How to Have a Heart Connected to Allah [swt]

By | Divine Love, Further Reading | No Comments

To be honest with you, it’s a small miracle to me that I am writing this article right now – my first article for Productive Muslim in three years. In this time, I was drifting away from my religion further and further and could feel my heart hardening until it felt like it had literally turned into a stone. It’s a terrifying feeling and upon reflection, I believe that all of this happened mostly because I was being negligent of my heart.

The Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “There lies within the body a piece of flesh. If it is sound, the whole body is sound and if it is corrupted, the whole body is corrupted. Verily this piece is the heart.” [Sahih Muslim]

Your heart does not distance itself from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) overnight. It is a slow process. First, you start becoming lazy with acts of worship, delaying prayer, belittling your sins. Then the pleasures of this life become your main concern and certain sins become a habit that you can’t seem to get rid of, until you start feeling like you don’t really have a purpose in life.

I never want my heart to fall back into that state again, and I never want the connection with my Creator to be strained or cut. Recently, working on my relationship with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and establishing certain habits to keep my heart alive have become incredibly important to me. Each one of us has a heart and even though the physical heart plays a critical role in our day-to-day living, the most important nourishment for the heart is arguably the spiritual one.

Therefore, I pray that my words will inspire you -and me- to start working on having a sound heart, insha’Allah.

Here is what we need to consider…

Your relationship with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)

1. Get to know Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Allah the Almighty said: I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.” [Sahih Muslim]

 

I believe that in order to have a heart that is connected to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), we need to get to know Him first. How do we expect to build a strong relationship with someone we barely know? Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) gave us multiple ways to do this, one of which is through the Qur’an (I will come back to this later). Another way to get to know Him is by spending time learning and reflecting on His Names which we learn from the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Know that He subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is Al-Khaliq, The One who created us and anything we may desire; As-Sami’, The One who hears every single one of our supplications; Al-Qadir, The One who is able to do anything, no matter how impossible it might seem to our limited perception. This will help us create our relationship with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in a positive framework, and make it a relationship that we gladly work on and invest in. So explore, learn and reflect on the Names of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

2. Firmly hope for His Mercy

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is not looking for a reason to punish, reject or push us away. He is there for us when no one else is and is looking for reasons to accept us. His Names teach us that He is Merciful, The Source of love (Al-Wadud) and The Source of peace (As-Salaam). However, we often tend to lose hope as soon as we slip up. I believe many times this can even be the reason for why we start losing our connection with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) altogether.

Know that we are human and so is our heart, so at some point, it might break, might not work properly or we might feel a certain emptiness inside. From personal experience, I can tell you that it’s essential that we learn to fill this void by being close to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) instead of trying to fill it with anything else.

Be optimistic that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will accept your repentance. He subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions His forgiveness much more often than His punishment in the Qur’an. Every once in a while we all will make a mistake, but it’s vital to immediately catch ourselves and remember Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Repentance is a constant process, so it might take a couple of attempts to fully get back on track. But don’t be embarrassed to turn back to Him, no matter the magnitude of the sin, and never lose hope in His infinite mercy.

Physical connection

1. Performing prayer

The Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “The example of the five (daily) prayers is like that of a clear-water river flowing in front of your houses in which a person washes himself five times a day – cleansing him from all dirt.” [Sahih Muslim]

I was recently blessed with being able to go to umrah. One of the things that stood out to me the most was how the five daily prayers were being prioritized in the two holy cities. When you hear the adhan in Makkah or Medina, the store owners close their shops. A stream of people – young and old, women, children, and men – rush to the mosque to get hold of the best places. Many people are already in the mosque and have been praying, supplicating and reading the Qur’an for hours before.

You see people performing wudu’, not rushing through it, but taking their time while doing so. People prioritize praying in the mosque and praying on time. They are ready for prayer way before the adhan can be heard. Even outside of the prayers, I noticed that people structured their day around them and not the other way around. When scheduling to meet up with someone, I often heard phrases like “Let’s meet between dhuhr and asr” or “Let’s meet after maghrib” instead of “Let’s meet at 5 pm”.

But it’s not just about praying on time. What is even more important in my opinion is the quality of our prayers. When it comes to our heart, there is nothing more crucial than our prayer. It will be the first thing we will be asked about by Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and if our prayers were good, then everything else will be good, insha’Allah. [Jami’ at-Tirmidhī].

By implication, this means that the quality of your prayer is a way to check yourself and the state of your faith and heart. It’s our way to call on Him five times a day, to keep our relationship with Him alive and our hearts connected to Him. We have to fix the quality of our prayer if we want to fix our hearts. If we don’t have that consistency, that food for the soul, our hearts will automatically be affected.

