You wake up one day and check your mail to find an unexpected package in your name. You haven’t ordered anything recently, so you’re curious as to what it could be. After you open it, you realize a dear friend sent you a gift for no reason other than to make you feel valued. The feelings of surprise and anticipation, followed by the reveal, change your mood and make your day.
So how do you thank this person properly?
We may be familiar with different ways of offering shukr (gratitude) to Allah, but what about expressing shukr to people? Interestingly, giving proper recognition and thanks to people is an essential aspect of offering shukr to Allah. Three different hadiths capture this concept.
First, the Prophet ﷺ said,
“He who does not show shukr to people does not show shukr to Allah” [Jami At-Tirmidhi #1955].
In another version, the order is reversed where the Prophet ﷺ said,
“One does not show shukr to Allah if he does not show shukr to people.”
Finally, in a third narration, the Prophet ﷺ said,
“Verily, the most grateful (ashkar) of people to Allah are the ones most grateful (ashkaruhum) to people” [Musnad Ahmad #21838].
These different sayings could mean either a statement of fact that those who do not care to show shukr to people undoubtedly do not show shukr to the Creator, or it could indicate that Allah will not accept the shukr of a person if that person does not show shukr to people.
How to thank someone in Islam
The Islamic protocol for thanking people is quite beautiful and comprehensive. There are three steps to express gratitude Islamically:
If someone has done you a favor, you’re encouraged to return the favor. If you’re unable to do so, then…
The beneficiary should say to the benefactor, “May Allah reward you [with] goodness” (jazāk Allāhu khayrā). If the beneficiary is unable to say that phrase to the benefactor, then…
Maybe there is no right or wrong way to thank people, but there’s definitely an Islamic way. The most important thing is to do something and show gratitude!
To learn more about gratitude, check out: “The Art of Gratitude: Qur’anic Themes on Shukr.“
How to use the worksheet
Go down the first column titled “people to thank” and then start moving through each step for thanking that specific person. Place a check mark in the box where you’re able to properly thank the person. If you cannot do step 1, then move over to step 2. If you’re unable to do step 2, then do the last (step 3) and ask Allah to accept your good deeds.
 Abū Sulaymān al-Khaṭṭābī, Ma’ālim al-Sunan