The final right, and the most fundamental one, is that we love Allahﷻ. Love of Allahﷻ is what distinguishes us from others. It is our hallmark, our signature, it is our identity, and differentiator. Allahﷻ declared about us:
وَمِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَن يَتَّخِذُ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ أَندَادًا يُحِبُّونَهُمْ كَحُبِّ ٱللَّهِ وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِّلَّهِ وَلَوْ يَرَى ٱلَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوٓا۟ إِذْ يَرَوْنَ ٱلْعَذَابَ أَنَّ ٱلْقُوَّةَ لِلَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَأَنَّ ٱللَّهَ شَدِيدُ ٱلْعَذَابِ
Baqara 2: 165 And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allah as rivals (to Allah). They love them as they love Allah. But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else). If only, those who do wrong could see, when they will see the torment, that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is Severe in punishment.
Love of Allahﷻ is not discretionary or a matter of choice. It is an integral part of faith (Imaan) for us, without which we can’t call ourselves Muslim. Love of Allahﷻ requires us to love what Allahﷻ loves and to dislike what displeases Him and to further demonstrate that love and give evidence of it by following the Qur’an and Sunnah. This is the secret of success in this world and the next and so should not need any persuasion for any Muslim. Love of Allahﷻ creates sweetness of faith. Love of Allahﷻ makes it easy to obey Allahﷻ and follow the Sunnah of Rasoolullahﷺ. When we love someone, we are eager to please them. Same logic in this case also.
Anas ibn Malik (R) reported that Rasoolullahﷺ said, “Whoever has three traits within himself will find the sweetness of faith: one who loves Allahﷻ and His Messengerﷺ more than anything else, one who loves another person only for the sake of Allahﷻ, and one who hates to turn back to disbelief after Allahﷻ has saved him, just as he hates to be thrown into the fire.” [Sahih – Bukhari & Muslim]
Let us reflect on this and seek within ourselves to see if we have these three traits. There are only two reasons why we disobey Allahﷻ. It is either because our desires are stronger than our love for Allahﷻ or our desire to please others is stronger than our desire to please Allahﷻ. Both are an indication of a weakness of Imaan and belief in the Aakhira. Both are serious sicknesses of the heart but with consequences that will not end with death.
Abu Huraira (R) reported that Rasoolullahﷺ said, “When Allahﷻ loves a slave, he calls Jibreel (AS) and he says: Verily, I love this person so you should love him. Then Jibreel (AS) loves him and makes an announcement in the heavens, saying: Allahﷻ loves this person and you should love him. Thus, the dwellers of the heavens love him and he is honored on the earth.” [Sahih- Bukhari & Muslim – Agreed upon]
For those with doubts, Allahﷻ stated very clearly:
قُلْ إِن كَانَ ءَابَآؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَآؤُكُمْ وَإِخْوَٰنُكُمْ وَأَزْوَٰجُكُمْ وَعَشِيرَتُكُمْ وَأَمْوَٰلٌ ٱقْتَرَفْتُمُوهَا وَتِجَـٰرَةٌ تَخْشَوْنَ كَسَادَهَا وَمَسَـٰكِنُ تَرْضَوْنَهَآ أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكُم مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِۦ وَجِهَادٍ فِى سَبِيلِهِۦ فَتَرَبَّصُوا۟ حَتَّىٰ يَأْتِىَ ٱللَّهُ بِأَمْرِهِۦ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِى ٱلْقَوْمَ ٱلْفَـٰسِقِينَ
Tawba 9:24 Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwellings in which you delight are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger, and striving hard in His Cause, then wait until Allah brings about His Decision (punishment). And Allah guides not the people who are Al-Fasiqun (the rebellious, disobedient to Allah).
The important thing to note in this Ayah is that the things we love, which Allahﷻ listed, are all permissible and admirable. Some like love for parents, maintaining blood ties, earning Halaal and so on are obligatory. Yet, when juxtaposed against the love of Allahﷻ and His Messengerﷺ, we are commanded to give precedence to the love of Allahﷻ and His Messengerﷺ failing which we are not only rejected but Allahﷻ promised His punishment. The love of Allahﷻ and of Rasoolullahﷺ are critical and if we don’t have this or it is weak, let us do our best to correct that deficiency.
