والحمدلله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله
In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Beneficent
All praise be to God, and may peace and blessings be upon His Messenger
Love for Allah
This Tarbiya will be the concluding section of the three-part tarbiya, and will speak about Love for Allah. As was touched upon in the previous tarbiyas, scholars have likened the heart of a believer to a bird; the head represents love for Allah, and the two wings represent fear and hope in Allah respectively. While the wings are needed in order for the bird to fly, the bird without its head would not live. Such is the state of the believer- without love for Allah, we cannot survive.
The Language of Love
Love for Allah in Arabic is “Al-Hub lillah”. The word ‘hub’, which means love, comes from the same root for the word “habba”, which is a seed. Roots of words display a unique interconnectedness of meaning. In this case, love is the foundation, like a seed, without which nothing could grow.
Because Arabic is a very detailed and elaborate language, a small change in the symbol (which can be seen as a vowel) can alter the meaning of a word. Scholars of the Arabic language have said that in “hub”, the “u” (the ‘dhamma’ symbol) was chosen because of its strength in grammer, to signify the strength of love. It is also said that because dhamma means literally to embrace or bring together, the “u” in “hub” is because love brings people together.
It is said of a person that you love ‘hib’ (with a kasra). The kasra was chosen to signify a gentleness, as it is seen as a ‘soft’ symbol, because the person is light on your heart. It was said of Usama bin Zayd (may Allah be pleased with him) that he was “Hib Rasul Allah”, i.e. a beloved of the Prophet (pbuh), but the word “hib” was chosen specifically because of its tenderness.
And so “al-hub lillah” is the basis and the foundation for the relationship between the servant and his Creator; and with its ‘dhamma’ it is linguistically used to show that the love for Allah necessarily is something strong, and brings the community of believers together. The Prophet (pbuh) has said “Islam is a tie of kinship for those within it”, specifically because of this love for God.
Why is loving Allah so important? Love ensures sincerity and a certain selflessness. If we were to pray without having love for Allah in our hearts, the act would be a chore done without thought, and we would always be seeking to avoid our responsibilities. As a result, the soul of a believer is empty. It was reported by Anas (ra) that the Prophet (pbuh) said:
“One can taste the sweetness of faith, if he is characterized with the following:
if he holds Allah and His Messenger dearer than all else;
when he loves a person he loves him only for the sake of Allah; and
if he has as great an abhorrence of returning to unbelief after Allah has rescued him from it as he has of being cast into fire.” (Muslim)
In love there is a comfort. If we as human beings were to think of the people we love, from parents to spouses to friends, we also tend to think of all the good a person has done, or the support a person gives us, or the fact that this person understands us. And yet if we stop to think about the Almighty, then truly He is far greater than all of these things. Allah says in the Qur’an, “…and if you count Allah’s favors, you will not be able to number them…” (Surat Ibrahim, 14:24).
Truly, the fact that we can turn to God is enough to fill us with immense love. The entire universe is in His Hands, and whatever He has ordained will be. Whatever hardship we suffer is only in order to prepare us for the ‘final storm’, and inshAllah Paradise where we will be in the company of the righteous. What then if we think of the many blessings that Allah has bestowed upon us; from the food we eat to the shelter we have to the people around us, our education, our opportunities?
A reflection on this hadith qudsi should remind us:
“Myself, Mankind and Jinn are in a great serious state. I create them, then they worship other gods that they make for themselves; I bless them with my bounties, then they thank someone else for what I sent them; My Mercy descends to them while their evil deeds ascend to Me; I endear them with my gifts even though I have no need to any of them while they alienate themselves from Me with their sins even though they are desperate for my help.
Whoever returns to Me, I accept him no matter how far he is; and whoever turns away from Me, I approach him and call on him. Whoever leaves a sin for my sake, I reward him with many gifts and whoever seeks to please Me, I seek to please him. Whoever acknowledges My Will and Power in whatever he does, I make the iron bend for his sake.
My dear people are those who are with Me (i.e. whoever would like to be with Me, let him supplicate to Me and remember Me). Whoever thanks Me, I grant him more blessings; whoever obeys Me, I raise him and endear him more. Whoever disobeys Me, I keep the doors of My Mercy open for him; if he returns to Me, I bestow him with My Love since I love those who repent and purify themselves for My Sake. If he does not repent, I still treat him by putting them in hardship to purify him.
Whoever favors Me over others, I favor them over others. I reward every single good deed ten times over or seven hundred times over to countless times over. I count every single bad deed as one unless the person repents and ask for My Forgiveness in which case I forgive even that one. I take into account any little good deed and I forgive even major sins.
My Mercy supersedes My Anger; My Tolerance supersedes My Blame; My Forgiveness supersedes My Punishment as I am more merciful with My slaves than a mother with her child.”
(from Madarij As-salikeen by ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziya)
Signs of truly loving Allah, and Him loving you
Most believers will testify to loving God. It seems almost a given. Yet it is not enough to just say we love Allah. A person persisting in sins (note ‘persisting’, as we are all fallible humans and commit minor sins), yet says he loves Allah cannot be said to truly mean it. Expression of love for Allah is doing what He loves and avoiding and forbidding what He hates. A poet once said, “The lover is obedient to the beloved”. In a hadith qudsi, Allah says:
“My slave will not perform any act with which he draws closer to Me, more beloved to Me then when he fulfills what I have ordained on him;
and My slave will keep drawing closer to Me by performing the Nawafil (voluntary acts of worship) until I love him,
and when I love him, I will be his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hands with which he strikes, and his legs with which he walks;
and if he asks Me, I will give him; and if he seeks refuge with Me, I will grant him refuge”. [Bukhari]
Thus truly working for the sake of Allah, first by performing and perfecting the obligatory acts, and then trying to grow closer to Allah by performing the voluntary acts are a manifestation of love. It is crucial to note that obligatory acts are not just praying, fasting, zakaat and so forth, but things like “…speak kindly to mankind” (Al-Baqara, 2:83), and do not “…defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames” (Al-Hujurat, 49.11).
