بِسْ مِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful.
إِنَّ الْحَمْدَ لِلَّهِ نَحْمَدُهُ وَنَسْتَعِينُهُ وَنَسْتَغْفِرُهُ وَنَعُوذُ بِاللهِ مِنْ شُرُورِ أَنْفُسِنَا وَمِنْ سَيِّئَاتِ أَعْمَالِنَا مَنْ يَهْدِهِ اللهُ فَلَا مُضِلَّ لَهُ وَمَنْ يُضْلِلْ فَلَا هَادِيَ لَهُ وَأَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ وأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ
Verily, all praise is for Allah. We praise Him, we seek His assistance and we ask for His forgiveness. And we seek refuge in Him from the evils of our selves. Whoever Allah guides, none can misguide. Whoever He misguides, none can guide. And I bear witness that there is no deity other than Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger.
أعوذُ بِٱللَّهِ مِنَ ٱلشَّيۡطَٰنِ ٱلرَّجِيم
Seek refuge in Allah from Satan, the expelled.
بِسْ مِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful.
قُلْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللَّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
Al Imran (Quran 3:31): “Say, ‘If you should love Allah, then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.’”
My dear brothers and sisters, all praises are due to Allah, for all the blessings that He has given us – and that greatest blessing of all which is that of Imaan, of faith in Him, and of his book, and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and his guidance of His messenger. Allah tells us that if we were to count all of our blessings, we would never finish. There is no way we could finish counting all the blessings, which Allah has given us.
So, the topic I’d like to talk about today is love of Allah (swt).
Where is the love for Allah in our hearts? And what can we do to increase that love? What can we do as parents? What is the thing you want to leave for your children the most? What do you think parents say? A Ferrari? A nice bank account? What do they say parents want? The thing we’re most worried about is that our next generation loves Allah (swt). That’s what we want. So how do we get there? My brothers and sisters, it’s important for us to increase our knowledge. Then we can explain when the child asks, “So why do we have to pray?” Kids didn’t used to ask those questions, because it was well known in Muslim countries and Muslim societies. It was just well known. But now you live here (in places like America), you’re going to get that question, “why do we need to pray?” And maybe your first response is, “if you don’t, then Allah will punish you“.
How are we going to inspire love in the hearts of young people if that’s the way we respond to questions? You don’t have to be a scholar to say that we pray to Allah because he’s given us so much – لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ – and that this is part of our gratitude to Him for creating us, for giving us this innumerable number of blessings. It doesn’t take a scholar to explain that, does it? A lot of times we feel that we don’t have knowledge and we don’t know what to say. But it’s there. We just have to bring it out. We just have to practice it.
Umar (ra), the great companion of the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Knowledge comes from learning, and patience and forbearance comes through practicing patience and forbearance“. No one is born being able to explain things. No one is born being able to have a great degree of confidence and a great degree of trust in Allah. That is practiced over time and is built up over time. The great Imam ul–Suyuti said he worked on his intention for 40 years. So us saying that the scholars are the ones who are always sincere or the scholars are the only ones who can explain something isn’t accurate. Actually, it might just so be that the scholar is doing it for another reason (for fame or for other things), but that slave of Allah who has that connection to Him with the repentance of the sinner is more beloved to Allah than the arrogance of the worshiper. So that’s something we have to remember.
A lot of times we underestimate ourselves. We underestimate our knowledge. We underestimate our love for Allah (swt).
So how can we go about increasing our love of Allah? Well first, let’s talk about what it means to love Allah. What does it mean to love Allah? One of His names is الودود (al-Wadud). And what do the scholars say about this name? People translate it as, “He is the loving. That’s what al-Wadud means“. But actually the scholars say, al-Wadud is both the beloved, as well as the loving all at the same time. That He is the one that is deserving of love. And He is also the One from whom love emanates. And He is waiting for us. He tells us, “If you come walking to Me, I will come running to you. And if you come to Me a hand span, I will come to you in arm’s length“.
