Muhabbat (Love) and its Fruits

Allah created mankind from His sheer power and mercy, and for this man is forever indebted. Man is the sum of the parts that Allah has given him: the work of the eye is to see; the work the ear is to hear; the work of the mind is to think, and the work of the heart is to love.
There is no one alive who does not love someone or something. If that love is for the sake of Allah, then it becomes a means to earn reward. However, if that love is purely for the sake of satisfying one's nafs, then it becomes a means for sin and earning Allah's Wrath.
A room is either lit or dark: it cannot be both and it can neither be lit nor dark. In exactly the same way, the heart will be enlightened if it has the love of Allah within it. If devoid of this love, it will surely be dark because of the love of creation. It is said that the heart cannot be at peace unless it is in love, whether that is with a person or thing. Hence to love is an inherent quality of the heart without which it is always restless.
The usage of the word muhabbah (love) has become very common, but there are different degrees of muhabbah that we might not be acquainted with. For example, a woman has muhabbah for her brother, but the dominant traits within this muhabbah are kindness and affection; a woman has muhabbah for her father, but the dominating trait here is respect; a woman has muhabbah for her son, but the dominating traits here are protection and mercy. Likewise, a woman has muhabbah for her husband, but her emotional desires are dominant in this muhabbah. Hence the word muhabbah is commonly used for all kind of love, but there are differences in how that muhabbah is displayed and how it impacts others.
Likewise, a believer also has many loves (muhabbah) in this world. It is recorded in hadith that two believers who love each other simply for the sake of Allah will be sheltered under His Throne on the Day of Judgment. Hence, loving a believer simply because he has faith pleases Allah and becomes a basis for reward. Moreover, loving one's parents is an inherent trait for which Allah dispenses reward. This is so clear to Allah that it is written in hadith that Allah rewards a person for one Hajj or Umra for one sincere glance of love towards his parents. Allah is also pleased if we have muhabbah for the scholars (ulama) because of their knowledge. If someone kisses a scholar out of sheer respect for his knowledge, Allah will record as many good deeds for that person as the number of hair on that scholar's head.
Allah rewards the love that a husband has for his wife. Hadith tells us that the best among the believers is he who is good to his wife. It is also written that if a husband and wife look at each other and smile, then Allah looks at both of them and smiles in His everlasting mercy.
If Allah had not created these different kinds of muhabbah, then mankind could not have lived together in this world. These are therefore essential but Allah has specified some limits and methods. Mankind should cut himself from creation and return to his Creator, and then return to loving creation solely for the sake of the Creator. Any and all connection with the creation should be for the sake of Allah alone and not for the sake of one's nafs. All our loves will become a means for attaining reward if they exist for the sake of Allah rather than anything else.
Allah says in the Holy Quran:
Say: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that you have gained; the commerce in which you fear a decline: or the dwellings in which you delight - are dearer to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause, then wait until Allah brings about His decision: and Allah guides not the rebellious (9:24)
This verse clarifies that all these different loves and affections earn reward only if they remain secondary to the love of Allah in the believer's heart. They continue being rewarded only because they are under the umbrella of Allah's love. When they leave the shade of this umbrella and even start challenging Allah's love is when they start leading the person away from Allah. This verse is telling us that all these loves that we have earn reward for us, but we should be willing to sacrifice all of them if they come between us and Allah, because our purpose and destination is something else. The love of Allah is our only purpose, whereas all other love and affection is secondary. These are the limits that the shariah (Islamic sacred law) has specified.
A believer's life and death are all and only for Allah. It is written in hadith that a believer is he who loves only for the sake of Allah; hates only for the sake of Allah; gives only for the sake of Allah, and if he does not give, the even that is for the sake of Allah. Hadith continues to say that such is a person who has fulfilled his faith, and so we find out that we need to cultivate these four essential qualities within us if we are to achieve perfect faith. Our relations with people should be solely for the sake of Allah, for this is how a person achieves nearness to his Lord.
The Holy Quran also tells us what this kind of muhabbah should be. Allah says:
Those of faith are overflowing in their love for Allah (2:165)
What is an indicator of such strong love? Such a lover aches with desire at hearing the name of his beloved. Such a devoted person cannot hesitate when he hears the call to prayer, and will be restless until he has offered the prayer. There is no need to continually wake such a person at Fajr, but he will be quick in getting up and preparing for prayer.
The ulama have also written that supplications (dua) are another way to judge the level of one's muhabbah. A very simple indicator that reveals a person's muhabbah is what he continually asks of Allah. If he continually asks for wealth and status in this world and for success in his business, then it becomes fairly obvious that love for the world and its attractions is more dominant in his heart. On the other hand, if he asks for a closer relationship with Allah; if he asks Allah's pleasure, and if he asks for success on the Day of Judgment, then this is evidence that love for Allah is dominant in his heart.