Dr. Omer AbdelKafy states that for us to truly begin the journey to Allah, we must attempt to purify our hearts of their various diseases such as ostentation, envy, arrogance and so on. As with all things, it starts with asking Allah, and then taking the appropriate steps ourselves. If we find ourselves envious, then we should remind ourselves that everything has been apportioned by God. If we feel ourselves to be ostentatious, we should remind ourselves that only acts done with sincerity are accepted, and that people will not help us on “The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, But only he (will prosper) that brings to Allah a sound heart” (Ash-shu’ara, 26:88-89)
Loving people for the sake of Allah is important and is a sign of true love for Allah. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Seven people will be shaded by Allah under His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His.” Among those are “two persons who love each other only for Allah’s sake and they meet and part in Allah’s cause only” (Bukhari)
Loving someone because he is righteous is because this person pleases Allah. And because of our love for Allah, we should love whatever and whoever pleases Him. Some scholars have said, there are two Paradises in this world, one of them being in seclusion with Allah for those who truly love Him, the other being in the company of those who love Allah, because they remind you of Him.
It also important to remember that our growing closer to Allah is a sign that He, inshAllah, loves us. He states in the Qur’an: “He shall love them and they shall love Him” (Al Maeda, 5:54). The aya states first that “He shall love them”, reason being, that hearts are in God’s Hands, and He is their Possessor. The hadith narrated by Abu Huraira (ra) states:
The Prophet said, “If Allah loves a person, He calls Gabriel saying, ‘Allah loves so and-so; O Gabriel! Love him.’ Gabriel would love him and make an announcement amongst the inhabitants of the Heaven. ‘Allah loves so-and-so, therefore you should love him also,’ and so all the inhabitants of the Heaven would love him, and then he is granted the pleasure of the people on the earth.” (Bukhari)
Moreover, for us to truly love Allah, He must love us first, which is why the verse states, “He shall love them” and then “and they shall love Him”. Thus a sign of Allah’s love for you is that you love Him and manifest that love into action.
Love for Allah comes in degrees, and is manifested in our states with Him. When our love and our deeds are accepted by the All-Merciful, there is a certain sakeena, tranquility in the heart. This is when we begin to embody certain characteristics such as patience, contentment and trust in Him. One of the scholars said that the virtue of the Companions was that they recognized that everything came from Allah, and so they would deal with calamities and blessings in the same way. A calamity can be a blessing because Allah is testing your patience, He is bringing you closer to Him, your sins are wiped away due to your patience as the Prophet (pbuh) has said “If Allah desires good for someone, he tests them” (Bukhari). Blessings require thanks and patience too, as they are tests to how we will receive them. The more we find ourselves remembering God and feel a strong desire to please Him, is a sign of His acceptance and love for us.
Some scholars have specifically mentioned “qiyaam al-layl”- the Night Prayer, as a sign of Allah’s love. It is a station reserved for the righteous, to stand in prayer in the night and call on Allah. The famous hadith qudsi states that Allah descends to the lowest heaven in the last third of the night, saying: “Who is that who supplicates for Me, and I grant his supplication? Who is that who begs Me for anything and I grant it to him? And who is that who seeks My forgiveness, and I forgive him?” (Bukhari, Muslim)
Love for the Prophet (pbuh)
We cannot fully love Allah unless we love the Prophet (pbuh). In the Qur’an, Allah tells the Prophet (pbuh) “Say: “If ye do love Allah, Follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-Imran, 3:31)
Love for the Prophet (pbuh) and acting in accordance to his sunnah is a topic for a separate tarbiya in itself. It should be a point of contemplation for us that Allah has said in the Qur’an about our Beloved (pbuh), “And We have not sent you but as a mercy to the worlds.” (Al-Anbiya, 21:107). The Prophet (pbuh) said:
“None of you [truly] believes until I am more beloved to him than his very self, wealth, and all people.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Our Prophet (pbuh) was an embodiment of what it truly means to be close to Allah, and he is our example. We know how to worship Allah through the teachings of His Messenger, and this is why he (pbuh) was sent to us, and this is why he is a mercy, sent from the All-Merciful. He was the beloved of Allah. If that were not enough to instill love in us, we should also remember his noble characteristics and all the suffering he had to endure in order to spread the message so that we may become Muslims. He longed to see us, as it was reported that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) went to the burial grounds and said, “Peace be upon you, home of a people who believe! We shall be among you, Allah willing. I wish that I had seen our brothers!” The people with him said, “Messenger of Allah! Are we not your brothers?” “No,” he said, “You are my companions. Our brothers are those who have not yet come. And I will precede them to the Hawd. (The Hawd: the watering place of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, from which he will give to the people of his community on the day of rising.)” (Malik’s Muwatta’)
May Allah enable us to grow closer to Him, and to prepare for Ramadan by increasing in our acts of worship. May we follow in the footsteps of the Beloved (pbuh), and love Allah and His Messenger more than ourselves. And may we be of those whom Allah loves. Ameen.