In his well-known book, Al-Hikam (Words of Wisdom), sheikh Ahmad Ibn `Ataa’illah As-Sakandari says:
You risk losing your blessings when you do not thank Him for them, and you tie them to you firmly when you do. And if you do not advance towards Him by doing excellent deeds, He will pull you towards Him with the chains of tests.

One of the universal laws of Allah which govern the issue of providence with all its kinds is that if we thank Allah, He will multiply the blessings or replace them with something better. Allah says,

{If you are grateful [to Me], I shall most certainly give you more and more}. (Ibrahim 14: 7)

Allah declared that we will not be able to count all Allah’s blessings. Allah says,
{And should you try to count Allah’s blessings, you could never compute them}. (Ibrahim 14: 34)

Every Muslim should do his best to thank Allah for whatever He gives him.

Then Allah says,

{but if you are ungrateful, verily, My chastisement will be severe indeed!}. (Ibrahim 14: 7)

The Arabic word ‘kafartum’, in this verse, means being unthankful to Allah for His blessings. It does not mean disbelief in Allah, as the literal meaning implies, but it shows the gravity of this flaw. Non-thankfulness, then, is another flaw that Ibn `Ataa’ is teaching us about in this word of wisdom.

Ibn `Ataa’ says: “You risk losing your blessings when you do not thank Him for them, and you tie them to you firmly when you do”. The one who thanks Allah for His blessings, he is tying them to him firmly. Allah’s promise of rewarding those who thank Him is a true promise. It is a guarantee for the continuation of your blessings or more. It does come with one condition, however, which is to thank Allah for these blessings.
Thankfulness is not only limited to saying al-hamdullilah (praise to Allah). However, thankfulness can be offered through actions. Allah says:

{Labor, O David’s people, in gratitude towards Me}. (Sabaa’ 34: 13)

Thankfulness through actions requires that everyone should ask himself the following: What am I going to do with this blessing? Am I going to use it in a good way? Am I going to contribute with it to good causes? Or am I going to waste it, which is a form of denying the blessing?

Therefore, if you do not thank Allah for His blessings with sayings and actions, you will risk losing them. But if you thank Allah, you are tying His blessings to you firmly.
Then the Sheikh says: “And if you do not advance towards Him by doing excellent deeds, He will pull you towards Him with the chains of tests”. Thus, if you do not thank Allah for His blessings and advance to Him until you reach the level of excellence, Allah will put you to tests. By putting you to tests, Allah is giving you chances so that you can reach the level of excellence. This is also a universal law.

Through tests, Allah is elevating you and purifying your heart. When you are afflicted with tests, you will draw closer to Allah and He will forgive your sins. Allah says:

{And, indeed, We tested them [the hypocrites] through suffer­ing, but they did not abase themselves before their Sustainer; and they will never humble them­selves}. (Al-Mu’minun 23: 67)

When Allah puts you to tests, you have to humble yourself, and pray to Allah. Allah also says about the hypocrites:

{Are they, then, not aware that they are being tested year-in, year-out? And yet, they do not repent and do not bethink themselves [of Allah]}. (At-Tawbah 9: 126)

Allah does not want to punish you by testing you. But He wants to draw you closer to Him and to make you count His blessings which He bestowed on you. He wants you to thank Him by your tongue and actions.

When Allah puts you to a test by losing some blessings, He is testing you by a ‘touch of chastisement’, as the other verse says. Every one of us has billions of uncountable blessings. When Allah puts one of us to a test by losing one, two or even five blessings, he feels that he is faced with a severe crisis. While in reality he has billions of blessings which Allah is bestowing on him every moment.
In every cell in your body, there are countless blessings. In every second you live, there are countless blessings. In every breath you breathe, there are countless blessings. In every glance you make, there are countless blessings. Allah is the One who is worthy of thankfulness. When Allah tests you by losing one or two blessings, He, according to Ibn `Ataa’, is ‘pulling you towards Him’. By losing a blessing, Allah wants you to return and repent to Him. He also wants you to remember His blessings and reflect on them.

And if you sincerely repent to Allah, the test is over. Allah says:

{And, behold, with every hardship comes ease: verily, with every hardship comes ease!}. (Ash-Sharh 94: 5-6)

We notice that Allah repeated the verse twice. In another verse we read:

{Allah will grant, after hardship, ease}. (At-Talaq 65: 7)

Sometimes matters get worse, but Allah makes a way-out and with difficulty comes ease. When you are faced with a problem or afflicted with a calamity, Allah brings ease in the middle of the crisis and also after the crisis. And in any case, if this state of hardship draws you closer to Allah, this is in itself a blessing from Allah.

If one would like to avoid trials at all, one should always advance towards Allah and never fall into any mistake. In reality, though, this will never happen because we are humans! We cannot maintain thanking Allah all the time and a clear record. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“Every son of Adam makes mistakes, but the best of those who make mistakes are those who repent”. (At-Tirmidhi)

Therefore, Allah is helping us in our journey by putting us to tests in order to give us a chance to repent.


ٍSource: — Ibn Ataa’s Pearls of Wisdom — Jasser Auda