Ghazali on love (part 2)

Ghazali on love (part 2)

Why do we love the Prophet (peace be upon him)?

Ghazali likes to link every topic to its roots to examine it. How do we develop love? Ghazali already mentioned that we find everything pleasurable to us beloved, while we find everything painful repulsive and abhorrent. Primarily we experience love through our senses and these cause us to respond positively every time our senses are pleased – be it by fragrance, or taste or touch or sight. These are all external stimuli but we also have in addition we have the internal receiver (which has been called intellect, light and sixth sense) where we feel the contentment that we can spiritually – which is not linked to our senses.

Ghazali says there are three reasons that make us love the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them), namely their knowledge of Allah and His books; their ability to break their desires and lead a righteous life, speak the truth and fear no one but Allah (which is their power); and their innocence and purity – their hearts were free from ignorance, envy, arrogance, and other blameworthy characteristics. The more of these qualities someone has, the more you feel love them, even though you have not seen them and you may not even find some of their physical appearances attractive if you were to see them. Thus this love is devoid of the senses, but based on their inward qualities – their goodness and sincerity. Often when we hear someone speak about Allah and His Messenger and His words or attributes it fills us with love for them, because of what they are saying and the knowledge they are carrying.

Among the early verses revealed in Makkah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was praised for having the best character. He combined all good characteristics. Nothing can match being praised by Allah. This increases our love for him due to his attributes, knowledge and ability.

Anas ibn Malik reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم لاَ يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ حَتَّى أَكُونَ أَحَبَّ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ وَلَدِهِ وَوَالِدِهِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ

“None of you have faith until I am more beloved to him than his children, his father, and all of the people.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Loving Allah for His perfection

The Creator, Allah Almighty possess all the beautiful names and best attributes, so if you love the Prophet (peace be upon him) for his attributes, Allah is even greater. So our love for Allah should be the greatest of all our loves, as He is perfect.

If we knew that Allah is Quddus and all perfection belongs to Him, it would make us love Him more. Allah has the attributes of kamal and jamal – perfection and beauty.

Meanwhile, all human beings are flawed. Moreover, man can never be perfect because ultimately he is a servant of Allah. He can never match the perfection of Allah. He has no control over his life or death or rizq (provision), and his knowledge is extremely limited – whether he is well or ill, he doesn’t even know what’s going on inside his body. He has only the faintest glimmer of understanding about his body and the complexity of the universe. Man’s knowledge is simply minute.

And they ask you, [O Muhammad], about the soul. Say, “The soul is of the affair of my Lord. And mankind have not been given of knowledge except a little.” [17:85]

The terms of kamal (perfection) and jamal (beauty) are very common in Sufi sciences as well as jalal (holiness and majesty).

Ghazali is very realistic and acknowledges that though this is the reality, it is not the case that everyone has this insight or that their hearts can recognise and realise Allah’s perfection and beauty, the jamal and kamal, so they cannot feel the happiness and yearning to know more about Him and be connected to Him. Therefore he suggests that we look at all the favours Allah blessed us with.

 If you do not have the baseerah (insight) to love Allah, then at least love Allah through your basr (sight) – for His generosity towards you.

 Even if we do not know the full extent of Allah’s magnificence (which requires a high level of recognition), which would undoubtedly make us love Him, we can appreciate what He has given us. Whatever our situation, we should certainly, be more sentient than a dog, because a dog has no recognition at all beyond himself.

Everything we have goes back to Allah – even though it comes to us through a variety of means, ultimately it is Allah who sent it to us.

Always look beyond the one who gave you what you have, to One who sent it to you, through them.  

Whatever comfort, pleasure, goodness or blessing you have, came from Allah, for He created it, sustained and enabled you to enjoy sights and sounds and smells etc. When we are ill, we cannot taste food, during Covid many lost their sense of smell, so we recognise that it is Allah who gave us these faculties. We should reflect on our limbs and appreciate Allah’s kindness towards us.

A servant who loves to work because he gets a salary, has a weak love which increases and decreases with his salary – it is a materialistic love. A stronger love is to love Allah for His beauty and perfection.

Al Arifu (the one who knows Allah) loves Allah before anyone else and then loves others for Allah’s sake. Just as one falls in love with everything connected to his beloved – his home, his belongings, his perfume, likes and dislikes, the one who loves Allah, loves the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions, because they are loved by Allah. Everything you love goes back to Allah. Even the food we eat, nourishes our body which makes us fit to worship Allah. If we love the dunya, it is because it is a means of reaching Allah. This is the true love of the people of Allah. We should learn from this what true love is.

