Short Answer: God loves humans but hates their sins. This means that although bad deeds merit God’s disapproval and subsequent punishment, they also invoke His infinite mercy on a weak creature whom He has lovingly created, to whom He has given life, and whom He has nurtured with gifts and bounty.
Salam Dear Brother,
Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
A simple answer to your question would be that God loves humans but hates their sins.
This means that although bad deeds merit God’s disapproval and subsequent punishment, they also invoke His infinite mercy on a weak creature whom He has lovingly created, to whom He has given life, and whom He has nurtured with gifts and bounty.
Allah describes Himself in the Quran as “The Loving”:
And He is the Forgiving and Loving (Quran 85:14)
Yet love must be expressed in action; otherwise it’s just a word without meaning.
For example: A man may say to his wife “I love you” and then may treat her badly. Does he love her?
Love between humans and God follows the same principle of actions consistent with words.
It must mean obedience from us to God — as His grateful creation — and mercy from God to us as our loving Creator.
Manifestations of God’s Love
Allah’s love is translated in His attributes of forgiveness, compassion, and mercy.
While His love is bestowed lavishly on those who earned it, His mercy is unconditional.
You receive it whether you are an obedient person, a sinner, or even a pagan or idolater.
If a non-believer sincerely asks God’s help or protection in an emergency, he gets it, although God knows he will turn back to sin as soon as he is rescued.
Despite this, he is given an unconditional dose of God’s infinite mercy that he may find the right path:
When trouble touches a man, he cries unto Us (in all postures), lying down on his side, or sitting, or standing. But when We have solved his trouble, he passes on his way as if he had never cried to Us for a trouble that touched him! Thus do the deeds of transgressors seem fair in their eyes! (Yunus 10:12)
People everywhere in the world obtain their sustenance from Allah regardless of their beliefs.
Many evil people are even very rich because Allah gives them good things in this life, although He knows that they have not earned safety in the hereafter.
On the other hand, believers who follow through with good deeds receive special blessings from Allah: happiness and contentment in this life — even in the midst of trials and tests — and reward in the hereafter for holding on to their faith under pressure.
Allah loves them because they have shown their love to Him practically.
God’s Greatest Mercy to Us: Forgiveness
Allah gives a person a lifelong opportunity to turn away from sin and disobedience, and to choose the right path in order to receive His forgiveness.
Those who commit evil are hurting themselves in this life and the next.
However, Allah’s forgiveness has no limits and the only condition is asking for it:
O My slaves (mankind) who have been prodigal to their own hurt! Despair not of the mercy of Allah, Who forgives all sins. He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. (Quran 39:53-58)
Forgiving sins and accepting repentance is a manifestation of God’s love.
He is absolutely just and fair to the minutest detail, so everyone gets exactly what they deserved, plus extra measures of compassion, mercy, and forgiveness.
Prophet Muhammad said:
Allah said: ‘O son of Adam! I shall go on forgiving you so long as you pray to Me and aspire for My forgiveness whatever may be your sins. O son of Adam! I do not care even if your sins should pile up to the sky and should you beg pardon of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam! If you come to Me with an Earth-full of sins and meet Me, not associating anything with Me in worship, I will certainly grant you as much pardon as will fill the earth’ (At-Tirmidhi).
Expressing Our Love for God
On the other hand, our expression of love for God is being completely obedient to Him in order to gain His love and mercy.
The Quran says what means:
If you love Allah show it in your conduct and obey Allah and His Messenger, for obedience of His Messenger is the obedience of Allah. (Quran 4:80)
Say, if you love Allah, obey me (Muhammad), Allah will love you and forgive you your sins, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Quran 3:31)
Gaining Allah’s Love
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“When Allah loves a slave, He calls Jibreel (Gabriel) and says: ‘I love so-and-so; so love him.’ And then Jibreel loves him. Then Jibreel announces in the heavens saying: ‘Allah loves so-and-so; so love him’; then the inhabitants of the heavens (the angels) also love him; and then people on earth love him.” (Al-Bukhari)
Ibn Al-Qayyim, in his book Madarij As-Salikeen, gives us a prescription to help us gain the love of Allah:
- Giving precedence to what He loves over what you love when you are overtaken by your desires
- Remembering Allah under all circumstances, with your tongue, heart, and actions
- Pondering the beauty of His creation and the wisdom in the universe
- Observing Allah’s kindness, goodness, and bounties
- Having a soft, subdued, and meek heart before Allah
- Being alone with Allah during the last portion of the night while reading His Book, then repenting and asking for forgiveness
- Accompanying the good and sincere people and benefiting from their knowledge
- Keeping away from any evil that comes between the heart and Allah
- Performing voluntary deeds after completing obligatory deeds as is explained in the hadith qudsi: “My slave continues getting closer to Me by performing voluntary deeds until I love him.” (Al-Bukhari)
Allah knows best.
I hope this helps.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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