Sent by: Sister Sarah Salman

Why love for Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) is part of the Muslim faith?
When we love Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), that love draws us closer to Him and helps us build a strong relationship that can help us in this life and in Aakhirah (Hereafter). As Muslims, our faith requires that our love for Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and his Prophet, Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) supersedes any other type of love for any other object or creation. Many Ulamaa (Scholars) agree on the basis of sound Ahaadeeth that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) creates a person (and his heart) in such a way that he has the natural inclination to love Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). However, as a person’s heart gets corrupted by doubts, desires and other temptations, that love has to be rekindled through faith and knowledge.

What does it mean to love Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)?
Love of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) requires us to love what Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) loves and to dislike what displeases Him and to further demonstrate that love by following the Quraan and the Sunnah. This should be a reminder for those of us who merely provide lip service about their love for Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and His Messenger, Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) rather than actualizing that love in real behavioral commitments.

Let’s review various aspects about the love of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and how we can build and nurture that love in our hearts.

The obligation to love Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) has made His love obligatory on the believers. Many of us find it easy to express that love verbally but unfortunately our actions don’t reflect that love for Him. How can we claim to love Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) when we take lightly what He has revealed, don’t follow His commands, and fail to make our behaviors reflect what pleases Him? Many times we find that love missing from our hearts because our hearts are filled instead with doubts, vain desires, and temptations of temporal life.

As stated in books by Ulamaa, one of the reasons for this has to do with the lack of right knowledge.

To counter doubts, therefore, we need to firm up our beliefs, and we need a better overall spiritual perspective in order to counter desires and temptations. We also need to clear those doubts that hinder the instilling of that love for Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) by learning more and asking questions.

Consider one of the Ahaadeeth which shows the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) getting angry with a group of people for taking a decision that resulted in someone unnecessarily losing his life. On that the prophet said: “Could they not have asked if they didn’t know? Indeed the cure for ignorance is to ask.” (Ibne Maajah)

When we don’t make that effort and don’t plant that love in our hearts, our actions too come out short and empty and we risk His anger and making our deeds fruitless. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says in the Quraan:

ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمُ اتَّبَعُوا مَا أَسْخَطَ اللَّهَ وَكَرِهُوا رِضْوَانَهُ فَأَحْبَطَ أَعْمَالَهُمْ [محمد: 28]

”That is because they followed that which has angered Allah, and they disliked His pleasure; therefore He has nullified their deeds.” (Muhammad 47:28)

What do we have to do specifically to love Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)?
Take the example of the Sahaabah (Companions) of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) who used to say that “We love Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)”. In response to that and to provide them a yardstick to know whether they indeed loved Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) revealed the following Aayah (Verse):

قُلْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللَّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ [آل عمران: 31]

”Say (O Prophet!): ‘If you really love Allah, then follow me, and Allah shall love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very- Merciful’.” (Aale-Imraan 3:31)

What pulls us away from loving Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)?
To properly answer this question, we need to search deep within our souls about the motivations that drive our lives and our understanding (explicit or implicit) of the purpose of our lives. That is because the purpose of our life drives our goals, actions, and behaviors in general. For many of us, earning a living tends to be the focal point of our lives, including a total immersion in building our dwellings, families, and so on while neglecting our duty and love for Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). The time that we spend on various activities reflects our priority and love for each of those activities. For those of us who exhibit that behavior, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says the following:

قُلْ إِنْ كَانَ آبَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَاؤُكُمْ وَإِخْوَانُكُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُكُمْ وَعَشِيرَتُكُمْ وَأَمْوَالٌ اقْتَرَفْتُمُوهَا وَتِجَارَةٌ تَخْشَوْنَ كَسَادَهَا وَمَسَاكِنُ تَرْضَوْنَهَا أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَجِهَادٍ فِي سَبِيلِهِ فَتَرَبَّصُوا حَتَّى يَأْتِيَ اللَّهُ بِأَمْرِهِ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ [التوبة: 24]

”Tell them: ‘If your fathers, children, brothers, spouses, relatives, the property that you possess, the trade you fear may have no profit and the homely life are more beloved to you than Allah, His Messenger and fighting for His cause, wait until Allah fulfills His decree (of punishment). Allah does not guide the evil-doers’.” (At-Taubah 9:24)

We can, therefore, infer that while we do have an obligation to attend to our responsibilities, that should not divert us from building our relationship with Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). As He says in the Quraan:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُلْهِكُمْ أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ [المنافقون: 9]

”O you who believe! Your riches and your children must not divert you from the remembrance of Allah. And those who do that are the losers” (Al-Munafiqoon 63:9)

Love of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) triggers sweetness of faith
The Prophet, Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) says: “Whoever possesses the following three qualities will taste the sweetness (delight) of faith: the one to whom Allah and His Messenger become dearer than anything else, the one who loves a person and he loves him only for Allah’s sake, and whoever hates to revert to disbelief, after Allah has saved him from it, as he hates to be thrown into the Fire.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Love of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) can keep us away from sins
Today, when the hearts of most of us are filled with lusts, desires, temptations and fantasies, we need to remind ourselves that it is not possible to have those take room in the same heart where we want to plant our love for Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Always ask yourself whether what lives in your heart makes you neglect Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), and is worth more than the love of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)? When we start replacing the lusts, desires, and fantasies that live in our heart with Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s love, then we will see ourselves regaining that love back from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa).

