Love of God and How to achieve it
Love is such a rich phenomenon that some scholars suggest that it has no definition, it is known only by its effects. Love is categorized into different types in Islamic worldview. Some forms of love are healthy and encouraged, yet others are blameworthy. Some people or things we love are natural and we have no control over, whereas others build over time and develop into strong relationships.
The first type of love is emotional love, such as the love for one‚Äôs parents, children, and spouse. However it may vary in a sense, for example, the love of a mother for her child will be different from the love one has towards his or her spouse. In married couples, the love will be stronger if the spouse has qualities valued by the other like beauty, wealth, stability, or religious commitment. This type of love is not within one‚Äôs control. One is not responsible in front of Allah for loving one child more than the others.
Love for one‚Äôs parents is also natural since a child has an innate inclination to love his parents. A child gets love and security from them and realizes the hardship they went through to raise them. By extension, one also loves his relatives and family members.
The second type of love is romantic love which can further divided into two types. The first type is when someone is in love with another person, yet the person fears Allah, and does not indulge in anything Allah has forbidden and remains chaste. The best solution for someone genuinely in love is to get married to the person if possible. If it is not meant to be, one must turn away from them for fear of falling into something forbidden by Allah.
The second type is when romantic love turns into an obsession. Obsessions in most cases take control of the person and become their main purpose of existence. Thus obsessive ‚Äėlove‚Äô is forbidden and sinful. Scholars consider it to be an ailment of the heart that afflicts a heart empty of Allah‚Äôs love. Islamic Law has laid many safety nets to protect people from such destructive emotions that they themselves can not control.
The last category is the most sublime and pure form of love, the love of Allah. A Muslim should keep a few simple points in their mind:
First, love of Allah is not optional; it is required of every Muslim. It is an integral component of one‚Äôs faith as Allah states in the Quran:
‚Äú‚Ä¶But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else)....‚ÄĚ (Quran 2:165)
Second, love of Allah is different from all the above categories of love. Love of Allah is not a claim to be made; it is something that resides in the heart. The learned scholars of Islam consider love to be an ‚Äėaction‚Äô of the heart, something that actually motivates the heart and moves a person to obey Allah and leave sins. Love of Allah is strongly related with the concept of worship in Islam and one‚Äôs faith. Worship is the fruit of a person‚Äôs love of Allah, and love of Allah in reciprocate is its aim Love is the fuel behind worship that keeps it from becoming a habit. ALL acts of devotion, worship, and obedience spring from its fountain. The very definition of worship states that it is everything Allah loves and is pleased with. Love enters every good work we do. When we offer salah, read Quran, fast, perform Hajj, give charity, or remember Allah, His love should be part of it.
Third, love of Allah is different from natural, emotional types of love described above. True love of Allah is always combined with a feeling of awe in front of divine majesty and glory, a feeling of insignificance in front of divine might. On the other hand, love for one‚Äôs spouse or child is not coupled with such feelings of awe. What this means is that a person does not just say, ‚ÄėI love God‚Äô and leave it there, but actually carries out what Allah loves and leaves what Allah has forbidden, because a person realizes Allah‚Äôs might and ability to punish.
Fourth, love of Allah supersedes love for anyone else. Whenever there is a conflict between the two, a person must give precedence to what Allah loves.
Fifth, the more a person obeys Allah and worships Him the more his love for Allah will grow.
Relation of loving Prophet Muhammad to loving Allah
¬∑ Following Prophet Muhammad an expression of Allah‚Äôs love
¬∑ Beliefs, practices, and behaviors to achieve love of Allah
¬∑ Beliefs and behavior Allah does not love
Sixth, love of the Prophet, may Allah praise him, is part of loving Allah. All the world‚Äôs treasures and riches can not match the love for the Prophet. It needs to be discussed separately.
Seventh, following Prophet Muhammad is a true sign of loving Allah as He says in the Quran:
‚ÄúSay [O Prophet]: ‚ÄėIf you love Allah, follow me, [and] Allah will love you.‚Äô‚ÄĚ (Quran 3:31)
A new Muslim should learn as much as possible about how the Prophet worshipped and prayed to Allah, his guidance and Sunnah in all matters of life and lovingly imitate him to earn divine love. There is nothing that Allah loves or with which one can come close to Allah, except that the Prophet of Mercy has informed us of it.
The next question for is, ‚Äėhow can I achieve the love of Allah?‚Äô
(a) the first and most important way to achieve the love of Allah is to understand the meaning of the Testimony of Faith and to commit oneself to live by it. Laa ilaha ill-Allah is the purpose of your creation, the definition of your relationship with Allah, and the key to Allah‚Äôs love and entry into Paradise. Anyone‚Äôs whose last words are Laa ilaha ill-Allah in this life will enter Paradise. One must also try to learn Allah‚Äôs beautiful Names and sublime Attributes. One cannot truly love someone they do not know.