It is a common rule and practice that a person confides his secrets and troubles to those that are closest to him. He will not wander around complaining to people if love for Allah is dominant in his heart. He will instead confide his troubles and open his heart to Allah in dua. Hence, dua is a powerful tool for determining whose muhabbah is dominant in a person's heart. The Messenger of Allah taught us a very powerful dua:
O Allah, I ask of You Your muhabbah, and the muhabbah of those who love You
This dua tells that we should seek both the muhabbah of Allah and the muhabbah of those who are dear to Him, for they will in turn make dua for us. This is only a blessing that Allah presents to the fortunate. Today there are many who ask for large houses from Allah; many who ask for beautiful wives and successful businesses, but today there are very few who ask for the muhabbah of Allah from Allah. The people who cry in the nights for the nearness and the pleasure of Allah are very few indeed.
Our great elders who have passed on used to cry in dua at tahajjud (the night vigil) like a child sobs in front of his parents to appease their anger after a scolding. They used to cry so much to Allah that their faces were marked with permanent trails like a stream carves a permanent path in an embankment. Such things are only begotten through asking, crying, and hard work. The muhabbah of Allah is our purpose, without which life has no pleasure, much less fulfillment.
Life is empty without attaining closeness to Allah, the Eternal. It is useless to tire oneself chasing after worldly pleasures at the expense of this closeness, for everything in this world is temporary and will cease to exist. It has been said that whoever has loved the world and creation, let him know that one day all this will be taken away from him - whoever loves Allah, let him know that one day he will be united with Him.
Two things present obstacles in attaining the muhabbah of Allah: glamour and wealth. It is well known to everyone how glamour is an obstacle: we leave the masjid after prayer and our gaze is not in control and we eye forbidden things with lust. Not being able to control our glances is proof that glamour and lust have become a noose for us. Today this is the biggest trial for men.
The second obstacle is wealth, which is a bigger trial for women than for men. Today these two evils have become nooses for our men and women and have distanced them from Allah. Allah has ordered in the Holy Quran that we should remove our attention from two things. Allah says:
Strain not your eyes on what We have bestowed on certain classes of them, nor grieve over them, but lower your wing to the believers (15:88)
As explained by our ulama, we have here a direct command to remove our attention from the wealth of this world.
The second order is to remove our gaze from non-mahram:
Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do (24:30)
Here we see evidence that Muslims have been commanded to remove their attention from two things: wealth and glamour.
Contrary to this, there is one blessing on which Muslims have been ordered to fix their focus on and not lose sight of. Allah says:
And keep your soul content with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His Face; and let not your eyes pass beyond them, seeking the pomp and glitter of this Life; no obey any whose heart We have permitted to neglect the remembrance of Us, one who follows his own desires, whose case has gone beyond all bounds (18:28)
The Holy Quran is giving us a lesson here. It is telling us that we should not concentrate on temporary attractions like wealth and beauty, but focus and sit in the company of those special people who work for the pleasure of Allah and stay immersed in His Remembrance (dhikr). From this we determine that people will stay on the straight path if they keep themselves connected to these kinds of people and not become distracted. We will ourselves start coming near to Allah through the blessing of association with such company.
The eyes can be a blessing for a person and lead to progress if they are used in accordance with the shariah, and can carve a path to destruction if used in opposition to Allah's commands. Imam-e-Rabbani Mujaddid Alaf-Thani i said that troubles descend onto a person's heart through his eyes. If the eyes are not within one's control, then neither is the person's heart, and whoever does not have the heart within his control, then his sexual organs will not be in his control. Hence it is essential for a person to be attentive and safeguard himself by lowering his gaze. If Hadrat Hawa (AS), the wife of Hadrat Adam, had not looked upon the tree that Allah had forbidden, the desire to eat the fruit would not have even kindled in her heart. If Cane had not stared at Abel's wife, then the desire to be with her would not have driven him to murder his brother. Zulaikha would not be as famous as she is today if she had not looked at Hadrat Yusuf and hence desired him.
The foundation and common ground in all these events has been man's eyes and his inability to control where they gaze. These eyes are what entangle man in trials and tribulation.
On the other hand, if these same eyes are used in accordance with Allah's wishes and commands, then the majority of the time their gaze can change a person's direction in life. Allah wants us to live in harmony and love towards one another, but our love for Allah must be paramount. We should be fully prepared to sacrifice these other objects of desire if at anytime they start taking the place of the love that we have for Allah. This is the vital point that we should understand because this is our purpose and destination, and not the other loves of this world.
