We face constant opportunities to compare and seek validation from others.
Whether scrolling through a social media site or talking with a group of friends, we see what the world considers success and fight the innate desire to see how we measure up.
As we ascertain how we measure up in the world’s opinion, there’s a risk of forgetting that what is more significant is our personal relationship with God. It is this that should determine our sense of success and self-worth.
It is God’s opinion of us that should matter most, and by centering our lives on God and His plan for us, we, as Muslims, will definitely feel a greater sense of accomplishment in our daily lives. Believe it or not, it is much easier to measure up to God’s measure of success then to that of His creations.
Maybe we already think we know God but the way we know Him isn’t working for us. We’re not enjoying the relationship, but why?
Here’s the real secret, we can fulfill the commands of the Quran which orders us to obey God better by falling in love with God than by trying to obey everything.
Islam even teaches us that the first thing the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), said to the people of Madinah was:
O people! Love God with all of your hearts for what He has given you from blessings.
Seriously, how can we not love God?
If we try to think of all the reasons why we love other people or things, and then of course (on a different parallel) apply it to God, we should see that truly it is Him that deserves our love, and since we are created to be naturally inclined to love, it is only the love of God that can satisfy this need.
All this boils down to an insight shared by scholar Ibn Taymiyyah who relayed that:
“The heart will not find complete happiness except by loving God and by striving towards what is dear to Him.”
It is clear that God wants all that person is and has to give. He commands us to love Him with everything we are, with every ounce of our being.
Feelings cannot be commanded, so it must be understood that love is not a feeling or an emotion. Love is a decision. For us as believers, God wants us to decide to love Him in all that we do, for all of our lives.
To Love is to Obey
To love God is to obey His word. He is greatly delighted when we obey because He knows that only then will we be the most blessed. He does not want us to act religious and just go through the motions. And He knows all and sees through that kind of hypocrisy. He wants heart, soul, mind and strength.
It’s not that our obedience to God isn’t significant or relevant; it’s simply not the center of the wheel. More so, the hub of our lives is our relationship with God.
Our behavior and obedience radiate like spokes from the center of our lives and allow us to roll forward.
When we put our external behavior as the turning point, we get stuck. As mentioned earlier, the forward motion must be fueled by the love for God.
Sometimes (I know I fall into the group), we are trying to be good people by doing godly things, reading the Quran, praying and serving those in need.
But we’re sometimes doing it out of a sense of religious duty and obligation, not because we’re in love with God and want to know Him and offer up our lives to Him. This results in us wondering why our spiritual lives are so dry. Aren’t we doing everything a good practicing Muslim should do?
To Love is to Know
To love God we need to get to know Him, and this is like any other relation can only be done through communication, by prayer and supplication. When we call someone on the phone, we generally ask to speak to them by name. It’s the same with prayer.
During this life, we praise Him and thank Him for the blessings in our life. We have much to be grateful for in our lives: family, friends, homes, our gifts and talents.
Showing gratitude and respect to God helps us be humble and willing to submit to His Will for us rather than focusing on our own wants.
The Quran reads:
Say, O Muhammad, “If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger and struggle in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people. (9:24)
Remember, God’s commands are always in our best interest, as we are His creations. God is love and God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. His ways are always the best, designed for maximum benefits and blessings in abundance for His creations.
By getting to know God, and not just including Him but making Him a priority into our life, we allow Him to help us reach our full potential.
He will guide us through the dark even if at times we feel that dark concept is a difficult one for us we should never discard it, simply because we don’t understand it. There is so much out there that we don’t understand.
Amongst the things to aspire to when striving for tranquility of the heart, loving God above all else is the greatest. When we direct our love and our emotions towards Him everything else follows. Our actions follow because they reflect what is in our heart.
It is liberating because our love is directed at the source of all our blessings, not merely the means. We see everything as coming from God and because we love Him and think well of Him, we know that everything is for a purpose.
Loving God is the ultimate aim. Having attained the state of true love for Him, each stage that follows it is one of its fruits and a branch from its roots such as longing and contentment. Equally so, each stage that precedes such as repentance, perseverance and doing without is also a fruit.
It is essential we exert effort in seeking closeness to our Creator. Like any relation it requires patience and consistency. We all know we need to struggle to achieve great things. The harder the struggle is, the better the outcome becomes.
So working harder to get close to God takes time, it is not an overnight affair. We cannot expect everything to magically fall into place by doing a righteous deed. And we need to depend on Him trust that what He has planned for us is the best we can have, for this life and the hereafter.
Remember all relationships are enjoyable when you love, and what better way to be that better Muslim that God created simply by loving Him unconditionally rather than out of obligation.
(From Reading Islam’s archive.)