– By Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed
Love vs. Need
The focus in love is giving. The focus in need and addiction – is taking. Allaah describes love in spouses as: Rabbana hab lana min azwajina wa dhuriyyatina qurrata A’yunin waj’alna lil-muttaqina imama
“Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.” [25:74]
Coolness of our eyes. SubhanAllaah. Such a beautiful way of defining love. We should need and want from Allaah, alone. Then, we’d be full. If we’re obsessed with duniya matters and we feel we cannot sleep, eat etc, we seem as though we have withdrawal symptoms. This is not what Allaah describes as love. This is not coolness or comfort. This is more like an addiction. Allaah speaks of tranquillity. We should love the creation, but need from Allaah.
Love for another creation can only happen if we are no longer dependant on this person. Thus, we love for the sake of Allaah – not for our sake.
At times, we do not feel appreciated by our loved ones. We feel self-sacrificing, but that is because we are looking for appreciation in the wrong place. We should be looking for it from Allaah – Ash-shukoor. We shouldn’t wait for a ‘thank you’. Therein, we will no longer be a slave to what people say. You are free of this. You can now do things knowing Allaah is appreciating you, even if the creations are not. He is the one who will plant you a tree for saying, ‘subhanAllaah’. His appreciation is effortless. Once you free yourself of this neediness, you will have a healthy way to love and sustain a relationship.
It should be pointed out here that this is not a discussion of haraam and halaal in a relationship. Nor is this a discussion of rights. Here, it is not being said that this is of unjust and one should remain in an unhappy marriage where they are not appreciated at all and mistreated. Sabr is not to not act, nor remain passive. Here, you have a right to be treated well. This discussion is on another level – a level of neediness and wants from another. It’s of expectations. The rights and fulfillment of spouses is a fiqh issue. Remember that if one remains in an abusive relationship – it does not mean that this person is more righteous. The dependence should still be upon Allaah, whether you choose to remain or leave.
‘Love’ based on needs is unstable for it is a need focussed on what you are getting from the relationship. It is selfish and is through the nafs. It’s all about you, ‘I love it when you do this for me…’ or ‘I love you for you always do this for me…’
When you rectify your relationship with the Creator, you will rectify your relationship with the creation. If your relationship and other stuff are through Him, He will fix your relationship with others. This doesn’t mean that you’ll end up in drama-free relationships, but rather, you will find that Allaah will suffice for you. You will feel content.
The more you run after a creation (with your neediness) the more they will distant from you. This is a trait which drives people away. However, remember the more you are needier with Allaah, the closer He is. You walk towards Him, He will run towards you.
The prophet SalAllaahu ‘alaihi wa salaam was asked to tell of something which will make Allaah love the people, and make the people love them too. The Prophet replied – have zuhd. Zuhd is described as a detachment from the duniya. It is to renounce worldly pleasures to gain nearness to Him. We must, therefore, have zuhd in the hands of the people. We must stop chasing or needing what is held in the hands of people and then we’ll find that we are loved by these people.
Love for Allaah
We claim that we love Allaah, but do we really? None of us would say we love someone or something more so than He, but do we really love Him as much as we claim? A famous poet once said, ‘Love is like a lawsuit – it requires evidence’ – so let’s evidence our love for Allaah. Let’s think about some evidences of love. What the ‘symptoms’ are to state that perhaps one is in love. Some of the statements we came up with were:
You can’t stop thinking or speaking about the one you love
Constantly wanting to please them
Inability to function or focus on other stuff
Attach your happiness to their happiness
Concerned for them/what they think of you
Whatever they love, you love
Wanting to be in their company
Overlook any wrong doings – ‘love is blind’
Ignore others and other stuff
If we were to claim that these were the evidences of love – let’s see if our love for Him is true. Can we evidence it with the above? Do we consistently speak and think of Him? Is Him company what we seek? Do we ignore others, or ignore Him? Do we care about what He thinks of us? Do we love what He loves, or love what He forbade? Do we attach our happiness to His – or to His dislikes? When it comes to salaah, do we focus on Him, or other stuff?