But the relationships that we have – how can we base them around the love of Allah? How can we make sure that the people around us – the people that we permit and allow to be in our sphere of influence – are the people who Allah would be pleased with? Are these people who, when we are with them, our love of Allah increases? Or are they of another type? Think about your personal sphere, the people who really know you. Who are they? That is one of the methods and pathways to loving Allah. Subhan’Allah. In the Quran, Allah talks about those that He loves. If you read the Quran, what are the different categories of the people that Allah loves? Who are the people that Allah loves?
The first group Allah loves is those who follow the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
فَاتَّبِعُوْنِيْ يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللَّـهُ . I إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّوْنَ اللَّـهَ فَات,
Allah says in the Quran, “Oh Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), say that if you love Allah, then follow me, follow the Messenger. And there you will find the love of Allah (swt)“. Allah also loves those who:
- are mindful of Him
- rely on him (الْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ / almutawakaleen)
- are just
- repent (ٱلتَّوَّابِين / attawabeen)
- are patient (الصَّابِرِينَ / assaabiireen)
Allah loves us even beyond our shortcomings, because Allah’s love is greater than the love that a mother has for her child. Allah’s love is greater than that.
But there are certain things which Allah points out he does not love. What are those things? He (swt) says that he does not love those who:
- are ungrateful
- spread corruption
- transgress the limits He has imposed
- are treacherous and hypocritical
- are arrogant (المتكبرین / almutakabreen), proud, and boastful
- are extravagant (المسرفین / almusrifeen)
- have wronged others (ٱلظَّٰلِمِينَ / athaalimeen)
These are groups of people that Allah (swt) says He does not love. So we find that we cannot say, “Allah loves you always and forever, no matter what you do“. Your actions do count. He is just, so your actions do count for something. But His mercy is in many more multiples than his wrath. The scholars talk about how the believer is between hope and fear, like a bird with two wings. In one wing is fear and one wing is hope. And it is led by love, and guided by love.
So when you talk about Allah, you should not only talk about fearing Allah (swt). That’s not the only thing you should focus on, because then you’re like a bird with one wing. At the same time, you should not focus only on how much Allah loves. Because you don’t want people to take that love for granted. So there has to be that balance, but yet still, that bird. That bird is guided with love (mahabbah), so how can we bring about that love in our lives?
Imam Ibn al-Qayyim was a great scholar of Islam. He was a student of Ibn Taymiyyah. He made listicles before listicles were even a thing. He made lists of 10 ways for you to get closer to Allah (swt). He did this after reading the Quran, after reading the Sunnah. After he read, he wrote up Tafsir. He wrote books upon books, and volumes. He said these are things that the everyday Muslim can do. What are those things?
Here are some of them.
The first thing he says is to read the Quran with meaning. Do we read the Quran with meaning? Do we read the Quran just as a ritual? Of course there are blessings in every harf, every letter of the Quran, but do we read it with meaning? Now there are scholars who read one verse, and then pray extra nawafil prayers, and they will just repeat the same verse, because they’re reflecting on its meaning.
Do we read the Quran with meaning? Is it a part of our lives? It’s a simple thing, isn’t it? It’s easy to say, “Well, I’ve heard this a million times“. But do you actually do it? Do we actually take that time out of our day and say, “Today I’m going to read the Quran with meaning. And I’m going to let it come into my heart. I’m going to let it emanate in my actions. I’m going to think about I want to reflect on it“. Imagine I asked you, “who’s your favorite actor?” You might say Leonardo DiCaprio, so I’ll ask, “which of his movies do you like?” and you might reply, “I haven’t actually seen any of his movies. I just like him because everybody else likes him. My dad liked him. So he must be my favorite actor too“. It doesn’t make sense. To love Allah we must read His book and His message to us with meaning. Some of us are out of practice. Maybe we’ve never done it and we think we don’t know how to do it. We don’t have the knowledge. We’re not scholars. But it just takes getting started. As Umar (ra) said, knowledge comes through learning. No one is born understanding the Quran. No one is born bringing it into their life and reflecting on it. It’s something that we practice. You can take one verse each day and practice that verse as a family, think about its meaning, recite it in prayer, and think about how it applies to your life.