The five daily prayers can be seen as a constant refresher of our faith. It revives us spiritually if we engage in our prayers consciously, and not just treat them like a cardiovascular activity. An issue for many of us is that we are not fluent in the Arabic language, so we might feel disconnected in prayer because we don’t understand what we are reciting. It’s then up to us to be proactive and find ways to get something out of the prayer by reviewing, for example, a few of the verses you have recited, understanding their meaning…etc.

2. Reading and pondering over the Qur’an

“Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) hearts are assured.” [Qur’an: Chapter 13, Verse 28]

I’m sure we have all been in the situation where we attend a lecture or an Islamic event, and go back home feeling a spiritual high rushing through us. But then, after a week or so, we feel a dip in our faith again. Imagine this scenario: if you were to advise a friend who wanted to get in shape, would you tell them to work out for three hours straight, and this would be enough for the rest of the year? If only it were that easy! Just like a few hours of physical exercise every couple of months won’t do anything for our bodies, remembering Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) once a week or once a month won’t do much for our spiritual hearts.

In order to be consistent with the remembrance of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), we have the above-mentioned five daily prayers, but we have also been given the Qur’an, which is not just meant to sit on our shelves but was sent down to be read, lived and engaged with on a daily basis. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us in the Qur’an that our hearts find ultimate peace and tranquility in the remembrance of Him. Since the Qur’an is said to be the best form of remembrance, it’s an essential component to keeping our hearts steadfast. But how many of us really

But how many of us really make an effort to understand His book? How much time do we really spend with it on a regular basis?

I personally believe that reading the Qur’an, even if we might not understand or remember everything, is a means to purify our hearts and bring about change inside of us. But in order to really feel the effect of His words on us, we have to be willing to go deeper in order to reap the tremendous benefits of their meaning.

I once heard an analogy that I would like to share with you: imagine you receive a letter from a king, a president, or anyone else in a high position. Even if it was written in a language that you didn’t understand, you would get it translated because you would be dying to know what it says.

The Qur’an can be seen as a letter to mankind and it’s not a letter from just anyone! It’s a message from the Lord of the worlds Himself. It’s one of the most fulfilling experiences to establish a relationship with the Qur’an and extract gems on how to enrich your own personal life and enlighten your heart.

All you have to do is commit to and set aside a certain time in the day where you can sit down, read, and ponder over the Qur’an, even if it’s just one verse a day. One of the recommended times is right after fajr prayer as it’s a time of blessings, but I would say the most important thing is that you find a time that works best for you and that you are able to stick to consistently.

Your relationship with others and yourself

1. Surround yourself with people that remind you of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)

The Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “The likeness of a righteous friend and an evil friend, is the likeness of a (musk) perfume seller and a blacksmith. As for the perfume seller, he may either bestow something on you, or you may purchase something from him, or you may benefit from his sweet smell. And as for the blacksmith, he may either burn your clothes, or you may be exposed to his awful smell.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]

Even if you strive to better yourself and purify your heart, it will prove to be very difficult if your company isn’t good. Just as some people can impact you positively, others can literally poison your heart. Therefore, quality is so much more important than quantity when it comes to the friends you choose to surround yourself with.

It’s completely normal for us to go through phases where our faith goes up and down, but if we keep good company and don’t isolate ourselves, we can prevent our faith from plummeting to the ground. Choose to be around people who bring you closer to righteousness, people who remind you of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and encourage you to do good deeds, the ones who support you and believe in you in the good times, as well as the bad times.

Go to, or organize, weekly gatherings where you come together with fellow Muslim friends and discuss things that you are dealing with at the moment. Read His Book together, reflect on His words, pray together, eat together, and simply come together for His sake.

You might see something in a way that the person sitting next to you might not see and vice versa, so you can benefit from each other’s differing perspectives. Angels surround gatherings where Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is remembered, so imagine how blessed a weekly get-together would be. You will feel an immediate effect on your heart and spiritual self, insha’Allah.

2. Pause and assess yourself

Frequently assess the state of your heart and think about the way you affect others. Does your character and the way you speak to and treat others, bring them closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), or does it drive them away? I believe that a fundamental aspect of purifying one’s heart starts with working on one’s character and developing fundamental etiquette. When you’re going through a tough time in your life, go out and help somebody deal with their problem.

This way, you’ll be able to shift your focus from ‘I’ to a more positive and comprehensive one and will be able to put your own matters into perspective.

We can all do our part in making the world a little better for someone. It might not impact on everyone, but if it can have an impact on even one life, on one heart, then there is still value in it and it still makes a difference. You will realize that what you do for others will not just have an effect on them, but will also soften your own heart.

When we look at the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his companions, we can see that they never let a person feel as though they were alone or as though they had to get through trials by themselves. They didn’t look a person up and down and judge them. Be a real friend to people and someone who they can come and speak to. Think about how you being Muslim is not only a benefit to you, but also a benefit to those around you.

