“I love you for the sake of Allah.”
The first time a Muslim sister told me this I was a little offended.
I thought, “hmmm, I guess you can’t just love me for me, but whatever.”
I had no idea what loving for the sake for Allah meant and as a consequence I didn’t know how deeply one could love.
For me to even approach the issue of love, or any emotion for that matter, was seriously taboo. In the Irish-French Catholic environment that I grew up in, emotions were swept under the rug and only came back out in the form of sarcasm and cynicism. So grappling with the idea of loving people for the sake of Allah was an issue much greater than just understanding the phrase.
But what I came to learn in my Islamic education was that not only are positive emotions-formerly know to me as mushy-ness- NOT signs of weakness, they are a sign of a heart that is alive and well.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was an example of strength and self-control, but he was also known for showing positive emotions and affection.
Allah’s Messenger kissed his grandson while a companion was sitting with him. The companion seeing the tenderness of the Prophet then said:
“I have ten children and have never kissed one of them.”
The Prophet cast a look at him and said:
“Whoever is not merciful to others will not be treated mercifully [by God].” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The Prophet not only told us that being tender to our loved ones is a way to show mercy, he also recommended showing warmth in many different ways:
By giving gifts:
“Exchange presents with one another, for they remove ill feelings from the hearts” (At-Tirmidhi)
By telling one another how you feel:
“If a man loves his brother, he should tell him that he loves him” (Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi)
“Your smile for your brother is charity” (At-Tirmidhi)
As my heart became softer and I started to understand the benefits of showing positive emotions to my sisters in faith and my family members, I started to understand love for the sake of Allah.
It is not that the one who loves you for the sake of God cannot love you for you. It is that they understand that all that you are is because of the one that created you. You are flawed, funny, stubborn, generous, beautiful, and/or energetic because Allah has made you all that you are.
Love for the sake of Allah is recognizing that the person that you love was made from clay and incomparably modeled to have such a wonderful impact on you.
Love for the sake of Allah is attaching your heart to Allah and being kind and gentle to His creation. It’s loving those who bring you closer to Allah. Love for the sake of Allah means you want the best for your loved one and you want them to be the best they can be.
This kind of love makes all other emotions that simulate love seem utterly superficial. We may experience love for the sake of beauty, but it only reaches cutaneous depths.
We may feel love for a charismatic personality, but it fades with better acquaintance. We may even love for the sake of provision, but no amount of wealth can fill the heart.
As Yasmin Mogahed writes:
“Allah is Al-Wadud (The Source of Love). Therefore, love comes from God—not people. As one author, Charles F. Haanel, put it: ‘To acquire love… fill yourself up with it until you become a magnet.’ When you fill yourself with the Source of love (Al-Wadud), you become a magnet for love”.
We cannot offer love to others when our own hearts are empty. So when we fill our hearts with the love of Allah by coming closer to Him, by knowing Him in His words, and remembering Him in our deeds, then and only then can truly love others. (Find more ways to become closer to Allah here).
And we will be greatly rewarded for this pure love. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
“Allah Almighty will say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘Where are those who loved one another for the sake of My majesty? Today, on the day when there is no shade but My shade, I will shade them.'” (Muslim)
In another hadith, Mu’adh said:
“I heard the Messenger of Allah say:
‘Allah, the Mighty and Exalted, says, “Those who love one another for My majesty will have minbars (pulpit) of lights. The Prophets and martyrs will envy them.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Now when someone tells me that they love me for the sake of Allah, I know it is a pure love. And respond by saying, May He, for whom you have loved me, love you.
This article is from Reading Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.