Lecture by Shaykh Tahir ul Qadri
Summarized and Translated by Alveena Salim
When one is attracted to something, one develops an attraction for that specific object or person. This attraction from the core of one’s heart or spiritual attachment is generally known as love. The nature and degree of this attachment determines the nature of the love. However, as there is no permanence to our world the nature of our worldly infatuations is also transitory. However Allah (swt) surpasses all barriers of time and distance and hence His relationship with human beings is also transcendental and eternal. It is stated in Surah Maida (54) ‘O you who believe, whoever from among you turns your back from his religion (Islam), Allah will bring a person whom he will love and they will love him’. Allah (swt) is Deen (religion); therefore this verse is acknowledging the people who turn their backs on Allah (swt).
This verse proves that Allah (swt) possesses love for His believers. Some people have difficulty understanding this concept and only recognize Allah (swt) through His other characteristics, and overlook the fact that Allah (swt) is capable of unlimited and unconditional amount of love. Furthermore, we should realize that this love is beyond the comprehension of the human mind. This love cannot be quantified nor articulated, for it transcends speech. It is narrated in a hadith that if mankind knew how much Allah (swt) loved them they would lose all their senses in ecstasy with happiness and as a result their soul would separate from their body. Allah (swt) loves us seventy times more than how much a mother loves her newborn child.
Therefore the love of a believer for Allah (swt) must be more intense, stronger and far more superior than all other variables of worldly attachment and attraction. The Holy Qu’ran states in Surah Baqarah (165) ‘The love of Allah in the believers is most intense’.
This then raises the following questions ‘what exactly is true love? True love is complete when one does not consider themselves worthy of love from their beloved. True lovers never feel that they have fulfilled the rights of love and always consider themselves lower then what they actually are. True lovers of Allah (swt) never feel that they have fulfilled the rights of worship like He so deserves. Many people have difficulties in understanding the true status of Prophets and Awliya’s (friend of Allah). It is vital that we recognize and acknowledge that not everyone is equal, and that it is essential for us to give the rights that are due to each. Some people often wrongly quote Qur’anic verses and Hadiths to diminish the true status’ of Prophets and Awliya Allah (friend of Allah). For example they quote sayings in which Prophets and Awliya’s (Friend of Allah) have reportedly claimed that ‘Allah (swt) has power over everything I am nothing’. However we fail to realize that Prophets and Awliya’s (friend of Allah) have two types of Status.
1.The status of a true devoted servant of Allah (swt)
2.The status of a beloved and blessed friend of Allah (swt)
An argument that people have put against the extremely high status of the Holy Prophetis that in some of His sayings He often talked about His own status as only that of a servant of Allah (swt). The Holy Prophet would talk of himself as simply a true devotee of Allah (swt). For instance in the Holy Qur’an the Holy Prophet has said ‘I don’t know what will happen to me on the Day of Judgment’. However this was done purely out of humbleness of the Holy Prophet’s character. When Allah (swt) talks on the same subject, He says to the Holy Propeht ‘On the Day of judgment your Lord will raise you to Mukam e Mehmood’ (a station of praise and glory).
The statements that Allah (swt) makes in the Holy Qur’an relate to actual status of Prophet and Awliya’s (friends of Allah). The misconception about the status of Prophet and Awliya’s (friend of Allah) are created by those who isolate the ‘Abdiya’ (statements made out of humbleness) to describe the actual status of these blessed people. When they do this, they are overlooking the Qur’anic verses where Allah (swt) talks of their actual status.
When Prophets and Awliya’s (friend of Allah) talk about themselves they convey to us the love that they feel for their Creator. Naturally people do not talk about their own merits, therefore if we want to know about the true status of Prophets and Awliya’s (friend of Allah), we should observe what Allah (swt) says about them rather then basing our opinions on what they have said out of ‘Abdiya’ (statements made out of humbleness).
