Prophetic Love and Its Social Reflections


Friday, March 19, 2010

Prophetic Love and Its Social Reflections

The human is a being that questions his raison d’etre, which makes him special and distinguishes him from other beings. When attributing meanings to his world, he tries to explain where his own existence fits in and who and what he is. Religion and religious values occupy an important place in the search for answers to the questions of: “Who am I?” “What are the basic values that make me?” “And what can I do to lead a happy life?” The words, actions and practices of our prophet, who is our role model, are our most eminent example.


Love, which is perhaps the most needed notion in our time, is, in Arabic, the equivalent of "mahabba", "mawadda"' and "wudd". On the other hand, "ashk" is used to describe the kind of love that puts the lover in an ecstatic state of intoxication.

When we turn to the Quran, which provides us with principles for happiness and well-being in this world and salvation in the Hereafter, we see that terms that describe love are fundamental to religious life. Love has both human and divine dimensions to it. The ayah (verse) "soon will Allah produce a people whom He will love as they will love Him" (Al-Maeda, 5:54)points out to this fact.

The term "mahabba" (love) is used in hadiths (sayings of Prophet Muhammad) to describe attributes like being charitable, tolerance, gentleness, making things easier for people, covering others' imperfections, chastity and taqwa (protecting one's faith and good intention to purify one's self and excel). One feels responsible towards whomever he loves and respects, which must be the reason why love comes before worship in a believer's submission to his Lord. He worships his Lord not because he is scared of Him, but because he loves and respects Him; moreover, he does not expect a reward for his worship nor does he find ultimate solace in the hope of entering Heaven. The one and only thing that he desires is to gain the favor of his Lord.


There are at least three types of love. The first is the love of people which is very human called "ashk". It means "to cherish and obey one's beloved". It is the state of constant remembrance of the beloved and an obligation for attaining divine love.

The second is the love of people who have been through the ordeals of love at the end of which they rid themselves of human passions and ambitions as much as possible and act in accordance with the will of their beloved.

And the third is the love of people who attain gnosis and purge themselves of the love of this world.

Human love is natural. It can be seen in other beings too including animals. Love that is spiritual signifies a higher level, and it is unique to human beings. The love between a human being and his Lord is the consequence of this divine dimension. Human love is very important because it is what leads us into the path of divine love.


What could be the signs of love human beings have for their Creator? The answer to this question must include self-restraint, being moderate and submitting oneself to the morals and way of life of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).


The human being is the most precious of all creatures, and he is the one that is most worthy of protection. Because he is a social being, he organizes his life in accordance with a whole body of rules and laws. In the face of these principles, which can also be called "social or moral codes", he needs to decide with his free will and then act. Divine religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) instill social and moral codes in the conscience of the individual through divine revelation. Allah prescribes the basic criteria to distinguish between good and bad and through the prophets He sends: He lets people see the application of these criteria.

Universal religions command the spread of good and elimination of evil, and they proclaim the inviolability of one's life, property and chastity. Three basic criteria underlie these points:

I.  Regarding human beings as the most honored of all creatures: 

This means to regard all human beings as great and honorable by nature without discrimination and regardless of religion, language or race. The following verse of the Quran is proof of this: "We have honored the sons of Adam."(Al-Isra, 17:70)To love what is created for the love of the Creator is the peak of one's faith in Allah. In the words of Shaykh Ghalib:

See yourself in the right light for you are the nucleus of the worlds

You are human, you are the most cherished of all creation

You are an exalted being to whom angels were commanded to prostrate

You may not know how, but you are more mature than all other creatures and you are above all.

II. Not doing unto others what one does not want to be done to himself

At the heart of this lie knowing oneself, wishing for others what one wishes for himself and not wanting for others what one does not want to be done to himself. This is such an essential principle that it determines the firmness of our beliefs. In the words of our Prophet, "None of you will have faith till he wishes for his (Muslim) brother what he likes for himself."(Bukhari, Kitab al-Iman) 

III. Treating people with good morals, keeping away and having others keep away from acts and behaviors that might engender evil...

This is a fundamental rule in the sacred book of Islam, the Quran, as can be seen in the following ayah: "If any do good, good will (accrues) to them therefrom; and they will be secure from terror that Day." (An-Naml, 27:89) Moreover, it is not deemed sufficient for one to know and practice the "good" by himself and on his own. We are also commanded to help others in committing good deeds. If we cannot commit a good deed, the next best thing is to not commit evil deeds and withdraw from words and actions that might lead one to evil. In the words of Turkish poet Mehmet Akif:

"Enjoining towards good is what the Muslim brotherhood needs to do

Brothers and sisters discourage each other from evil when they notice one"

If one shows patience and draws away from what is evil through goodness, he will be rewarded twice as much (Al-Qasas,28:54-55). In a saying of the Prophet, this point is particularly emphasized, and we are told what to do: "A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection." (Bukhari: Kitab al-Mazalim)

The most prominent quality that comes with being the most cherished/honored of all creatures is thus explained: One is not to respond to evil with evil, and at the same time, one is to draw it away with goodness to make sure that it will do no harm. Drawing away the evil with goodness will take a person to spiritual heights beyond his imagination, warm the hearts of even those who are against him and bring opportunities for warm, genuine friendships.


Loving Allah comes first of all (Al-Baqarah, 2:165). As a matter of fact, the Prophet made it very clear that what is most desirable is His love, the love of people that He loves and the love of things that will take us closer to His love. The simplest and most direct sign of this is commitment to the Prophet and following his path. (Al-i Imran, 3:165) Our prophet is our foremost guide and teacher. If he presents to us as the prerequisite/condition of faith the will to want for others what is good and nice as much as one wants for himself, and if he proclaims that believers are mirrors of each other, this means that he wishes us to establish our interpersonal relationships on love and respect.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, explains love with the symbol of a "mirror" very aptly and succinctly: "Love is an action of mine to guide you/lead you towards yourself." Love that is thus fostered and shared will let the selves of both people mature.  We need to stress the importance of the fact that love should guide "me towards myself". The first phase of love that will guide me will help me know myself. And knowing myself is knowing and loving my Lord and all that He created.

When we regard human beings as the nucleus of all worlds and the most cherished member of all creation, it becomes easier not to hurt anyone, for no one wants to be hurt in the first place. To put it in the words of Yunus Emre:

I am not here for dispute, I am here for love

The name of the Eternal Friend is in hearts, I am here to reach out to hearts.

If we can do this,

We do not hold grudges against anyone, even enemies are friends to us,

We do not shelter bitterness, all worlds are friends to us.

If we can materialize these words of Yunus Emre, love will be the most integral part of our social fabric and of the solidarity amongst us.


Our sole and most valued aspiration is to lead a happy life. A life of peace and happiness can be achieved through sharing love. Love is the only thing that multiplies/grows when shared. The Prophet presented us with the best example of this. He is our foremost model in love and respect with his personality, way of life, words and actions. If we follow his example, we can know for sure how to prioritize love and mercy and how to keep away from situations that might destroy these. Love will make us serene individuals, and this mood will soon be reflected on our families too. A society made up of families with happy and peaceful members will be a society of well-being and trust.

عَنْ أَبِي مَسْعُودٍ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏"‏ إِذَا أَنْفَقَ الرَّجُلُ عَلَى أَهْلِهِ يَحْتَسِبُهَا فَهُوَ لَهُ صَدَقَةٌ ‏"
Narrated Abu Mas'ud: The Prophet said, "If a man spends on his family (with the intention of having a reward from Allah) sincerely for Allah's sake then it is a (kind of) alms-giving in reward for him.” (Bukhari, Belief, 41)

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