(c) the second most important way to achieve the love of Allah is to perform the obligatory duties followed by voluntary ones. The most important of the obligatory duties is to learn the salah and to pray regularly. This is followed by fasting, paying zakah, and performing other obligations. Some scholars say that there is a Paradise on earth, if someone does not enter it, he shall not enter it in the afterlife. A person enters the Paradise on earth by enjoying God‚Äôs worship and obedience. With time, understanding the spiritual significance, and patience one will reap the greatest spiritual benefit of carrying out the obligations of Islam: the love of Allah. The Prophet, may God praise him, related:
‚ÄúAllah the Mighty has said: ‚ÄėWhoever shows enmity to a beloved slave of Mine, I shall be at war with him. My slave does not draw near to Me with anything more loved by Me than what I have made obligatory upon him. And My slave continues to draw near to Me by voluntary works till I love him. When I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask of Me, I would surely give and were he to seek refuge in Me, I would surely grant it.‚ÄĚ‚Äô (al-Bukhari) [This Prophetic narration is not to be taken literally, rather what is meant is that the person will act according to that which pleases God. For example, he will not look at impermissible things, will only listen to that which is useful and beneficial such as listening to the Quran, Islamic lectures, etc.]
(d) to enjoy being alone with Allah in prayer, salah, reciting Quran, and meditating in isolation with the Creator. Call out to Allah by presenting your problems, ask for His assistance, and supplicate to Him in those specific areas in the prayer where this is to be done, such as the prostration. One does not reach this level immediately with the first prayer. A person has to struggle with distractions, one‚Äôs self, and the devil and patiently practice being attentive to reach the state in salah where she finds comfort in it.
(e) a person can achieve the love of Allah by developing the qualities Allah loves and avoiding those things he dislikes. These qualities are found in the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet, may Allah praise him. Some of them are:
Patience in face of religious prejudice and persecution:
‚ÄúAnd Allah loves the steadfast.‚ÄĚ (Quran 3:146).
A new Muslim should be patient when they face ridicule, lose friends, or are mocked for accepting Islam. They should endure in learning Islam and practicing it.
‚ÄúSurely, Allah loves those who do good.‚ÄĚ (Quran 3:134, 148).
Controlling your anger, spending more in charity, and learning the etiquette of supplicating to Allah all fall under this category.
‚ÄúIndeed, Allah loves those who fear Him.‚ÄĚ (Quran 3:76).
Taqwa is to obey Allah‚Äôs commandments and to stay away from His prohibitions in dress, diet, behavior, personal relationships, and other aspects of life.
Continuously repenting to Allah and maintaining proper Hygiene:
‚ÄúIndeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.‚ÄĚ (Quran 2:222, 9:108)
Trusting Allah in all affairs especially in decisions made after consultation:
‚ÄúIndeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].‚ÄĚ (Quran 3:159)
‚ÄúAnd if you judge, judge between them with justice. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.‚ÄĚ (Quran 5:42)
Allah does not love:
Arrogance like rejecting the truth even after it has become clear:
‚ÄúIndeed, He does not like the arrogant.‚ÄĚ (Quran 16:23)
Transgression like speaking about Allah and His religion what one does not know:
‚ÄúSurely, Allah does not love transgression.‚ÄĚ (Quran 2:190, 5:87)
‚ÄúIndeed, He does not like the wrongdoers.‚ÄĚ (Quran 3:57, 42:40)
Being excessive in eating, drinking, and clothing:
‚ÄúAnd be not excessive. Indeed, He does not like those who commit excess.‚ÄĚ (Quran 6:141, 7:31)
Spreading corruption like inciting wars:
‚ÄúAnd Allah does not like corruption.‚ÄĚ (Quran 2:205, 5:64)
Breaking treaties and covenants:
‚ÄúIndeed, Allah does not like traitors.‚ÄĚ (Quran 8:59)
‚ÄúAnd Allah does not like every sinning disbeliever.‚ÄĚ (Quran 2:276)
‚ÄúIndeed, Allah does not like the disbelievers.‚ÄĚ (Quran 3:32)
Boasting and stinginess:
‚ÄúIndeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful, who are stingy and enjoin upon [other] people stinginess and conceal what Allah has given them of His bounty.‚ÄĚ (Quran 4:36-37)
Deceiving Allah and people:
‚ÄúIndeed, Allah does not love one who is a habitually sinful deceiver. They conceal [their evil intentions and deeds] from the people, but they cannot conceal [them] from Allah, and He is with them [in His knowledge] when they spend the night in such as He does not accept of speech.‚ÄĚ (Quran 107-108)
‚ÄúAllah does not love the public mention of evil except by one who has been wronged.‚ÄĚ (Quran 4:148)
 The parent is not, however, allowed to favor one child over another in terms of gifts or treatment. Islam requires that all children must be treated equally. Loving one child over another is simply a matter of the heart that one has no control over.
Source: newmuslims.com [External/non-QP]