This response is from About Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.
Salam Dear Julie and Welcome to Islam,
May Allah bestow mercy on you during the month of Ramadan.
Well, I have always believed in the right to love. The impression that love is opposite to the manners of Islam or against a profound sense of spirituality goes against the socio-logic of Islam itself.
It is just that when two people love each other they have to act in conformity with Islamic morality. So, the feeling cannot be judged, what can be judged are the actions.
Regardless of space and place, people have – ingrained within their very souls – the dispensation for love. And, of course love needs closeness and engagement in the simplest form. This is not only human, but it is also Islamic. Again it is the space, scope and level of engagement that we should discuss.
In Islam, it is enough that a person gives him/herself to another person in recognition of marriage or simply… devotion. Love is just that. The important thing in Islam is the recognition that there is sakina (tender and peaceful dwelling towards one another) between two persons.
They should be “housing” one another … seeking refuge from the conditions and pressures of life in the peaceful company of each other. In fact, such relation is one of Allah’s blessings and secrets that becomes a heaven in a heartless world.
Love, my dear, is a feeling of the heart, while what Islamic morality is about are the actions, which follow that feeling. We can also say here that Islam rejects, for example, sex without love, or more precisely rejects the separation and independence of sex from love, i.e. fornication and also prostitution.
In this sense, every love; genuine love – is a marriage of souls. When the two persons are single – or even in the case of polygamy, when the woman is single – the feeling should be framed by a socio-legal marriage of the two.
Also, it should be framed by the engagement of family and community in providing the couple with support and recognition. This is how love and marriage become an integral part of the community and a foundation for bringing Islam about in personal time-history and social space, generation after the other.
The affection and compassion has nothing to do with bad morality. People love because they are organically and spiritually abnormal and almost inhumane when they loose their ability to love. It is part of a genuine natural instinct and a sign of the good heart.
The issue here is even how we can – and should – discuss the capacity and right to love as part of morality. Morality is an ordinate… a vector, which binds a person’s practice by the inner non-aggression or transgression pact with him/herself.
In light of such definition, a person may not transgress on God’s revealed guidance, regarding the way we should behave socially, not transgress another relation of love and commitment, hence the severe position towards zina (sexual intercourse outside wedlock).
Morality springs from religion. And, religion provides a huge space of freedom, but sets the boundaries around it and states where the border is, so that we would not be lost in the abyss of ignorance or transgression.
I think that what is currently assumed to be Islamic morality, regarding the segregated relation between the two sexes in public life, is by and large only rigidity and traditions … rather than true Islam.
Reading the history of the prophet (peace be upon him) does prove that. I will not go into details here on the overlap between the public and private, and the astonishingly active presence of women in the public sphere. This is while being very strict with manners, yet very assertive, in matters of love, marriage, marital relation, and even divorce.
The fundamental question of morality and ethics is how to define goodness, or the good. Islam defined it in terms of i`mar (filling earth with life). This is a practical standard from which we may deduce a number of vectors.
I`mar cannot be secured without peace, compassion, respect to others’ dignity, and rights; including individual zones of privacy and Allah’s right to be the Judge on ideal goodness and best modes of social interaction … etc.
I cannot also separate the notion of the oneness of Allah and that He is the One and Only, from the fact that He created man and woman longing to the company of one another, with rooted love and affection towards each other deep inside our hearts.
So, to love is basically to pursue the will of Allah, in order to join together, in families and communities, to fill the earth with love and peace.
In fact, human sensibility is very existential. It cannot be regulated except from within. The more taqwa (Allah’s love and fear mixed and blended) you achieve within your soul, the better you would be able to handle your feelings properly.
Then, you would not fear any “bad morality”, my dear. Enjoy the blooming rose of love in your believing heart, along the serenity of worship by the close of the month.
Just make du`a (supplications) that Allah would make your beloved man see and feel the same so that you get married and establish a good Muslim family.
Make it a habit and do it sincerely, believing in God’s mercy and ability to fulfill your request. And … we look forward to hearing good news, soon insha’ Allah.
We will make our own humble du`a for you as well and wish you the very best.
I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.
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