I hope that this article has inspired you to feed and nourish your heart and has provided you with practical advice on how to do exactly that. The state of your heart will determine how you perceive the world around you. Just like how we take care of our minds and bodies, we have to take care of our hearts.

Take time out to reflect on certain things going on inside of you that need to be remedied and healed. Nothing of the dunya will be able to give you what a content heart, a heart connected to its Creator, can give you.

What are your tips to have a sound heart connected to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)? Share with us in the comments section.

 Credits: productivemuslim.com

Deepening The Love of Allah [swt] in Young Hearts

By | Divine Love, Further Reading | No Comments

Children have some of the most inquisitive minds. They find the mundane awe-inspiring, they constantly ask questions and they are full of excitement. It is at this tender age that you can start instilling a love of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and a love of Islam.

I don’t mean by forcing them to join your salah or making them go to as many Qur’an classes as possible. I mean by getting their minds thinking about how Great and Merciful their Creator is. Make Islam fun and attractive! Show that our worship is not a chore.

It can be quite tricky to do in the midst of our busy lives and the rise of technology, but I will discuss some easy ways to ensure that your little one’s heart is immersed in the love of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Remember that the love is already there

Before anything, always remember that love for Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is already in our children’s hearts and it is our duty as parents to help nurture and sustain that love. Do not see this as a huge difficult task – do not underestimate how much understanding your child already has about their Creator from a young age.

The Prophet Muhammadṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,

“Every child is born with a true faith of Islam (i.e. to worship none but Allah Alone) and his parents convert him to Judaism or Christianity or Magianism” [Sahih al-Bukhari]

You don’t need to tell your children to love Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), you just need to show them the endless reasons to love Him. Consciously teaching your children to love Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), rather than just teaching them rituals like prayer and fasting, will lead them to grow up with strong imaan in their hearts.

1. Contemplate

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says,

“Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding. Those who remember Allāh (always, and in prayers) standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying): “Our Lord! You have not created (all) this without purpose, glory to You! (Exalted be You above all that they associate with You as partners). Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire”. [Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verses 190-191]

The importance of contemplating over the Signs of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is understated and yet so invaluable. There are a million things around us to remind us of our Creator, and it is up to us to stimulate a child’s mind to find opportunities to contemplate on Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) signs in everyday tasks and conversations – whether it’s discussing the weather, eating breakfast or stuck in traffic on the school run. Soon your child will be pointing out all the signs of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in many of their conversations. For example:

Your child playing with his favourite wooden train. Ask him/her, “What is your train made of?”

Suggest different materials, and then conclude: “The train is made of wood.”

You can then ask, “where does wood come from?”

Again, discuss different places and then conclude: “wood comes from trees.”

Now, importantly, ask your child, “who created the trees?”

Without any doubt, and with full conviction, tell them “Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) The Magnificent has created the trees for the wood for your train. What other things has Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)?”

This will create a dialogue where your child will automatically attribute Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) as The Fashioner and The Creator. Remind them of all the amazing things Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has provided for them (their favourite snack or favourite toy) and find a way to attribute every blessing to Him.

2. Be moderate

Islam is a religion that is the middle path, neither harsh not lenient. Adults should have a healthy balance of love and fear of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in order to armour our imaan. Do not make Islam solely about strictness and discipline, as this creates only fear of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and no love, and at the same time, we need to teach our children about the boundaries Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has placed for us. Remind children of Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) kindness and endless mercy.

Whatever haram you teach your child, teach them a halal. If you say birthdays are haram, then give them a party to celebrate their memorising of Qur’an, or learning to pray, and make Eid the most exciting day of the year. Make their Islamic achievements memorable and their mistakes forgettable. You cannot instil a love of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) into children by reminding them of His punishment and wrath – this will cause resentment.

At such an impressionable age, moderation is crucial to cultivate a loving and lasting understanding of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and help your child to want to love Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

3. Lead by example

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Qur’an,

“O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones” [Qur’an: Chapter 66, Verse 6].

Children love to imitate their elders; if you love the deen of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), let it show through your actions and this will be mirrored by your children. The beauty of Islam means that there is always something to learn – yes, we can send our children to madrassah and Qur’an and Arabic teachers to learn Islam, but there is a duty upon ourselves to instil the teachings of the deen into our children, by undertaking the actions we want to see in them. We are never too old or too busy to stop learning or improving ourselves.

Take your children to the masjid often so that the environment becomes familiar and beloved to them. Get them involved in your salah at home, by giving them their own prayer mat and prayer clothes. Children love to play and explore, and are naturally enthusiastic.

Take time to carry out projects that increase Islamic knowledge. Seek knowledge together by using their areas of strength and enjoyment to deliver lessons – directive arts and craft is a popular option with youngsters, and is what inspired me to start my own project of learning through craft activities. Through providing hands on creative activities, I made sure that learning about Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) was fun whilst being informative.

