By: Mufti Ali Gomaa
Love is a noble human feeling which indicates life and humanity and it is one of the concomitant consequences of mercy. The merciful is the one who loves. Love is all about giving and generosity and it is such a unique feeling and for this reason it is said that “whoever love is unable to hate”. On the other hand when love is gone, mercy follow suit and once mercy is gone from earth, the amount of corruption, injustice, deterioration and devastation on earth would be beyond all measures.
Love in Islam transcended from being only feelings or emotions to become an obligation. Simultaneously, it superseded the limited meaning of love which is confined to love between a man and a woman to entail a more encompassing meaning which is used as a measure for life, a base for behavior and a key to ethics. Love for life with its matters, incidents, people is a well established matter in the Quran. Love in Islam turns to a positive energy that is channeled towards goodness and development.
Let’s start our talk about love with what God likes and dislikes. There are a number of verses in the Quran which sketches a clear blueprint and establishes a constitution for real love. Unfortunately love some times is mixed with lust and desire and other times is tainted with shady personal interests whereas real love is always transparent which may include lust but without corruption and may entail interest but without selfishness and may encompass a purpose but without treachery; it is simply a type of love that we missed in our lives.
God in the Quran states the fact that people sometimes love things but not necessarily for their own good, God says “But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” 2:216 and in another verse God says:
“Indeed, [O Muhammad], you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the [rightly] guided. 28:56 and He stated in terms of the love of principles “and let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that God should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful”. 24:22
So what does God love? God says in the Quran “Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.” 2:222 and in another verse God says:
“But yes, whoever fulfills his commitment and fears Allah – then indeed, Allah loves those who fear Him.” 3:76
“And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.” 2:195
“But they never lost assurance due to what afflicted them in the cause of Allah , nor did they weaken or submit. And Allah loves the steadfast.” 3:146
“And if you judge, judge between them with justice. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” 5:42
“And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah . Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].” 3:159
“Indeed, Allah loves those who fight in His cause in a row as though they are a [single] structure joined firmly.” 61:4
These are eight characteristics which God loves for his servants to obtain. God loves for his servant that whenever he wrongs himself, he turns back to His lord in repentance even if he repeated his mistakes over and over again as God accepts the repentance of the remorseful ones and forgives abundantly. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“All the sons of Adam are subject to err and the best among those who err are the ones who repent” (Musnad Ahmad, (3/198).
Therefore, repentance in Islam is of a high anti depression philosophy as it obligates us to renew our lives and to look ahead to the future and not to look back on the past. If it is necessary to look at the past though, we should learn from it some valuable lessons and carry them for the future and not to bear on one’s shoulder the burden of the past which hinders one’s ability to open a new page and start a new life. We should never feel despair as repentance in itself teaches us self vigilance and direct our course in life along with paying our attention to potential pitfalls. So it is one of the loveable characteristics that we should establish as one of the cornerstones of love.
God also loves those who purify themselves inside and out. If repentance is considered as a self purifying spiritual act, cleanliness is one of the outer acts of purification. Cleanliness includes that of the body, clothes, and furniture because place in Islam is inseparable part for Muslims in their worship of God. God says:
“Purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who are staying [there] for worship and those who bow and prostrate [in prayer].” 2:125.
So let’s make purification as the second cornerstone of love.
So if we embedded both repentance and purification as part of our character, we would be described as pious and piety is defined as fear which results from love and not awe. The pious is the one who is afraid that his lover might get angry with him and care for his lover and refrain from whatever hurts him along with accelerating towards whatever pleases him. A poet once said,
If he is really your love, you would have obeyed him
As the lover is always obedient to his beloved
While the pious starts with himself, the excellence doer extends his excellence to others and for this reason God praised excellence doers as the reward for the things that its benefits extend to others is greater than the actions which its benefits are limited to the doer only. Therefore excellence is an open paradigm which encompasses benefitting people across the world and it is another important cornerstone in the paradigm of love.
When we reach the level of excellence in our deeds, we need to maintain patience and perseverance for continuation of these deeds as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“the most beloved deeds to God are the ones which last even if they were not many”.
Through practicing patience, it turns to be a well established natural disposition embedded in the character itself. God loves those who are patients which means that He dislikes the confused and the hesitant who delves into a certain work and then leaves it. So patience is the fifth cornerstone in the paradigm of love.
Justice is the base of good governance and for this reason God loves justice and commanded us to practice it among ourselves. He also pointed out to the fact that justice is an absolute value which is not subject to change through time or depending on different circumstances; an attitude which turns the one who practice to be unjust and God detests those who are unjust. Unfortunately, some people would need to spend sometime pondering on the importance of justice as absolute value and they need to realize that justice is one of the vital cornerstones in the paradigm of love.
Therefore, if some people are doomed with being deprived of love and instead filled their hearts with hatred or the like, we should not follow suit as the Prophet (peace be upon him) warned us against this saying:
“Don’t be an imitator, if people did good so would you and if they were unjust so were you, but you should have a stance that if they did good so would you and if they wronged themselves, don’t be unjust”.
These cornerstones formulate the paradigm of love which leads to spreading goodness and peace across the world. This paradigm of love is actually our greater jihad through which one would prevent evil and lift injustice and repress aggression.