Putting Love to the Test
By Zainab Abaid
the emotion most often talked about, written about, depicted in movies, and philosophized about.
the emotion said to be the most powerful reason for life itself, the biggest motivation for doing or not doing whatever you choose to.
is it really what we have been raised to think it is? Is it really what we see in tales of beautiful princesses and of handsome suitors, of tall castles, of shining dreams and of fairy tale weddings? Or is it something deeper, something more than skin-deep, more than a few sweetly formed words and delighting promises? What do we see in the world all around us today? Marriages broken, families destroyed, parents angered and disappointed, lives given up, all sacrificed at the altar of so-called “love” – is this really all that love is about? Let us turn to the Quran and Sunnah for answers. The discussion below summarizes lessons from various sources to help us understand the concept of true love in Islam.
Love is essentially of three kinds:
-Love based on benefits:
This forms in order to gain a particular benefit, and ends as soon as that benefit is no more there.
-Love based on lust:
This forms very quickly, but ends just as fast, being based on something extremely superficial.
-Love for Allah’s sake:
This is based completely on goodness, and is principle centered. It forms wherever goodness (or khair) is found, and remains as long as the khair remains.
Hence the only kind of love which is truly permanent is this last kind – benefits, lust and enjoyment all fade away quickly, but khair remains. This kind of love transcends petty troubles, and is the only kind strong enough to survive all the highs and lows life is sure to bring.
The ultimate result of this kind of love is that it takes a person closer to Allah and closer to good deeds.
The Excellence Loving for Allah’s Sake:
The excellence of such love is expressed in the beautiful hadith that follows:
“Among Allah’s servants are people who are neither prophets nor martyrs, but whom the prophets and martyrs will deem fortunate because of their high status with Allah.”
The Companions asked, “O Messenger of Allah! Inform us of who they are.” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told them that they are people who loved each other for Allah’s sake, even without being related to one another or being tied to one another by the exchange of wealth. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) went on to describe their great reward on the Day of Resurrection:
“By Allah, their faces will be luminous and they will be upon light. They will feel no fear when the people will be feeling fear, and they will feel no grief when the people will be grieving.” Then he (peace and blessings be upon him) read the verse: [Behold! verily on the friends of Allah there is no fear, nor shall they grieve] (Yunus 10:62). (Abu Dawud)
Who wouldn’t want that this kind of love be the binding force in our relationships? So let us find out more about the characteristics of this love, for only then can we ensure that our relationships are in accordance with it.
The Characteristics of Love for Allah’s Sake:
Since such a relationship is formed for the sake of Allah, every aspect of it has one purpose: pleasing Allah, and helping each other on the path to Jannah. We tend to forget the akhirah, our true purpose, when we are overwhelmed by love for human beings, but this is a kind of love that only reinforces that true purpose. Hence there is no vain, purposeless talk, no backbiting, no gossip, and no making fun of each other or other people.
In such a relationship, Allah is the center, not our own selves. Hence, decisions are made on the basis of what will be more pleasurable to Allah, and not only what the heart desires. Another consequence is that there aren’t any arguments based on demands for time or attention; rather, each person tries to divert the other’s attention to acts that would be most loved by Allah in all circumstances. How peaceful our lives would become if all our relationships were formed truly for Allah’s sake! No fights over time, no constant complaints of you-have-no-time-for-me-anymore, no wasting each other’s precious time – just a constant race for Allah’s pleasure!
Pushing each other for good deeds and stopping from evil:
Since those who love each other for Allah’s sake worry not only about each other’s worldly success but also about the akhirah, they are always on the lookout for ways to further each other in good deeds. Namaz and dhikr reminders, urging each other to nafl ibadah, and correcting each other’s mistakes all become a constant part of the relationship.
Increase in Love for Allah:
This kind of love will always result in a closer link to Allah. We must remember that any relationship that weakens our link to Allah, no matter how sure we are that it is formed for Allah’s sake, cannot bring khair – it will bring only torment!
Reality Check – Let’s Analyze!
Sometimes it is too easy to fool ourselves into thinking that a certain relationship is for Allah’s sake – but remember, that if any one of these characteristics is missing, that love is not truly for Allah’s sake, but a mere shell of it; if it causes the slightest laziness in going towards Allah, the slightest laziness in rushing to salaah, a reduction in the time spent with the Quran, then just think, who are we trying to fool? Does Allah not know the reality of things?
One more thing needs to be understood about love. Love can be sacrificed for principle’s sake, but principle must never be sacrificed for love. Did Prophet Ibrahim AS not love his child, that he was ready to pull a knife across the boy’s throat? Is that not a sacrifice of love for principle’s sake? For Allah’s sake? Yet today Allah does not ask us to sacrifice the lives of our loved ones for Him, but only a little of the time that we spend with them, but we do not want to give up even that. Then we claim that we are on the way of Ibrahim. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w used to become estranged from his family the second the adhaan was called; we, on the other hand, are ready to become strangers to Allah the second that the attractions of the world call to us. Then we claim to be on his sunnah!
It is time we come out of our pretence – time that we closely analyze our relationships, especially those which we claim are for Allah’s sake, and make necessary modifications. Yes, it is not always easy, for love is too strong an emotion to easily overcome, but think of the love of the Greatest, the Most High, that awaits us if we only try to submit our emotions to His will!
Checklist for Analysis:
To help us analyze each of our relationships, here is the checklist we need to think about.
• When we sit together, what do we talk about? Is there any backbiting? Gossip?
• Do we waste time together? Or does everything we do have a clear purpose?
• Do we remind and push other for opportunities of good deeds, big and small?
• Do we dare stop each other from bad deeds or bad habits? Or are we too afraid of losing the love?
• Has our salaah ever gotten delayed because we were too busy talking?
• Has our link with Allah improved or deteriorated since we met?
• Do we keep our own happiness or satisfaction above Allah’s pleasure in our relationship?
• Does the level of our imaan perceptibly increase every time we are together?
May Allah give us all the blessing of being able to love others truly and purely for His sake alone!
(Content taken from tafseer of Surah Yusuf, Ayah 32, explained by Dr. Farhat Hashmi in Taleem ul Quran 2002)