The most frequent reference in the Quran to the love of Allah (swt) is in relation to the concept of Taqwa (piety). Surah Al Baqarah goes right into it:
“This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah.” (Al-Baqarah 2:2)
The very first command that Allah (swt) gives to humankind in the Quran is:
“O humankind, worship your Lord, Who created you and those before you, that you may become righteous.” (Al-Baqarah 2:21)
Allah (swt) also mentions to us specifically in regards to fasting:
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” (Al-Baqarah 2:183)
Let us try to understand how all this relates to Allah’s (swt) love. Well, it starts off with how we understand the divine love in the first place. Allah (swt) created you not to hate but to love. Allah (swt) created you not to fail but to succeed. And Allah (swt) created you not to go to hell, but to go to paradise. He gave you everything that you needed to attain His rewards. He gave you all the essentials that are needed to maintain His pleasure. Actually, we need to understand that we are on the path back to Allah (swt) and that we do not want to do anything that is going to compromise His love for us.
There is always this debate about the word Taqwa: does it mean to fear Him? What does piety even mean? What does it mean to be pious? What does God-consciousness mean? How can I fear Him if I need to love Him?
If you translate, for example, “Allah yuhibbul-Muttaqeen” as “God loves those who fear Him”, then it sounds really awkward. The very first thing to understand here is that fearing Allah (swt) is very different, because as Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah (swt) have mercy on him, said: “When you fear something, you run away from it. But when you fear Allah (swt), you run back to Him.” So the fear of Allah (swt) is not one that would cause you to flee from Him but instead back to Him, because that fear is not like the fear of anything else. Taqwa is inadequate when defined only in the context of fear.
So how do you merge fear and love? Well, you fear losing His love. This is actually why Ramadan is such an effective way of learning how not to lose His love, because in Ramadan we observe our consumption – we make sure that we physically do not consume anything that is going to nullify our fast. Likewise, in our everyday lives, we should make sure that we spiritually do not consume anything that is going to nullify Allah’s (swt) love for us. We pay closer attention to ourselves.
A narration from Umar (rtam) really encapsulates this concept: “Taqwa is like a person that is walking on a path. We are on this path back to Allah (swt) and there are these thorny bushes on the way. So when you see those thorny bushes coming in closer, you hold yourself tighter to make sure that they do not tear your clothes or prick you.” This is why the grandson of Umar (rtam) said that Taqwa is not that you pray long into the night or that you fast long into the day, but it is that you abandon what displeases Allah (swt). Everything beyond that is Ihsan (excellence) and tying it to the love of Allah (swt) is very important.
Are you showing to Allah (swt) that you want to be loved by Him in the first place? Are you demonstrating with your deeds that you do not want to do anything that would compromise His pleasure?
Transcribed for Hiba by Faiza Rizwan