FORM OF LOVE FOR GOD, THE PROPHETS,
PARENTS, CHILDREN, NATURE AND THE WORLD
“Loving is not
something voluntary. Due to natural need I love delicious foods and
fruits. I also love my parents and children. I love my spouse and friends.
I love virtuous people, I love life and youth, and I love the world,
spring and beautiful things. Why should I not love those? How can I
appropriate all those instances of love to the Divine Being and His Names
and Attributes exclusively? What does that mean?”
Listen to the following
four subtle points.
However involuntary loving is, one can direct one’s feeling of love to a
certain object. For example, by convincing oneself of the ugliness of an object
of love or seeing that it is either an obstacle or a mirror to another object
worthy of true love, one can divert one’s feeling of love to the true object
I do not tell you not to love those you mention. Rather I tell you to love them
in the name of Almighty God and for the sake of His love. For example, to love
delicious foods and fruits on account of their being the favors and bounties of
Almighty God, the All-Merciful and the All-Compassionate, is loving the Names
the All-Merciful and the Giver of Bounties. This is a sort of thanksgiving.
However, what shows that that love is in the name of the All-Merciful One, not
the carnal self, is lawful earning, and contentment with what is lawful and
consumption in gratitude and reflection.
and respect one’s parents on behalf of the Divine Mercy and Wisdom which have
equipped them with affection and tenderness and brought you up through their
compassionate hands, are included in love of God.
Also, to love and
respect one’s parents on behalf of the Mercy and Wisdom which have equipped
them with affection and tenderness and brought you up through their
compassionate hands, are included in love of God. The sign of that love and
respect being for the sake of Almighty God is that you show your parents much
more love, respect and care when they become too old to benefit you in any way
and cause you trouble and difficulties. The verse, If any of them or both of
them reach old age with you, do not say to them “Uff!” (al-Isra’,
17.23), which calls the children to love and respect their parents in five ways
and degrees, shows how important it is in the view of the Qur’an to consider
the rights of the parents and how degrading and detestable filial ingratitude
who rebels against his parents and annoys them is a monster of cruelty and
Since a father typically
prefers his children to be superior to him, the children cannot claim rights
against their father. That means there can be no justifiable cause of dispute
between parents and children, for a dispute arises from either envy or
violation of rights. A father never feels envy for his children, and the
children have no right to claim rights against their father. Even if they
regard their father as wrong in his treatment of them, they cannot rebel
one’s children with utmost care and compassion on account of their being the
gifts of the All-Compassionate, All-Munificent One, is again included in love
of Almighty God.
To love one’s children
with utmost care and compassion on account of their being the gifts of the
All-Compassionate, All-Munificent One, is again included in love of Almighty
God. The sign of that love being for the sake of God is to show “becoming
patience” at their death and not to wail in despair and in rebelliousness
against Destiny. One should show submission to God in belief that Judgment
belongs to God exclusively and think: that child was a loveable creature of God
whom He placed in my custody. Now as a requirement of His Wisdom He has taken
him or her back from me to a far better place. Even if I have a single apparent
share in that slave of His, thousands of true shares belong to Him.
To love the friends on
account of their being believing friends of Almighty God, who do good deeds,
according to the principle of Loving for the sake of God--that love is also
included in love of God.
greatest charm and beauty of a woman lies in her lovable good conduct
accompanied with the kindness and grace particular to womanhood, and in her
elevated, serious, sincere compassion.
Also, love your spouse,
your companion in life, because he or she is a sweet gracious gift of the
Divine Mercy. Do not set your heart on his or her transient good-looks. To
speak of a woman, the greatest charm and beauty of a woman lies in her lovable
good conduct accompanied with the kindness and grace particular to womanhood,
and in her elevated, serious, sincere compassion. That beauty of compassion and
good conduct continue increasingly till the end of her life. It is through the
love and respect for the compassion and good conduct of that delicate being
that one can observe her rights to the end. If she is loved because of her
physical beauty, she is deprived of her rights and the love and respect due to
her at a time when she needs them most.
