In the Name of Allâh,
the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
May Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah be upon you
If the relationship between love, fear and hope is to be likened to a bird, then love is the head of the bird while fear and hope are its two wings. A slave of Allaah heads towards Him by means of his love, fear and hope.
Love is the rank for which people compete; they long to learn about what it entails and they yearn to attain it; it is the provision for the hearts; the food of the souls; the joy of people’s lives; the illumination of their minds; the foremost objective in life and the essence of existence.
Love of Allaah is life itself, and to be deprived of it entails a terrible death; it is the light without which one would sail in a sea of darkness; it is the cure without which one’s heart will be overwhelmed by a multitude of diseases; it is the joy without which one will remain in permanent grief; it is the essence of faith and deeds, without which they become like a soulless body.
It is the means without which people will never reach their destination nor attain their place in Paradise; it is the means with which people reach their beloved (i.e., Allaah). I swear by Allaah that if people can achieve this honour in both this life and the Hereafter, then they have attained the true joy and happiness.
We are talking about the love of Allaah for His slave, which is in itself a great bounty that only those who know the names and attributes of Allaah will realise the value of and appreciate fully.
Signs indicating Allaah’s love of His slave:
Caring for him since childhood; instilling faith in his heart; enlightening his mind; choosing him to be amongst those who are beloved to Him; busying him with worship by occupying his tongue with His mention and his limbs in acts of obedience to Him. Therefore, Allaah makes such a person perform all that which pleases Him and shun all that which displeases Him. Allaah facilitates matters for him without him needing the assistance of others in any way and so his only concern becomes how to attain the love of Allaah.
Kindness towards him by enabling him to perform the best deeds and act in the finest manner.
Instilling acceptance in people’s hearts for him; people therefore become inclined towards him and praise him, as in the narration of Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, who reported that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“When Allaah loves a slave, He calls out to Jibreel and says: ‘I love so-and-so, so love him’. Then Jibreel loves him. After that, he (i.e., Jibreel) announces to the inhabitants of heavens that: ‘Allaah loves so-and-so, so love him’; then the inhabitants of the heavens (i.e., the angels) also love him and they then make the people on earth love him too.” [Al-Bukhaari & Muslim] Afflicting him with trials, as in the narration of Anas, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “The more one is afflicted the more he is rewarded and when Allaah loves a people He afflicts them, so whoever is content will gain the pleasure of Allaah and whoever is discontent will get the wrath of Allaah.” Allaah afflicts people with trials so that He may thereby eradicate their sins and free their hearts from being concerned with this life, because Allaah wishes that His slaves busy themselves with nothing except Him; and thus when a slave is afflicted, he finds no time to busy himself with the concerns of this life. Allaah afflicts His slaves in order to witness real sacrifice on their part, as He says:
ولنبلونكم حتى نعلم المجاهدين منكم والصابرين ونبلوا أخباركم
which means: “And We will surely test you until We make evident those who strive among you [for the cause of Allaah] and the patient, and We will test your affairs.” [Muhammad: 31] This trial and affliction will be in proportion to the strength of faith that the slave has in his heart, as well as the amount of love that Allaah has for His slave. Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas, may Allaah be pleased with him, once asked the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: “O Messenger of Allaah! Which people face the sternest trials?” He sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam answered: “Those who face the sternest trials and hardships are the Prophets, then those who are nearest to them (in terms of faith). Moreover, people will be tested according to the strength of their
Taking his soul whilst he is performing a righteous deed, as the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “When Allaah loves a slave, ‘Assalahu.” So people asked:
“What does ‘Assalahu mean?” He sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam replied: “He (i.e., Allaah) enables him to perform a righteous deed just before his death, so that all those around him and his neighbours become pleased with him.” [Ahmad & Al-Haakim]
Signs indicating a slave’s love of Allaah:
Love is something that is hidden, it exists in the heart and therefore anyone can claim to have it; Allaah informs us about the Jews and the Christians:
وقالت اليهود والنصارى نحن أبناء االله وأحباؤه قل فلم يعذبكم بذنوبكم بل أنتم بشر ممن خلق
which means: “But the Jews and the Christians say: ‘We are the children of Allaah and His beloved.’ Say: ‘Then why does He punish you for your sins?’ Rather, you are human beings from among those He has created…” [Al-Maa’idah: 18]