SubhanAllaah – Is this our state? Do we love Him like we claim?
How do we balance Duniya and Deen?
So we looked at the love for the Duniya and that for the Deen and Allaah, so how do we balance them? We must acknowledge that the Duniya and Deen are not two sides if a scale. The question itself is flawed. The akhiraat and Allaah is the aim. It is the destination. Duniya is the means. It is the vehicle to take you there. So erase this idea of a balance from your mind.
Everything in the duniya is a tool to build a house in jannah. Duniya should be seen as a big tool box – but we become so in love with the tools – we forget what their uses are. Everything in the duniya is a form of worship to Allaah – if used correctly. Your job, your family, your education – it can all be a form of worship.
Sadly, a lot of us use Allaah as the tool and make the duniya our home. We make the duniya our ultimate aim in life: i.e. marriage, finding a job, etc.
We use Allaah as the ‘genie in the bottle’. We call unto Him as and when we need something. We get up every night to make du’a for this entity. Then, after making du’a for a long period of time, we get frustrated at Allaah for not listening to our command. We think Allaah is not working for us. But this du’a is not, ‘I want this to get close to Allaah’ – this du’a is, ‘I want this for my happiness’. We do not command Allaah.
It is fine to make du’a for the duniya. We should. But it should be something to gain closeness to Him. It depends on what you are seeking as your destination. Your destination should be to get to Allaah. So accept His decision. Your response will depend on your destination. If you get frustrated at Allaah – your destination was never Allaah. However, if your goal was Allaah, you will accept this and trust that He is doing good for you. You will not have a meltdown. Make the love of the duniya for the deen and akhiraat. Do not make duniya the ends and Allaah the means.
A true zaahid does not just do itikaaf their whole life. Zuhd is not that you do not own anything – it is to ensure that nothing owns you!
Barriers between Us and Allaah
So how do we overcome these barriers built between us and Allaah? How do we get rid of these pain and hurt? We must replace the duniya possessions we have placed in our heart – with something greater. We must replace it with something which doesn’t diminish. We must replace this with Allaah and the akhiraat.
Think about the duniya – a moment in life which made you so happy. This could be the day you got married, the day your child was born, the day you graduated – anything. Think of this moment. This is the happiest your had been in life. Was this perfect? Was it complete? Were there no hurt at all? Did everything run perfectly? Smoothly? Did it last? This is duniya. It will not last.
But Allaah describes the akhiraat as absolute. There are no upset. It is greater in quality. Lasting happiness. Our problem is that we do not see the real thing. We cannot see Allaah and the akhiraat. We are so attached to the duniya fir this is all we are familiar with. If a child had a toy car, that he loved, you will not be able to remove this from Him. However, if you brought in front of this a child the real version of this car, the child will not hesitate to drop this toy car for the real thing. The child could see the better quality – the better reward. Likewise, all we see are the creations – not Allaah. We have not met Him, so we cannot comprehend the greatness, hence why we attach ourselves to what we know.
But, how are we to ever know Him if we do not make the conscious effort to get to know Him? How can we connect with something greater? If we don’t connect, understand or read His words – how can we love Him more? He should be our closest companion.
At the last third of the night, you are alone with Him. It is the best time speak to Him. It will help re-orient and focus your heart practically to Him. It gives you the opportunity to relate to Him at the most holiest part of the day.
The first commandment was in surah Muzzammil which ordered to stand and pray at night. This was the Prophet SalAllaahu ‘alaihi wa sallaam’s fuel for his heavy mission. Likewise, we have a lot to deal with. This is our prescription of how to deal with the load. At this time of night, we have no distractions. We are alone. It is at this point which is best to re-focus.
There are two things which tarnish the heart. The first is out sins. Each time we sin, black spots develop on our heats. These need to be washed away via tawbah. The more black spots there are, the easier it is to sin the next time round, thus we keep sinning until a veil or a barrier develops between us and Allaah. Tawbah is like bathing your heart – to wash away the dirt. Our Prophet would make istighfaar about 70-100 times a day (dependant on what narration you look at).