Since loving virtuous
people like the Prophets and saints is because of their being the approved
servants of Almighty God, it is in the name and for the sake of God, and
therefore included in His love.
a most valuable capital given by the Almighty to gain the eternal life
If one loves one’s
life because it is a most valuable capital given by Almighty God to gain the
eternal life and a treasury containing the faculties with which to acquire all
kinds of virtues and perfections, and if one spends it in the service of God,
then this love will be included in love of Almighty God, the True Object of
To love the prime of
youth because it is a sweet, fine gift of Almighty God and spend it in His way
is a sort of lawful love wedded to gratitude.
is the realm where the inscriptions of Divine Names are exhibited
To love nature,
especially in spring, reflectively, because it is a realm where the most
beautiful inscriptions of the All-Wise Maker’s light-diffusing Names and the
most splendid and embellished works of His Art are exhibited, means to love the
Names of Almighty God.
world is the field to sow for the Hereafter
If one loves the world
only because it is the field to sow for the Hereafter, and the mirror of the
Divine Names, and because it is the collection of Almighty God’s missives and
a temporary guest-house of His, provided one is not under the influence of one’s
carnal self, then this love is also in the name of Almighty God.
world and the creatures in it not because of themselves but in the name of the
meaning they contain
In short: Love the world
and the creatures in it not because of themselves but in the name of the
meaning they contain. Do not say, How beautiful they are!, but say How
beautifully they have been made! Do not love others than Him at heart and do
not have your heart set on others save on Him. For the heart is the mirror of
the Eternally Besought-of-All and belongs to Him. So pray to Him: O God!
Provide me with love of You and the love of what will make me near to You!
Thus, if all the sorts
of love we have so far mentioned are in the name of God, then they both give a
painless, pure pleasure and are themselves the means of union with no
separation at all. Besides, they cause increase in love of God and also mean
gratitude giving pure pleasure, and a reflection which is itself pure love.
To cite an example: If a
noble king grants you an apple in his presence, you will receive two sorts of
pleasure from it and feel two kinds of love because of it. First, you love the
apple because it is an apple. This will give you as much pleasure as an apple
can give. The love you feel for the apple is not in the name of the king; it
arises from your love of yourself because you love the apple because of the
pleasure it gives you. This kind of pleasure is transient; it passes when you
finish eating the apple. Moreover, the king may not be pleased with such an
attitude towards his present.
The second sort of
pleasure and love arising from the gift of the king are directly related to the
king. If you love and respect the apple because it is an embodiment of the
royal compliment to you, then this love is in the name and for the sake of the
king himself. The pleasure which will arise from such a compliment is a
thousand times greater than the pleasure coming from eating the apple. Such an
attitude towards the apple is also pure gratitude to the king for his gift, and
the love shown for the apple is in fact for the king himself.
bounties you benefit from on account of their being the favors of the Divine
bounties-all the foods and fruits-granted to us because of themselves and the
pleasure they give, is for the sake of the carnal self and is itself a carnal
love. The pleasure coming from eating and drinking is transient and mixed with
pains. If one loves the bounties one benefits from on account of their being
the favors of the Divine Mercy and the fruits of the Divine Bountifulness and
Benevolence and if one receives pleasure from them and feels appetite for them
in appreciation of the Divine grace in them, then this love will be both pure
gratitude and pure pleasure without any pains.
Love of the Divine Names has degrees and levels. As is pointed out above,
sometimes it occurs that one loves the Divine Names because of one’s love of
their works in the universe. One sometimes loves them on account of their being
the titles of the Divine perfections. Sometimes it happens that one loves the
Divine Names because one is in limitless need of them due to man’s
man is a noble, elevated being with a comprehensive nature, he needs one
thousand and one Divine Names in so many circumstances of destitution.
For example, if at a
time when you seek help in utter despair for either your relatives or the poor
or for weak and needy creatures, someone appears unexpectedly and brings them
the good you wished for, how you will love such a one(on account of his
munificence and benevolence and always be thankful to him for those qualities.
Similarly, consider only Almighty God’s Names the All-Merciful and the
All-Compassionate: since through the manifestations of those Names of His,
Almighty God favors in the world with varieties of bounties all your believing
parents and forefathers and all your friends and beloved ones whom you love and
have compassion for, and since He will make both you and them happy in Paradise
in the world of eternal bliss through seeing Him and through all the varieties
of Paradisal pleasures and through bringing you all together-you may understand
how much those two Names are worthy of love and to what extent the spirit of
man needs them. You may also understand how it is proper and necessary to say:
All praise be to God for His being the All-Merciful and the All-Compassionate.
creatures being its amiable residents and loveable adornments, the world is
like a home for you which you feel deep connection with and whose conditions
always affect you deeply.
Also, with its creatures
being its amiable residents and loveable adornments, the world is like a home
for you which you feel deep connection with and whose conditions always affect
you deeply. You may perceive with a slight attention how much your spirit
loves, and to what degree you need, the Names the All-Wise and the
All-Sustaining of the One Who has organized the world and the creatures therein
and governs and grows and sustains them with perfect wisdom.