Let us see how we can kindle and grow the love of Allahﷻ in our hearts, until it completely illuminates every part of it and permeates every aspect of our lives with its light. This is the light that will illuminate our graves and be our guide on the Day of Judgement and lead us to Jannah. Love is the result of gratitude. Let us see what we need to thank Allahﷻ for. It begins with our existence itself. Allahﷻ asks a rhetorical question:
كَيْفَ تَكْفُرُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَكُنتُمْ أَمْوَٰتًا فَأَحْيَـٰكُمْ ثُمَّ يُمِيتُكُمْ ثُمَّ يُحْيِيكُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ
Baqara 2: 28 How can you disbelieve in Allah? Seeing that you were dead and He gave you life. Then He will give you death, then again will bring you to life (on the Day of Resurrection) and then unto Him you will return.
That is the reason it is necessary to live thoughtfully. To live is not simply to draw breath. Living is only with awareness. Without it, we simply exist. Awareness brings understanding and understanding inspires gratitude. Gratitude is the foundation of love for Allahﷻ and His Messengerﷺ. Allahﷻ granted blessings and said that we couldn’t count them. He said:
وَءَاتَىٰكُم مِّن كُلِّ مَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُ وَإِن تَعُدُّوا۟ نِعْمَتَ ٱللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَآ إِنَّ ٱلْإِنسَـٰنَ لَظَلُومٌ كَفَّارٌ
Ibrahim 14: 34 And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Verily! Man is indeed an extreme wrong-doer, – a disbeliever
Among all those countless blessings, the greatest is Allahﷻ’s forgiveness which comes out of His Infinite Mercy. The door of repentance is always open for anyone who wants to return to Allahﷻ. Allahﷻ stated clearly:
قُلْ يَـٰعِبَادِىَ ٱلَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا۟ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا۟ مِن رَّحْمَةِ ٱللَّهِ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ ٱلذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا إِنَّهُۥ هُوَ ٱلْغَفُورُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ
Zumar 39: 53 Say: O ‘Ibadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
What can we say and how can we thank Allahﷻ who not only promised forgiveness, but reiterated it thrice and ordered us never to despair? To add to that, how can we thank Allahﷻ who told us how generously he rewards.
مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَى وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُم بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ
Nahl 16: 97. Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while he (or she) is a Mu’min verily, to him We will give a good life (world) and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (Jannah)
To add to that how can we thank Allahﷻ who said about those who repent:
إِلَّا مَن تَابَ وَءَامَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلًا صَـٰلِحًا فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ ٱللَّهُ سَيِّـَٔاتِهِمْ حَسَنَـٰتٍ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا
Furqan 25: 70 Except those who repent and believe (in Islam), and do righteous deeds, for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Truly there is no boundary to Allahﷻ’s Mercy and Forgiveness. Allahﷻ then informed us about someone who He called His Neyma (Blessing). I remind myself and you that as we saw earlier, the neymaat (blessings) of Allahﷻ are countless but there is only one, that Allahﷻ called His Neyma (Blessing) and that is Rasoolullahﷺ. That is because all the blessings of Allahﷻ are because of the guidance of Rasoolullahﷺ. He is the door to Allahﷻ and Jannah.
لَقَدْ مَنَّ ٱللَّهُ عَلَى ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذْ بَعَثَ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًا مِّنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ يَتْلُوا۟ عَلَيْهِمْ ءَايَـٰتِهِۦ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ وَٱلْحِكْمَةَ وَإِن كَانُوا۟ مِن قَبْلُ لَفِى ضَلَـٰلٍ مُّبِينٍ
A’al Imraan 3: 164 Indeed Allah conferred a great favor on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger (Muhammadﷺ ) from among themselves, reciting unto them His Ayaat (the Quran), and purifying them (body & soul), and instructing them (in) the Book (the Quran) and Al-Hikmah [Sunnah] while before that they had been in manifest error.