Love is easy to claim but difficult to prove. One should not allow himself to be deceived by the thoughts which Satan brings to his mind, making him think that he loves Allaah; a person should first test himself by means of practical indicators in order to ascertain his claim, because love is just like a tree which bears fruit; so the love in one’s heart will reflect on his limbs as an indicator of its existence, just as smoke is an indicator of fire. There are many such signs, such as:
Loving to meet Allaah, because one always longs to meet his beloved, always mentions him and never forgets him. When will we meet Allaah? This will happen three times: The first will be at the time of death; the second will be on the Day of Resurrection and the third will be in Paradise. The fact that the first meeting will be at the time of death does not mean that one should supplicate to Allaah for Him to take his soul, rather, what it should mean is that when death does arrive, the righteous slave rejoices, because he will be next to his Lord and receive reward and blessings from Him, as Allaah says:
إن المتقين في جنات ونهر * في مقعد صدق عند مليك مقتدر
which means: “Indeed, the righteous will be among gardens and rivers, In a seat of honour near a Sovereign, Perfect in Ability.” [Al-Qamar: 54-55] Allaah knows that His righteous slaves love and long to meet Him, and thus He informs them that they will indeed meet Him by saying:
من كان يرجو لقاء االله فإن أجل االله لآت
which means: “Whoever should hope for the meeting with Allaah – indeed, the term of [i.e., decreed by] Allaah is coming…” [Al-‘Ankaboot: 5] Enjoying being alone while supplicating to Allaah, reciting the Qur’aan, and praying optional night prayers while taking advantage of the calmness of the night and the absence of obstructions; and this is the very lowest level of love, because one who enjoys sleeping or talking to others more than supplicating at night is not truthful in his claim to love to Allaah. The more love that one has for his beloved, the more he enjoys obeying and serving him. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “From among the things of this life, women and perfume were made dear to my heart, but the delight of my eyes lie in prayer.” [An-Nasaa’i]
The delight of the eyes are, as Imaam Ibn Al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said, of a higher rank than loving worldly things such as women and perfume. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam informed us that the delight of the eyes are those things that bring about real tranquillity and joy, and in his case, it was when he would pray, which was his connection with his Lord. He whose delight of the eyes in this life lies in prayer, will have the delight of his eyes lie in being close to Allaah in the Hereafter in addition to the support of Allaah for him during this life.
One who obeys Allaah due to love will do so easily and willingly, in contrast to he who feels that it is a heavy burden on his back. Those who are sincere and who truly love Allaah are obedient to him; they obey Him as easily as water runs down from the top of a hill. Such people’s souls delight in obeying Him.
How can we explain the hardship that one faces during certain acts, such as waking up to pray the optional night prayers or the Fajr prayer? Does this perceived hardship mean that the slave does not love Allaah? We must know that reaching the state in which a slave worships Allaah with ease cannot be accomplished at the very first attempt or act of worship; rather, it is vital that one trains himself, struggles and sacrifices. This is why the joy and pleasure of worship only occurs after one perseveres and exhausts himself in it. When he does this with sincerity, he eventually reaches the level of being able to worship Allaah with ease and pleasure. This is why some of the righteous Salaf, may Allaah have mercy upon them, would say: “We struggled for twenty years with our optional night prayers, but enjoyed them for the rest of our lives.” One fluctuates between enjoying them and finding them difficult until he reaches the level of totally enjoying his worship.
Thus, It becomes evident that striving to worship Allaah consists of various ranks and the one who comprehends this will be able to reach the highest of them, which would then make worshipping Allaah very easy for him. One who reaches this level hates to waste any time; indeed, he finds this abhorrent and very painful, and such feelings can only be achieved by having love of Allaah. This is why those who have reached this level suffer when they become sick, but they do not suffer due to their sickness; rather, they suffer due to the fact that they have been prevented from worshipping in the manner that they have become accustomed to. This is why Allaah has blessed such people with the reward that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam informed us of when he said: “When a slave becomes sick or is travelling, he receives the same reward that he would receive for all the righteous deeds that he is used to performing whilst at his residence.”
Persevering through hardships. Endurance is a necessary characteristic of the one who loves Allaah; it is the means to distinguish true and sincere love from false claims, because one who endures and perseveres though hardships for the sake of his beloved will thereby prove his truthfulness and sincerity. Many people despair and become discontent whenever they are tested by Allaah and afflicted with hardship, which reflects the falsity of their claim to love Allaah. Allaah commands the most beloved to Him to endure and persevere when He says:
واصبر وما صبرك إلا باالله ولا تحزن عليهم