(And of people are some who take (for worship) others besides Allah as rivals (to Allah). They love them as they love Allah. But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else)) (Al-Baqarah 2:165)
If I asked you, have you ever felt true love?
What would you say? Would you think about your spouse? Parents? children? Siblings? Friends? What would your answer be?
How many married people remember the day they glanced over at their spouse and realized in that very moment that they were in love? And how many Muslim women remember the love, joy, and happiness that entered their hearts on the day they gave birth?
Although these examples are realities of life, the true love that I speak of is one that fills all hearts, without an atom’s weight left untouched.
Within our heart remains a void, one that can truly be filled only with love for the One who gave us life. The purest, most elevated, and most exalted type of love that exists is love for The One whom hearts were created to love. Hence, true satisfaction, true comfort, and true love can only come only from our Creator, Allah, Exalted be He.
All except Almighty Allah are loved for the love that they give in return. But He is loved for His own sake, in every respect. As a result, all goodness that occurs is one of its fruits and a branch from its roots. The love for Allah is a love so great, it never ceases to be acknowledged, never exists without appreciation, and brings about true blessings for the one that harbors it.
When you deeply love someone, you are willing to do anything to gain his or her pleasure. So what about our Lord? Is He not worthy of having us please Him in all that we do?
If the question of love was put to any Muslim, none would deny the love they have for Almighty Allah. However, the truth of the matter is, the love that is claimed does not truly exist in the heart, for if it did, the actions of the body would not be contrary to the claim. Thus, for persons to truly be lovers of Allah, their lives should show evidence of this love.
The true love that believers feel for Allah renders them completely at His service, and though they are fully aware that their Beloved is in no need of their actions, they continue to strive, nevertheless, so as to prove to their Lord the weight of their love.
When believers reach the ultimate station of love (in Arabic: mahabbah), the heart becomes attached to Almighty Allah to such an extent that it realizes its complete need for and utter dependence upon its Lord.
As a result, such believers are constantly on guard to ensure that they hasten toward what is beloved to Him and leave that which might bring about His displeasure.
When they speak, it is purely for Allah. When silence is observed, it is for Allah. They give for Allah and withhold for Allah. Never would their feet move, except for their Beloved; likewise, they remaining still occurs only for His sake .
Such believers are so overwhelmed by the love of their Beloved that even difficulties and tribulations become a source of delight for them, as they remind themselves that these are from their Lord, thus should be accepted for Him.
Some may wonder why it is that they have never felt such overwhelming love for their Lord before, or why is it that their actions do not affirm their love for Almighty Allah. Let us remind ourselves that Allah (Exalted be He) has not created anything that is sought after without providing the causes and means that can lead to it. Thus, the question is, Have we taken the time to discover what the causes and means are? If so, did we then take the appropriate steps to achieve the desired goals?
From some of the greatest ibadah (Arabic for: act of worship) outlined by Ibn Al-Qayyim in his book The Path to Guidance are ways through which to gain love of Allah:
Increasing in the remembrance (dhikr) of Almighty Allah with presence of heart, reflecting upon His Noble Words, acknowledging the tremendous bounty that Allah has bestowed upon you, standing before Him with presence of heart and due etiquette, attending the gatherings of the lovers of Allah, withholding from any statement, action, or thought that will sever you from attaining the love, and turning away from anything that may cut you off from any of these.
Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Al-Qayyim, and other canonical Islamic scholars have described love of Allah as the highest station that believers will ever achieve, as it is the root of all good and the source of great blessings. Therefore, let us seek the aid of Allah in acquiring this honorable quality, for it is only by His aid and assistance that it can be attained.
Those who compete for this station find Almighty Allah as their Guide and as is beautifully mentioned by Ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah be pleased with him):
It is the station for which the competitors compete;
To it, do the workers fix their gaze;
For reaching its mark, do the forerunners strive;
Upon it, do the lovers annihilate themselves [i.e. work hard toward pleasing Almighty Allah];
And with its refreshing breeze, do the worshippers revive themselves.
It is the heart’s strength, the soul’s nourishment, and the eye’s splendor.
Seek the love of Almighty Allah by loving Him, and strive for the ultimate goal, the best of all stations, and the summit of all states.
So if I were to pose that question to you again, have you ever felt true love?
Now, your answer might be different. But if I asked you, do you long to experience such a love? Without a doubt, your answer would be a definite yes.
Love of Almighty Allah is a sentiment, a sincere feeling of the heart that fills believers with benevolence and affection for their Creator. When such an immense love enters the heart, it takes over the believers’ soul to the extent that they become overwhelmed and completely in awe of their Lord. It creates a realization so intense that comprehension seems too inconceivable; an honor so great, it almost renders it beyond worldly belief. Yet it remains, most certainly, an achievable goal by many means, as Al-Junayd says,
There is a servant who has left his own soul behind,
Who is attached to his Lord’s remembrance,
Who is steadfast in fulfilling His rights;
Who looks to Him with his heart,
His heart burning with the lights of His Divine awe.
The Almighty has raised for him the veils of the Unseen.
When he talks, it is for the sake of Allah;
When he utters, it is about Allah;
When he moves, it is by the command of Allah;
When he rests, it is with Allah.
He is for Allah, by Allah, and with Allah.
Thus, with all the things we grow to love, never will we understand the meaning of true love until our hearts experience divine love — the greatest love of all: love of Allah.
With sincere striving we can become believers who, not only love Allah with all their heart, but who have completely fallen in-love with Him.
Thus, let us love Him and sincerely serve Him more than anything. For lovers of Allah are His true believers.
By Umm Thameenah