The childhood of our young Muslims is so important because it is the time when the love of Islam can be ingrained in their hearts. Your role will determine how they look back at being taught about Islam. Their hearts are so impressionable and full of love, and as a parent you have the potential to cultivate a strong faith in them, which will prove important later on in their lives, especially during the teen years.

The love that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has already placed in their hearts is waiting to be nurtured by you.

What ways do you teach your children love for Islam? Comment below and let us know!

Credits: productivemuslim.com

Signs of Allah’s Love for a Person and Attaining It

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Question:

What are the indications of Allah’s love for his worshippers and how can we achieve it.

Answer:

Praise be to Allah.

Almighty Allah said (what means): “Say (O Muhammad): “if you (really) love Allah then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic monotheism, follow the Quran and Sunnah), Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [3:31].

Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

‘if Allah loves a person, He calls Jibrael saying, ’Allah loves so and so; O Jibrael love him.’ And make an announcement amongst the inhabitants of the heaven: “Allah loves so and so therefore you should love him also, and so all the inhabitants of the heaven would love him, and then he is granted the pleasures of the people on the earth.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said that Allah said:

“I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a pious worshipper of mine. And the most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me, is what I have enjoined upon him; and My worshipper keeps on coming close to Me through performing Nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him, then I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hands with which he grips, and his legs with which he walks; and if he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks My protection (refuge), I will protect him.” [Al-Bukhari].

A-The Excellence of Reciting the Quran

1.     Abu Umamah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that he heard the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saying: “Read the Quran (regularly) for it will act as an intercessor for its readers on the Day of Resurrection.” [ Muslim].

2.     Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The best among you (Muslims) are those who learn the Quran and teach it (to others).” [Al-Bukhari].

3.     ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said : “When somebody recites one letter from the Quran he will get one good deed in recompense which will be equal to ten good deeds. I do not say that Alif Lam Meem is a letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Meem is a letter (i.e it is equal to three letters).” [ At-Tirmithi].

B-The Excellence of remembering Allah

1.      Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said : “A person who recites after every salah (prayer) : sub-han- Allah (glory be to Allah) thirty three times, Al-ham-do lil-lah (all praise belongs to Allah) thirty three times and Al-la-ho Akbar (Allah is great) thirty three times, and completes the figure of hundred with the recitation of La ilaha ila Allah wahdahu lasharikalahu lahu almulku walahu alhamdu wahuwa ‘ala kul shai in qadeer

(“None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and He has no partner, for Him is the kingdom and all the praises and thanks are for Him and he is Omnipotent”) will have his (minor) sins forgiven, although they may be as much as the foam of the sea. [ Muslim].

2.      Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Who-ever says ‘Subhan Allahi wa bihamdi hi’, one hundred times a day, will be forgiven all his sins even if they were as much as the foam of the sea.” [ Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

3.      Abu Musa (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said : “The similitude of the one who remembers (glorifies the praises of his Lord) in comparison to the one who does not remember his Lord is like that of the living and the dead.” [Al-Bukhari].

C-Invoking Allah’s Blessings Upon the Prophet

1.      Almighty Allah said (what means): “Allah and His Angels send blessing on the Prophet, O you who believe! send your (salah) and salute (greet) on him with a worthy salutation.” 33:56.

2.      ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘Aas (may Allah be pleased with him) said that he heard the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saying : “A person who calls for blessings on me, (recites salah) once, Allah sends down mercies on him ten times.” [Muslim].

And Allah knows best.

Credits: Islamqa

6 Steps to Get You Closer to Allaah (SWT)

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“…for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.” (Surah Al-Rad, 13:28)

To be close to our Creator Allah (swt) is a fundamental need of every human being and striving to achieve it can be the healing for our chaotic inner selves which, in turn, leads to:

  1. Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) love
  2. Greater productivity
  3. Confidence
  4. Satisfaction and joy

Therefore, it is essential to exert effort in seeking closeness to your Creator. To begin with, the prescription to getting closer to Allah requires a few things from you:

  1. Strong intention to get closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)
  2. Patience
  3. Consistency
  4. Avoid doing nothing

Let’s first consider our worth to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). If you want to know your worth to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), then see what you are doing with your life. Are you pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) or disappointing Him?

Don’t like your answer?

Well, there is good news. The fact that you are seeking closeness to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) means He wants you to remember Him. Being productive is very important as a Muslim. It is a sign of Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy that you have come to seek beneficial knowledge from websites like this one. A righteous deed is like a pearl necklace – when it breaks, all the pearls follow one another quickly.

