Allah, the Exalted, is the first of those for whom love is intrinsically incumbent upon man, because He possesses all the attributes of perfection and beauty, and all creatures are dependant upon him. Allah, the Exalted, says,
﴿ قُلْ إِنْ کانَ آباؤُکُمْ وَأَبْناؤُکُمْ وَإِخْوانُکُمْ وَأَزْواجُکُمْ وَعَشِيرَتُکُمْ وَأَموالٌ اقْتَرَفتُمُوها وَتِجارَةٌ تَخشَونَ کَسادَها وَمَساکِنُ تَرْضَونَها أَحَبَّ إِلَيکُمْ مِنَ اللهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَجِهادٍ في سَبيلِهِ فَتَرَبَّصُوا حَتّی يأتِي اللهُ بِأَمْرِهِ وَاللهُ لا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفاسِقينَ ﴾
“Say: If your fathers and your sons and your brethren and your mates and your kindred and property which you have acquired, and the slackness of trade which you fear and the dwellings which you like, are dearer to you than Allah and His Apostle and striving in His way, then wait until Allah brings about His command; and verily Allah does not guide the transgressing people.”1
2. Allah’s Prophet (S)
Among the people who have to be loved for the sake of Allah is the honorable and beloved Prophet, Muhammad (S). The reason for loving the Noble Prophet (S) is that he is the intermediary of all temporal and spiritual graces. It is for this reason that he has been mentioned immediately after the name of Allah in the above-mentioned verse and it has been ordered that he, too, must be loved.
The Prophet of Islam (S) says,
«اَحِبُّوا اللهَ لما يغذوکمْ وَأَحِبُّوني بحُبِّ الله...»
“You must love Allah because he gives you all sustenance, and love me for the sake of Allah…”2
Moreover, the lofty spiritual virtues and moral perfection of the Noble Prophet (S) attract the love and affection of the hearts of all believers.
3. The Prophet’s Household [Ahl al-Bayt]
There is plentiful emphasis in the Qur’an and in Islamic traditions of both Sunnis and Shi‘ahs that believers must show their love and affection towards the people of the Prophet’s Household, not just because they are the Prophet’s offspring but because they posses the same lofty moral virtues, spiritual attainments and moral perfections as the Prophet.
In other words, they possess all the attributes of perfection and beauty in a comprehensive manner. Putting it more accurately, they are the very manifestation of Allah’s attributes of perfection and beauty. Therefore, showing heartfelt love and affection towards these lofty personalities in fact means loving the excellence that has manifested itself in them in a complete and perfect manner. The source of this good and excellence is Allah, the Exalted.
Therefore, expressing affection and devotion to the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt (as) is tantamount to loving and being devoted to Allah, the Exalted.
Loving good and virtuous people compels and drives man towards noble virtues because love is a force that drives man to his Beloved, and therefore he strives to conduct himself in the way that his Beloved approves. Loving exemplary models, especially Allah’s awliya’, is extremely beneficial from the aspect of personal training and self-purification.
1. Surat al-Tawbah (or Bara’ah) 9:24.
2. Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 194.