In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Most Merciful
Sharh as-Sunnah: [Intro] Difference between Shukr (thankfulness) and Hamd (praise)
By Shaykh Rabee’ bin Haadee al-Madkhali may Allah preserve him
This is the shaykh’s explanation for the opening statement in the book entitled “Sharh as-Sunnah” by the great Imaam Abu Muhammad al-Hasan ibn ‘Alee ibn Khalaf al-Barbahaaree 329 AH.
Imaam al-Barbahaaree (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“All praise is for Allah who guided us to Islaam and blessed us with it and placed us in the best nation, so we ask Him to grant us that we keep to that which He loves and is pleased with and avoid that which He hates and which angers Him.”
The author, may Allah have mercy on him, began his book by praising Allah for His magnificent bounties upon His slaves which cannot be enumerated.
وَإِن تَعُدُّواْ نِعۡمَتَ ٱللَّهِ لَا تُحۡصُوهَآۗ إِنَّ ٱلۡإِنسَـٰنَ لَظَلُومٌ۬ ڪَفَّارٌ۬
“…and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Verily! man is indeed an extreme wrongdoer, – a disbeliever” [Ibrahim: 34]
And the most magnificent of these blessings is the blessing of guidance to Islaam. For certainly, (this guidance) results in prosperity in the worldly life and the Hereafter. So the author, may Allah have mercy on him, praised, extolled, and thanked Allah for this tremendous blessing of Islaam.
Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy on him, said:
“The (scholars have) mentioned the difference between ‘praise’ (hamd) and giving ‘thanks’ (shukr) and which of the two are better. In the hadith (the Prophet peace be upon him said):
الحمد رأس الشكر فمن لم يحمد الله لم يشكره
‘Praise (hamd) is the head of thanks (shukr), so whomever has not praised Allah (then he has also) not thanked Him.’ [Abdur-Razzaq in “al-Musannaf” 10/424]
The difference between the two is that:
1.Giving thanks (shukr) is more general in terms of how it is performed and its ‘reasons’ (or causes for giving thanks), and it is more specific in terms of ‘content’.
2.Praise (hamd) is more general in terms of ‘content’ and more specific in terms of its ‘reasons’ (or causes for praising).
And the meaning of this is that giving thanks (shukr) can be performed with: a submissive obedient heart, praising acknowledging tongue, obedient yielding limbs.
‘Specific in terms of content’ refers to (being thankful for) favors and blessings. One cannot give thanks (shukr) for the attributes of Allah, and for this reason it is not said: ‘we are thankful to Allah for His Living, Hearing, Seeing, His Knowledge’. Rather, Allah is praised (hamd) for these attributes; just as He is praised for His Perfection and Justice (so we say instead: ‘we praise Allah for His Living, Hearing…’).
Therefore, whatever is connected to giving thanks (which is specific in terms of ‘content’) then it is also connected to praise (which is general in terms of ‘content’) and not the opposite way around.
And whatever falls into praise (which is specific in terms of ‘reasons’) falls into giving thanks (which is general in terms of ‘reasons’) and not the opposite way around.” [Madaarij as-Saalikeen: 2/579-580]
Translated by: Abu Awzaa’ee AbdusSalaam
الفقير الى الله