Abu Huraira (RA) reported that the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), the Exalted and Glorious said, “I am near to the thought of My servant as he thinks about Me, and I am with him as he remembers Me. And if he remembers Me in his heart, I also remember him in My heart, and if he remembers Me in assembly I remember him in assembly, better than his (remembrance), and if he draws near Me by the span of a palm, I draw near him by the cubit, and if he draws near me by the cubit I draw near him by the space (covered by) two hands. And if he walks towards Me, I rush towards him.” (Sahih Muslim).

We need to struggle to achieve great things. The harder the struggle is, the better the outcome becomes. Getting close to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) takes time. We cannot expect everything to magically fall into place by doing a righteous deed. You need to depend on Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and trust that what He has planned for you is the best you can have, for this life and the hereafter.

Here are some tips to achieve closeness to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) (glorified and exalted be He):

1. Dua’a (Supplication)

We forget that we need Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) help and strength to guide us. When we get too caught up with dunya (this life) we often think we can do it on our own without His help. We have to know that nothing changes without the strength and power of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). We need to ask Him for His help, even if it is to get closer to Him, or become better at worshiping Him. We need to seek refuge in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in everything. It could be negative thoughts we have, our lack of productivity or even our lack of faith. We need to ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to help us and guide us to the Straight Path.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Qur’an:

”And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided”(2:186).

2. Stay Away from Poisons

You need to get any poisons out of your life. Poison has many forms. Fix your heart, by staying away from anything that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) doesn’t love. If you are around friends that make you sin and make you disappoint Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), then you need to get them out of your life.

The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

3. Get to Know Allah [SWT] Through His 99 Beautiful Names

How can you love Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and want to get closer to Him if you don’t know Him that well? We fall in love with people as we get to know them more and realize that they have a lot of beautiful qualities and characteristics. Of course Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is above any analogy, but you need know Him more. Wanting to get closer alone won’t do you any good without falling in love with your Creator. Start with the name of Al-Wadud, the Ever-Loving. Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) love for you is unconditional.
He does not need or want anything from you in return. He loves you so He keeps giving you even if you disobey Him. Ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) with His 99 Names.
He is the One who is closest to you (Qareeb). So ask Him to bring you closer to Him. Call on Him using the name Al-Wadud and ask Him to love you more and make you love Him more. It’s as simple as that. We tend to overthink stuff and forget that if we seek refuge in Allah  subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), He will make everything easier on us.
Abu Huraira raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “If Allah loves a person, He calls Gabriel saying, ‘Allah loves so and-so; O Gabriel! Love him.’ Gabriel would love him and make an announcement amongst the inhabitants of the Heaven. ‘Allah loves so-and-so, therefore you should love him also,’ and so all the inhabitants of the Heaven would love him, and then he is granted the pleasure of the people on the earth.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

4. Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He))

Remembering Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is essential in achieving closeness to Him. You can remember him by engaging in dhikr (remembrance) and tasbeeh (praise).

Say Astaghfirullah a lot to erase your sins.

Say Alhamdulillah so Allah will give you more.

Look outside your window and say Subhan-Allah about His beautiful creations.

The most elegant form of remembering Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is by looking at His creations. When you are in between tasks like driving or walking, remember Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Listen to Islamic lectures or Islamic poetry that talk about Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) glory. Surround yourself with people who remind you of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Attend halaqas or religious circles in masjids or you can even create your own gathering of remembrance. The more you remember Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), the more He will remember you. See what happens when you are sitting in a gathering that is filled with Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) remembrance.

Allah’s Messenger [SAW] said:

“Whenever some people gather in one of Allah’s houses (mosques) to recite the book of Allah and study it among themselves – then calmness (tranquility) descends upon them, the angels surround them, mercy covers them, and Allah mentions them to those who are with Him.” (Sahih Muslim)

5. Follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)

By following the Sunnah of our prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) we will gain the love of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). When you gain the love of Allahsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), you will get closer to him. Following the sunnah of the Prophet makes you a better person. You will have better manners and ethics. Read more about the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him); fall in love with your Messenger. After all, he was a mercy to all mankind. Allah says so in the Qu’ran:

“Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind): If ye love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (3:31)”.

6. Stay Connected to the Qur’an

Reading or memorizing the Qur’an alone is not enough. Understand it and act upon it. Try your best to act the way we were asked to in the Qur’an. Strive for the best. Reflect on its meanings; it will give you answers to your daily life’s complications. When you read the Qur’an and understand it more you will be more likely to reach the level of ihsan. You will want to do everything right.

In the form of a man, Gabriel/Jibreel 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) once entered a gathering where the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was sitting. One of the questions the angel asked was to elaborate on the term “ihsan”, Prophet Muhammed ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “That you worship Allah as if you see Him, for if you don’t see Him then truly He sees you.”(Bukhari and Muslim)

Wrapping It All Up

Be productive, seek knowledge and take action. The more you love Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), the more you will do to get closer to Him. The more you get closer to Him, the more He will get closer to you.

