Bint Ahmed Sulaymaan – Cii Radio | 27 Muharram 1436/21 November 2014
“Love is marriage, children and dealing with problems. Not making out and stupid status updates. Love comes later.” We posted this recently and asked people to share with us their reflections on love. What readers did not know was that these are the words of a 17 year old boy. His thoughts about his peers’ revelations of love on social media.
Shakespeare wrote, “How do I love thee, let me count the ways.” He then proceeded to describe the extent of his love. Today, love’s very own prose, isn’t the way we articulate this feeling of affection.
Love is expressed in the number of selfies, sometimes compromising pictures of thine self, sent to each other and then shared with friends. Love is expressed in words, words, words, not poetically, in nauseating status updates and tweets. Love is conveyed in chat acronyms also known as bad spelling for the entire world to see (the level of our literacy).
Love is fleeting. It’s renewable. It’s difficult to define. Love is subjective. It is physical. It is one dimensional. Love has been reduced to being only about an other and a thing. Its expressions are almost empty of what the word encompasses. Meaning. And yet love is so deep that when asked to define love, people become dumbfounded, embarrassed, sentimental, naive, sometimes crude and very rarely confident.
Nevertheless for a 17 year old to define love as marriage rather than a girlfriend is comforting. For him to realise that actual love for another begins after marriage is surprising considering the copious, conscious and candid intermingling of sexes that begins at youth.
While our affinity towards certain people or things may have measure, our capacity to love is uncapped. We are able to love someone or something new without our love for another being reduced. But love is not just about love for spouse, love for kids, or love for self. These are not the be all and end all of love and even life.
When asked about love, love for people and things should come last to love for Allah SWT, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), the Deen of Allah and all the articles of faith. Immediately our thoughts of love and what it means to us should be connected to Allah SWT and not the tangible. And even in love for others and things, Allah SWT and the principals of Deen teach us and remind us how to practice that love.
Love before marriage is more sought after than love that builds within the trust of marriage. When love between two people transgress the limits set by Allah SWT or incite them to commit sin there is the chance the marriage will suffer because they committed actions contrary to Shariah. Sin is a major factor in reducing blessings. With all the negative influences that surround us, many are convinced that falling in love and doing Haraam builds love and makes a marriage stronger. Lives built on actions whose consequences result in less blessings and support from Allah SWT have shaky foundations.
Similarly a marriage that begins through introduction is not just about sparks, giggles and yes. The best action one can take when pleased after an introduction is to perform Istikharah Salaah. Decisions made by asking Allah’s SWT guidance are the best decisions. This placement of Allah’s guidance above anything else is a sign of prioritising love.
As for people within marriage, the Nikah sermon contains the first verse of Surah Nisa which instructs mankind to adopt Taqwa – the constant fear and awareness of Allah SWT. Unbeknownst to us, it is recited in order to prepare the couple with the principal tool required in their mutual dealings and disagreement.
The problems that can arise within a marriage are difficult to sometimes speak to outside parties about and no power on Earth can aid in solving many marital troubles. The only solution is for husband and wife to realise that their partner is a trust which they will one day be held accountable for before Almighty Allah. Taqwa in marraige is the realisation that spouses who grieve their partners may be able to escape any consequences today, but not on Yawmul Qiyamah.
Even in love for children, love for parents, love for things there is guidance. Primary love or true love is for Allah SWT and Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Some mistake this to be just the Sufi teaching referred to as Ishq-e Haqīqi -the real love which is the love of Allah SWT. It is the belief that only Allah SWT is worth loving and He is the only One who can return His creature’s love for Him.
The love of everything else in Sufi teachings is referred to as Ishq-e majazi which translates as love for creation. Ishq-e Rasūl means love for Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), an important part of being a Muslim. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is reported to have said, “None amongst you can be a complete Mu’min if he does not love me more than his parents, children and the entire mankind.” [Bukhari Sharif, Vol. 1]
Love for Allah SWT is the lifeline keeping us from drowning in secondary loves and helping us steer them through calm and rough waters. It is even through the love for others, the love for charity, the love of knowledge, the love of giving that one can build love for Allah SWT and earn His love for you. Having a firm hold on this primary love and nurturing the most important love, love for Allah SWT and His Rasool (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), means ridding the heart of impure feelings and detaching oneself from love for the world. It means giving preference to Allah SWT and His Deen above the opposition of Deen through one’s nafs or through the request of others.
Allah made the breath expansion and contraction. Allah SWT is Al Qabit and Al Basit. He is the Contractor and the Expander and the heart is doing that every moment. If you listen closely to the beat of your heart you will hear that it is contracting and expanding and it is saying the name of Allah SWT.
If you listen to the Divine name of Allah the tongue is contracting and expanding when it says Allah. And this too is what the heart is doing. The heart knows who its Lord is but the nafs has forgotten. We’ve become tainted with the world that we’ve forgotten who our Lord is.
Similarly the Arabic word for love is hubbun. Ahabbuka means I love you. Here too, in both the English and Arabic expressions of love is the expansion and contraction. The inhalation and exhalation. It is more pronounced in ahabbuka. Even the very expression of love is dependent on Allah SWT, on the One who gives the ability to take breath.
According to the author of Perspectives on the Concept of Love in Islam, Mahnaz Heydarpoor, faith is having knowledge of the religious facts but it is not reduced to that knowledge. “There might be people who have knowledge of the religious facts and are confident about them but still do not commit themselves to any faith. The faith and belief only come when a person voluntarily commits himself to acceptance of articles of faith and does not refuse to follow them. In other words, the faith is there only when one loves the religious beliefs and not just when one comes to know them.”
Love, the word, its pronunciation, its meaning, its essence is rooted in pleasing Allah SWT and fearing ever displeasing Him. It is purifying ourselves in preparation for the day of all days – the day we meet Allah SWT.