Again, you may
understand after a little reflection to what extent your spirit needs the Names
the Heir, the All-Reviving, the Permanent, the Munificent, the Giver of Life
and the Benevolent of the One Who brings at their death all those whom you feel
connection with and at whose decay you are grieved, out of the darkness of
eternal extinction and makes them settle in a place much more beautiful than
Since man is a noble,
elevated being with a comprehensive nature, he needs one thousand and one
Divine Names in so many circumstances of destitution. A manifold need is
eagerness. Manifold eagerness is love. Manifold love is adoration. In
proportion to the degree of the perfection of the spirit, love increases and
flourishes in degrees according to the levels of the manifestations of the
Divine Names. Since the Names are the titles with which the Majestic Being
manifests Himself, love of the whole of the Names turns into love of the Divine
Being. Now out of thousands of levels of manifestations of the Names the Just,
the All-Wise, the Truth and the All-Compassionate we will point out only one as
A comparison in order to
be able to see the full manifestation of the Divine Names the All-Merciful, the
All-Compassionate and the Truth
If you want to see the
Names the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate and the Truth in full
manifestation in wisdom and justice, consider the following comparison:
Supposing an army
consists of four hundred companies each of which have different uniforms of
their own, are provided with different kinds of rations, equipped with
different types of weaponry, and use different medicines when the occasion
arises. If these companies are all situated together, without considering their
being different companies, and yet, out of his perfect compassion and based on
his extraordinary power and miraculously encompassing knowledge and with utmost
justice and wisdom, a single peerless king equips each with their particular
uniforms and weaponry and provides them with foods and medicines proper to
their need without any confusion and forgetting none of them and without
needing any help--you may understand what a powerful, compassionate, just and
munificent king he is.
Similarly, if you desire
to see the manifestations of Almighty God’s Names the All-Merciful, the
All-Compassionate and the Truth in wisdom and justice, look at the magnificent
armies of plants and animals consisting of hundreds of thousands of different
families, genera and species which set up their tents on the face of the earth
in spring: although all those families and species exist one mixed with the
other, and each have different kinds of uniforms, provisions, weaponry,
instructions, life-styles and demobilization, and although they have no tongues
with which to voice their needs and no power to meet them, see how the One with
the Names the Truth, the All-Merciful, the All-Provider, the All-Compassionate
and the All-Munificent, provides, maintains and raises them in perfect justice
and wisdom and without confusing and forgetting any of them.
Is it ever possible that
another hand should have had a part in this amazing order and all-comprehensive
organization based on an absolute measure and balance? Who other than the
Single One of Unity, the Absolutely All-Wise and All-Powerful One would have a
hand in this art, regulation and government, and this raising and sustaining?
“What are the
uses and results of my love for foods, my selfhood, spouse, parents,
children, friends, virtuous people, beautiful things like spring and the
world, if that love must be according to the manner the Qur’an commands?”
It would cover a
comprehensive book to explain all of the uses and results of such a love.
Therefore, I will restrict myself to pointing out briefly, first its immediate
consequences in the world and then its permanent results in the Hereafter.
As is explained above,
any love in the name of the carnal self like that of the worldly, heedless
people, causes many pains, troubles and afflictions in the world. For example,
compassion turns into a painful affliction because of the incapacity to do
something. Love becomes a consuming feeling because of separation. Pleasure
becomes like a poisonous drink because of being subject to transience. Since
this kind of love is not in the name of Almighty God, it will be of no use in
the Hereafter and, what is more, if it has driven the lover into some illicit
dealings, it will bring severe torments.
How does love for the
Prophets and saints become fruitless?
Love for the Prophets
and saints like that of the Christians who believe in the Trinity with the
Prophet Jesus, upon him peace, and the Rafidites (a Shi‘a sect) who
cherish enmity toward almost all the Companions because of their love of ‘Ali,
becomes fruitless. Since any kind of love such as this is because of the
persons loved and not in the name of God, it leads the lover into unforgivable
excesses in faith. This is just the case with the Christians who deify Jesus
because of their wrong love of him and with the Rafidites who cherish
enmity toward the Companions of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, and
have broken away from the majority of the Muslim Community.
in the name of God and in the manner the Qur’an commands yields good results
in both the world and the Hereafter. To briefly mention its worldly results:
Your love of delicious
foods and fruits in the name of God makes of them a favor and grace unmixed
with pain, and an ease that yields pure thankfulness.
Your love for your
carnal self leads you to pity and to educate it and to prevent it from harmful
desires and fancies. When you succeed in that, your carnal self cannot take you
wherever it wishes and enslave you to its desires. On the contrary, you will
mount it and guide it to truth, not drive it to passions.
