Anas b. Mâlik relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “If anyone possesses three qualities, he will experience the sweetness of faith: That Allah and His Messenger are dearer to him than anything else, that he loves another person solely for Allah’s sake, and that he hates lapsing into unbelief as much as he would hate being cast into the fire.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (15) and Sahîh Muslim (60)]
The greatest and noblest love our hearts can contain is the love of Allah and the love of His Messenger. The love that we have in our hearts for Allah and for His Messenger is a blessing. It is Allah’s gift to us, and we should praise Him and thank Him for it. Our gratitude to Allah should not only be expressed in words, but also in the wholesomeness of our deeds – and that is by living the life our Beloved wants us to live.
Furthermore, we should be concerned with cultivating this love in our hearts, increasing it and strengthening it. This article is concerned with some of the ways we can achieve this.
1. Count Allah’s blessings. The first of these is the blessing of our very existence. Our lives and our health are all Allah’s creations. Our physical forms, our families, our friends and relatives… these are all blessings that most of us who enjoy them take for granted. We do not count them among our blessings.
More important than all of these blessings is the blessing of faith and the blessing of the good deeds that we do. Most people enjoy the blessings of life, health, and family. But how many of those people does Allah choose to enjoy the blessing of faith and the blessing of living a virtuous life? Each one of us should value that Allah chose us among the more than six billion people on the Earth to be blessed with faith. Each one of us who prays and fasts and engages in righteous deeds should consider the blessing that Allah chose us to do so among the billions who are not doing so. Those of us who are constant in prayer should count that as another blessing. Our chance to aspire to stronger faith and more virtue is, again, Allah’s favor upon us. Our love for Allah and for His Messenger is Allah’s blessing.
To increase the love that we have for Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), we should remind ourselves of the fact that he conveyed to us Allah’s Message. We should study his biography and recount the terrible suffering he had to bear, and the tremendous dedication he showed in convey that message. His patience, forbearance, and striving was all so that he could convey to us what would guide us to our own salvation – and, by Allah’s grace, to Allah’s eternal reward.
2. Contemplate Allah’s attributes. We should recall Allah’s most noble names and qualities at every occasion of our lives, whether the event be major or minor. We should ponder on the evidence of Allah’s attributes in the magnificence of His creation. We should also consider His infinite mercy, forgiveness, compassion, and strength. This will increase our love for Him.
To increase the love that we have for Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), we should remind ourselves of the noble qualities Allah blessed him to have.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had the most perfect character humanly attainable. The sacrifices he made were the greatest and most honorable. His bravery was legendary, his patience astounding. Through all of his hardships, he was always cheerful of countenance, generous, and kind to others; always taking every opportunity to help people. We cannot hope to enumerate all of his qualities here. However, any fair-minded person who learns about his true character from his authentic biography cannot help but love him.
3. Look at Creation. If we look at what Allah has created, the complexity and perfection of natural laws, we can get some appreciation of the magnificence of the Creator. Allah is All-Powerful. At the same time, He is just. We know He will never wrong any of us.
4. Look to our own deeds. When we look at our own behavior, we see our shortcomings. We do not do justice to our Lord and Creator. Nevertheless, He has mercy on us. He does not punish us for our transgressions, but continues to give us more chances, more opportunities to turn to Him in repentance. Indeed, Allah loves those who are penitent. He loves those who purify themselves.
Glory be to Allah! We should consider how weak we are before our Lord. He is All-Powerful, yet we disobey Him. We flaunt His commands. In His mercy, he gives us more time, and loves it when we finally return to Him. This is how merciful He is.
5. Look at how Allah describes His attention to us. Allah has no need for us. Yet, look at how He describes his welcome of us when we turn to Him.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) related to us that Allah says: “I am as My servant thinks of Me. I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me within himself, I mention him within Myself. If he mentions me before company, I mention him before a greater company. If he draws near to Me a handspan, I draw near to him an arm’s length. If he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I come near to him the distance of outspread arms. If he comes to Me walking, I come to him running. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (6856) and Sahîh Muslim (4832)]
Allah is so happy when His servant repents – He is as happy as a man who is wandering in a barren wasteland after waking from a nap to find his steed had wandered off with all his food and provisions. Then, after the heat and his thirst become severe, he falls asleep in the same place and wakes to find his steed standing before him.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (6308) and Sahîh Muslim (2744)]
To increase the love that we have for Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), we should read in the Sunnah about how much love and concern he had for humanity. For instance, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The parable of myself and the people is that of a man who lit a fire. When it illuminated its surroundings, the moths and other creatures which are attracted to light began to fall into it. He began to pull them out of the fire, but they overwhelmed him and continued to fall into it. I am the one pulling you away from the fire, but you keep going headlong into it.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (6002)]
It is Allah’s blessing upon us that we love him. Greater than this is Allah’s love for us. We should strive to be more worthy of Allah’s love.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) related to us that Allah says: “The most beloved things with which My servant draws nearer to Me is what I have enjoined upon him; and My servant keeps drawing closer to Me through performing voluntary acts until I love him. And when I love him, I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, his sense of sight with which he sees, his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks. If he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks My protection I will protect him. I hesitate the most in acting when a believing servant hates to die, for I hate to displease him.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (6021)]
The means to be more worthy of Allah’s love are clear. We must first carry out our duties then engage in voluntary acts of virtue.
And Allah knows best.