The Qur'anic Understanding of Love

People who do not live according to the Qur'an's morals cannot love or be loved in the true sense of the word. For real love to be mutual, both people must love Allah with deep respect and should demonstrate those morals that gain Allah's good pleasure. Allah will place love in the hearts of His beloved servants and ensure that other people will love them. It should not be forgotten that Allah is the real source and owner of love. To enable someone to live with true love, which is of great value and a great blessing, a person should seek to be worthy of this blessing by adhering to the Qur'an's morals, and should pray that Allah bestows true love. People who do not adhere to the Qur'an's morals live a life bereft of true knowledge, hope, and true friends in both worlds.

Allah informs us that love is a blessing that He bestows upon us:

And affection and purity from Us-he had fear [and respect]. (Surah Maryam, 13)

As for those who believe and do right actions, the All-Merciful will bestow His love upon them. (Surah Maryam, 96)

Among His signs is that He created spouses for you of your own kind so that you might find tranquility in them. And He has placed affection and compassion between you. There are certainly signs in that for people who reflect. (Surat ar-Rum, 21)

Given below are some of the characteristics Allah considers to be worthy of true love: 

To Be Self-Sacrificing  

Do not direct your eyes longingly to what We have given certain of them to enjoy. Do not feel sad concerning them. And take the believers under your wing. (Surat al-Hijr, 88) 

Some people who do not believe in Allah and the Hereafter judge this world to be a place of great struggle, and therefore believe that the strong will inevitably overcome the weak. This view, the product of a completely mistaken way of thinking, is based on driving people away from good morals and seeking to protect their own gains and interests. A community that is ruled according to such claims sees no need to help those who need assistance; to be self-sacrificing or concerned about another person's welfare, happiness, and ease; to put his or her interests above their own. Subsequently, such activities are avoided because they bring no benefits to those who engage in them.

Thus, these people cannot really love one another, for people cannot truly love those who think of their own welfare before they think of somebody else's. For example, people who experience another person's selfishness feel their love for that person die slowly. If a person only thinks about his own comfort, keeping a delicious meal or a comfortable bed for himself, and not thinking about his or her neighbors, this will inevitably shatter the love felt for that person. Since people regularly witness this type of behavior, they subconsciously hold a negative view point toward such people.

Some people who are far removed from the Qur'an's morality cannot ask even their closest friends to make any sacrifice. For example, a mother who has to take care of her sick child cannot ask her coworker to do her work while she is meeting her child's needs. Even if one helps his own parents, some trouble will probably arise among his siblings. On the other hand, most people, when asked, say that they love their parents dearly. However, if self-sacrificing is required and there is no real gain in sight for that person, most people will seek to avoid such obligations. However, those who truly love somebody else will make all sorts of sacrifices, and will never tire or get sick of such sacrifice.

One of the sincere believers' most identifiable characteristics is that they will freely put their own interests below those of other believers. Allah gives one such example in the Qur'an, when recounting the Makkan Muslims' emigration to Madinah, and how the Muslims in Madinah welcomed them.

The Qur'an informs us of the beautiful morals of the believers in the following verse:

Those who were already settled in the abode [Madinah], and in faith, before they came love, those who have migrated to them; do not find in their hearts any need for what they have been given; and prefer them to themselves, even if they themselves are needy. The people who are safe-guarded from the avarice of their own selves are successful. (Surat as-Hashr, 9) 

You will not attain true goodness until you give of what you love. Whatever you give away, Allah knows it. (Surah Al 'Imran, 92)

[The people who guard against evil are] those who give in times of both ease and hardship, those who control their rage and pardon other people-Allah loves the good-doers. (Surah Al 'Imran, 134)

The Makkan believers emigrated so that they could live their religion. They left behind all of their belongings, relatives, homes, vineyards, gardens, and their places of work in order to gain Allah's good pleasure. This demonstrates their superior morals and indicates the fact they have chosen Allah as their guardian and are trustworthy people. Their beautiful morals caused Madinah's Muslims to welcome them in the best possible manner with deep love, respect, and mercy.

Without considering their own needs and interests, they provided for the interests and needs of their brethren when it came to eating and living. Their self-sacrificing actions were based on their strong and sincere love for Allah and all other believers. Their beautiful morals also drew the love of other believers toward them. Allah mentions these believers in the Qur'an with love and praise, and for the past 1,400 years they have left an indelible impression in every believer's heart.

