The Languages of Love

lessons in love

By Amreen Rehman – An MBA graduate from Pakistan’s top business school

“Where are you these days? No messages! No phone calls! You are always busy with work and have no time for your wife!” I angrily said to my husband, who had just gotten back after a long, busy workday, but as always, he ignored me, banged the door, and left the room.

Does this sound familiar?

It means that you have been married for almost a year and love has vanished from your life. Honeymoon days are over, and all that’s left are days full of complaints and emptiness. We are often stuck in such a relationship and passively accept this as being part of the highs and lows of married life. Married now for almost two years, I, too, had become a victim of this and secretly wished for some miracle to happen, which could take us back to the Lalaland of love. Day and night, frustrating thoughts haunted me about my deteriorating relationship, when suddenly I came across a new dimension of love, which played a crucial role in getting my relationship back on track. Shaykh Abdullah Hasan explains this beautiful concept of the ‘five languages of love’ (introduced by Dr. Gary Chapman).

Love is a language, which needs to be understood for a healthy marriage. Shaykh Abdullah Hasan (Imam/Khateeb of Masjid Ibrahim, London and an Islamic advisor at Nour Domestic Violence charity) identifies five love languages that people universally display. He explains how people can identify their primary love language, and how best to express that in the various contexts. People are different and feel loved in different ways; knowing your spouse’s language of love would save you from exerting efforts in the wrong direction. For example, you would stop spending hours in the kitchen trying to cook special meals, if you realize that words of affirmation please your spouse more.

Below are some reflections from the Sunnah, on how the Prophet (sa) demonstrated his love to his wives, based around the five love languages presented by Abdullah Hasan.

1. Words of Affirmation – Express Your Feelings Verbally

The words we use to express our appreciation for our spouse are of immense importance. Complimenting your spouse, thanking each other for small favours, leaving small love notes would surely please your spouse, if this is their primary language of love. It is very important to tell your spouse that you love them. Men in our society find it difficult to say ‘I love you’ simply because of the way they have been brought up. On the contrary, in Islam, this is the basis of chivalry and manhood, as taught by the beloved Prophet (sa).

The Prophet (sa) was once asked by Amr Ibn Al-As (rta): “O Messenger of Allah, who do you love the most?” The Messenger of Allah (sa) replied: “Aisha.” Amr (rta) then asked: “And amongst the men?” The Prophet (sa) then said: “Her father.” (Bukhari)

He showed his love even in her absence. Subhan’Allah! Note how the Prophet (sa) said “her father” and related the answer back to his beloved, even though he was asked about whom he loved the most among the men.

The Prophet (sa) was soft-spoken. He would never raise his voice or his hands on his wives. This is why the wives of the Prophet (sa) all said that they would not want to spend their time with anyone else except him.

2. Acts of Service – Show Your Love Through Actions

Some people find pleasure in doing small things for others. This means that they feel loved, when their partners help in small chores like ironing the clothes, helping in the kitchen, etc. The Prophet (sa) would sew his own clothes, sweep the floor, repair his shoes, service himself (without asking his wives), etc.

Another way of showing your spouse love is beautifying yourself for them. Ibn Abbas would always brush his hair and make sure his appearance was pleasing before entering his home. He would say: “Just as I would like my wife to be beautiful for me, I like to look beautiful for her.” (At-Tirmidhi)

3. Receiving Gifts

Giving gifts is one of the primary actions of expressing love. If your spouse’s language of love is gift-giving, you should make them feel loved by giving gifts on Eids and other special occasions. Even such simple gifts as a homemade cake, card or flowers will convey your love. Little things mean a lot and can totally change your relationship.

Aisha (rta) said: “The people were waiting for Aisha’s (rta) day to give their gifts, wanting by this to please the Prophet (sa).” (Muslim)

4. Quality Time – Give Your Undivided Attention

It is extremely important for a couple to enjoy quality time with one another, especially after having children. This time can be utilized in eating out, talking, taking a walk by the beach, or engaging in other fun activities mutually enjoyed by the spouses. A short vacation can be planned ahead to spend some quality time together. The Prophet (sa) would allocate time and days to each one of his wives adequately and fairly.