Allah is merciful and wants that love should grow in our hearts for Him and wants us to come towards Him. It is written in hadith that Allah says that the believers who love Allah are anxious to meet Him, and Allah is even more desirous of meeting them. From this we gather that Allah loves a person even more that person loves Him. This is the basis for Allah saying that His mercy comes running towards the one who comes to Allah walking. Hence it is very true that sometimes a person will be immersed in the love of Allah from his head to his toe because of this very fact. It is thus further written in hadith that such people come so near and become so dear to Allah that Allah becomes the eyes through which they see; He becomes the ears through which they hear, and the tongue through which they speak. These people must truly be at an honorable and exalted platform for Allah to say something so potent. This love for Allah is man's purpose in life, without which our religion becomes a lifeless form.
Shaytan was such a devout worshipper that he had prostrated on every corner of the Earth. He had more knowledge than any creation at that time, which is why he initially started presenting logic to Allah that he was greater than Hadrat Adam. He also possessed a deep understanding, proven by the fact that he knew Allah's mercy still overcomes His wrath no matter how angry He becomes. This is why Shaytan was daring enough to ask for respite until the Day of Judgment when Allah cast him out in anger. Thus, even in the height of anger Allah gave him respite until the Day of Judgment.
The thus write that Shaytan was an abid (worshipper); he was an alim (scholar); he was an arif (one given deep understanding), but he was not an ashiq (lover), and that is why he fell. If Shaytan had been an ashiq then he would not have hesitated upon receiving the command from Allah to bow down to Hadrat Adam. Hafiz ibn Qayyam i says that the only reason for Shaytan's downfall was the absence of this vital muhabbah for Allah.
This anecdote illustrates the extreme importance of muhabbah for Allah. This is a valuable gift that has to be sought after; that has to be begged for from Allah so that our hearts drown in this love. Allah is extremely selective when it comes to His love. The Messenger of Allah (S) said that he is the most selective out of the children of Hadrat Adam, and Allah is even more selective than himself (the Messenger). This is why we must be very careful that the muhabbah for Allah be paramount in our hearts, and that we purify our hearts from all other loves that threaten to conflict with it. It has been said that muhabbah of Allah becomes forbidden (haram) on a heart that is immersed in the love of the world. The love of the world is the foundation of all ills.
Allah is so selective that He even tests His dearest subjects in the loves that He has allowed. One kind are the common people like us, but those nearest to Allah are sometimes tried and tested through that which Allah has allowed, like the love between a father and son.
Allah gave Hadrat Ibrahim (AS) a son in his old age, whom he would often look upon with fondness and love. Allah decided to test Hadrat Ibrahim (AS) in this very love that he had for his son, and so ordered Hadrat Ibrahim (AS) to sacrifice Hadrat Ismail (AS) as proof to what Hadrat Ibrahim (AS) held dearer in his heart.
Hadrat Ibrahim (AS) woke up the morning of the sacrifice and said to his son, "I see in my vision that I offer you in sacrifice: now see what is your view." The ulama have elaborated here that Hadrat Ibrahim (AS) did not ask his son what he thought about Allah's order, but what his position was on this matter. By this he meant that he wanted his son to cooperate but he would be sacrificed regardless. However, the son was the son of a prophet and said, "O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me practicing patience."
Hadrat Ibrahim (AS) sharpened a dagger and both parent and son set off. Along the way Shaytan tried to dissuade and instill fear in the parent and the son but was unsuccessful. This is the designated place where pilgrims today pelt stones at Shaytan during the Hajj pilgrimage as these prophets had done.
Having succeeded against Shaytan at this point, they reached the location of the sacrifice. The Holy Quran says that both father and son were ready and determined, and Hadrat Ibrahim (AS) laid his son done on the stone slab. Hadith elaborates further that Hadrat Ibrahim (AS) blindfolded himself for fear that his hand would become weak at the sight of his son's blood. The stage was set for the sacrifice to Allah.
However, Allah had never truly wished that Hadrat Ibrahim (AS) should sacrifice his son, but only wished to test Hadrat Ibrahim's (AS) love. Therefore, Hadrat Ibrahim (AS) proceeded to cut with the dagger but Allah saved Hadrat Ismail (AS) and placed a lamb in his place. Allah says:
And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice (37:107)
Allah salutes Hadrat Ibrahim (AS) in the Holy Quran for this great sacrifice and was so pleased that He established this sacrificial ritual on all the Muslims until the Day of Judgment. This is why Muslims throughout the world sacrifice animals after the glorious pilgrimage of Hajj to commemorate Hadrat Ibrahim's (AS) noble sacrifice to Allah.