Another example is given in the following verses:

They give food, despite their love for it, to the poor, the orphans, and the captives: "We feed you only out of desire for the Face of Allah. We do not want any repayment from you or any thanks. Truly, We fear from our Lord a glowering, calamitous Day." (Surat al-Insan, 8-10) 

Despite being in need themselves, those who offer their food to the hungry will naturally be loved and respected. Let's expand upon this with the following example. Let's pretend that you and two other people are very tired and hungry. In front of you is enough food for just one person and only one bed. One of them decides to eat the food and use the bed without asking you for permission, while the other person, despite being hungry, offers his food to you and insists that you sleep in the bed. In this situation, you would feel quite cold toward the selfish person, but quite warm and loving toward the one who placed his needs below yours. Allah created human soul so as to be pleased with good morals and feel love and affection for such people.

To Be Forgiving  

Some people who do not live according to the Qur'an's morals easily become angry and dissatisfied with others, and get upset with those who do not live up to their expectations. Many people end long-term friendships with their "closest friends" and become their worst enemy in an instant due to relatively minor matters. This is because they do not live by the Qur'an's morals and thus cannot forgive, be patient or loving toward others, and they lead a life that is far removed from superior morals and the resulting characteristics.

Believers, who are very patient and forgiving, will not become angry and end their friendships just because of some minor mistakes and misgivings. Instead, they will give the other person another chance, remind them of the truth, and help them change their behavior. Instead of feeling anger and animosity toward their friends in public, they attempt to fix their mistakes and misgivings by giving examples from the Qur'an. In sincere love, feelings of great understanding and tolerance reign supreme. Every situation will be resolved with love, understanding, and in peace.

Allah reveals that believers should be forgiving:

Those of you who are affluent and rich should not make oaths that they will not give [anything] to their relatives, the very poor, and those who have migrated in the way of Allah. Rather, they should pardon and overlook. Wouldn't you love Allah to forgive you? Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surat an-Nur, 22)

You will never cease to come upon some act of treachery on their part, except for a few of them. Yet pardon them and overlook. Allah loves good-doers. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 13) 

O you who believe. Fear [and respect] Allah, and speak words that hit the mark. He will put your actions right for you and forgive you your wrong deeds. All who obey Allah and His messenger have won a mighty victory. (Surat al-Ahzab, 70-71) 

The Qur'an places no limitations on how believers are to forgive others. Thus, even those people who constantly harm the believers should be forgiven. Believers will quite easily forgive another person, even if they suffer a great loss as a result of that person's actions. By forgiving a gossip, a trouble maker, or someone who causes him a serious material loss, and thus by being an excellent example of high morals, that same person may become a close friend. In fact, when a believer is forgiven, he or she will feel great love and gratitude toward the forgiver. Allah reveals in the Qur'an that one has to be able to forgive in order to develop true love:

A good action and a bad action are not the same. Repel the bad with something better. If there is enmity between you and someone else, he will be like a bosom friend. (Surah Fussilat, 34)

To Be Humble

One can acquire genuine love only after conquering selfishness, working for gain, insincerity, haughtiness, and similar behaviors. On the other hand, modesty is one of the most important aspects of love, for those who see themselves as superior to others only value themselves. Viewing other people as without value and inferior, they believe that they are the most intelligent, conscious, and worthy of respect. In other words, they turn their selves into little deities. Such a person find it impossible to associate with those who are "inferior," and so cannot sacrifice for them or put their needs first. As a result, they can feel no true and sincere love for them. Thus, love and haughtiness are mutually exclusive. A person who is haughty can neither be loved nor feel a deep and sincere love towards anyone.

There are many reasons why haughty people lead a loveless life. They generally have characteristics that are conducive to making fun of people in order to increase their value in their own eyes. They think that publicizing other people's shortcomings will display their own superiorities. No one will feel a sincere love in their hearts for those who constantly ridicule and degrade others.

On the other hand, modest people are always loved, for they value the person in front of them and, because of their adherence to Qur'anic values, other people will feel at ease with them. Such people listen intently and sincerely to any advice given to them, and never argue and assert that they know better. Rather than becoming haughty, they will display a good and positive attitude. They will not dispute the truth nor repel the wrong with anger. They answer all questions with great sensitivity, and never demand that other people show him love or respect first. Even when dealing with a haughty and argumentative person, they will respond by being modest, value other people's opinions, reply to everyone's greetings in the best possible manner, and be full of love and respect toward everyone. In short, the modesty brought about by the Qur'an's morals will develop into a model person who is very harmonious, open to different views, and not haughty. In fact, they will be models of honor, care for others, and value others. For this reason, modest people are usually loved very much. Allah informs us of this, as follows:

The servants of the All-Merciful are those who walk lightly [without arrogance] on the land, and who, when the ignorant speak to them, say: "Peace." (Surat al-Furqan, 63)

In another verse, He relates that:

Your god is One god, so submit to Him. Give good news to the humble-hearted. (Surat al-Hajj, 34)

Moreover, as a result of his modesty and soft nature, people gathered around our Prophet (pbuh):

It is a mercy from Allah that you were gentle with them. If you had been rough or hard of heart, they would have scattered from around you. So pardon them, ask forgiveness for them, and consult them about the matter. When you have reached a firm decision, put your trust in Allah. Allah loves those who put their trust in Him. (Surah Al 'Imran, 159) 

To Be Straightforward

Some unbelievers feel very comfortable when telling lies. If such people do not admit their lies and stop engaging in this deceitful behavior, no one will love them. Liars often lose sight of the truth, and therefore are very undependable and untrustworthy people. People cannot love those whom they don't trust. 

