Quoted by Anas ibn Malik, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:
“There are three things which cause anyone who takes refuge in them to experience the sweetness of belief:
To love Allah and His Messenger more than anything else.
To love a person only for the sake of Allah.
To dislike the thought of reverting to disbelief as much as they would dislike being cast into the fire.”
(Bukhari, Iman 9; Muslim Iman 67)
The most important dynamic that distinguishes an Islamic society from other societies is the fact that it is founded on the principles of affection, servitude and sincerity. The value of servitude that is not based on affection and the value of sincerity which does not aim at servitude are questionable. However, any task done willingly is easy and enjoyable to perform. Any possible obstacles can be more easily overcome. Affection allows human beings to attain Allah, and the paths to heaven are built with such affection. A lack of affection brings the fires of hell into the world.
According to Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, “Those who are deprived of affection, which is the spiritual food of the heart and soul, are considered to be among the dead.”
To love is the noblest action of the heart. The path to real love involves knowing the beloved. Saying that you love someone without knowing or understanding them is just an empty action that does not involve the heart. To love Allah requires knowing Him, thanking Him, praising Him, accepting Him, fearing Him, expecting from Him, experiencing peace and serenity with Him, and befriending Him. The love of Allah is the most sublime aim; it is one for which all kinds of sacrifices are willingly made. To love Allah is to have affection for He who created us from His breath. The love of Allah is the source of the light of hope in the sad story of humanity’s journey to earth. The person who gains Allah’s friendship gains everything, and does not need to search for another friend.
The source of love is Allah. To love someone else with the love we feel for Allah is a betrayal of this source and it is the greatest act of disbelief (Al-Baqarah, 2/165). To love someone else with a love like that we feel for Allah leads us to be servile before another human being.
Allah requires that people obey the Prophet and take him as an example for loving Allah: “Say, O Muhammad, to mankind: If you love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you …” (Al-Imran, 3/31). If a person really loves someone, this love will lead them to follow their beloved everywhere, to talk of their beloved (salavat), to listen to and convey the words of their beloved and to follow the attitudes of their beloved.
Ideal love is not dependent on partnership or terms. True love is unconditional. To love Allah and Prophet Muhammad for some reason or with a condition is not true love. Prophet Muhammad deserves to occupy a special place, after Allah, in the hearts of believers; from here he will illuminate the individual and social aspects of life with the light of love and justice. Love for Prophet Muhammad is not passive; this love involves learning, practicing and teaching his sunnah (actions and sayings), accepting and continuing his call.
Prophet Muhammad states that the most virtuous action is “to love for Allah and to hate for Allah” (Abu Davud, Sunnah 3). The Prophet here is stressing the behavioral aspect of love rather than its emotional aspect. The condition of loving and hating “for Allah” diverts relationships from personal grounds and gives them a transcendent and principal quality.
To love for Allah is to love someone without expecting anything in return; it is to love because you know that Allah will be pleased to see that person loved by you. It is written that people who can reach this level of love will be welcomed by Allah on the Day of Judgment, that they will not suffer any pain on that day, and that they will be one of the seven types of humans who have been promised heaven.
To love for the sake of Allah puts a responsibility on humans; that is to say, they are responsible for caring for the beloved in the name of Allah and within the borders defined by Allah. The sign of loving for Allah is that one supports their friend when they are on the right way and as long as they continue on this way, but that one opposes the same person, without fear, if they depart from Allah’s way.
In a society that is formed by people who love one another for the sake of Allah there can be no hatred or hostility based on self-interest or on the procurement of small gains. In such a society, the bonds of love are strengthened, and the blessings and forgiveness of Allah surrounds that society. The love of Allah makes this society strong against all kinds of possible threats. For example, the handful of Muslims from Yathrib who became the Ansar (helpers), knew that Allah will love the ones who love them (Muslim, Iman 129).
Humans direct their course of life with the decisions they make. To choose a belief-centered life requires the rejection of all other choices in essence. For a person who places his position on earth in an axis of being a servant to Allah, belief is the most important virtue. For the ones who have doubts about the meaning of existence, belief is like a pearl in the hands of a rooster; it can be sacrificed for a small price. Returning to blasphemy again after reaching the blessing of belief and losing love and hope means losing oneself in the pits of hell.
“Our Lord! Cause not our hearts to stray after You have guided us, and bestow upon us mercy from Your Presence. O! You, only You, are the Bestower.” (Al-Imran, 3/8)