“Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a (foetus) lump; then we made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then we developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create!” – The Holy Qur’an 23:14
The above verse of the Holy Qur’an (in addition to others) elucidates to an all too important aspect of the human body that is often not given as much thought as it deserves; the human circulatory system. When we look at the design of the human body in relation to blood, you will find that this very design highlights its necessity and importance. For example:
- There are over 100,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body
- The average heart pumps 5 litres of blood per minute
- Your body makes about two million new red blood cells every second
The multi-functional nature of the blood in the physiology of the body are such that it would exceed the scope of this article – but it would suffice to say that the role of blood is extremely crucial to human survival.
What is important to realise is this; there is no substitute for blood. If people lose blood from surgery or injury or if their bodies can’t produce enough, there is only one place to turn—volunteer blood donors.¹
The religion of Islam is one that consistently conveys to its followers the importance of humbleness, empathy, kindness to others, and thankfulness to our Almighty Creator for His Blessings upon us. It is based on these very teachings and words of Allah (swt) that we expect to see Muslims at the forefront of volunteering to be active blood donors around the world.
However, it is not uncommon for us to become so engrossed in our daily lives that we sometimes fail to acknowledge the blessings of Allah (swt) upon us. Imam Khomeini (ra) beautifully explains that thankfulness is the contemplation of the ni’mah (favour, blessing, bounty) and its expression. He explains it through the following:
“Thankfulness means appreciation of the ni’mah (favour, blessing, bounty) provided by the Provider (Mun’im) and the appearance of the effects of this appreciation in the heart, on the tongue and in bodily acts and movements. He explains that when the heart is in a state of shukr, it produces an impulse for action aimed to achieve nearness to God.”²
Therefore we see that showing thanks is not merely acknowledging blessings, nor is it solely a verbal declaration. But rather we must show our thanks through our actions. Ayatollah Makarim Shirazi says the best way to do this is to use the bounties given to us in the correct way.³ Admittedly, action is not always possible – but where we have the ability to do this, it then becomes incumbent upon us to do so.
“Thanksgiving is sweeter than bounty itself.
One who cherishes gratitude does not cling to the gift!
Thanksgiving is the true meat of God’s bounty;
the bounty is its shell,
For thanksgiving carries you to the heart of the Beloved….”
And what better way to show your thanks to the Provider than a small token of self-sacrifice?
Ayatollah Ja’far Subhani in his commentary on Surah 49, Verse 15 of the Holy Qur’an explains that one of the signs of a person who possesses true faith is that he is unselfish and self-sacrificing. That is, somebody’s beliefs can reach a level where they overtake the importance of his own life in order to reach and protect his goals and objectives.4 This goal in many cases may be to attain nearness to God. After all, Imam al-Hussain (as) taught us this lesson in the most greatest of ways in the tragedy of Karbala.
In fact blood donation holds negligible, if any, risk at all. And with time, your blood is completely replenished. But let us not forget, our charitable deeds of today will not be forgotten tomorrow.
“And the right of charity is that you should know that it is a storing away with your Lord and a deposit for which you will have no need for witnesses….” – Imam Ja’far al Sadiq (as)5
To conclude dear reader, there are numerous intentions and reasons for giving blood, but one that is most often neglected is being thankful for the blessing of a healthy body and blood supply – that is, the beauty within. Our desire to share this blessing with those that are in need would ultimately mean conveying your thanks to the Provider. And this is thankfulness in practice.
“In vain the tongue alone to thank Him strives,
Each moment we should thank Him with our lives.
When I, Thy gifts unspeakable behold,
Oh! Lord, my eyes are dimmed, my heart grows cold.”
– Sheikh Saadi Shirazi
If you are eligible, please see here to find out more and sign up: http://www.ius.org.uk/giveblood/
1 – Blood http://www.blood.co.uk/about-blood/how-the-body-replaces-blood/
2 – “Forty Hadith” by Imam Khomeini (ra) in Chapter of Thankfulness
3 – “Ethical discourses volume 2” by Ayatullah al-`Uzma al-Hajj ash-Shaykh Nasir Makarim Shirazi
4 – “The Islamic Moral System: Commentary of Surah al-Hujurat” by Ayatollah Ja’far Subhani
5 – “Treatise of Rights” (chapter of ‘Right of Deeds’) by Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (as)