Believers, however, never lie, regardless of the consequences to their own interests. Thus, they are completely reliable and trustworthy, for they do not hide or distort the truth, or make promises they cannot possibly keep. For believers, there are no such things as white lies. As a result, they do not resort to lying in order to be seen as doing good, or to protect their esteem in the eyes of others, to show off, to ensure their material gain, or to cause any sort of loss to other people.

This beautiful moral value is one of the factors that turns a person's soul toward love, for soul will form feelings of true love toward a person who displays honesty and truthfulness. Our Prophet (pbuh) emphasized the importance of love between believers and stated that before this love could be developed and strengthened, sincerity and trust had to be established first:

Abu Hurayrah reported: "The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) observed: 'You shall not enter Paradise so long as you do not affirm belief (in all those things that are the articles of faith), and you will not believe as long as you do not love one another. Should I direct you to a thing that, if you do, will foster love among you: (the practice of paying salutation to one another by saying) as-salamu alaikum.'" (Sahih Muslim)


To Be Patient

Your god is One god, so submit to Him. Give good news to the humble-hearted. (Surat al-Hajj, 34)

The Qur'an reminds us that "people are prone to selfish greed" (Surat an-Nisa',128). Thus, we must strive to protect ourselves from such negative character traits so that we can attain the high morals befitting Paradise. However, despite this, people make mistakes. People who are trying to live lives of genuine love and friendship should not forget this fact. They must be very patient and forgiving toward those who they love, be patient when their friends do something wrong, and attempt to compensate for their shortcomings, for only those who are patient and unselfish can love and be loved. Patience strengthens and develops mutual love and tolerance. Believers rely on each other and, because they are believers and respect one another, bear each other's mistakes with tolerance and forgiveness. To compensate for these mistakes, they redouble their efforts to live according to the Qur'an's morals in the best possible manner, which only draws them closer to their fellow believers. For this reason, they are always patient with other people, regardless of the magnitude of their mistake.

Our Prophet (pbuh) directs the believers to cover their fellow believers' mistakes and to support them:

Every Muslim is a brother to a Muslim, neither wronging him nor allowing him to be wronged. If anyone helps his brother in need, Allah will help him in his own need. If anyone removes a calamity from [another] Muslim, Allah will remove from him some of the calamities of the Day of Resurrection. If anyone shields [another] Muslim from disgrace, Allah will shield him from disgrace on the Day of Resurrection. (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

The patience of a person who loves Allah and is constantly pleased with Him differs significantly from the understanding of patience of unbelievers. Unbelievers attempt to "endure" in some situations if they think that they will gain something from another person, or if they fear the repercussions of their community. They consider that they have the right to sulk, complain, or act badly. They will think: "I am putting up with this much trouble, so I am entitled to do as I like," or other similar statements. For example, an unbeliever who is looking after his sick friend will at some stage begin to be bored, become angry, and start to complain. He will complain that he cannot sleep, is very tired, that the job at hand is very hard, or even that nobody could possibly be as self-sacrificing as he is. These feelings will become noticeable and will cause his sick friend to feel obliged, for he will remind him all the time that he is doing him a favor.

A patient person however, responds to all of these needs with pleasure and does whatever is necessary to help him. He will never make that person feel obliged. Allah tells all believers to be patient with others, for it is one of their most beautiful character traits:

O you who believe, be steadfast. Be supreme in steadfastness and firm on the battlefield, and fear [and respect] Allah, so that, hopefully, you will be successful. (Surah Al 'Imran, 200)

To Be Faithful

[The steep ascent is] then to be one of those who believe and urge each other to steadfastness, and urge each other to compassion. (Surat al-Balad, 17) 

One other characteristic that attracts the love of other people is faithfulness. Allah informs the believers that He will reward them for their faithfulness. For this reason, all believers implement this characteristic without reserve. As Allah tells us in the Qur'an:

So that Allah might recompense the truthful for their truth and punish the hypocrites, if He wills, or turn toward them. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surat al-Ahzab, 24)

Even under the most difficult of circumstances, believers will never compromise their faithfulness toward Allah and the believers. Allah mentions Prophet Musa (as) and his young followers as role models for all believers:

