Read this ayah here and ask yourself how you have seen this manifest in your own life:
إِلَّا رَحْمَةً مِّن رَّبِّكَ ۚ إِنَّ فَضْلَهُۥ كَانَ عَلَيْكَ كَبِيرًا
“If it were not for your Lord’s mercy. His favor on you has been truly great.” (Surat Al-Isra’, 87)
More than a decade ago, I was in Egypt and we were visiting one of my uncles. I sat with one of my aunts who had just recently been discharged from the hospital. She told me that she had had a bad abdominal infection and had needed surgery. After the surgery, she had been given a colostomy bag.
If you are not familiar, a colostomy is a surgery in which an opening is made from the colon out through the abdomen. This hole (or stoma) allows stools to pass out through the abdomen instead of passing through the bowels and rectum as usual. As a result, the patient wears a colostomy bag to protect their stoma and collect stool.
My relative spoke quietly but intensely of her ordeal, and the difficulty of having this bag attached to the body at all times. She told me something I still remember to this day:
“Sometimes, we don’t ever think of the blessings of Allah until something like this happens to us and wakes us up. I never, ever thought to be grateful to Allah for my body’s ability to pass stools normally on the toilet, instead of through an opening in my belly into a bag. Allah’s gifts to us are so uncountable. We see the big things but not these seemingly little things. But when these “little” things go wrong or stop working, it’s only *then* that you finally see them and recognize them as huge favors.“
Each of us can think of countless examples of the fadl (favor, bounty, grace) of Allah on us. As Muslims, we know that we are to be grateful to Allah and have an attitude of shukr.
But, what level of shukr are we talking? Just how grateful should we be?
Most people tend to think of the favor of Allah on them in terms of positive things: Allah gave me good health, Allah gave me children, Allah gave me intelligence, etc. These are all the things I have.
But most fail to recognize the vast multitude of favors of Allah that are negative: Allah did not allow me to be homeless, Allah saved me from war, Allah did not make me blind, etc. These are the things I don’t have.
We have so much to thank Allah for, for the things He has given us and the things He has not given us. We may think that we are thanking Allah for most of His favors, that we are thankful and very cognizant of His bounties in our life.
But we don’t even know what we don’t know. All the difficult things that have not happened to us are favors. But we don’t know about them because they haven’t happened and we are not perceptive enough to recognize their existence. Every crisis averted, every disease we don’t have, every instance of pain we don’t feel.
The reality is: everything about our body, our mind, our life is a massive miracle and a vast blessing from Allah on us. Everything. Including our body’s ability to function and to pass stools normally.
I am reminded of this ayah in Surat Ibrahim:
وَءَاتَىٰكُم مِّن كُلِّ مَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُ ۚ وَإِن تَعُدُّوا۟ نِعْمَتَ ٱللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَآ ۗ إِنَّ ٱلْإِنسَـٰنَ لَظَلُومٌ كَفَّارٌ
“And He gave you from all you asked of Him. And if you should count the favor [i.e., blessings] of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful.” (Surat Ibrahim, 34)
Indeed, the fadl of our Lord on us has ever been great.
May Allah allow us to be deeply, deeply grateful to Him and thank Him for His unfathomable fadl on us.