It is said: “the more the servant loves his Master, the less will he love other objects and they will decrease in number. The less the servant loves his Master, the more will he love other objects and they will increase in number.”

Let’s, therefore, take stock of how much we love this life’s objects versus how much we love Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and His Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam).

Love of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) stimulates our emotions
The vagaries of this life generate emotions which must be channeled appropriately for us to retain our positive mental states. No matter how we express and channel those emotions to various people in this life, there are emotions trapped in our system that we simply can’t express with an open heart to even the most beloved of His creations. But it is different with our creator. When we do succeed in planting that love for Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) in our hearts and build that relationship, it can make our repressed emotions pour out with a pleasing force. The relationship that we establish with our creator out of that love for Him and His love for us can make us say what is in our hearts, complain about our situations, express profuse apologies, and so on – all without worrying about demeaning ourselves because He is our creator and sustainer who controls everything in this universe. In fact, what we humans go through and what manifests as hidden emotions can come flooding back when we sit in front of our Creator with that love for Him.

This can help us in reconciling matters within ourselves and, most important of all, upon this reconciliation, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) responds and listens to us. Thus, the more we love Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), the better we will be able to engage with Him at this level and the better we will be able to feel and expect His Mercy in return.

Love Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) puts our love in others’ hearts
Many of us spend a lot of our efforts to gain the love and pleasure of others and sometimes we may do that at the expense of disobeying Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s commands. We should realize that such tactics are short lived (even if achieved) and earn us nothing but Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s displeasure. On the other hand, if we focus on planting Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s love, then we will not only get His love but He will instill our love in others’ hearts as well. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says in the Quraan:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ سَيَجْعَلُ لَهُمُ الرَّحْمَنُ وُدًّا [مريم: 96]

“Surely, those who believe and do righteous deeds, for them the All-Merciful (Allah) will create love (in the hearts of people).”

“Verily, those who believe [in the Oneness of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and in His Messenger (Muhammad SAW)] and work deeds of righteousness, the Most Gracious (Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)) will bestow love for them (in the hearts of the believers)” (Maryam 19:96)

Get love of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) in our hearts and lives
Finally, knowing that love for Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) brings about happiness, His pleasure, and keeps us from indulging in temptations, we can focus on factors that increase our love for Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) in our hearts.

Ulamaa have indicated 10 such ways to bring about the love of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and they are mentioned below: Recitation of Quran with reflection and understanding of its meanings and what is intended by it. This also enables us to know Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) using His own words.

Nafl (Optional) acts of worship, after the Fardh (Obligatory) ones, can get us closer to Him and furthers the love of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) beyond what is achieved through the sincere worship through Fardh deeds.

Constant Zikr (Remembrance) in every circumstance by the tongue, the heart, actions and (one’s) condition (based only on sanctioned forms of remembrance as described in the Quraan and Hadeeth), so that a person’s share of love is in accordance with his share of this Zikr.

Preferring Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s love over your own when desires overcome you and climbing to reach His love, even if the ascent is difficult.

The heart’s comprehension of His Names and Attributes, witnessing them and having knowledge of them, to immerse himself in the garden of this knowledge and its fundamental pillars. Whoever knows Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) by His Names, Attributes and Actions, will, no doubt, love Him.

Witnessing His generosity, His benevolence, His favors and blessings, both hidden and open, for these things call to His love.

The heart’s total defeat and humility in front of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), the Most High.

Being alone at the Time of the Descent of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) (during Tahajjud) for having private conversations with Him, reciting His Words, investigating the heart, displaying the manners of servitude whilst in front of Him and then to seal all of that with seeking forgiveness and repentance.

Sitting with the truthful lovers of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and gathering the good fruits (arising) from their talks and actions in their company, just as one picks out the best of fruits; however, you do not speak except when the benefit of the speech prevails and when you know that there is a betterment for you and benefit for others in it.

Keeping distant from everything that comes between the heart and between Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), the Mighty and the Majestic.

In Summary, Remember this…As we strive to build Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s love in our hearts and have that love push out the vain desires that tend to influence our lives, remember the extent of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s love for us. Hadhrat Umar ibn al-Khattaab narrated that some prisoners were brought to the Messenger of Allah, and there was a woman among the prisoners who was searching (for her child). When she found her child she embraced him and put him to her breast. The Messenger of Allah said to us: “Do you think that this woman would throw her child in the fire?”

We said: “No, by Allah! Not if she is able not to.”

The Messenger of Allah said: “Allah is more merciful to His slaves than this woman is to her child.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Finally, ensure that you are always reciting the following Du’aa:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ حُبَّكَ وَحُبَّ مَنْ يُحِبُّكَ وَحُبَّ عَمَلٍ يُقَرِّبُنِي إِلَى حُبِّكَ