5. Intimacy – Physical Touch

Intimacy strengthens the bond between the spouses and is a source for maintaining peace and security within marriage. Both husband and wife have the right upon their spouse to have their conjugal rights and desires satisfied.

It is from the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (sa) to passionately kiss one’s wife. Aisha (rta) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (sa) would kiss one of his wives and then leave for prayer without performing Wudhu. Urwa Ibn Zubayr (her nephew) says: “I asked Aisha: ‘It must have been you?’ (Upon hearing this,) Aisha smiled.” (At-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood and Nasai)

Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim reported that the Messenger of Allah (sa) forbade from engaging in sexual intercourse before foreplay. (Tibb An-Nabawi) In a Hadeeth, the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Not one of you should fall upon his wife like an animal, but let there first be a messenger between you.” “And what is that messenger?” they asked, and he replied: “Kisses and words.” (Daylami)

Entertaining Each Another

The Messenger of Allah (sa) encouraged his followers to play with their wives and entertain them. Aisha (rta) records that on more than one occasion, she and the Prophet (sa) raced. Sometimes she won and sometimes he won. Most men consider it to be far beneath their dignity to play any games with their wives, and their marriages are duller and poorer due to this.

Surprise Element

Apart from the above stated languages of love, a surprise element is something which can really boost your relationship. One should try to do things a bit differently to please the spouse every now and then. A surprise visit made to the wife when she is at her mother’s place, a surprise drop by at your husband’s work place, or a surprise night out can help in taking the spouses away from their mundane routine.

However, once we have identified the primary love language of our spouse, we must not ignore the other languages, as they all complement each other.

What is your language of love?

The Best Deal!


“My son finally got a job in a well-established multinational company! I am so relieved of all the tensions now that his career is set and future is secured.” Parents usually worry about their children’s future. If their kids get good grades and eventually obtain a lucrative job, they think that they have achieved success. Hence, such remarks from satisfied mothers are commonplace. However, is our future really secured? Is it the ultimate success or even the key to it?

This dazzling world deceitfully makes us forget the hereafter. We know that the grave is our ultimate destination, as no family member would be willing to keep our dead body, no matter how dear we are to them. However, Allah (swt) buys this useless flesh and in exchange, grants us the splendours that we can never even imagine.

“Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties; for (the price) that theirs shall be the Paradise. (…) And who is truer to his covenant than Allah? Then rejoice in the bargain which you have concluded. That is the supreme success.” (At-Tawbah 9:111)

Though this is Allah’s (swt) true promise, it is conditional. In return, He wants us to fulfil certain obligations. All humans possess two main assets: life (time, talent, skills and efforts) and wealth. One can spend these to earn either this world or the pleasure of Allah (swt). A Mumin only sells himself to the Rabbul-Alameen (swt). He knows that only his Rabb (swt) can give the best return. Shouldn’t we then hurry up to sign this deal with our Him?

The qualities of those who want to sell themselves to their Rabb (swt) are: “(The believers whose lives Allah has purchased are) those who turn to Allah in repentance (from polytheism and hypocrisy), who worship (Him), who praise (Him), who fast (or go out in Allah’s Cause), who bow down (in prayer), who prostrate themselves (in prayer), who enjoin (on people) for Al-Maroof (that is, Islamic Monotheism and all what Islam has ordained) and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (that is, disbelief, polytheism of all kinds and all that Islam has forbidden), and who observe the limits set by Allah (do all that Allah has ordained and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which Allah has forbidden). And give glad tidings to the believers.” (At-Tawbah 9:112)

Let us study these eight qualities in detail.

  1. Those who turn to Allah (swt) in repentance

This refers to those who repent after committing sins and the ones who turn to Allah (swt) in all matters. A faithful believer keeps record of his deeds, and as soon as he realizes his faults and sins, he seeks forgiveness. Allah (swt) loves this quality in His slave.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) reported that the devil said to Allah (swt): “I shall continue to lead Your servants astray as long as their spirits are in their bodies.” Allah (swt) replied: “(Then) I shall continue to pardon them as long as they ask for My forgiveness.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Constantly turning to Allah (swt) in repentance is truly beneficial for us, as the Prophet (sa) said: “If anyone continually asks for pardon, Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide for him from where he did not reckon.” (Abu Dawood)

A Mumin consults Allah (swt) in all matters through an Istikhara, whether it is a wedding or some business deal. He first tries to find out what Allah (swt) says about the related matter, so he can make the decision accordingly.

