The link between ingratitude and the decline of favours

The link between ingratitude and the decline of favours

Dua to be saved from the loss of favours

Abdullah bin ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) reported:

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ قَالَ كَانَ مِنْ دُعَاءِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ

 اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ زَوَالِ نِعْمَتِكَ وَتَحَوُّلِ عَافِيَتِكَ وَفُجَاءَةِ نِقْمَتِكَ وَجَمِيعِ سَخَطِكَ

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to supplicate thus:

O Allah! I seek refuge in You from the demise of Your favours, transforming of Your favour of well-being, the suddenness of Your punishment and all that displeases You. [Imam Muslim]

This is one of the comprehensive supplications of the Prophet (peace be upon him), who had the gift of succinct yet comprehensive speech.

The inward and outward favours of Allah

In this supplication he asked Allah Almighty to protect him from the demise of the favours, which is very common in life. On a daily basis we take our favours for granted. One of the most basic favours is that we can breathe normally. This is a favour that could be taken away in an instant. Another favour is the ability to be able to open our eyes and see; to move our hand; to be able to catch and throw, to stand up and to walk. Usually we do not appreciate these favours unless there is an impediment to them or we lose them.

Allah Almighty stated in the Quran:

 ‘He enveloped you with His favours outward favours and the inward favours’. [31:20]

In another ayah Allah Almighty said:

‘If you were to count the favours of Allah, you won’t be able to do so.’ [16:18]

“And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them.” [Ibrahim 14:34]

Even if you were able to count the favours you can see, there are yet many more favours which you cannot. We are not aware of these favours.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us through this supplication what to ask for because in fact this supplication did not apply to him, as Allah would not take away the favours of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and Allah Almighty would not be angry with him, or punish him, as he was the Chosen one and he was, as all prophets and messengers, protected from sinning and disobedience to Allah Almighty.

Another aspect of this supplication is to demonstrate humility – it was an expression of the Prophet’s need for Allah’s favours, and our need is even greater. So we need to supplicate to Allah, ask Allah for His favours not to be removed and to remain mindful of Him and His favours, Allah Almighty.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) sought refuge in Allah from something he was afraid of. When you fear something, you beg Allah to protect you from it. Here the fear is the loss of favour (nikmah which is the singular of na’im) – meaning all favours. These favours are inward as well as outward, related to this life as well as the Hereafter.

Being protected from sinning is a favour

One of these favours is to be kept away from sins, because sinning is a cause for losing favours. Allah Almighty mentioned in Surah Shuara:

وَمَآ أَصَٰبَكُم مِّن مُّصِيبَةٖ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتۡ أَيۡدِيكُمۡ وَيَعۡفُواْ عَن كَثِيرٖ

And whatever strikes you of disaster – it is for what your hands have earned; but He pardons much. [42:30]

Losing favours because of our bad actions

Allah is saying clearly that these calamities which strike are because of what we have done. Thus our actions cause us to lose these favours.

ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَمْ يَكُ مُغَيِّرًۭا نِّعْمَةً أَنْعَمَهَا عَلَىٰ قَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا۟ مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ ۙ وَأَنَّ ٱللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌۭ ٥٣

All this is because Allah is not the one who may change a favour He has conferred on a people unless they change their own condition, and that Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. [8:53]

Allah Almighty connected the demise of the favour with our actions, not arbitrarily but because of something we did that earned the wrath and punishment of Allah Almighty – ‘because of what you have earned.’ This means that we are accountable for every action, as each action either contributes towards goodness and then Allah will multiply it for you or an action might contribute to evil incurring the punishment of Allah Almighty and one of these ways of punishing people can be that Allah takes away the favour which He had given to them.

It’s a lesson for us and a wake-up call, and as stated by Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (peace be upon him) kept repeating this supplication, it was not a one off.

In the hadith as well, the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned that if the fruits of the action were good then they would be rewarded but if they were bad they would be punished. In the hadith the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘People will be rewarded for their actions, if it’s good they will be rewarded with goodness, if it’s bad then they will be punished for that.’ It’s as simple as that.

Also in the Quran, Allah Almighty stated:

‘So whoever has done an atom of goodness, he will be rewarded and the person who has done an atom of evil, he will be punished for that.’ [99:7-8]

Sometimes we do not recognise a favour until we lose it.

Dua to keep favours

This is why in the dua, which is not a hadith, but it’s a beautiful dua:

‘O Allah make us appreciate Your favours by keeping the favours amongst us and do not make us appreciate Your favours when You take it from us.’ [Muslim]

Many of us will recognise the favour when we lose it but we should be awake before that u should recognise the favours of Allah before that.

How do we protect our favours?

Allah made it clear in the Quran,

وَإِذۡ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمۡ لَئِن شَكَرۡتُمۡ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمۡۖ وَلَئِن كَفَرۡتُمۡ إِنَّ عَذَابِي لَشَدِيدٞ

If you were to be grateful, I will increase i.e. my favours on you. [14:7]

There is a direct correlation between showing gratitude and receiving favours. Imam Qushayri mentioned that Allah Almighty created for our ears, eyes and hearts yet we do not show gratitude. ‘Showing gratitude to Allah’ means using these faculties, which Allah created for us in doing what pleases Him.

