Radiant Teachings of Islam
The Meaning of Love
Mawlana Asif Iqbal Attari Madani
Sincere believers yearn for the sweet elixir of true love, which enriches the heart, feeds the soul, and fills our inner cores with unprecedented happiness. Love is the source without which one is considered dead and the light without which one wanders in darkness. It is the miraculous remedy that prevents the heart from becoming a locus of spiritual maladies. Indeed, the powerful effect of true love makes one oblivious to his own existence; completely annihilated, seeing and feeling none but the beloved. Ultimately, love is the essence of faith, the key to sainthood, the catalyst for Allah's closeness, and the soul of our deeds. Without it, our worship would be reduced to mere outward acts of the body, void of spirit and life.
What is love? For some, it is “To be faithful to the beloved’s dictates in his presence and absence.” For others, it is “to be annihilated in the beloved; to become oblivious of one’s existence and remain focused on the beloved.” Another remarked, “Love is to consider more as less from yourself and less as more from your beloved.” According to some, love is to deem your small mistake as major and your obedience as lacking. Someone declared, “Love is adopting obedience and abandoning opposition.” One even went as far as saying, “Love is to give all you have to your beloved so that nothing remains for you. That is, consigning your will, life, wealth, time, everything to your beloved.” It has also been stated, “To wipe the heart clean of everything and everyone except the remembrance of the beloved.” One devotee went as far as saying, “Love is that your sense of honour concerning your beloved is to such a level that it objects that a person like you could be a devotee. That is to say, you consider yourself lowly and insignificant before your beloved or consider it objectionable that a person like you is present amongst those that love your beloved.” Someone informed the people of love, “Love and devotion is that you completely incline to something, preferring it above your body, soul and wealth and are in concord with it outwardly and inwardly and then still consider yourself as having fallen short in your devotion towards it.”
What makes people fall in love? Firstly, outward beauty can drive love, for we are naturally inclined to love aesthetic beauty, from beautiful appearances and voices to breath-taking scenery. Secondly, inward beauty makes us love others. Strength, benevolence, chivalry, knowledge, and other lofty characteristics also embed love in our hearts for those who posses them. Thirdly, we tend to love those who favour and help us.
All these three reasons to love someone are found in the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم ; outward beauty, inward beauty, and his favours upon us.
Love has obligations! Love is only true when the claimant of love fulfils its obligations and observers its dictates. For one, the heart of the one in true love remains attached to the beloved; he does not spend even a moment without remembering his beloved. The opinion of the beloved is accepted, and the beloved is obeyed. That which is not agreeable with the beloved is forsaken, and that which is disliked is abandoned. That which the beloved clearly forbids has to be completely discarded, otherwise one is considered dishonest in their love. When love is such a highly coveted and exalted thing, then only a stonehearted person, lacking emotion and devoid of feeling will not adopt it. Why would one not adopt it as this is the name of an emotion, which is part of human disposition. Different things influence a human being and he begins to love them.
What kind of love is this that it distances a person from his true Creator, makes him spurn the religion, blinds a person to right and wrong, destroys the moral fabric of society, reduces a beautiful emotion to merely fulfilling carnal desires and has taken love out of the sphere of marriage and into the circle of unnatural relationships. The feeling of true love should have been embedded in the hearts. However, what is this? Shamelessness and immodesty are promoted in the name of love. To call this love is an insult, a stain on the rich tapestry of love, and its denigration. This can be called a failed attempt at temporary satisfaction for the soul and an artificial solution for peace of mind.
True love is that you are devoted to your Creator, Owner and Generous Sustainer, Allah Almighty and the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم , whose love for his Ummah is unparalleled. If you want to love someone, show love for the noble Prophets عَـلَـيْهِمُ السَّلَام , the great saints, the righteous, the pious and devout, your parents, your spouse, your children, your siblings, your friends and the poor and needy. This is the love which is worthwhile, filled with blessings, mercy, wellbeing, safety, and goodness and is beneficial in this world and in the hereafter.
Shall I mention the final word in this chapter of love? Then listen! The real expression of love warrants action. Love of Allah Almighty and His Messenger صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم is recognised through faith and obedience. Love of parents is hidden in serving them and that of children is concealed in their lofty upbringing. True love of people demands that one avails them in all ups and downs of life. True love necessitates sacrifice and compassion for one another.