No one had faith in Musa, except for a few of his people, out of fear that Pharaoh and the elders would persecute them. Pharaoh was high and mighty in the land. He was one of the profligate. Musa said: "O my people. If you believe in Allah, then put your trust in Him, if you are Muslims." (Surah Yunus, 83-84)

Throughout history, the believers and prophets have led lives whereby they have been killed, lost their wealth or esteem, and have been accused of various misdeeds. The believers, who have never left each other, as a result of their love for Allah and their fear, respect, and closeness to Him, have endured all of these dangers and have not yielded to them. Their heartfelt and unconditional loyalty to Allah is reason enough for the believers to feel love for one another. Allah informs us of this in the following verse:

The believers are only those who have believed in Allah and His messenger, and then have had no doubt and have striven with their wealth and themselves in the way of Allah. They are the ones who are true to their word. (Surat al-Hujurat, 15)

To Be Merciful

Mercy is one part of love. Therefore, one cannot have sincere love if he has no mercy for others. Our Prophet's (pbuh) mercy is an excellent example for all believers. As Allah states in the Qur'an, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) displayed the most superior morals possible:

A messenger has come to you from among yourselves. Your suffering is distressing to him. He is deeply concerned for you, and gentle and merciful to the believers. (Surat at-Tawba, 128)

Merciful people do not wish for the people living around them to lead miserable lives no matter how important their own lives are, how well they are doing, for those people are just the same, even more important, than their own needs. For this reason, one of the most obvious characteristics of a merciful person is that he is concerned with the issues of others and does his best to resolve their problems. 

Our Prophet (pbuh) directs all believers to act mercifully toward all other people:

Those who have mercy will receive the mercy of the Most Merciful. Have mercy on those who are on Earth, and the One in Heaven will have mercy on you. (At-Tirmidhi) 

A Person Will Think of the Hereafter of Someone He Sincerely Loves

A person's real life, the eternal life of the Hereafter, only begins after death, for this world is no more than a temporary residence in which all people are tried. The believers, who are conscious of this reality, demonstrate their love for one another by preparing for the Hereafter. As much they would like to attain Allah's good pleasure, mercy, and Paradise, they would like their loved ones to share the same blessings and beauties as themselves. Knowing that one could face eternity in Hell, they behave in a manner designed to lead others toward the true path. Whenever they see a mistake in each other's behavior, they immediately will do their best to help their beloveds alter their behavior and morals so that they will gain Allah's good pleasure. They invite one another to what is good and beautiful, and withdraw from what He has proclaimed to be unlawful. Their eagerness and sincere love for one another is one of their best characteristics. Allah informs us of the believers' understanding of the strengthened love:

Believing men and women are friends of one another. They command what is right and forbid what is wrong, perform prayer and give alms, and obey Allah and His messenger. They are the people on whom Allah will have mercy. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise. (Surat at-Tawba, 71)

Allah is the protector of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness and into the light. But those who do not believe have false deities as protectors. They take them from the light into the darkness. Those are the Companions of the Fire, remaining in it timelessly, forever. (Surat al-Baqara, 257)

In Sincere Love, the Other Person's Desires Always Take Precedence

For many people, the most important thing in their life is their own welfare. However, those who love other people sincerely forget their own desires and put those of their beloved's first. They do whatever is necessary to make that person comfortable and meet his or her needs. For example, if two people successfully complete a topic, he would rather see the person that he loves complimented. He will gain great satisfaction if his beloved is in the right, instead of himself, and would rather do the work himself instead of seeing his beloved become tired. He would never confound, belittle, or hurt his beloved, because his sole desire is to gain Allah's good pleasure and love, as well as His Paradise. As a result, he will be able to demonstrate a sincere love and understanding for the other person.

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  2 Comments   Comment

  1. Khalid from USA

    Many love liars because they love lies even about love and friendship. As long as it suits their egos. Deceit comforts people in rebellion, wrong, and in ignorance just like denial. Allah warns us about vain desires. Liking evil and lies when we should love good and truth. Follow not the common run (friendship or love) of those who go astray. They will not fail to corrupt. Allah is the Most Merciful, Most Truthful, and Most Trust Worthy.

  2. Farzana from USA

    Assmalamu Alaikum My Respected Fellow Muslims at the Islamicity,

    Jazakaum Allah Khairen for all your hard work and efforts for putting such a wonderful site for those who are willing to increase their knowldege about their religion.

    My only comment and wish is if this beautiful articale about love, mercy, and patience was directed or had some more expamples regarding marital relationship between the spouces and in-laws. As you may already know regardless of where you live the divorce rate among the Muslim families are on the rise. All of this is due to families and spouces not having enough true love, respect, scarifies for one another.

    I hope this will help for the future articles regarding this matter.

    Thank you again.

    Your Sister in Islam,