When we love to look at the landscape around us, it is because it is the Creation of our Beloved and a sign of His beauty and majesty and reminds us of Him. Similarly we love our teacher because he makes us closer to Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was sent to deliver what Allah conveyed to Him and thus he connected us to Allah.

إِنَّكَ لَا تَهْدِي مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ

You cannot guide whom you love, but God guides whom He wills, and He knows best those who are guided. (28:56)

In Surat An Nasr, Allah Almighty said that when people enter the religion of Allah, glorify Him, because victory is from Him. That is why He told the Prophet (peace be upon him) that when he observes the victory, (‘when you see the victory’), it is from Him. Though the Prophet (peace be upon him) worked tirelessly for 23 years to achieve it, Allah confirmed that He granted the grace and favour to him.

While we are responsible for our own actions and efforts and utilising the power we have been given to achieve goodness and success, if we attribute our success to ourselves alone, Ghazali says we have to repent for this, as we have to recognise that without Allah, we were powerless to achieve anything at all. If we attribute all the success to our efforts, Shaytan will fill us with pride which will inevitably lead to a fall.

Khalid bin Walid, the master tactician and brilliant military leader, who led the troops to victory in so many battles, was removed from his position by the caliph, Omar (may Allah be pleased with him) who wanted the Ummah to understand that it was not Khalid, though he was of course excellent, but Allah who determined victory.

Link all the goodness you receive in your life back to Allah

When we love someone for what they gave us, we need to connect it back to Allah, for instance, if your car broke down and someone stops to help you, you feel so grateful to them for rescuing you. It is Allah who softened their heart to make them stop to help you. Thus one of the two factors which usually underly your love for Allah is that He is good to you. You love Him for His favours, but to love Him for His majesty and beauty, generosity, knowledge, power, wisdom and perfection is a higher level of loving Him.

In a poem, it says that everything you have seen is the action of One, but you do not see the action because there are many veils which prevent you – it may be your mother, or siblings or spouse who delivered the goodness to you. They are responsible for their actions but Allah intended that rizq to come to you through different means.

If we can see this, then we would not look at anyone else but Allah or love anyone more than Allah, and through His love, we would love all those who are connected to Him, such as the Prophet (peace be upon him), the Companions, and those on the Path.

20 / 20 vision

The pleasure of the eyes is to see beautiful things and the pleasure of Al Arif is to see the beauty of Allah through His creation – the moon, the sun, the clouds, new-born babies, flowers and everything around them. This is the most desirable thing – to see the world through this lens. It is like the one who lived life without seeing clearly, until he went to the optician and suddenly he got 20 / 20 vision and the world comes into focus – clear, crisp and bright. The world has not changed but his vision has been transformed. He can now see reality for what it is. The veils of heedlessness have been lifted. If these veils are not lifted, one cannot see the beauty and perfection of Allah present all around us. Once one can see them, it is the greatest pleasure. We might attain this level, and then slip back and then rise again.

Knowledge is the nourishment of the heart.

And they ask you, [O Muhammad], about the soul. Say, “The soul is of the affair of my Lord. And mankind have not been given of knowledge except a little.” [17:85]

If the heart is not nourished properly, it can be starved or poisoned. However, knowledge of Allah revives the heart. That is why we need to purify the heart and feed it, so we can connect with Allah and become closer to Him. This soul has been given to humans and jinn exclusively, and when Allah takes away the soul, the bodies of men and Jinn dies.

The heart’s desire for food, authority, marriage or wealth cannot compete with the desire for knowledge unless the heart is corrupted or dead.

Does Allah distance Himself from us when we are disobedient?

It is not Allah who distances Himself from us, but us who distance ourselves from Him. In the last third of every night, Allah calls upon us to see who is asking for forgiveness and supplicating, so that He can respond till Fajr. It is not Him, but us who are distant from Him.

