Believers, whose sole objective in this life is to earn Allah's good pleasure, mercy, and Paradise, and who have a heartfelt submission to Allah, will lead their entire lives for His sake. As outlined in "Say: 'My prayer and my rites, my living and my dying, are for Allah alone, the Lord of all the worlds." (Surat al-An'am, 162), they aim to earn Allah's good pleasure in whatever they do and in every instance. They use whatever they possess in their struggle to realize this goal. People who acknowledge all of Allah's attributes; who constantly witness His power, greatness, mercy, love, and compassion; who sense the love of Allah at every moment—their love cannot be compared with any other type of love. Allah describes this love as a "greater" love, while the idolaters' distorted love is described as:


... He to Whom the kingdom of the heavens and Earth belongs. He does not have a son, and He has no partner in the Kingdom. He created everything, and determined it most exactly. (Surat al-Furqan, 2)

Some people set up equals to Allah, loving them as they should love Allah. But those who believe have greater love for Allah. (Surat al-Baqara, 165)

As mentioned in the above verse, some people associate partners with Allah, and love other creatures with the love that they should give only to Him (Surely Allah is beyond this). The believers, on the other hand, know that no person or any part of creation has any innate strength or beauty, for it is Allah Who created all of them from nothing. No living creature can design or prepare its own beauty. The beauty possessed by a person's face or the loveable nature of an animal, their expected life span and time of death, as well as everything else about them is created by Allah, and every beauty is only at His behest. So the believers will love that beauty as it is reflected in people, animals, and nature, being aware of this fact. Subsequently, a believer's love is directly solely toward Allah, Who provides all of these things and Who possesses all things.

Our Prophet (saas) also reminded us that the love we feel among ourselves should be for the sake of Allah:

The best action is to love for the sake of Allah and to hate for the sake of Allah. (Sunan Abu Dawud)

Whoever loves and hates for the sake of Allah, and whoever seals a friendship or declares enmity for His sake, will receive, because of this, Allah's protection. (Sahih Muslim)

Those who associate partners with Allah assume that each person owns his or her own beauty, and so praise that beauty. This is like a person who attends an art show and associates the beauty of the pictures to the artwork, even though the person who deserves this praise is the artist who painted the pictures. Given this truth, people who are confronted with a beautiful view, a pleasant sound, or delicious food should immediately think of our Lord, the Creator of all these beautiful things, and channel the resulting love, pleasure, and thanks to Him. Those who have true faith and, therefore, do not associate partners with Allah, have a strong loving bond with Allah, because they know that everything they own belongs to Him.

Allah informs us that Prophet Ibrahim (as) warned his idolatrous community in the following terms:

He [Ibrahim] said: "You have adopted deities apart from Allah as tokens of mutual affection in this world. But on the Day of Resurrection, you will reject and curse one another. The Fire will be your shelter. You will have no helpers." (Surat al-'Ankabut, 25)


Who is better: Someone who establishes his building on the fear (and respect) of Allah and His good pleasure, or someone who establishes his building .on the brink of a crumbling precipice so that it
collapses with him into the Fire of Hell? Allah does not love wrongdoers.
(Surat at-Tawba, 109)



Thus, the "affection" between those who associate partners with Allah will ultimately turn into great hatred in the Hereafter. By forgetting His existence, they cause each other to lose their lives' entire objective. In response, Allah turns their idolatrous love and closeness into eternal disgust and malice in the Hereafter.

