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Sūratu’l-Baqarah [The Cow] : (2:158)

Sūratu’l-Baqarah [The Cow] : (2:158)

وَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ شَاكِرٌ عَلِيمٌ

And whoever does a good work voluntarily, surely God is All-Responsive to thankfulness, All-Knowing. (Al-Baqarah 2:158)

مَّا يَفْعَلُ اللَّهُ بِعَذَابِكُمْ إِن شَكَرْتُمْ وَآمَنتُمْ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ شَاكِرًا عَلِيمًا

What should God punish you if you are grateful (to Him) and believe (in Him)? God is Ever-Responsive to gratitude, All-Knowing. (An-Nisa 4:147)

As the two verses display, although God is the One Whom the creatures are grateful (Mashkūr), He mentions Himself here as Shākir (One Who is responsive to the gratitude).my opinion, what is meant here is reciprocity. That is, God Almighty treats His creatures in response to the way they approach Him. And this is a tenet of Divine conduct. This reciprocity is not only seen in gratitude, but it also is seen in various other forms found throughout the Qur’ān and Hadīth. For instance, we can clearly see the Divine reciprocation in kind both in the verse,

“But he who repents after having done wrong, and mends his ways, surely God accepts his repentance” (Al-Māedah 4:39),

and in the hadīth qudsī,

“If My servant approaches Me a hand’s length, I approach him an arm’s length; and if he approaches Me an arm’s length, I approach him a fathom’s length. If My servant approaches Me walking, I approach him running.”(Bukhārī, Tawhīd, 5; Tawbah, 1; Muslim, Dhikr, 2–3, 20–22.)

All these verses and the hadīth qudsī point to and emphasize the necessity of responding to any favor whoever it comes from. As we are reminded by Bediüzzaman Said Nursi in The First Word, in his collection of the Risale-i Nur, we, as human beings, pay the owner or worker of a supermarket in return for the food and other things we buy from him.

Then what do we do for Allāh, Who is the real owner and the creator of all that we consume?

And what is Allāh asking of us in return for them?

Certainly, our response to Allāh’s bounties and favors should be in the way Allāh the Almighty wants and describes.

The same is true for punishment. The following verses provide us examples of such:

“The hypocrites would trick God, whereas it is God who ‘tricks’ them” (An-Nisā’ 4:142).

“They schemed and so did God scheme (put His will into effect and brought their scheme to nothing). God wills what is the best (for the believers) and makes His will prevail” (Āl ‘Imrān 3:54).

Of course, these verses need to be understood in the light of the following verse:

“But an evil scheme overwhelms none but its own authors” (Al-Fātir 35:43).

In fact, God creates the deeds of human beings, whether evil or good, through His favoring of humanity with free will to do good or evil, but He Himself does nothing evil. His creation of people’s evil deeds is one thing, and His not doing anything evil is another.

God Almighty does not leave unanswered the deeds of anyone, neither of those who receive the bounties and become grateful to Him, nor of those who donate in His name, nor of those who act stingily, nor of those who invalidate their donations with self-interests, nor of those who put people under obligation. Those who show gratitude for the bounties they receive and those who donate to others what they receive from the All-Generous God and by doing so follow God’s way of acting, they open the way to receiving more from God and to promotion to the rank of closeness to God. This kind of righteous or productive circle leads to more and more good and beneficence. Finally, those who do so reach the rank of always being with or in the company of God, Who declares concerning them:

“…And My servant continues drawing nearer to Me through supererogatory acts of worship until I love him; and when I love him, I become the ear with which he hears, the eye with which he sees, the hand with which he grasps, and the foot with which he walks.”

This hadīth qudsī means that the servants who lead their lives along the path of spiritual progress through obligatory and supererogatory acts of worship see and hear good things, act in a good way, and make good evaluations, as God Almighty has become their ears, eyes, and their hearts. Without having any wrong points of view and always keeping their true perspective, they learn a lesson of knowledge of God from whatever they see and can turn whatever they have learned into a honey of knowledge of God in their hearts.

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