Since your love for your
wife is based on her good conduct and her being a mine of compassion and a gift
of the Divine Mercy, she will in return love and respect you seriously. As you
both grow old, this mutual love and respect will increase and add more to your
happiness. As for carnal love arising from physical beauty, it does not last
long and when it disappears, the mutual good relations also disappear.
Since your love for your
parents is for the sake of Almighty God, it is an act of worship and increases
as they grow old. With a most elevated feeling and a most manly endeavor you
pray for them to live long so that you may get more and more reward because of
them and pay them your most sincere respects and thereby receive a pure
spiritual pleasure. Otherwise if at a time when they need you because of old
age you find their existence unbearable and in a most detestable feeling desire
their death, it will be barbarism and a painful spiritual ailment.
If you love your
children because they are Almighty God’s lovable gifts that He has put in
your trust to bring up in an agree-able way, it is the kind of love which
brings happiness and a blessing. You will neither suffer much because of the
calamities striking them nor wail in despair if they die. Since their Creator
is both the All-Wise and the All-Compassionate, you will conclude: “Since it
was better for them to die than live, Almighty God took them away from me.”
Thinking that your patience will draw God’s mercy upon you and that He will
bring you together in an abode of eternal happiness, you will be saved from the
pains of separation.
Since your love for your
friends is for the sake of God, neither separation nor death will prevent you
from continuing your friendly or even brotherly relations. You will benefit
from the mutual love and spiritual connection between you. The pleasure of
re-union for the sake of God is lasting. While a second of union for the sake
of God gives the pleasure of a year of union, a year of being together for
worldly purposes means a second of union and ends in pains of separation.
Since your love for
virtuous people like the Prophets and saints shows you the intermediate world
of the grave, which appears to the heedless to be a dark, frightening solitude,
as a mansion illuminated by the existence of those blessed ones, you will not
feel terrified of going to that world. Rather, you will feel an inclination and
eagerness to go there and the pleasure you receive from your life will not be
spoilt. If, by contrast, you love them as the ‘civilized’ love the famous
members of mankind, you will be grieved at their death and the thought of their
decay and oblivion in the ‘vast grave’ of the past will add to your pains.
Thinking that you will also enter the grave, which causes the best members of
humanity to rot away, you will utter sighs of grief and suffer fears of death.
But when your love is in the name of Almighty God, you will see the grave as a
place of perfect rest after being undressed of the cover of the body and look
to it in warm anticipation.
Since your love of
beautiful things is in the name of their Maker and in a fashion reminding you
of their Creator, this love of yours, besides being a pleasant reflection, will
turn your view, which adores beauties, toward the sources of much more elevated
and sacred and thousands times subtler beauties. For you will turn from those
beautiful works toward the beauty of Divine acts, then to the beauty of Divine
Names, and then to the beauty of Divine Attributes and the matchless beauty of
the Majestic One. Love such as this is both pure pleasure and an act of worship
and a reflection.
love youth because it is a fine blessing of Almighty God, you will spend it in
worship and not waste it in dissipation.
If you love youth
because it is a fine blessing of Almighty God, you will spend it in worship and
not waste it in dissipation. When you do that, the worship you perform in your
youth will yield permanent fruits. Your youth will disappear but those fruits
will remain and you will be secure from the evil consequences of a youth spent
in rebellion and dissipation. When you grow old, you will concentrate even more
on worship of God and deserve more from the Divine Mercy. Unlike the heedless,
you will not, in the remaining years of a long life, weep and utter sighs of
remorse over five or ten years’ youthful pleasures. You will not be like one
of the heedless who said: “If only my youth would come back to me once, I
would tell it what old age has caused to befall me!”
Since your love for the
exhibitions of ornaments like spring is because of their being the works of
Divine Art, the pleasure of looking on them does not disappear when they are
removed. For you may always recall the meanings which, say, spring has left in
your mind like a gilded letter. Like the scenes of moving pictures, your
imagination and time enable you to continue to feel the pleasure of seeing them
and refresh in your mind the beauties and meanings of the spring past. In that
case, your love does not become painful and temporary; it continues to give
pleasure and enjoyment.
As for your love of the
world, since it is in the name of Almighty God, all the creatures in the world
become like amiable friends to you. Since you see it as a tillage of the
Hereafter, you can find in everything in it a capital you can exploit for the
good of your afterlife. Neither calamities frighten you nor the transience of
your life troubles you. You will stay in that guest-house peacefully until your
appointed hour. If, by contrast, you love it in the manner of the heedless, you
will, as I have told you hundreds of times, suffocate in a troublesome,
calamitous, transient and fruitless love.