In the Quran, Allah ﷻ presents quite the challenge;
You can never enumerate the blessings Allah ﷻ has given you. In fact, everything you asked for, Allah ﷻ has given it to you! To witness the truth of this verse, I decided to run a “social experiment” in our local youth group. Each child had to write the blessings they had in their lives, then pass the sheet on to the person next to them. Here is part 2 of a list of my observations from this task accompanied with some reflections on what I saw:
Being teenagers, it didn’t take long before silly items began to make it on the lists such as “Trump” and “Poop”. As the papers were passed round, the few laughs that came spurred more people to write silly things – though from the handwriting, it is clear it was the same few people.
- There is a blessing in everything, even the trials we face. Recognising that is extremely difficult, but incredibly important. No one was tested more than our Beloved Prophet ﷺ, and it is through those tests we came to witness his noble rank, and relate to him through our own experiences.
- Ostentation is a deadly sin. Even though the task was anonymous, people still sought the validation of their peers by making them laugh. When you do things for the sake of others – even as trivial as writing silly things on a list – it corrupts all your actions, internally and externally
- Herd mentality is real. We seek attention and validation from others. Once one person began the trend, others followed. That is why the reward of those who followed the Prophet ﷺ first is so great, and the punishment of those who disbelieved in him first is so severe – because it sets the trend. Everyone who copied them after becomes their reward, or their sin.
- Finally, its worth noting the effect of a sin in society modelled through this task. Whilst writing a silly response on a sheet may seem like a personal choice, its effects are felt by everyone in the group as the task is denigrated.
As the task progressed further, others began to speak out at how immature and not funny the silly comment were.
- In life, there are those who destroy, those who fix, and those who remain silent. The majority will remain passive and not comment about anything. It is enough for these people to say nothing for evil to spread
- The first to speak out against it begins the snowball in the opposite direction. Researchers have shown it takes 3.5% of a population to rise up peacefully for change to succeed. Be a part of the group that changes things to good, and not of those who spiral things into chaos
Most items listed were generic categories. Few wrote specific events or details within them which they are grateful for
- It’s easy to bunch our blessings into one big bucket without ever recognising the finer details that make it so great. Our health for example in an incredible gift we all recognise, yet the extent of the blessing is only realised when you see how many ways we have been kept healthy. From the sheer number of particles and functions our body plays subconsciously, to the number of diseases we could have had yet we didn’t, there is an endless list of details we could enumerate within the blessing of health.
There were a few unexpected items on the list (e.g. pollution, cold)
- People struggle to see the blessings in the tribulations. In the example given, without winter, the insects would overpopulate and effect our irrigation.
- Similarly, people only every see things through their own lens. What may be a test for us could be a blessing for others. Penguins live in the cold, yet we may die from it.
It was interesting to observe what didn’t make the list.
- The blessings we see are those that often predominate our consciousness, yet there are countless blessings in things we do not see or think of immediately. These can be material (such as central heating, windows, bathrooms) and non-material (surety of self, security, intelligence). How many things have you been given that you have simply forgotten about?
The task was insightful, and something I would encourage you each to do at some point with your family / friends. It gives an opportunity to take stock of all that Allah ﷻ has given you, creates interesting conversation and allows you to delve deeper into what you truly see as blessings. Indeed, you can never enumerate all the blessings Allah has given you.
Task sheet: Having done it once, there are some variations which could be considered to change the task a little:
Write name on Top
Ask each person to write their name on the top of the paper before passing it round, then ask each person others to write blessings about them. NOTE: You would need a mature group which trust one another to do this
Contrast and Compare
Begin by asking each person to write their own list before this activity, then compare the lists of other people to see what similarities and differences there are.
Sticky notes and wall charts can be used to ask people to stick up the blessings they see and feel. Duplication is allowed. Categories can be placed on the wall to structure it more.
Slits of Paper are given to each person and they are asked to write the blessings they feel and place it into a hat. Once the hat is filled, people are asked to pull a blessing out at random and see if a) they can relate to it and b) does this apply to them