The more you will want to learn about the sunnah and the Qur’an and want to get even closer to Him, the closer you will become to reaching the level of ihsan. When you reach that level you will feel Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) love and you will be satisfied with everything He gives you.

You will be productive because you won’t want to waste time without pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). You will be confident in anything that you do in your life, because you will have full trust in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) guide us to the path that takes us closer to Him. Ameen.

 

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Love of Allaah

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An exceptional love

The love of Allah should occupy man’s heart and get total possession of it; and if it does not seize it entirely, it should at least outweigh the love of all other things in it.

Allah Says about the believers, (what means): “He loves them and they love Him,” [Quran 5:54] and the Prophet  said: “A man would not have attained faith until and unless he loves Allah and His Messenger more than anything else.” (Al-Bukhari)

When the angel of death came to take the soul of Prophet Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention, the latter said, “Have you ever seen a friend take his friend’s life?” To that, Allah replied, “Have you ever seen a friend unwilling to see his friend?” Then Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention said, “O Angel of death! Take my soul!”

The Prophet  taught the following supplication to his Companions, “O Allah, allow me to love You and to love those who love You, and to love whatsoever brings me nearer to Your love, and make Your love more precious to me than cold water to the thirsty.” (At-Tirmithi)

Al-Hassan Al-Basri  used to say, “He who knows Allah, loves Him.”

Causes of the love of Allah

The first cause is man’s love for himself and his drive to perfect his own creation. This leads directly to loving Allah because man’s very existence and attributes are but the gift of Allah whose grace and kindness have brought man from behind the curtain of non-existence into this visible world. Man’s preservation and eventual attainment of perfection are also entirely dependent upon Allah’s grace. It would indeed be a wonder if one should take refuge from the heat of the Sun under the shadow of a tree and not be grateful to the tree, without which there would be no shadow at all. On precisely the same way, were it not for Allah, man would have neither existence nor attributes at all.

It would indeed be a wonder if one should take refuge from the heat of the Sun under the shadow of a tree and not be grateful to the tree, without which there would be no shadow at all. On precisely the same way, were it not for Allah, man would have neither existence nor attributes at all.

The second cause of this love is that man loves his benefactor, and in truth, his only Benefactor is Allah, for whatever kindness man receives from fellow-creatures is due to the immediate instigation of Allah. Whatever the motive that may have prompted the kindness he receives from others, Allah is the One who set that motive to work.

The third cause of man’s love of Allah is his contemplation of the beautiful Attributes of Allah, His Power and Wisdom, of which human power and wisdom are but the feeblest reflections.

 

Signs of the love of Allah

Many claim to love Allah. But each should examine himself as to the genuineness of the love which he professes.

The first test of how genuine the love is this: he should not dislike the thought of death, for no friend shrinks away from going to see a dear and beloved friend.

The Companion Abu Moosa Al-Asha’ri, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet Muhammad  said,”Whoever wishes to meet Allah, Allah wishes to meet him.” (Al-Bukhari)

It is true, one who sincerely loves Allah may shrink away from the thought of dying before he is fully prepared to meet his beloved One in the Next World, but one would think, he should work diligently to prepare for that sure meeting ahead of time.

The second test is that one should be willing to sacrifice his own will to Allah’s; should cling to what brings him nearer to Him; and should shun all that distances him from Allah. One’s commission of sins is no proof that one does not love Allah at all, but it proves that he does not love Him with his whole heart.

Al-Fudhayl Ibn ‘Iyaadh  once said, “If any one asks you whether you love Allah, keep silent; for if you say, `I do not love Him,’ you are a nonbeliever; and if you say, ‘I do’ your deeds may contradict your claim.”

The third test is that the remembrance of Allah should always remain fresh in one’s heart, for what one loves, one constantly remembers; and if that love is perfect, one would never forget it.

The fourth test is that he will love the Quran, which is the Word of Allah, revealed to Muhammad who is the Prophet of Allah; in fact, if his love is really strong, it will encompass the whole creation, for he who loves any one, loves the works he composes.

The fifth test is that he covets retirement and privacy for the purpose of worship and devotion; he longs for the approach of night so that he may hold association with his Friend without hindrance. If he prefers conversation by day and sleep at night to such retirement, then, his love is imperfect.

The sixth test is that worship becomes easy. A righteous man once said, “Over a span of thirty years, I performed my night-devotions with great difficulty, but during the course of the next thirty years they became a delight.” When love to Allah is complete, no joy is equal to the joy of worship.

