God is love.
This is a phrase oft repeated by Christians. But it is a reality Muslims should also understand. God, Allah (SWT), calls Himself Al Wudood, a superlative term which is translated as the One who is full of loving kindness, the most loving.
Allah is the owner, creator, and bestower of love. He connects hearts together with the love He places in them. He brings us closer to Him by placing love in our hearts for His messenger and message. And Allah is most assuredly Love.
So it only makes sense that since all love originates from the owner, creator, and bestower of love that we should be seeking love of Allah 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.
But to some, loving Allah, or building love for the divine, can be a strange concept. So we need to take it down to earth a little bit and see if we can’t understand love on a level that is closer to us.
When we think about love, it is often thought of as something we feel for those closest to us. And there are tried and true steps we take when we come to love someone.
For a Divine Love – Get to Know Allah (SWT)
Firstly, love comes with knowledge. It is hard to love someone whom we know nothing about. We fall deeply in love with our spouses when we come to understand all that they do for us. We grow from liking our friends to having deep love and respect for them as we discover their admirable qualities.
The same idea applies to building divine love. The more we know Allah, the more we grow in our love for Him. There are some very practical and well established steps we can take in getting to know Allah in our search to build divine love.
Reflect upon Allah’s (SWT) Creation
Allah is the most amazing designer. He has created the most extraordinary things including you and me. Take time in your day to day life and truly think about how amazing the creation of Allah is.
Reflect on how simple and complex every system in the universe is. Think about how it all fits together perfectly and how much we benefit from it all. From the smallest ant to the largest star, everything has beauty and purpose, as Allah has designed it.
We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their own selves, until it becomes manifest to them that this (the Quran) is the truth. (Quran 41:53)
Reflect upon Allah’s (SWT) Words
The Quran is not just for rote repetition and memorization. It is a recitation of amazing lessons and deep meaning. Reflect on each verse and how it has universal and specific applications.
Reflect on how the words of Allah have both surface and deeper meanings. And reflect on the order of the words in the Quran and how it affects the meaning. Check out Bayyinah Institute’s “Amazed by the Quran” series here http://bayyinah.com/abtq/ and get to know Allah through His words.
[This is] a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded. (Quran 38:29)
Reflect upon Allah’s (SWT) Attributes
Allah’s names and attributes will lead us to love him even if our hearts are too attached to His creation. If we love money, then we should know that He is Al Ghani, the All Rich.
If we love justice, then we should know that He is Al-`Adl, the utterly just. If we love strength, then we should know that He is Al Qawee, the ultimately strong. Learn more about Allah’s name and attributes here.
The most beautiful names belong to Allah: so call on Him by them. (Quran 7:180)
Talk to Allah (SWT)
Secondly, when we think about loving someone in an ethereal sense, we think about those to whom we can talk, those to whom we feel most comfortable expressing ourselves. Seldom do we love or feel close to people with whom we have a hard time communicating.
To love Allah (SWT), we must talk to Him. This is a big stumbling block for many who wish to love Allah. They often feel far away from Him, and as if they cannot speak to Him. But this is far from the truth.
Allah (SWT) has asked us to speak to Him. The five daily prayers are prescribed for us so that we can get closer to Him, to return to Him in worship, to ask Him to guide us. Allah has set up a conference call with us five times a day. We just have to show up and be sincere.
When we just take a few steps toward Allah, we find that He comes to us by a greater distance. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that Allah (SWT) said:
“I am near to the thought of My servant as he thinks about Me, and I am with him as he remembers Me. And if he remembers Me in his heart, I also remember him in My heart, and if he remembers Me in assembly I remember him in assembly, better than his (remembrance), and if he draws near Me by the span of a palm, I draw near him by the cubit, and if he draws near me by the cubit I draw near him by the space (covered by) two hands. And if he walks towards Me, I rush towards him.” (Muslim)
Ask Allah (SWT)
Finally, when we depend on others to help us out, we build strong bonds with them that results in love and deep affection. Someone who is always willing to help us is usually our closest friend. And when we feel like we cannot ask favors of our loved ones, our love for them becomes stunted.
Similarly, to love Allah (SWT), we must ask of Him. Supplication is another beautiful way to build our love for Allah. We often forget that nothing happens without Allah’s permission. Allah gives us so many blessings that we didn’t even ask for. Why not ask for the things we want and need? Allah has promised that He would answer when we ask of Him.
The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“The slave will receive a response so long as his du’a does not involve sin or severing of family ties, and so long as he is not hasty.”
It was said:
“What does being hasty mean?”
“When he says, ‘I made du’a and I made du’a, and I have not seen any response,’ and he gets frustrated and stops making du’a.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Building divine love is about coming to knowing Allah, speaking to Him, and asking of Him just like we come to love any other being. There are no intercessors. We don’t need to be “holy” to begin building our love for Allah.
We just need to know that Allah is the source of all love and that He will come to us if we just take the first step towards Him.
(From Discovering Islam’s archive)