Therefore gratitude to Allah means using ears to hear the revelation, using eyes to look at the wonders of Allah and the creation of Allah and the signs of Allah that brings us closer to Him and allowing  our heart to recognise the attributes of Allah and be closer to Him and not to associate anyone with Allah Almighty.

How to show gratitude

Showing gratitude to Allah Almighty means demonstrating it in our actions, not just verbally. Expressing gratitude is important but more important is action. So saying alhamdullilah, shukurillah is good but utilising what you have been given by Allah in what pleases Him is far better.

We week refuge in Allah Almighty from the loss of His favours – inward, outward, in dunya and akhirah. And for Him to keep us away from sins because sins are the cause of losing Allah’s favours.


There are two words used in this supplication, the first is zawali for loss or demise then tahwali for ‘transforming’ well-being meaning replacing good health with illness. Well-being is one of the great favours – afiyah.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) continuously asked Allah Almighty for wellbeing:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ الْعَفْوَ وَالْعَافِيَةَ

O Allah I ask you for forgiveness and wellbeing. [Ibn Majah]

The two words: forgiveness and wellbeing encompass all goodness in dunya and in the akhirah. If you have afiyah in dunya, in other words good health, you can do anything and if you have Allah’s forgiveness then you secure the akhirah. You secure dunya with wellbeing, and the akhirah with forgiveness.

Afiyah also means mental and spiritual well-being. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was asking Allah Almighty to keep him healthy and to keep all of us healthy – away from pain and illnesses because when you have too much pain, it just jeopardises your life. You can’t do what you are dreaming of doing, of executing your plans or fulfilling your goals. Illness limits you to your priorities. When you have the choice between wealth and health, which one is your priority? Many people will chose wealth but they will spend all their wealth to get healthy. So what’s more important, your wealth or your health? You health!

Physical status also comes under al afiyah – it permeates deen, dunya and akhirah, and family.

Sudden loss

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said sought refuge from a sudden strike of Allah’s vengeance. This is very scary. A sudden strike is something don’t expect – it’s like the punch, which knocks you down. If you were expecting this you could protect yourself against it – dodge it, or stop it, you can move but the punch, which you never expected, it will knock you down.

It might be an accumulation of sins which leads to a loss of favours. When you do something very wrong Allah gives you one chance after another. You might come back, you might seek forgiveness, you might repent, you might rectify your mistake, you might wake up, but if you don’t, then you may receive a slap from Allah Almighty. This is the sudden punishment from Allah.

If you were to do something wrong and received punishment straightaway, you understand that they are connected. If you’ve done something wrong and then not been punished,  you are alright with that then this is where the serious punishment can come.

Ibn Atta al Iskandari (may Allah have mercy on him) said in his Hikam on this topic that one of the punishments of Allah Almighty is that He lets you do what you want. If you did not get punished that in itself is a punishment. It is a punishment to be left to your own self. This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) would supplicate:

‘O Allah do not leave me to myself, or to any of Your creation or to anyone else’. i.e. manage my affairs Yourself, don’t leave me to myself, to my own self, to my own desires, my own thing.

This does not mean that we shouldn’t plan, prepare, or carry out our priorities, as we have to do whatever we can but it means we know we are reliant on Allah and not on our self because if we were to rely on our self, we would be left to our self. Punishment appears sudden but it’s an accumulation of factors. Just like the 2008 financial collapse. After that the Queen asked the economists and the bankers how come they didn’t see it coming? It was an accumulation of many mistakes then they got the hit. Actually we had to pay with our taxes to bail them out.

Sudden punishment from Allah Almighty is very scary because it comes out of the blue when we are were in a state of forgetfulness or heedlessness etc. If it was time for you to wake up then Allah will wake you up.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) sought refuge because we are not prepared. We are so immersed in our own affairs in the dunya etc. If you want to have immunity against this then you need to be in the state of remembrance of Allah Almighty rather then heedlessness.

Protection from the wrath of Allah

And he, the Prophet (peace be upon him), finished the dua by saying, ‘And I seek refuge in You as well from Your total wrath’. So anything that makes Allah angry, means anything He is displeased with in you. seek refuge in You from that. It means enable me to do things that please You. Facilitate for me to do things that are in line with your commands and the guidance of Your messenger the Prophet (peace be upon him).

The Prophet (peace be upon him), used to repeat this supplication always. We need to learn this supplication and understand the consequences and the details of the supplication. Not just a word of mouth or to repeat without understanding what it means. We need to understand what it means and how to practically apply this in our lives.

We need to memorise these supplications and repeat them and remind ourselves about the application of these supplications, insha’Allah.

Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Sunday Hadith Class (1349) 11th June 2023

Trascribed by Rose Roslan


Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.