  1. Worship Allah (swt)

A true believer is a slave of Allah (swt) by choice. This quality of servitude consists of extreme love. Serving Allah (swt) consists of both Haqooq Allah and fulfilling the rights of people which is Haqooq al-Ibad.

  1. Praise Allah (swt)

A Mumin is a positive person and thanks Allah (swt) for each and every blessing, no matter how small it may be. This keeps him away from worries and stress, as Allah (swt) mentions: “If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless (that is, disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.” (Ibrahim 14:7)

How can we be thankful?  Through our tongues by verbally thanking and praising Allah (swt). We should practice saying small phrases like Alhumdulillah or Subhan’Allah loud enough, so that it can impact our hearts.

The Prophet (sa) said: “Allah is surely pleased with His servant when he eats something and thanks Allah for it, and when he drinks something and thanks Allah for it.” (Muslim)

We can also be thankful through our actions by using our five senses to please Allah (swt). For example, if one has been bestowed with knowledge, he should thank Allah (swt) by educating others. Similarly, if Allah (swt) has blessed someone with wealth, he should thank Allah (swt) by giving to the needy and to the poor.

If we ponder over this, we realize that a loyal believer’s entire life is an act of gratitude to His Rabb (swt).

  1. Move about in the land for His sake

This term is used for people who leave their homes in order to struggle, strive and gain the knowledge of Islam.

It is related by Anas ibn Malik (rtam) that the Prophet (sa) said: “A morning spent in the way of Allah or an evening is better than this world and everything it contains.” (Bukhari)

According to scholars, another meaning of moving about in the land for Allah’s (swt) sake refers to Umrah and Hajj.

Furthermore, it refers to migration for the sake of Allah (swt). Migration can be of two types: (1) a physical one – moving to a Muslim country; (2) an intellectual one – shunning sins from one’s life and changing the lifestyle according to the Quran and the Sunnah.

  1. Make Ruku (bow down)

This attribute reflects a true believer’s humility and down-to-earth personality. Arrogance wastes good deeds. Abdullah ibn Masood (rtam) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “No one who has an atom’s weight of pride in his heart will enter the Garden.” A man said: “And if the man likes his clothes to be good and his sandals to be good?” He said: “Allah is Beautiful and loves beauty. Pride means to renounce the truth and abase people.” (Muslim)

  1. Those who prostrate

A Mumin is humble which is reflected in his act of prostration to His Rabb (swt). A faithful believer is not just concerned about obligations; he makes special preparations for performing voluntary prayers. He draws closer to His Rabb (swt) by not only performing the obligatory duties but also the extra good deeds.

The aforementioned attributes come under the category of personal development and to some extent are easy to adopt. Hence, most of us stop at these only, as we consider them to be the definition of piety. We fail to acknowledge the next two qualities stated in this verse:

  1. Enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil

This attribute reflects a believer’s well-wishing nature for the Ummah.

The Prophet (sa) said (thrice): “Religion is sincerity and sincere advice.” The companions asked: “To whom?” He replied: “To Allah, His Book, His Messenger and to the leaders of the Muslims and the general people.” (Muslim)

The above Hadeeth implies guiding others to what is beneficial for them, both in the hereafter and this life, educating them about Islam and refraining from sins by words and actions. The job of every Mumin is to spread Allah’s (swt) message by inviting people towards good and forbidding evil. However, this is not an easy task, as we all try to avoid clashing with society and, therefore, are hesitant in forbidding people from doing wrong. We should supplicate a lot, asking Allah (swt) for wisdom, so we can perform our role as Daees.

  1. Observe the limits set by Allah (swt)

A faithful believer will be careful in observing the ordinances of Islamic jurisprudence. We can understand Allah’s (swt) limits by an easy example of a gatekeeper, whose duty is to be watchful all the time, in order to provide security to the household members. Similarly, a believer has to care about observing Allah’s (swt) limits at all times.