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ أن رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ يَنْزِلُ رَبُّنَا تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى كُلَّ لَيْلَةٍ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ الدُّنْيَا حِينَ يَبْقَى ثُلُثُ اللَّيْلِ الآخِرُ يَقُولُ مَنْ يَدْعُونِي فَأَسْتَجِيبَ لَهُ مَنْ يَسْأَلُنِي فَأُعْطِيَهُ مَنْ يَسْتَغْفِرُنِي فَأَغْفِرَ لَهُ

“Our Lord Almighty descends to the lowest heaven in the last third of every night, saying: Who is calling upon Me that I may answer him? Who is asking from Me that I may give him? Who is seeking My forgiveness that I may forgive him?” [Bukhari and Muslim]

If you are not waking for tahajjud does it mean that your love for Allah is lacking?

There are many, many levels of love for Allah. The level can go up and down and it depends on the state of the heart.

If you do not wake up for tahajjud because you are fatigued does that mean it is not a weakness of imaan?

The Prophet (peace be upon him) had the most fatigue yet he spent every night in prayer till the end of this life. We can try and manage tahajjud once a week, if we struggle every night, and we need to re-prioritise our lives so we can make time for this and then build it up from there.

Can you taste the sweetness of imaan if you do not have khushoo in your prayer?

You cannot separate the sweetness of imaan from khushoo in salah. It is like saying can you taste honey if you can’t taste sweetness. A strong imaan brings khushoo but distractions disrupt khushoo, so you need to shut down all distractions – the PC, whatever is cooking, the mobile phone when you pray, so you can focus and then you can experience the tranquillity and connectivity with Allah.

If you are tested in what you love, and you love Allah, how are you tested?

You are tested according to the strength of your imaan, which is based on the level of your love for Allah. Though they are tested, they see things in a different light and so they react to and bear the tests in a different way. It is like having a microchip in the brain which makes the mind react to the tests with more acceptance and trust of Allah’s wisdom, and looks for the lessons in that test and how to pass it.

Those who love are the most tested people. As per the hadith, reported by Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas:

عن سعد بن أبي وقاص قَالَ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَيُّ النَّاسِ أَشَدُّ بَلَاءً قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْأَنْبِيَاءُ ثُمَّ الْأَمْثَلُ فَالْأَمْثَلُ فَيُبْتَلَى الرَّجُلُ عَلَى حَسَبِ دِينِهِ فَإِنْ كَانَ دِينُهُ صُلْبًا اشْتَدَّ بَلَاؤُهُ وَإِنْ كَانَ فِي دِينِهِ رِقَّةٌ ابْتُلِيَ عَلَى حَسَبِ دِينِهِ فَمَا يَبْرَحُ الْبَلَاءُ بِالْعَبْدِ حَتَّى يَتْرُكَهُ يَمْشِي عَلَى الْأَرْضِ مَا عَلَيْهِ خَطِيئَةٌ

I said, “O Messenger of Allah, which people are tested most severely?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “They are the prophets, then the next best, then the next best. A man is put to trial according to his religion. If he is firm in his religion, his trials will be more severe. If he is weak in his religion, he is put to trial according to his strength in religion. The servant will continue to be put to trial until he is left walking upon the earth without any sin.” [Tirmidhi]

Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Thursday Hadith Class

Related posts

Ghazali on love (part 1)

Ghazali on love (part 3)

Fix your salah

How to know and love Allah

All about the awliya

All about the awliya (part 2)

Ghazali on reliance (part 1)

Relying on Allah

Ghazali on 6 levels of truthfulness

Ghazali on showing off (part 3)

Ghazali on showing off (part 1)

Ghazali on self admiration

Ghazali on pride

Ghazali on love of dunya

Ghazali on love of status

Ghazali on how much wealth is sufficient

Ghazali on stinginess

Ghazali on envy

Duas for protection

Ghazali on breaking free from anger

Evils of the tongue 5 – praise

Evils of the tongue 4 – joking

Evils of the tongue 3 – arguing

Evils of the tongue 2- backbiting

Evils of the tongue 1- lying

The benefits of feeling hunger

Why is following the sunnah the key to success. Ghazali’s secrets part 1

What is wrong with excessive laughter?

Do you have to practice what you preach?

Self righteousness when giving counsel

Command good and forbid evil

Brotherhood, friendship and wilayah

How to deal with difficult neighbours

The first 6 rules of how to deal with people

Dealing with gossip (7-8)

How to deal with people according to their status (9-11)

Cover the faults of others (12-13)

Shake hands (15 continued)

Defend others in their absence, be tactful, be cautious of the company of the rich (16-18)

Avoid the people of ghaflah

Be good to your relatives

Love thy neighbour


Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.