The second thing that Ibn al-Qayyim says is the key to bringing the love of Allah into our lives is completing our fard prayers, our obligatory prayers, as well as any extra prayers. This is something that Allah tells us in a Hadith Qudsi. Allah says, “But there is nothing which draws My servant nearer to me than those things which I have made him responsible for“. That is the fard prayer, and then you continue to come closer and closer to Allah with extra voluntary acts of prayer and service. So if we want to love Allah, we should engage in those extra acts, Ibn al-Qayyim says.
The third thing is remembrance of Allah – Dhikr. Allah tells us that it is through the remembrance of Allah that the hearts find rest. Sometimes, you can’t find ease. You can’t find rest. You’re searching for it everywhere. You’re searching for it on Netflix. You think, “I’ll put this on, and now I can finally relax. I can finally just relax and forget everything“. Then, and even during Netflix, you’re holding onto your phone. Hold on a second. Your boss has sent an email. Hold on a second. Something else has happened. Once the show is over, what’s the next one? Once you get the promotion, what’s the next promotion? Once you get the car, what’s the next car? That is the effect of the dunya (this world), but where do we find the real contentment? Through the vicar of Allah (swt).
The fourth thing that Imam Ibn al-Qayyim said will help us is to love Allah with gratitude and shukr (thankfulness). And Allah (swt) loves those who are grateful. If we want to love Allah, we should be grateful – grateful for all the blessings He has given us.
The fifth one – and this is such a beautiful one I was taken aback by when I read it – is to seek private time with Allah (swt). When is the last time we we had private time with Allah? Just us and Allah. It reminded me of the group that will get shade on the Day of Judgment. What is that group that gets shade on the Day of Judgment? There are different groups, and one of those groups are those people who, when they are on their own, when they are alone, they remember Allah and their eyes well up with tears. Those people are beside the just leader, Imam un Adil, who had all this corruption and desire laid out in front of them, and they fought all of it. Next to the just leader is the person who remembered Allah in isolation. So what is our connection to Allah? What is our connection to Allah in private?
The sixth one that Imam Ibn al-Qayyim mentions in our path to love Allah (swt) is to remove those things which come between us and the love of Allah. So each and every single one of us can ask ourselves, “what are those things in my life that are a blocker?” By tech folks, you’re asked all the time, what are the blockers? Well, what is the blocker between us and our relationship to Allah? It might be different for every single person in this room. It might be different for a parent, for a child, for an elder, for a youth, for male or female. What is that thing that’s between you and loving Allah? Remove those things. Everyone has their test. Every single one of us has our test that Allah has chosen for us, based on who we are and how He created us. So what is that thing which is between us and loving Allah?
The last one I will mention is the seventh one, which Ibn al-Qayyim mentions, is to present your broken heart before Allah. What does that mean? Present your broken heart before Allah, and say, “Oh Allah I’ve been gone a while. Oh Allah it’s been a long time. Oh Allah, this is the moment I returned. Oh Allah, this is the moment where I change. Oh Allah, this is the moment where everything changes”. Present your humble self before Allah. Present your broken heart and be humble before Allah. That’s what الخَاشِعِينَ are, isn’t it? They’re the ones with khush’u. Humility before Allah.
And so we ask Allah to He helps us to love Him. We ask Allah that He helps us to follow the way of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). We ask Allah that he helps us to follow the verses of the Quran that He has revealed to us. With all of the all of the things that are currently going on, we ask Allah that He guides us and He guides our families. Ameen.
أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين فَاسْتَغْفِرُوهُ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
ا لحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ, وَالصَّلَاةُ وَالسَّلَامُ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللهِ , وَ أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَاْ إِلَهَ إِلَّاْ اَللهُ وَحْدَهُ لَاْشَرِيْكَ لَهُ وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدَاً عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُوْلُ