Love from the Qur'anic Context
In our previous issues, we have discussed `salat' and `zikr' from the Quranic point of view. This month, we will examine how our innate longing for the remembrance (zikr) of Allah springs forth from love and shall go on to see how we share a divine romance with our Creator.
As we all know, when one loves someone, he loves the name and everything else about that object of love. Before we go any further, let's keep in mind the fact that it is not enough that remembrance or zikr of Allah be limited to mere lip-service but in fact acting according to His commands is also part of zikr. In this article we shall also observe how the lovers of Allah can not but also shower their love on His creatures and how all their friendships as well as enmities have their source in love for Allah.
Love - A Basic Need
Psychologists are of the view that human beings have two basic psychological needs:
1) To be loved (by others)
2) To love (others)
It has been observed that one's need to love others is so strong that it even overpowers one's need to be loved by others. Many mystics have prescribed that in order to be able to overcome the evils of desire for name, fame, position and lusts, one needs to be deeply lost in divine love. In fact great mystic poets like Maulavi (Jalaladdin Rumi) have even used the language of love to explain such complicated issues as free will and pre-destination (Ikhtiyar and Jabr). All problems or complaints come up when one considers himself as a separate entity from the other; but when in love, one loses his sense of individuality in the other and with the melting of individuality and personality all one's problems or complaints melt away. Before referring to some Quranic verses regarding love, let us briefly view the importance of love according to Christianity.
In fact Christianity has emphasized so greatly on divine love that even from the pulpits in churches one can hear that "God is Love". Christian 'missionaries' as well as sincere Christians uses this as the operative theme in daily lives.
Many scholars are of the opinion that Islamic mysticism has been deeply influenced by Christianity. This may not even be a far-fetched claim since the essence of all religions is the same and religious thinkers have always exchanged notes since all of them believe that Allah is only One.
Before going any further into this discussion, let us ponder on the question, "Has the Quran anywhere spoken about `love' for Allah?"
The following Quranic Verses prove that the answer is in the affirmative: The Qur'an says:
"And there are some among men who take for themselves objects of worship besides Allah, whom they love as they love Allah, and those who believe are stronger in love for Allah and O, That those who are unjust had seen, when they see the chastisement, that the power is wholly Allah's and that Allah is severe in requiting (evil)." (2:165)
Many scholars argue that love is actually "passionate" in nature and can thus only be applicable to material objects and in reality cannot thus be applicable to Allah. And they interpret the word "love" from the Qur'an to mean "obedience". They believe that using the word "love" in connection with Allah can only be symbolic in nature.
In response to this argument, many mystics answer that from the above-mentioned Quranic verse: "... and those who believe are stronger in love for Allah...”
proves not only the validity of divine love but also goes on to indicate that there are degrees of divine love. And if divine love could only be interpreted as "obedience", the word "obedience" would have been used instead in place of the word "love".
There is yet another verse from the Quran that goes to prove that divine love is a reality and isn't only a symbolic term. It says:
"Say: `If your fathers and your sons and your brethren and your mates and your kinsfolk and property which you have acquired and the slackness of trade which you fear and dwellings which you like, are dearer to you than Allah and His Apostle and striving in His way, then wait till Allah brings about this command..." (9:24)
The above Verse uses the word "dearer" as a common quality or feeling to describe what one can experience for one's father, sons, brethren, etc., as well as towards Allah. This goes to prove that in the same manner that love or "dearness" is possible between various human relationships, it is also valid towards Allah.
One could question as to why we have chosen to discuss issues like, "love", "zikr" and "salat" in the Qur'an instead of discussing the social and political issues from the Quran. The answer is that the most pleasurable moments in one's life are those beautiful and sweet moments that one has spent in isolation, invoking Allah. And the purest of tears are those that have flowed from the eyes of a lover and worshipper of Allah, in the dark of the night. While dealing with the world and with social and political issues, one often confronts hypocrisy, ostentation, lies, and other such evils which all dissolve in love. If approached from the foundation of "Unity" (Tawhid) and thus "love", all social and political problems disappear and love replaces all the selfish qualities of the carnal self with sharing, compassion, kindness, mutual support, etc.
Love of Allah and thus also love of one's self as well as all His creatures is the remedy to all the sufferings and discord among mankind.
Let us refer to the following Quranic Verse that speaks of love:
"Say: If you love Allah then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive your faults and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful." (3:31)
The above Verse shows us the path to expressing our love for Allah, through love and obedience, towards His Messenger (pbuh). We often find that the words love, peace, joy and prosperity are all inter-related. We can see from this above-mentioned Verse that through our love for Allah, when we worship and follow only His commands that have reached us through His Messenger (SAW), Allah is pleased. The pleasure of Allah let's us experience His love in return to us and when He forgives us our sins and shortcomings we experience peace, joy and contentment. Also Allah's love brings in more prosperity and His mercy that protects and guards us from base human instincts. Gradually as one's love and obedience for Allah increases, his individuality and personality start fading away into the radiance of Allah. The lover dies to himself in his love for the Beloved and all becomes One in love.
1- Tafsir -e Al Mizan by Allahmeh Tabatabaie
2- Mizan ul Hekma by Hojjatul Islam Rey Shahri
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