The Qur'an mentions those people who put worldly gains and the approval and love of others before earning His good pleasure:

Say: "If your fathers or your sons or your brothers or your wives or your tribe; any wealth you have acquired; or any business you fear may fall into a slump; or any house that pleases you, are dearer to you than Allah and His messenger and striving in His way, then wait until Allah brings about His command. Allah does not guide people who are deviators." (Surat at-Tawba, 24)

Those who have faith acknowledge that all worldly goods belong to Allah and, therefore, love them because they are a manifestation of Him. For example, the greatest love, closeness and friendship they feel will be towards other believers, who display the good morals that Allah is pleased with. This love does not depend on race, nationality, or any other self-interest. Nor does it depend on money, status, culture, or even material worth, for all of these have no real value. Allah describes the love between believers, as follows:

Those who were already settled in the abode [Madinah], and in faith, before they came, love those who have migrated to them; do not find in their hearts any need for what they have been given; and prefer them to themselves, even if they themselves are needy. The people who are safe-guarded from the avarice of their own selves are successful. (Surat al-Hashr, 9)

As mentioned, believers will accept all other believers as their brothers and sisters. Subsequently, to ensure the believers' well-being, other believers will gladly make the necessary sacrifices to achieve this goal. Such a mutual love is only possible through having faith and living by the Qur'an's morality.

Our Beloved Prophet (saas) stressed the importance of such love and the superior ranking of those believers who live a life with genuine love:

The Prophet (saas) said: "Allah said: 'Those who love one another for My glory will have minbars of light, and the prophets and martyrs will wish that they had the same." (At-Tirmidhi)

Allah bestows love, a very significant blessing, upon the believers. We see this in the case of Prophet Yahya (as), of whom the Qur'an says:

Yahya, take hold of the Book with vigor. We gave him judgment while still a child, and affection and purity from Us—he had fear [and respect]. (Surah Maryam, 12-13)

Those who submit themselves completely to Allah and do good have graspedd the Firmest Handhold. The end result of all affairs is with Allah. (Surah Luqman, 22)

In another verse, Allah proclaims that He will bestow true love upon the believers who undertake good deeds:

As for those who believe and do right actions, the All-Merciful will bestow His love upon them. (Surah Maryam, 96)

Here we must focus on one other important point: A person who loves for the sake of earning Allah's good approval must love the person who possesses the highest moral qualities, is closest to Allah, and has the highest degree of piety. For this reason, for all believers our Prophet (saas) is the most lovable and closest friend.

GENUINE LOVE CAN ONLY BE LIVED TOGETHER WITH THE QUR'AN'S MORALITY

So set your face firmly toward the Religion, as a pure natural believer, Allah's natural pattern on which He made humanity. (Surat ar-Rum, 30)

People who devote themselves wholeheartedly to Allah feel within themselves a sense of love and excitement when confronted with all of the beautiful things He has created: a flower, a butterfly, a bird, a cat, or even a beautiful landscape. Similarly, people who adhere to the Qur'an's morals or a person with a face pleasing to look at will stir sincere amazement, because whatever they see they regard as Allah's manifestation. The ebullient love felt toward Allah will bring forth a natural affection and love in their souls for anything His eternal beauty, masterpiece, wisdom and power are manifest. Only such people experience "true" love in the spiritual sense.


Do those who do not believe imagine that they can take My servants as protectors instead of Me? We have prepared Hell as hospitality for the unbelievers! (Surat al-Kahf, 102)

Qur'anic moral values form the basis of true love, for only they can inspire a person to love someone else deeply with his or her morals, personality, and all individual characteristics. By leading such a life, which earns them Allah's good pleasure, they will acquire many loveable, beautiful characteristics. Knowing that "In your Lord's sight, right actions which are lasting are better both in reward and end result" (Surah Maryam, 76), they persevere in all of these beautiful moral characteristics. Such qualities as faithfulness, truthfulness, respect, love, humbleness, sacrifice, honesty, tolerance, forgiveness, mercy, a soft nature, and bravery can be constant only through living a life of awe and respect for Allah and adhering to the Qur'an's moral values. The same applies to love. The basis for this love is having faith and respect for Allah and internalizing the Qur'an's morals, both of which will cause them to love others for the sake of Allah with a strong and deep love. The resulting friendships with other believers will, in the Hereafter, lead to eternal friendships.

