Over the past couple years of reading and listening to lectures about Islam and comparative religion, I have started to look at the three major monotheistic religions in a different light.
I started to realize that Christianity tends to appeal more to the emotions.
Christians will tell you that God is love and that their faith is a rich, inner experience. This is true and a beautiful way to look at faith.
In Judaism, on the other hand, education remains one of the highest principles.
There is an emphasis on learning tenets and laws. To many Jews, religion is a life-long cerebral process. This is a noble and very beneficial practice.
But Islam combines the two.
God is love. God calls Himself Al-Wadud a superlative term for love which has been translated as the “One who is full of loving kindness”. Religiosity should be a personal and emotional feeling of connectedness to the Creator.
God says in the Quran:
Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured. (13:28)
Likewise, In Islam, education is vital.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim.” (Ibn Majah)
So there is a lifelong obligation to continue to acquire knowledge.
In fact, the first verses of Quran revealed to Prophet Muhammad had to do with gaining knowledge:
Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists). He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not. (96: 1-5)
We cannot leave out knowledge. If we do, we will be those who are lead astray.
We cannot leave out love either. If we do, we will be those who have earned God’s anger. And we ask God to save us from these fates every time we pray.
Guide us to the straight path. The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray. (Quran 1:6-7)
Much has been written and commented on about gaining religious knowledge.
It is a major focus for new Muslims especially.
But it is so important to also emphasize growing in love for God, our deen, our Prophet, our families, our spouses, our brethren, and all of God’s creation.
Love, and all that it entails – compassion, empathy, tenderness, etc.- is an essential part of an Islamic way of life that we sometimes overlook.
And there are many different ways we should be experiencing this love in Islam.
Love for God
The love for God is the love we should be seeking first and always.
We cannot offer love to others when our own hearts are empty. So we must first fill our hearts with the source of love-God. To love God we must first get to know Him.
Get to know God’s names and attributes, how He speaks about them in the Quran (More here), and how the Prophet tells us about God in the Hadith.
One Example is God’s attribute- mercy: The Prophet Muhammad said:
“Verily, there are one hundred parts of mercy for Allah, and it is one part of this mercy by virtue of which there is mutual love between the people and ninety-nine reserved for the Day of Resurrection.” (Muslim)
And one of God’s name is the Most Merciful – Ar-Rahim.
God Tells us in the Quran:
And indeed, your Lord – He is the Exalted in Might, the Merciful. (26:9)
To love God, we must talk to Him. The five prayers a day is prescribed to us so that we can get closer to God, to return to Him in worship.
Supplication is another way to find love for God. Asking Him for His favors by using His beautiful names and attributes is a great way to feel more connected to God.
To love God, be thankful to Him. Being thankful to the Creator for all that He has created, for all that we have.
This is a powerful way to feel love for and connection with God. We can (and should) even thank Him for giving us the mind, the heart, the tongue- the ability to thank Him.
Through this love of God we can find love for the rest of God’s creation.
Love for the Prophet Muhammad
Once we establish our love of God, we can form a bond with the Prophet (peace be upon him). God sent him to mankind to convey God’s message and mercy to mankind.
In the face of extreme tests and opposition, the Prophet Muhammad stood up and spoke the truth about God. He spoke the truth about guidance.
Through death threats, insults, torture, fear, loss of property and the death of loved ones; the Prophet remained steadfast.
Even when it seemed like the world was against him, he conveyed God’s mercy to mankind, to us so that we could be guided.
It is for all of this and for the love of God that we love Prophet Muhammad:
Say to them (Muhammad): If you love God, follow (and love and honor) me, and God will love you. (3:31)
Love for Your Brothers and Sisters
The love between believers is a natural one. As the expression goes, any friend of so and so is a friend of mine.
In this way, do the believers find mutual love-through their shared love of God and His Messenger (peace be upon him).
We have love for each other as Muslims because we realize that we are all creations of God, we are all struggling in the path to God, and we want to help each other in this path.
The Prophet said:
None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself. (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)
If we love God, each other, and all of creation as we should- with mercy, gentleness, patience, compassion, and so much more- we will get rewards for it.
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)
(From Discovering Islam’s archive)