The second of the tarnishing element is heedlessness – ghafla. The cure for heedlessness is dhikr. This is the food and air of our hearts. Without this, our hearts will starve. And then, we wonder, why it dies. What more do we expect to happen to something which is starved of air and food?
We must feed our hearts though dhikr and cleanse via tawbah. Then – we must work to protect it from internal and external factors. The external factors are the people and the shaiyaateen. Here, you dhikr will act as your armour against the shaiyateen. The nafs is your internal factor. We must work on this via taskiyaah – purification – and not feed the nafs with worldly desires.
Be in this life as a stranger – for this is not your home. The duniya is like a stop for a shade under a tree, in your journey to the akhiraat. It is a small, short-lived stop.
How to maintain the spiritual high we feel?
There is no state that can ever be constant. Whether it is being happy or sad. Know that your imaan can rise or fall. We as humans were created imperfect and inconstant, so we are expected to have high and low imaan. But the skill is to stop falling too low. Keep the ibaadah going. Force yourself. Force yourself to do salaah – even if you are not impressed with the quality. Quality will come overtime – He is al-Jabbar – He will mend it! Remember you still get points for attending! It’s not all or nothing!! Salaah is your air. You may not be taking deep breaths, but you still need air to breathe, albeit a little.
Losing hope is the trap of the shaitaan. You think because you messed up, you might as well give up. However, it is a false perfection we feel which leads to this hopelessness. Part of the path will have ups and downs. But remember, no person will enter jannah solely based on their deeds – unless Allaah has mercy on them. So keep at it!!
We should not have had hope into our deeds. Our deeds are our worship – it is what we are here for. We are fulfilling the purpose of our existence. We cannot buy jannah. Putting your hopes in your deeds instead of Allaah can make you arrogant. You start feeling self satisfied and better than others – thus you stop your deeds. You think you are good enough. You’re satisfied with yourself. Or, if you feel your deeds are not up to par – you lose hope. Both cause you to give up your deeds. Thus it is vital to place dependency and hope in Allaah and His mercy – not your actions and your deeds.
One of the ‘adiya of the Prophet SalAllaahu ‘alaihi wa salaam would be to ask Allaah not to leave Him, even for a blink of an eye. He knew he needed Him. We need to realise, that without Allaah, we will crumble.
How to teach children of their nafs:
When we teach, we should the love of Allaah – not what is haraam and halaal. When we love someone, no one would force us to please them – we would want to please them ourselves. We found this on the evidences of love – as claimed above. Likewise, if we teach children to love Allaah, they will want to please Him. We teach our children wrong. We teach them using fear and threats. Children grow up fearing Allaah as the one who will punish. We must stop speaking of rules and build on love for Allaah. The rules will come afterwards.
Aisha radiAllaahu anha narrated in a Hadith:
If the first thing to be revealed was: ‘Do not drink alcoholic drinks.’ people would have said, ‘We will never leave alcoholic drinks,’ and if there had been revealed, ‘Do not commit illegal sexual intercourse, ‘they would have said, ‘We will never give up illegal sexual intercourse.’
This shows that it is important to instil the love of Allaah first – everything else will follow thereafter.
Loving for the Sake of Allaah
If we had loved for His sake – there will be no dramas, no tears and no pain. Love is not supposed to hurt. It may hurt to lose an object of love – but love for His sake is not meant to bear that painful, excruciating pain (as outlined in ‘pain of the heart’ above). Your response – when this object of love is taken – will be different. If it was for His sake, you will bear patience. If it were for your nafs, you’ll have meltdowns.
Punishment vs. Test
Again, this depends on your response and the results or the event. If this experience has brought you closer to Allaah – perhaps this was a test as opposed to a punishment. It was a blessing. However, if it has brought you further from Allaah, then perhaps it’s a punishment. But remember, we are still alive. It is never too late to repent and seek forgiveness. It is never too late to put things right!
The matters of a believer is strange. Everything is good for him – because they see all of it as a way of coming closer to Allaah.