A sincere believer's superior level of moral values will ensure his or her high regard in Allah's presence and in the sight of fellow believers. Such believers will expect and hope only for Allah's love and good pleasure. In return, Allah will ensure that these believers are loved by Him, as well as other believers, that they will be granted a light and beauty, and that other people will have warm feelings for them.

.... Allah's guidance, that is true guuidance. We are commanded to submit as Muslims to the Lord of all the worlds. (Surat al-An'am, 71)


Who could say anything better than someone who summons (other people) to Allah, acts rightly, and says: "I am one of the Muslims"? (Surah Fussilat, 33)

And among the people are some who give up everything, desiring the good pleasure of Allah. Allah is Ever-Gentle with His servants. (Surat al-Baqara, 207)



MISUNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT LOVE'S TRUE NATURE

They worship besides Allah something for which no authority has come down, something about which they have no knowledge. There is no helper for the wrongdoers. (Surat al-Hajj, 71)

People who do not follow the Qur'an's morals have an incorrect understanding of love. No matter how much they believe that they are leading a life full of love and respect toward others, these interactions are, in general, based on inappropriate and misleading bases. We will now examine some of these below.

IDOLATROUS LOVE BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN

Examples of love based on idolatrous thinking are easily found in relationships between men and women. Some people channel their love and devotion toward other people who are, in essence, weak, instead of channeling it toward Allah. Sometimes, they make another person their life's aim, mention their name whenever possible, and try to gain their love. This person will be the focus of their attention for the whole day. Or, they think about this person all night and thus cannot sleep. Instead of seeking Allah's good pleasure, they will struggle to please only that particular person, even if this means that they have to do something that violates the Qur'an's morals and the limits that Allah has established for humanity. They will make any sacrifice for that person, but exert no effort to gain Allah's good pleasure. In other words, they transform the objects of their attention into little deities. This is why some romantic poems, writings, or even discussions claim that the author "worships" the object of his or her affection. Such an understanding of love, which associates others with Allah, is prohibited, for one's love of Allah is a much stronger and superior type of love:

Remember Allah as you used to remember your forefathers—or even more. (Surat al-Baqara, 200)

If someone loves anything else, whether a person, a thing, or an idea, more than he or she loves Allah, he or she will fall into idolatry and draw near to Hell. Surprisingly, many people do not see the truth of this statement and so continue in their idolatry.

Obviously, loving other people, being concerned about their welfare, and lovingly protecting their families and relatives are admirable deeds and are blessings bestowed upon people by Allah. Such love, when it is based upon love for Allah, ensures that person will attain happiness in both worlds. If such love is not based upon love for Allah, the people will experience pain and agony in both worlds. Allah informs us that this second group of people will, in the Hereafter, try to ransom their way out of Hell by offering each other in payment:

An evildoer will wish he could ransom himself from the punishment of that Day by means of his sons, his wife, his brother, or his family who sheltered him, or everyone else on Earth, if that only meant that he could save himself. (Surat al-Ma'arij, 11-14)

The Day a man will flee from his brother, his mother, his father, and his wife and children. On that Day, every man among them will have concerns enough of his own. (Surah 'Abasa, 34-37)

We do not associate anything with Allah. That is how Allah has favored us and all of humanity, but most do not give thanks. (Surah Yusuf, 38)

FRIENDSHIPS BASED ON SELF-INTEREST


Do not sell Allah's contract for a paltry price. What is with Allah is better for you, if you only knew. (Surat an-Nahl, 95)

Some relationships, whether consciously or subconsciously, are based on self-interest. Some people, who feel an excitement when they meet a person whom they hope to benefit from, interpret this excitement as "love." However, in truth it is no more than an "affected desire" for what that person has. In fact, such love often depends on the level of the "loved" person's wealth and status. Wealth excites people, and thus the most excitement is felt towards the wealthiest person. As mentioned above, this type of excitement is nothing but an attachment to worldly interests. Rich people are not "loved" primarily for their morals and characteristics, and thus always seem to have many "friends" even if they are easily angered, rude, selfish, illogical, merciless, always looking for gain, insincere, or even thoughtless.