We will talk more about this when I speak to you about the rights of Rasoolullahﷺ on us but let us simply reflect on how we consider the only one who Allahﷻ called His Neyma on us. I remind myself and you that to express our thanks to Allahﷻ for His mercy and blessing is to follow the blessed Sunnah of Rasoolullahﷺ. And when we do that, see what happens.
قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ ٱللَّهَ فَٱتَّبِعُونِى يُحْبِبْكُمُ ٱللَّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَٱللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
A’al Imraan 3: 31 Say (O Muhammadﷺ): If you (really) love Allah then emulate me (follow my Sunnah), Allah will love you and forgive your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Allahﷻ used the word Ittiba (emulate) and not Ita’at (obey) because emulation is higher than obedience. Obedience is not necessarily a sign of love. It can be out of fear also. But emulation and imitation are only of those we love and consider being like them, a sign of honor for ourselves. What is the reward of that emulation (Ittiba)? Allahﷻ will love us. I remind myself and you to reflect on this. Allahﷻ didn’t specify a reward for the Ittiba of Rasoolullahﷺ. He didn’t say that He would give us Jannah or any special rewards in Jannah. He simply said, Yuhbibkumullah – Allahﷻ will love you. The basic benefit of that is that our sins will be forgiven. Please reflect on what it feels like to be loved by Allahﷻ. That is the reward of following the Sunnah of Rasoolullahﷺ.
Rasoolullahﷺ used to make this dua:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ لَذَّةَ النَّظَرِ إِلَى وَجْهِكَ وَالشَّوْقَ إِلَى لِقَائِكَ
Allahumma inni as’alkua lazzatan nazari ila wajhik wa shouqa ila liqa’aik
We ask Allahﷻ for the sweetness of looking at His Glorious Countenance and for the love of meeting Him.
Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri (R) reported that Rasoolullahﷺ said that Shaytaan declared, “By Your Might Ya Rabb I will continue to mislead the children of Adam as long as their souls are in their bodies. Our Rabb replied, “By My Might and Majesty, I will continue to forgive them as long as they seek my forgiveness.” [Musnad Ahmad]
I want to end by listing 10 things that Ibn Al Qayyim (RA) said, which kindle the love of Allahﷻ in our hearts.
- Recitation of the Qur’an with reflection and understanding its meanings.
- Seeking closeness to Allahﷻ by performing voluntary deeds after having performed obligatory ones, for that leads one to the highest levels of love.
- Remembering Allahﷻ in every situation – with one’s time, heart and deeds.
- Preferring what He loves to what you love when your desires are strong.
- Allowing your heart to reflect on His Names and Attributes.
- Reflecting on His many favors and blessings, both the apparent ones and hidden ones, for that leads to His love.
- Having your heart softened as it is in worshipping Allahﷻ.
- Being alone with Him in worship when He descends during the last third of the night. And this means to invoke Him, to recite His Speech, to stand with all sincerity and submission, and end with repentance.
- Sitting with those who are truthful in their love of Allahﷻ.
- Staying away from all that creates barriers between the heart and Allah.
We ask Allah to grant us His love, and the love of those who love Him and the love of those actions which bring us close to him. Ibn Al-Qayyim continued to say, “Had Allah lifted the veil for his slave and shown him how He handles his affairs for him, and how Allahﷻ is keener for the benefit of the slave than his own self, his heart would have melted out of the love for Allahﷻ and would have been torn to pieces out of thankfulness to Allahﷻ . Therefore, if the pains of this world tire you, do not grieve. For it may be that Allahﷻ wishes to hear your voice by way of dua. So, pour out your desires in Sujood and forget about it and know; that verily Allahﷻ does not forget it.”
The great scholar and teacher Sa’adi Shirazi (1210-1292) who wrote Gulistan and Bostan and was known as Ustad-us-Sukhan said:
Karsaz e ma ba-fikre kar e ma, Fikre ma dar kar e ma azaare ma
My Creator is busy in taking care of all my affairs, So my worrying about my matters is only an unnecessary pain