Editor: Thanksgiving is a day where families and friends come together to celebrate the blessings received during the past year. The origins of this holiday revert to 1621 where a celebration (now known as Thanksgiving Day) of a successful autumn harvest was held by the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians in North America. In 1863, amid the civil war, President Abraham Lincoln announced a national holiday to be held each November. Thanksgiving is a celebration that has a very similar idea to what Muslims practice on a daily basis.
The two concepts of being appreciative to God for all His blessings He has bestowed upon us and expressing gratefulness to the people for what they did for us in the past are highly encouraged in Islam. During Thanksgiving, family and friends gather together to celebrate this holiday. Family gatherings are encouraged in Islam, as the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) once said, “I command all the people of my followers, whether present or not, and those generations which are to come … to maintain family kinship even if they live at a distance of a year’s journey.” The family is an enormous and precious blessing from God, and we should be grateful for it.
Thanksgiving is a day of helping the needy as an approach to express gratefulness to God. Individuals give charity and show various acts of kindness. This is a very highlighted and stressed concept in Islam, seen through numerous ideas and teachings. In Islam Zakat (charity) is the obligatory act of giving alms to the poor and needy. It is one of the five pillars of Islam. This is a beautiful act that reminds Muslims to help those in need and remember that everything we obtain belongs to God. Giving alms keeps individuals free from excessive desire and greed and teaches us the value of self-discipline and honesty.
As this holiday should be praised and is a wonderful celebration, it is merely just a reminder for Muslims. The Qur’an teaches us always to be thankful to God for all the blessings He has bestowed upon us in every single moment of our day. Muslims should always be grateful regardless of how little, God has given us. Although it is easy to complain about various thingswe should keep in mind of all the things we have been blessed with and how they outweigh the negative aspects of our lives.
Giving thanks is itself a blessing that God bestows upon the ones who believe in Him. The more thankful we are, the more blessed we will be in our everyday lives. Therefore, God says: “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]” (14:7). For Muslims, Thanksgiving is not a once in a year holiday, rather the concepts of the holiday are meant to be practiced every moment of every day.
Minahil Asif, Ashburn