Some people want to be with those who entertain them: "A person who likes me should be able to make me laugh." As a result, any resulting closeness is based on a deluded self-interest, for enjoying to be with a person who makes you laugh and feel happy is not the same as loving that person. However, because many people mistake the relief they feel for having gained something for love, they claim that they love that person very much.

You consider them united, but their hearts are scattered wide. That is because they are people who do not use their intellect. (Surat al-Hashr, 14)

Other people assume that being around good people will raise their esteem. As a result, they will select "good" people to befriend, considering their physical features such as height, the color of their eyes and hair. Often, such people can see only the other person's physical beauty, not their intelligence, conscience, or characteristics. They do not consider these aspects important because they claim that their love has "blinded" them. However, this "love" means "I love the esteem this person's beauty earns me." Apart from that person's beauty, his or her spirit does not mean anything to them. Just because he or she is beautiful, many inappropriate and undesirable particularities such as being merciless, insensitive, or scornful may totally be ignored.

Another important type of self-interest is trying to secure one's future by getting married. Many people fear living alone, being unable to support themselves, or of having no one to look after them when they are sick. Some people seek to abolish all such fears by getting married. For this reason, they attach themselves to the most promising person in this regard and convince themselves that they have fallen in "love."

For the rest of their lives, they share their pains and complaints about their spouse with their neighbors and relatives. But when asked why they stay with that person, they claim to love them very much. However, the Qur'an and its value system say that love should expect nothing in return. People should love other people sincerely, which involves personal sacrifice and expecting nothing in return, for that person is a manifestation of Allah. They should never backbite, but, as a result of this sincere love, should only speak well of them. They don't obligatorily "tolerate" the others for they treat one another with compassion and mercy, cover up their misgivings, try to make them feel at ease, and respond to every need as best as they can. Sincere love, friendship and closeness are best demonstrated through these actions.

SHORT-TERM, TEMPORAL LOVE

Love that is not based on the Qur'an will inevitably be short-term in nature. For example, it is quite normal for people to dislike or feel upset with others when they realize that they cannot attain any benefit from that person. Similarly, those whom you formerly claimed to love become people that you have to tolerate if they have experienced some misfortune or some physical problem. For example, you might no longer love a person if he or she somehow becomes disfigured by an accident or an illness. A "perfect" couple's marriage might collapse overnight when one spouse becomes terminally ill, experiences some personal or professional disaster, or is no longer as beautiful or as rich as before. Sometimes, despite the spouse's physical beauty or wealth, the couple divorces because they no longer "love" the other person after witnessing his or her weakness during the illness. Similarly, although they seemed to get along well in the days when they possessed wealth and riches, some people inevitably lose the love and closeness they used to feel towards each other when their respective wealth and riches is dwindled away.


As for anyone who desires this fleeting existence, We hasten in it whatever We will to whoever We want. Then We will consign him to Hell, where he will roast, reviled and driven out. (Surat al-Isra', 18)

You desire the goods of this world, whereas Allah desires the Hereafter. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise.
(Surat al-Anfal, 67)

Allah expands and restricts provision to anyone He wills. They rejoice in the life of this world. Yet the life of this world, compared to the Hereafter, is only fleeting enjoyment. (Surat ar-Ra'd, 26)

In essence, true love should never diminish, but should only increase with the passage of time. A person who values another person for his moral values finds that her love for him will increase as his good characteristics become ever more apparent. Even if this same person is left crippled, broke, or physically repellant, her love for him does not diminish. These hardships may, in effect, increase a person's modesty and maturity and thereby make him a better and more moral person. As a result, their love for each other only grows stronger. These hardships have no effect on true love because true love is based on the Qur'an's morals and the desire to earn Allah's good pleasure by obeying the limits that He has established for humanity.