By Hiba Malik
11:50 AM EST, November 21, 2012
The well-known event of Thanksgiving needs no introduction. The mere name signifies the meaning the celebration has held for families and communities throughout the U.S. for centuries.
Thanksgiving has been celebrated in the U.S. since 1621, when Gov. William Bradford of New England held a harvest festival to thank God for the outstanding corn yield that year. Soon, Thanksgiving also began to be celebrated in the entire U.S. and Canada as a family reunion event. By 1941, the fourth Thursday of November was officially declared to be the day of observance of Thanksgiving.
This year, too, people all over the country eagerly awaited the fourth Thursday of November, to convey their gratitude to the ones who have positively impacted and benefited their lives.
As a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, I also strongly believe in showing appreciation and being thankful to both God and men. Commanding Muslims to be grateful, God says in the Quran, "If you are grateful, I will, surely, bestow more favors on you" (14:8) and "God will certainly reward the grateful" (3:145). Hence, indebtedness is a great virtue in the eyes of God and acts of thankfulness are highly esteemed in Islam.
However, in Islam, there is no specific day assigned for showing thankfulness to the almighty God. Every day is Thanksgiving Day. Indeed, Muslims perform prayers five times a day invoking God's blessings and thanking Him for what He has provided.
Similarly, a true Muslim's faith requires a relationship with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers that is sincere, respectful and thankful. The saying of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, "One who is not grateful to others is not grateful to God," along with his numerous other sayings, highlight the importance of love and true gratefulness toward humans.
Again, the example of the Prophet and the rights of relatives and neighbors described in Islam remind Muslims to be thankful to people each day.
This is not to say that it is wrong to celebrate a day of Thanksgiving, but what I want to say is that it should not be the only day of Thanksgiving in a whole year.
Nonetheless, I will join my brothers and sisters in our blessed and beautiful country to observe a day of Thanksgiving. My hope, however, will remain that on this day we at least wash away our grudges against our parents and siblings, and thank them from the core of our hearts.
I would also wish that we do not forget to thank God on this day of festivity, for it is He who has undoubtedly given us much more than we deserve without our request. We should not only show our gratitude to Him by praying and praising Him but, also by giving back to Him.
Remembering the poor, the impoverished, and the homeless on this day may be the best way to thank our beloved Creator. It is the help we could provide the needy, which also makes me wish that every day was Thanksgiving Day.
Hiba Malik is a resident of Columbia and a student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.