Have you ever done good for someone that has gone unnoticed or unappreciated? Or worse yet, it is returned with evil or a questioning of your intentions. Or you might have worked really hard on something, only to have the end result not be reflective of your sincere efforts. These experiences can be disheartening and may discourage us from even trying.
But what if every single good you did was appreciated? And not only appreciated in a symbolic way, but rewarded disproportionately in relation to the original action. What if your sincere intention was acknowledged, your difficulties recognized, and your striving valued, regardless of the results? How would you feel about the One who truly sees you and your efforts, and loves you for them?
Allahtells us He is al-Shakūr, the Appreciative. At first glance, it may not immediately make sense for Allah to be appreciative – or indeed, the Appreciative. When we think of the concepts of appreciation and gratitude, we would naturally reflect upon how much He has given us, and that we should be grateful; thanking Him both in word and in deed. Indeed, when a human being gives us something, we feel obliged to thank them verbally and/or do something for them in return. With Allah though, this conventional equation is turned on its head, because,
“[He is] Creator of the heavens and the earth. He has made for you from yourselves, mates, and among the cattle, mates; He multiplies you thereby. There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Hearing, the Seeing.” [Surat Ash-Shūraá:11]
Though Allahis the One created us, blessed us, and gave (and continues to give) us from His bounty, if we express gratitude for what He has given and do good with it, He increases us. When we fulfill our obligations, we are rewarded. Despite the fact that everything that we have is from Him, when we do what He loves with what we have been given, He gives us more. The meaning of His name al-Shakūr, is that He appreciates even the smallest good deed, and multiplies the reward. He tells us,
“What would Allah do with your punishment if you are grateful and believe? And ever is Allah Appreciative and Knowing.“[Surah An-Nisā’:147]. This reminds us that Allahknows our outward deeds and our efforts, and He rewards and appreciates what people may overlook because He knows the state of our hearts. Indeed, the Prophet told us, “Whoever intends to perform a good deed but does not do it, then Allah will record it as a complete good deed. If he intends to do it and does so, then Allah the Exalted will record it as ten good deeds up to seven hundred times as much or even more. If he intends to do a bad deed and does not do it, then Allah will record for him one complete good deed. If he does it then Allah will record for him a single bad deed.” [Sahih Bukhari 6126]
Whatever good we do, no matter how small, is appreciated and rewarded manifold. Simply intending sincerely to do good is beloved to Allah! Yet, there is no equal overreaction to a bad deed; it is recorded as a single bad deed.
We might still doubt. We know ourselves, and know that we commit many bad deeds, and are not always fully sincere. Is our good still appreciated, or is that appreciation reserved for the pure and righteous? Allahreminds in the Qur’an:
“That He may give them in full their rewards and increase for them of His bounty. Indeed, He is Forgiving and Appreciative.” [Surat Fāţir:30]
Allahnot only appreciates the good, He forgives the bad when we return to Him. These two concepts are not mutually exclusive. Knowledge of this name, then, counteracts the notion that God is “out to get us”, as some imagine that Allah accounts for our evil in a disproportionate way, while belittling the good that we do. Nothing is farther from the truth. Allah is al-Shakūr, and He loves and appreciates the small that we do, inflating its magnitude, while overlooking and forgiving our faults, if we return to Him and seek His forgiveness.
Appreciation For What is Underappreciated
An essential component of Allahbeing al-Shakūr is that He loves even the small that we do, and gives back much. For example, the Prophet ﷺ said, “None gives charity from what is good, for Allah only accepts what is good, but that the Merciful takes it with His right hand. Even if it is a date, it is nurtured in the hand of the Merciful until it becomes greater than a mountain, just as one of you nurtures his young horse or camel.” [Sahih Muslim]
Allahgrows your good deed for you. Those things that people may scoff at, Allah loves and nurtures for you Himself. You might be confused to find mountains of good on the Day of Judgment, but those mountains are the result of Allah nurturing your good deed. The Prophet ﷺ told us that, “While a man was walking on a road, he found a thorny branch and he moved it aside. Allah appreciated his deed and forgave him.” [Bukhārī] It is likely that no one saw him, and if someone did, they would not have thought much about what he did. But this man removed harm from people’s way, not seeking any reward from them. Allah appreciated this so much that He forgave the man.
For this reason, the Prophet ﷺ urged us to do good deeds no matter how small; giving even half a date in charity can protect us from the Fire [Bukhārī], and even smiling at others is rewarded [Sunan al-Tirmidhī]. Al-Shakūr appreciates you not for the result of any one thing you do, but the effort, whether you achieve the result or not. And if we are struggling with a sin, and sincerely try to return to Allah