With the first week of Ramadan over, I can’t help but notice how much of our Ramadan is shaped by sharing our love of the month with other Muslims.
Family members are cooking extravagant meals for one another, we’re spending quality time with loved ones at 3 AM, and salams are exchanged on every corner!
There is no greater love than the love for the sake of Allah. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) explains to us that among those who will be shaded under the throne of Allah on the Day of Judgement are those who love each other for the sake of Allah. There are ways to keep the love alive beyond this blessed month, so let’s talk about them!
Dr. Gary Chapman revolutionized the idea of love and relationships with his book “The Five Love Languages.” (a highly recommended read).
The basis of the book is that individuals give and receive love very differently and to fortify any relationship, you have to understand how you and how the other receives love. Do you/the other feel most loved when you hear reassuring words? Or when someone helps you do something you hate?
The idea breaks down love so easily and if we can understand it, we can invest into all our relationships and feel more fulfilled/less lonely.
Today, I take on the task of highlighting each love language from the perspective of Islam.
1. Words of Affirmation
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,
“When a man loves his brother (for Allah’s sake) let him tell him that he loves him“. (At- Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud).
It’s not enough to assume that your best friend knows how much you love her. A simple “I appreciate you,” “I’m proud of you,” and “I love you” can go a very long way. Nowadays, there’s nothing sweeter than getting a text that reminds you that you’re loved. Occasionally, shoot a text to your mom or wife. It means the world and costs you nothing.
During Ramadan, this looks like our constant salam and congratulating each other on another month! Let’s continue those salams and beautiful words beyond Ramadan.
2. Acts of Service
Narrated `Abdullah bin `Amr:
A man came to the Prophet (saw) asking his permission to take part in Jihad. The Prophet asked him, “Are your parents alive?” He replied in the affirmative. The Prophet said to him, “Then exert yourself in their service.” (Bukhari)
Have you ever heard the saying “actions speak louder than words”?
For someone whose main love language is “acts of service” (like me), that saying couldn’t be any truer. Someone who speaks this love language needs to see willful action from you.
That means you offering to help without being asked. Or going out of your way to take care of an errand.
It might mean offering to drive your siblings around, doing the dishes without being asked, or helping proofread a friend’s essay. But beware because laziness and complaining can take you backwards rather quickly.
During Ramadan, this looks like those helping to set up iftar whether at home or in public spaces. Continue that khidma (service) beyond Ramadan to gain Allah’s pleasure!
3. Giving and Receiving Gifts
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), said, “Give gifts and you will love one another.” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)
I’ve always loved how straight-forward of a prescription this hadith is.
There is a direct correlation between gift-giving and increasing love. In fact, after the conquest of Makkah, the Prophet (saw) gave rather generous gifts to the chiefs of the newly Muslim Meccan tribes. They describe how it increased their love for the Prophet and Islam.
But don’t get confused! Gifts don’t have to be rare or expensive. In fact, Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (saw) stated:
“O Muslim women, never belittle any gift you give your neighbour even if it is a hoof of a sheep.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
The point of a gift is not to show off or go bankrupt but to show that you were thinking of the person.
Whether it’s a sticker you bring home for your little sibling or a chocolate bar you picked up for your wife, it’s the thought that counts here. There’s nothing wrong with a little splurge every now and then if you can afford it.
And let’s continue to be generous beyond Ramadan, in sha Allah!
4. Quality Time
I can’t offer one single hadith that demonstrates the prophet Muhammad (saw) prioritizing quality time because there are way too many to count. So many hadiths are the recountings of times when the Prophet sat with a single sahaba and explained a concept or answered a question.
When the prophet spoke to any person, he turned his full body toward them and gave them his undivided attention. He was fair with his time and made whoever was with him feel special.
Nowadays, spending quality time is rare. We’re often distracted without even knowing it. So next time you’re alone with someone you love, put the phone away, and treat each other like you value the time you’re spending with each other.
Quality time is a core feature of Ramadan for so many but don’t forget to make time for your loved ones after Eid.
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that:
The Prophet said to Hasan: “O Allah, I love him, so love him and love those who love him.” He said: “And he hugged him to his chest.” (Ibn Majah)
Narrated `Abdullah bin Hisham:
We were with the Prophet (SAW) while he was holding `Umar bin Al-Khattab by the hand. (Bukhari)
Touch is a love language that is a bit different to navigate. Put simply, if someone is uncomfortable with being touched in any way, don’t touch them, no matter how close you are.
But if you know they don’t mind it, there’s nothing wrong with throwing your arm around your buddy, or giving a hug and kiss to your father.
Touch can be a very meaningful way to show how special someone is to you, so use it when appropriate.
May Allah allow us to be those who love each other for His sake in AND out of this holy month!