Upon adopting these qualities, our Rabb (swt) has promised us the great reward of paradise. We are as incompetent as can be. We make a promise in the daytime to rectify our sinful lives, but by nightfall, we break it. May Allah (swt) enable us to make such an intention that even if we fall flat on our faces, we stand up again and struggle. We must strive till our last breath and become among those who repent to Him, worship Him, praise Him, travel for Him, bow to Him, prostrate to Him, enjoin good for His sake, forbid evil for His sake and observe His limits – do everything only for His sake and in His name.

One of the most beautiful verses of the Quran sums it all up: “As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths (that is, Allah’s Religion – Islamic Monotheism). And verily, Allah is with the Muhsinun (good doers).” (Al-Ankabut 29:69)

Transcribed and adapted for “Hiba” by Amreen Rehman.

Qualities of the People of Jannah – Part 4: Continuous Tazkiya

aya 2

“Who are punctual in the payment of Zakah”

In this context, Zakah does not refer to the fixed portion of money that is given as a Farz. We need to keep in mind that this is a Makkan Surah, and the commandment for Zakah was revealed in Madinah.

Here Zakah literally means ‘purification and development’ – to help something grow smoothly. Therefore, in this context, it denotes self purification, which is known as Tazkiya of one’s self.  Thus, a believer is the one constantly involved in self purification of his soul. The previous quality discussed (the avoidance of Laghv) was directed towards saving one’s energy by abstaining from negative and useless things. Tazkiya, on the other hand, means analyzing yourself and focusing on how to add good deeds in your life, which cannot be done without removing Laghv activities first. Both these activities go side by side. We need to do Tazkiya regularly for analyzing where we stand – how our worthless activities and bad qualities can be replaced with more virtuous ones.

We can understand this through a simple example: if we want to plant a farm, first, we have to clear the field, tear the soil and then only we can plant the seeds. Likewise, the farmer needs to play an active role in protecting his farm against all kinds of dangers, such as winds, drought and wild animals. A Momin undergoes a similar process of self purification (Tazkiya). The believer first shakes himself, analyses his activities, eliminates the worthless time wasters from his life, and then he is ready to start his new journey of life with righteous deeds and worthy goals.


However, it is important not to abandon the previous good deeds, when adding new deeds in life. A Momin wants to plant a garden of good deeds and not just one flower, so as we adopt new righteous acts, we must not neglect our previous good deeds. Allah (swt) loves deeds that are done constantly.

Bukhari and Muslim have narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “The best loved deeds to Allah (swt) are the ones that are continuous, even if they are not very many.”

We must also keep in mind that it is not forbidden to earn for Duniya or enjoy the blessing of this world, but one must stay within the Shariah, which is the essence of doing Tazkiya.

(Read the introductory article to the series here.)

Qualities of the People of Jannah – Part 2: Attain Khushu in Salah!


“Certainly will the believers have succeeded: They who are during their prayer humbly submissive.” (Al-Muminoon 23:1-2)

Salah is one of the main pillars of Islam and the most rewarding act. It delineates the difference between a Muslim and a non-Muslim. In order to reap maximum benefits from Salah it is imperative to perform it with humility. Read on to find out how one can attain Khushu and in return, the pleasure of Allah (swt).

The Arabic word used for humility in Salah (swt) is Khashi’oon, which is from the root word Khushu which means to bow down and express humility. It is a condition of the heart as well as the body. Khushu of the heart is to fear Allah (swt) and stand in awe of His powerful being while Khushu of the body is to bow down one’s head in humility and lower one’s gaze and voice in His presence. In Salah, one is required to show Khushu of both the body and the heart.

