What Thanksgiving Day Means to Me, a Muslim Woman in America
Commentary by Maimoona Harrington
Gratitude is a core element of my faith that multiplies blessings. Being thankful is step one of realization of your blessings. Once you cross this step, you start the process of sharing these blessings with others.
I celebrated my first Thanksgiving in 2009 after coming to America. I was able to relate to the holiday from the beginning because I found it to be a continuation of my Muslim belief of being grateful.
For example, the Quran says, “We endowed Luqman with wisdom: ‘Be thankful to God: Whoever gives thanks benefits his own soul, and as for those who are thankless — God is sufficient, worthy of all praise.'” (Surah Luqman Quran 31:12)
Growing up, I often heard a phrase from my parents, “Look at those who are below you, not those who are above you and you soon will realize how blessed you are.” Though I was adopted, but was my parent’s only child, I grew up with the best. Yet, still they thought it was important to constantly remind me of my many blessings and always be grateful.
Later in life, I realized it was not a mere phrase or some advice. They were teaching me a methodology on how to live a content and peaceful life. I learned to be grateful and share my gratitude with those around me.
Through my faith, I learned the three levels of gratitude. One can be grateful in their heart by realizing and appreciating all the blessings. Then, utter what’s inside their heart through their tongue. And, lastly, and most importantly, express this gratitude and appreciation by doing righteous deeds.
Being thankful and sharing our gratitude is also deeply rooted in the Quran and the Hadith. The first chapter of the compiled Quran begins with the word “Alhamdullilah” meaning, “praise be to God.” In Islam, “praise be to God” signifies gratitude and thankfulness.
Muslims constantly use the word “Alhamdullilah” in their daily routine. It could be for anything big or small and something as simple as being able to wake up in the morning, being able to breathe and smell and touch.
For example, one of the symptoms of COVID-19 was to lose sense of taste and smell, something we do not realize how blessed we are to have it until we lose it. To be grateful, the reason does not have to be grand. It could be many small things that we take for granted in our daily lives.
Contentment gives man the blessing of a heart at peace.Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Although acknowledging our blessings and being thankful is a continuous process, Thanksgiving Day provides us with an additional opportunity to be grateful in our hearts, through our words and through good deeds.
I know that many in my community do not celebrate Thanksgiving Day in its traditional sense. My humble advice to them is to embrace it by cooking a turkey, making cranberry sauce and baking a pumpkin pie. Open your homes to family, friends and those who are alone on this day. Share your meal and give thanks for your countless blessings.
Alhamdulillah and Happy Thanksgiving Day.
Maimoona Harrington was born and raised in Pakistan moved to the United States with her family in 2008. She is married and a mother of two sons. She has a bachelor’s degree in Islamic studies and sociology from Pakistan and a bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from United States. Along with her career as an interpreter, translator and monitor she is also an Islamic and Pakistani Culture Adviser.
As a practicing Muslim with the extensive world travel and living in the West, she has devoted herself to spread awareness of Islam as a goodwill gesture. In an effort to do this she started writing from her own personal experiences with religion, beliefs and life in a different culture. She also has special interest in all the religions and how and why they are all important to its followers. Her primary focus is on the co-existence and harmony between all human beings. Her message is to spread peace not division. She strongly believes that if you want to be closer to your creator then love His creation unconditionally and expect nothing in return for He loves us unconditionally and forgives us no matter how sinful we are!