A Discussion on the Proofs from Revelation Concerning Love for God
بيان شواهد الشرع في حب العبد الله تعالى
Through the Qur’an, Sunnah and the consensus of the community (umma), Imām Ghazālī makes it clear that the love of God and His Messenger (may God bless him and grant him peace) is an obligation. Yet, he asks, how could something that does not exist be made an obligation? Clearly, aiming at those who claim that love for God merely means obedience, he goes on to say that obedience is the effect and result of love. Hence, he logically deduces that obedience must necessarily be preceded by love; obedience is the fruit of love.
This is significant for another reason that is not set out in the actual text. It appears to provide an answer to the oft-asked question of why one should perform acts of obedience. Should not a pure heart and ethical disposition suffice? Why do we need to engage in worship if one’s heart is pure? The answer, in short, is that when one is truly in love the acts of obedience are not just mere rituals or series of movements but a genuine form of loving obedience. For when one falls in love, they ask not why they ought to perform the act but willingly perform them out of sheer love. Our worship ought to be a reflection of our inner state.
و يروى أن عيسى عليه السّلام مرّ بثلاثة نفر قد نحلت أبدانهم و تغيّرت ألوانهم فقال لهم: ما الّذي بلغ بكم ما أرى؟ فقالوا: الخوف من النار، فقال: حقّ على اللّه أن يؤمن الخائف، ثمّ جاوزهم إلى ثلاثة أخرى فإذا هم أشدّ نحولا و تغيّرا فقال:ما الّذي بلغ بكم ما أرى؟ قالوا: الشوق إلى الجنّة؟ قال: حقّ على اللّه أن يعطيكم ما ترجون، ثمّ جاوزهم إلى ثلاثة أخرى فإذا هم أشدّ نحولا و تغيّرا كأنّ على وجوههم المرايا من النور فقال: ما الّذي بلغ بكم ما أرى؟ قالوا: حبّ اللّه عزّ و جلّ فقال: أنتم المقرّبون أنتم المقرّبون
It is reported that Jesus (peace be upon him) passed three men whose bodies were wasted and whose countenances were stark with pallor. He asked them, “What has happened to you that I see?” They answered, “Fear of Hell.” He said, “It behoves God to give safety to him who fears.” Then he passed on to another three even more emaciated and pallid; he asked them, “What has come upon you that I see?” They replied, “Longing for paradise.” He said, “It behoves God to give you what you hope for.” He passed on to yet another three and indeed, these were surpassingly gaunt and utterly altered, as though their faces had become mirrors of light. He said, “What has happened to you that I see?” They replied, “We love God.” At this, he exclaimed, “You are those brought near to God! You are those brought near to God! You are those brought near to God!”
Yaḥyā ibn Mu’ādh said, “His forgiveness (‘afw) consumes sins; what then of His contentment (riḍwān)? His contentment consumes hopes; what then of His love? His love astonishes understanding; what then of His affection (wudd)? His affection causes oblivion of all but itself: what then of His grace (luṭf)?”