It has been reported that when the Prophet (sa) once saw a person offering his prayer as well as playing with his beard, he said: “If he had Khushu in his heart, his body would have shown it.” (Hakim)

How to perform Salah with Khushu – a few pointers

  1. Learn the meaning of Salah (the meaning of the Arabic text) so that you know what you are reciting.
  2. Learn new chapters and their meanings that you can recite in your Salah.
  3. Prepare yourself for Salah by quietly listening to the call for prayer. Then perform proper ablution and cover your Satar.
  4. Remember that Salah is a dialogue between you and Allah. Allah (swt) is not only listening to your prayer, but replying and rewarding you for every verse you utter.
  5. Pray in solitude.
  6. Avoid looking sideways, folding or shaking off dust, yawning or any such action.
  7. Prayer should be offered in a relaxed and composed manner. One should not hurry.
  8. Worship Allah as if you see Him. It is established in a Hadeeth that Gabriel asked the Prophet (sa): “Tell me about excellence in faith.” He replied: “It is to worship Allah as though you see Him, and though you do not see Him, you know that He sees you.” (Bukhari) This implies that the worshipper engages in his worship with an acute awareness of the fact that he is presenting himself before his Lord (swt) as though he sees Him. He will be absolutely sincere in his worship and his heart will be full of humility, awe, and fear.
  9. Remember that Allah (swt) is watching you as long as you pray with concentration.
  10. Convince yourself that this is your last Salah! What would be the condition of the heart if we pray keeping this in mind. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “When you stand up to pray, perform your prayer as if it were your last…” (Ahmad)
  11. It is important to remember the saying of the Prophet (sa): “If a man performs two
    Rakats of Salah without the distraction of any worldly thought, all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari)

If we really want to check our faith and level of Khushu, we should look at our Salah. If our Salah is stopping us from sins, this means there is Khushu. However, if we continue sinning after regularly performing prayers, it is clear indication that our heart is deprived of Khushu. It is mentioned in the Qur’an:

“…Verily Salah prevents from Al-Fahsha (great sins of every kind and illegal sexual intercourse) and Al-Munkar (disbelief, polytheism and every kind of evil wicked deed)…” (Al-Ankabut 29:45)

Your improved and more disciplined life will in turn help the quality of your prayer to increase even more. The two should continuously reinforce each other.

Read the introductory article to the series here.

A Question of Identity

A Question of Identity

By Amreen Rehman – An MBA graduate from Pakistan’s top business school

“Roti (food), Kapra (clothes), Makan (housing) and sex! Yes, sex! These are the basic human needs of today that motivate a person to do something. Our politicians have not been successful, because they have failed to address these basic human needs. Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs ignores the sex aspect…” The debate goes on in the classroom.

“Now we will watch some interactive videos that will depict human behaviour,” the teacher announces. Next, I see some advertisements revolving around nudity and sex, followed by a useless discussion on how these ads promote successful brands.

I am sitting in a marketing elective course known as Consumer Behaviour, but sex is all I’m hearing. As I look around, I see students of both genders, comfortably and casually watching, laughing and taking part in the discussion, leaving me bewildered and confused.

“Am I the only one feeling ashamed to be part of such a group? Have we lost all our values and morals?” I wonder.

I guess I’m talking about the so-called elite class of students, for whom such topics reflect confidence and boldness. What a pity that we have lost our Haya.

Islam defines Haya as modesty that beautifies our lives. “Haya, an inner control, and modesty in one’s talk are two branches of faith; while ill talk and excess talk are signs of hypocrisy.” (At-Tirmidhi) Haya literally means ‘to be alive’, as it keeps our hearts spiritually energized.

Sadly, we have forgotten what Islam stands for. Islam is our Deen – a complete code of life – and our actions and speech should reflect this. In this very course, my teacher had clearly told us we were not allowed to discuss two topics – religion and politics. In fact, all my teachers feel Islam is just a personal matter.

I realize we receive MBA and BBA degrees at the cost of our Deen. Are we spending huge amounts of money in order to debate whether or not gay marriages should be legalized?

This is the state of education in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It has made us secular, and though we excel in speaking and writing English more than an ordinary Englishman, it has taken us away from Islam.

Suddenly, my thoughts are disrupted by the sound of the bell. I slowly get up, collect my books and leave the classroom with questions haunting me: “Whatis my identity? Am I a Muslim or have I just become part of the secular class, for whom such concepts as Haya are dead?”

This reminds me of a Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa): “Islam began as something strange and shall return to being something strange. So give glad tidings to the strangers.” (Sahih Muslim)

It is sad to see how far we have deviated from our Deen and have lost our identity as Muslims. In today’s world, people who act upon the true teachings of Islam have become strangers and constitute a minority. But glad tidings to the few strangers for they are the beloved ones.