The seventh test is that one loves those who obey Allah and detest those who disbelieve in Him and disobey Him. Allah the Almighty Says (what means): “You will not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last Day having affection for those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even if they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred. Those – He has decreed within their hearts faith and supported them with spirit from Him. And We will admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally. Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him – those are the party of Allah. Unquestionably, the party of Allah is

Those – He has decreed within their hearts faith and supported them with spirit from Him. And We will admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally. Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him – those are the party of Allah. Unquestionably, the party of Allah is the successful.” [Quran 18:22]

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WHY LOVE GOD

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“Whilst the pen was making haste in writing, it split upon itself as soon as it came to Love.”

Rumi was right. When pen is put to paper and writes about love, it breaks in two. Trying to describe love is almost impossible. Love is truly a powerful, unique and irresistible force or feeling. When we try and express our love, we find it very hard to find the right words. The expressions we use do not fully represent what is burning deep down inside our hearts.

This may explain why we associate love with actions and not just words. We embrace each other, buy our loved ones gifts, send our partners a bunch of flowers, or take them out for a romantic dinner. Love is not just an internal feeling; it is a way of being, a way of behaving. The psychologist Erich Fromm described love as “an activity, not a passive effect”.

Loving yourself, Loving God

There are many types of love and one of these includes self-love. This type occurs due to the desire to prolong our existence, feel pleasure and avoid pain, as well as the need to satisfy our human needs and motivations. We all have this natural love for ourselves. Ultimately we want to be happy and content. Erich Fromm argued that loving oneself is not a form of arrogance or egocentricity. Rather, self-love is about caring, taking responsibility and having respect for ourselves.

This type of love is necessary in order to love others. If we cannot love ourselves, how then can we love other people? There is nothing closer to us than our own selves; if we cannot care for and respect ourselves, how then can we care for and respect others? Loving ourselves is a form of ‘self-empathy’.

We connect with our own feelings, thoughts and aspirations. If we cannot connect with our own selves, how then can we empathise and connect with others? Eric Fromm echoes this idea by saying that love “implies that respect for one’s own integrity and uniqueness, love for an understanding of one’s own self, cannot be separated from respect and love and understanding for another individual.”[iii]

Although, due to loving others, we may sacrifice and disadvantage ourselves, these sacrifices are always for a greater form of happiness. Consider, for example, when someone goes without food to feed others. This person may have felt the pain of hunger; however he also achieved a greater overall happiness because the pain of seeing others go without was greater than the discomfort caused by the lack of food.

Such sacrifices, although can be perceived as negative, are ultimately for a greater happiness. From a deeper, Islamic point of view, going without to ensure others are satisfied is the path that leads to ultimate happiness. The Divine blessings and rewards associated with sacrificing for our fellow humans, is ultimate eternal bliss – paradise. In this way, these sacrifices are to be understood as spiritual investments and not losing out.

In summary, self love can include sacrificing and enduring hardship for others, because that will lead to a greater happiness and contentment.

If a person’s love for himself is necessary, this should lead him to love the One who made him. Why? Because God is the source of love. He also created the physical causes and means in order for each person to achieve happiness and pleasure, as well as to avoid pain. God has freely given us every precious moment of our existence, yet we do not earn or own these moments. The great theologian Al-Ghazali aptly explains that if we love ourselves we must love God:

“Therefore, if man’s love for himself be necessary, then his love for Him through whom, first his coming-to-be, and second, his continuance in his essential being with all his inward and outward traits, his substance and his accidents, occur must also be necessary. Whoever is so besotted by his fleshy appetites as to lack this love neglects his Lord and Creator. He possesses no authentic knowledge of Him; his gaze is limited to his cravings and to things of sense.”[iv]

God’s Love is the Purest

God is The-Loving. He has the purest form of love. This should make anyone want to love Him, and loving Him is a key part of worship. Imagine if I were to tell you that there was this person who was the most loving person ever, and that no other love could match his love, wouldn’t that instil a strong desire to get to know this person, and eventually love him too?

God’s love is the purest and most intense form of love; therefore any sane person would want to love him too.

Given that the English word for love encompasses a range of meanings; the best way to elaborate on the Islamic conception of God’s love is to look into the actual Qur’anic terms used to describe Divine love: His mercy, His special mercy and His special love. By understanding these terms and how they relate to the Divine nature, our hearts will learn to love God.

Mercy

It is said that another word for love is mercy. One of God’s names is The-Merciful; the Arabic word used is Ar-Rahmaan. This English translation does not fully represent the depth and intensity that the meaning this word carries. The name Ar-Rahmaan has three major connotations: the first is that God’s mercy is an intense mercy; the second is that His mercy is an immediate mercy; and the third is a mercy so powerful that nothing can stop it.

God’s mercy encompasses all things and He prefers guidance for people. In God’s book, the Qur’an, He says,

“… but My mercy encompasses all things….”

“It is the Lord of Mercy who taught the Qur’an.”