What happens when people decide to reject this understanding that some people are of a higher rank with Allah (swt) than others? Referring to this question Allah (swt) informs us in a Hadith of Bukhari, narrated by Hazrat Abu Hurairah that ‘whosoever shows enmity to a friend of mine, I shall be at war with him. When a friend of Mine comes closer to Me, with a thing with which I love, out of things which I have prescribed; and when he seeks favour through optional prayers (nawafil) I start loving him and when I love him, I become his ear with which he hears and his eyes with which he sees and his hands with which he grasps and his foot with which he walks, and when he requests Me for anything I grant him and when he seek protection I give him protection”.In another Hadith we are reminded that ‘He who disrespects a friend of mine I will be at war with him’.
The blessed status of becoming a Beloved of Allah (swt) is not necessarily ascribed at birth; it is possible for anyone to become an Awliya (friend of Allah). A ‘Wali’ (singular of awliya) can be translated as ‘nearness’, hence those who become ‘Wali’s’ of Allah (swt), are blessed with His nearness. The previous hadith substantiates how one can become a Wali, of Allah (swt). That be coming closer too Allah is through performing Nawafil (voluntary prayers or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) until Allah loves him so much that anything good that Wali does, Allah considers it done by His Grace. So Allah (swt), metaphorically speaking, becomes his hearing and sight, his hands and feet. And anything that Wali asks, even the forgiveness of others, Allah (swt) so grants.
Thus if one acquires nearness and love of Allah (swt) by means of performing religious obligations, supererogatory and voluntary prayers, Allah (swt) then becomes their special helper and protects their limbs and organs and does not let them work for His disobedience. This shows the invincibility of their faith as well as Allah’s (swt) infinite trust in them, a relationship of eternal secure mutuality. The Holy Qur’an substantiates this point in the holy Quran ‘those who are swearing (taking oath) on your (saw) hand are not swearing on your hand but Allah’s hand’ (Al Fath 10).
This point is further elaborated most beautifully by Mawlana Rumi; ‘Prophets and religious teachers are like signs on the road, to guide spiritual travellers who have become lost in the desert. But those who have attained union with God need nothing but their inner eye and divine lamp of faith, they need no signs or even a road to travel along. Such people then become signs for others’.
Once an individual is blessed with the nearness of Allah (swt), he will receive His love. Allah (swt) then will bless him with the best personality, one that is loved by all the angels, and all the people. This point is elaborated most beautifully in another Sahih Hadith of Bukhari. Narrated by Hazrat Abu Hurairah the Prophet (saw) said: “If Allah loves a person, He calls Gabriel saying, ‘Allah loves so and-so; O Gabriel you love him too.’ Gabriel will then also love him and make an announcement amongst the angles ‘Allah loves so-and-so, therefore you should love him too,’ and so all the angles of the Heaven will also love him, and then he is granted the love (made popular)on earth.” This Hadith mentions the reward of love for the sake of Allah (swt). A person who loves for the sake of Allah (swt) is not only loved by Allah (swt) but also by the pious inhabitants of the earth as well as the heavens.
It is often the case that if one loves somebody dearly, holds him close to the heart then the lover will always look for ways and means of hearing about his beloved. He will become happy if others praise his beloved and become delighted if they remember him. If onlookers are scattered, and busy in their own affairs, the lover will desire that they concentrate upon His beloved just as he himself has become engrossed in him. In order to demonstrate his love, he may wish that he alone should not praise his beloved but that it should be done by all of creation.
Furthermore, this Hadith points out the fact that when an individual loves a Friend of Allah (swt), he does not love him out of his own accord but loves him because Allah (swt) has chosen him to do so. Hence only pious people are fortunate enough to possess the love of Awliya’s (friend of Allah), in their hearts. For instance if one wanted to pour milk into a vessel they would obviously choose a vessel that was clean, in the same Allah (swt) only instils the pure, untainted love of one of His favoured person into a person whose heart is clean and pure, and not dark and filthy due to the blemishes of the sins that he has committed.
To sum up, the total ideal of a man is the attainment of Allah’s (swt) pleasure, and this can be achieved by constant remembrance and companionship of Allah (swt) and by permanent association with those who have already acquired the pleasure of Allah (swt). We should remember that some people are of a higher rank with Allah (swt) than others, and that it is important to give the rights that are due to each. We should seek the company of blessed people and develop special attachments with them because close friendship with them is ultimately beneficial for us. If we do not reap any material reward out of this association, we will Insha’Allah receive the immortal glory of Allah (swt) which is the greatest triumph of human life.