- Recitation of the Quran with reflection and understanding of its meanings and what is intended by it. This also enables us to know Allah using His own words.
- Optional acts of worship, after the obligatory ones, can get us closer to Him and furthers the love of Allah beyond what is achieved through the sincere worship through obligatory acts.
- Constant 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 Quran and Hadith), so that a person’s share of love is in accordance with his share of this remembrance.
- Preferring Allah’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 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, the Most High.
- Being alone at the Time of the Descent of Allah (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) and gathering the good fruits (arising) from their speech, 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, the Mighty and the Majestic.
Love for Allah: obligation,significance and rewards
When we love Allah, that love draws us closer to Him and helps us build a strong relationship that can help us in this life and in the hereafter. As Muslims, our faith requires that our love for Allah and his prophet supersedes any other type of love for any other object or creation. Many scholars agree on the basis of sound ahadith that Allah creates a person (and his heart) in such a way that he has the natural inclination to love Allah. However, as a person’s heart gets corrupted by doubts, desires and other temptations, that love has to be rekindled through faith and knowledge.
Love of Allah requires us to love what Allah loves and to dislike what displeases Him and to further demonstrate that love by following the Quran and the Sunnah. This should be a reminder for those of us who merely provide lip service about their love for Allah and His messenger rather than actualizing that love in real behavioral commitments.
Let’s review various aspects about the love of Allah and how we can build and nurture that love in our hearts.
The Obligation to Love Allah
Allah 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 when we take what He has revealed lightly, 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 Ibn Taymiyyah stated in one of his books (Diseases of the Heart), 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 by learning more and asking questions. Consider one of the ahadiths which shows the prophet 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” [Sunan Ibn Majah and classified as Hasan].
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 says in the Quran:
“That is because they followed that which angered Allah, and hated that which pleased Him. So He made their deeds fruitless” (Surah Muhammad:28).
What do we have to do specifically to love Allah? Take the example of the companions of the prophet who used to say that “We love Allah”. In response to that and to provide them a yardstick to know whether they indeed loved Allah, Allah revealed the following verse:
“Say (O Muhammad SAW to mankind): "If you (really) love Allah then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Quran and the Sunnah), Allah will love you and forgive you of your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Surah Aal-e-Imran:31)
What pulls us away from loving Allah?
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. 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 says the following:
“Say: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that you have gained; the commerce in which you fear a decline: or the dwellings in which you (seek) delight – are dearer to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause; then wait until Allah brings about His decision: and Allah guides not the rebellious” (Sura At-Taubah: 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. As He says in the Quran:
“Let not your properties or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. And whosoever does that, they are the losers” (Al-Munafiqoon 63:9).
Love of Allah triggers sweetness of faith
The prophet had said as narrated in both Sahih hadith, “Whoever possesses the following three qualities will taste the sweetness (delight) of faith: the one to whom Alláh and His Messenger become dearer than anything else, the one who loves a person and he loves him only for Alláh’s sake, and whoever hates to revert to disbelief, after Alláh has saved him from it, as he hates to be thrown into the Fire."
Love of Allah 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. Always ask yourself whether what lives in your heart makes you neglect Allah, and is worth more than the love of Allah? When we start replacing the lusts, desires, and fantasies that live in our heart with Allah’s love, then we will see ourselves regaining that love back from Allah.
Ibn Taymiyyah 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 (Majmu Fatawa [1/94]).
Let’s, therefore, take stock of how much we love this life’s objects versus how much we love Allah and His Prophet.
Love of Allah 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 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, lets Allah respond and listen to us. Thus, the more we love Allah, 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.
When we love Allah, He will put 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’s commands. We should realize that such tactics are short lived (even if achieved) and earn us nothing but Allah’s displeasure. On the other hand, if we focus on planting Allah’s love, then we will not only get His love but He will instill our love in others’ hearts as well. Allah says in the Quran:
“Verily, those who believe [in the Oneness of Allah and in His Messenger (Muhammad SAW)] and work deeds of righteousness, the Most Gracious (Allah) will bestow love for them (in the hearts of the believers)” (Surah Maryam: 96).
How do we get love of Allah in our hearts and lives?
Finally, knowing that love for Allah brings about happiness, His pleasure, and keeps us from indulging in temptations, we can focus on factors that increase our love for Allah in our hearts. There are 10 such ways to bring about the love of Allah and they are mentioned below:
As we strive to build Allah’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’s love for us. Umar ibn al-Khattaab said: “Some prisoners were brought to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), 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 (peace be upon him) said, ‘Allah is more merciful to His slaves than this woman is to her child.’” (Agreed upon. Al-Bukhaari, 5653; Muslim, 6912.)
Finally, ensure that you are always reciting the following Dua –
"O Allah, I ask for Your love, and the love of those persons who love You and love of actions that bring me closer to Your love" [Bukhari]
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