In the above verse, God says He is The-Merciful, which can be understood as the “Lord of Mercy”, and that He taught the Qur’an. This is a linguistic indication to highlight that the Qur’an was revealed as a manifestation of God’s mercy. In other words, the Qur’an is like one big love-letter to humanity. Just like with true love, the one who loves wants good for the beloved, and warns them of pitfalls and obstacles, and shows them the way to happiness.

The Qur’an is not different: it calls out to humanity, and it also warns and expresses glad tidings.

Special Mercy

Connected to Ar-Rahmaan, is Ar-Raheem.  This name shares the same root as the previous, which comes from the Arabic word for womb. The difference in meaning however is significant. Ar-Raheem refers to a special mercy for those who want to embrace it. Whoever chooses to accept God’s guidance has essentially accepted His special mercy. This special mercy is for the believers and it is manifested in paradise; unending blissful peace with God.

Special Love

According to the Qur’an, God is The-Loving. The Arabic name is Al-Wadood. This refers to a special love that is apparent. It comes from the word wud, which means expressing love through the act of giving: “And He is the Forgiving, The Loving.”

God’s love transcends all of the different types of love. His love is greater than all worldly forms of love. For example, a mother’s love, although selfless, is based on her internal need to love her child. It completes her, and through her sacrifices she feels whole and fulfilled. God is an independent Being who is self-sufficient and perfect; He does not require anything.

God’s love is not based on a need or want; it is therefore the purest form of love, because He gains absolutely nothing from loving us.

In this light, how can we not love the One who is more loving than anything we can imagine? The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “God is more affectionate to His servants than a mother to her children.”

If God is the most loving, and His love is greater than the greatest worldly love we have experienced, this should instil in us a deeper love for God. Significantly, this should make us want to love Him by being one of His servants. Al-Ghazali aptly said, “For those endowed with insight there is in reality no object of love but God, nor does anyone but He deserve love.”

From a spiritual perspective, God’s love is the greatest blessing anyone can ever achieve, as it is a source of internal tranquillity, serenity, and eternal bliss in the hereafter. Not loving God is not only a form of ingratitude, but the greatest form of hate. Not loving the One who is the source of love is a rejection of that which enables love to occur and fill our hearts.

God does not force His special love on us. Although, by His mercy, He lovingly gives us every moment of our lives, to fully embrace God’s love and be recipients of His special love, one must enter into a relationship with Him. It is as if God’s love is waiting for us to embrace it. However, we have closed the door and put up the shutters. We have kept the door shut by denying, ignoring and rejecting God.

If God were to force His special love on us, love would lose all meaning. We have the choice: to follow the right path and thereby gain God’s special love and mercy, or reject His guidance and face the spiritual consequences.

The most loving Being loves you, but in order for you to fully embrace that special love, and for it to be meaningful, you have to choose to love Him and follow the path that leads to His love. This path is the Prophetic path of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ:

“Say, [O Muhammad]: ‘If you love God, then follow me, [so] God will love you and forgive your sins. And God is Forgiving and Merciful’.”

An important question that follows from this is: I know why I must love God, but how do I love Him? I hope to address this in another piece. However, to conclude, I leave you with the words of the 14th century theologian, Ibn Al-Qayyim:

“There is no doubt that perfect servitude to God is part of perfect love, and perfect love is connected to the perfection of the Beloved in and of Himself, for God, may He be glorified, is completely and absolutely perfect in all aspects, and could not possibly have any imperfections whatsoever. For one who is like this, nothing can be dearer to people’s hearts than Him; so long as their basic nature and reason are sound, it is inevitable that He will be the dearest of all things to their hearts. Undoubtedly love of Him leads to submission and obedience to Him, seeking His pleasure, doing one’s utmost in worship of Him and turning to Him. This is the best and strongest motive to do acts of worship.”

Last updated 5 April 2017. Taken and adapted from my book “The Divine Reality: God, Islam & The Mirage of Atheism”.

[i] Masnavi I: 109-116

[ii] Fromm, E. (1956). The Art of Loving. New York: Harper & Row, p. 22.

[iii] Ibid, pp. 58-59.

[iv] Al-Ghazali. (2011) Al-Ghazali on Love, Longing, Intimacy & Contentment. Translated with an introduction and notes by Eric Ormsby. Cambridge: The Islamic Texts Society, p. 25.

[v] The Qur’an, Chapter 7, Verse 156.

[vi] The Qur’an, Chapter 55, Verses 1 and 2.

[vii] The Qur’an, Chapter 85, Verse 14.

[viii] Narrated by Abu Dawud.

[ix] Al-Ghazali. (2011) Al-Ghazali on Love, Longing, Intimacy & Contentment, p. 23.

[x] The Qur’an, Chapter 3, Verse 31.

[xi] Miftaah Daar al-Sa‘aadah, 2/88-90.

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