, I chose to hold the One that was extended out to me. The never fail, never go wrong, the Most Trustworthy Handhold as He Himself testifies to – The Invisible Hand of God.

In the days and months that followed I was introduced to the atrocities and viciousness of life, the cruelty of pain, the constant butchering of my heart and eventual demise of every living atom of my body. So much for clinging onto my faith against every odds, hoping that the sun will rise soon.

Instead it set deeper, further abyss into the dark. And with it, it took away the last bit of faith and hope that I had. Or at least I thought I did. With it left every last atom my emotional existence. It left behind a heart void of any human emotions or feelings. Somedays it would hurt so bad that it felt like my heart was being ripped into shreds, and grounded into pulp of flesh by a pack of merciless, preying wolves hungry for a feast. Slowly, in the camouflage of protecting whatever last bit remained of my tender, bruised heart, I resorted to teaching myself to expect the worse. Against every possibility of a good, to expect ten worse outcomes. At least that would save the pain of disappointment.

And thus began my journey of despair. It was cold, vicious, cruel and ruthless. But it was also safe.  Despair is like a cancer. It spreads to every fiber of your being before it  takes over matters of your mind, soul and eventually, the body. It dictates your inner self and feasts off your self-destructive and self-critical thoughts. Its brutality makes it akin to the devil himself. It talks to you pretending to be God, only if I knew better.

Having stumbled into some signs from My Almighty Lord I slowly have started to recover after what seems like eternity. I have started to heal and to take baby steps towards slowly rising again – rising in hope, in love, and perhaps little bit in faith. Daring myself to expect, and expect grand. Expect like nobody’s business.

It sometimes comes easily – good expectations. Certainty that He is sending my sunrise soon. But more often that not, it doesn’t. The level of unwavering faith and certainty doesn’t always come to the point that governs my actions, as opposed to the certainty in negative expectations and hence their dictating of my actions. So I make the choice, continuously and relentlessly, as if my life depends on it. In fact in the ultimate sense of the word, it does. I choose to expect, albeit I fail to do so. I choose to do hope, despite my inability to so. Yes,  I choose to, not because I have to, but because I want to. Because I choose to want to.

Because one year ago, I made a choice.

And I still make it every single day.