Hadrat Yaqub (AS) held tremendous love in his heart for his son Hadrat Yusuf (AS). We are told that Allah had given Hadrat Yusuf (AS) a fraction of the beauty of Paradise, and the women that Zulaikha had invited cut their fingers instead of their fruits they were in such awe of him. This is an important point because it takes a great deal not to be able to tell if one is cutting one's own finger or a fruit. Such was the awe and fixation that he inspired. Hence Hadrat Yaqub (AS) had good reason to love his son and be proud.
At one time during his life, Hadrat Yaqub (AS) looked upon his son with great love in his heart and Allah decided to take a test based on this one look. Hadrat Yusuf (AS) was therefore separated from his father through the vile scheme of his brothers who told the father that a wolf had eaten Hadrat Yusuf (AS). Hadrat Yusuf (AS) had a brother named Bin Yamin, as the two were from the same mother. Bin Yamin was similar in appearance to Hadrat Yusuf (AS) and so Hadrat Yaqub (AS) would sometimes be consoled from his lost son's memory by looking at Bin Yamin.
It so happened that these brothers went to Egypt to ask for food in the years when a great famine gripped the land. Hadrat Yusuf (AS) had become the Grand Minister after years in prison and now controlled the granaries. He wanted to keep his brother Bin Yamin with him and so slipped one of the king's cups in the brothers' baggage and used this as an excuse to hold him as a thief. The brothers returned and reported all that had happened, saying that even Hadrat Yusuf's (AS) brother turned out to be wicked.
By His wise and supreme plan, Allah not only took away Hadrat Yusuf (AS) from his father, but also took the son who bore a little resemblance to him. Furthermore, Hadrat Yaqub (AS) wept so bitterly that Allah even took away the sight with which he used to look fondly at Hadrat Yusuf (AS). He would remain in such grief that one day the brothers said that he should go to Egypt himself to verify whether they were telling the truth. However, Hadrat Yaqub (AS) said that he would be patient and confide and register his complaints only with Allah.
Allah's mercy overcame all when Hadrat Yaqub (AS) said this after having his dearest sons and even his eyesight taken away. At the point when everything he loved was taken away from him, Hadrat Yaqub (AS) did not turn to anyone but Allah. Allah had not wanted to separate the father from the sons he loved but merely wished to test Hadrat Yaqub (AS), and so the stage for the reunification of all parties was set since the father had proved successful.
The brothers asked the Grand Minister for mercy and charity when they returned to Egypt again asking for food, for they had not brought sufficient goods to trade. Seeing his brothers beg in this way, Hadrat Yusuf (AS) pitied them because they too were sons of a prophet of Allah and so he asked:
Know you how you dealt with Yusuf? (12:89)
The brothers were astonished and asked:
Are you indeed Yusuf? (12:90)
Hadrat Yusuf (AS) replied:
I am Yusuf, and this is my brother: behold, he that is righteous and patient, never will Allah suffer the reward to be lost of those who do right (12:91)
Hadrat Yusuf (AS) then dispatched an attendant to take one of his shirts to his father Hadrat Yaqub (AS). This man had barely started traveling and was still hundreds of miles distant when Hadrat Yaqub (AS) said as documented in the Holy Quran:
I do indeed scent the presence of Yusuf (12:94)
Such is the glory and magnificence of Allah. Hadrat Yaqub (AS) was unable to sense his son's presence when Hadrat Yusuf (AS) was only a little distance away in a well but now he could smell his son from hundreds of miles away because Allah willed it. Moreover, Allah returned Hadrat Yaqub's (AS) sight as the shirt was cast over his eyes, and reunited father and son in Egypt.
Allah had decided to test his dear prophet over one look of love, and Hadrat Yaqub (AS) emerged successful in demonstrating that he held love for Allah superior to everything else. Allah had no purpose in separating the father from his two sons or in taking away Hadrat Yaqub's (S) eyesight, but this was all part of the test. Consequently Allah returned everything that had been taken once Hadrat Yaqub (AS) passed this test.
Here we find out that Allah sometimes tries His nearest and dearest even with love that He has permitted. If such is the case with permitted love, then we can just imagine Allah's hurt and anger at the loves that He has expressly forbidden. It is written in hadith that Allah likes two kinds of people. One is a person among an army returning from battle that stops to rest and he alone gets up to pray tahajjud while the rest are sleeping. The other is the man lying in bed with his wife who gets out of bed for tahajjud despite being allowed to stay with his wife if he so wishes. It is further written that Allah boasts of these peoples' intense love to the angels - a love so powerful that they stand in prayer and overpower their sleep and desire for rest.