Ghazali on love (part 3) – The pleasure of seeing Allah and the signs He loves you
This is the last part of Ghazali’s chapter on love. He already mentioned that the senses are our gateway to pleasure and we love everything that is pleasurable to our senses. However there is something else we love, but that is not experienced through our senses and that is the love of Allah, which we experience in our heart.
Allah stated in the Qurah that He did not create man and Jinn except to worship Him, liyabudun. Mujahid (the student of Ibn Abbas) said that to worship means to KNOW Allah (liyarifun) the best pleasure is to know Allah.
وَمَا خَلَقۡتُ ٱلۡجِنَّ وَٱلۡإِنسَ إِلَّا لِیَعۡبُدُونِ
And I have not created the jinn and mankind except to worship (know) Me. (51:56)
The greatest pleasure in the world is to know Allah. And the greatest pleasure in the akhirah is to see Allah.
Some scholars commented on how deprived those were who left the dunya without knowing Allah.
Ghazali dissected physical and spiritual pleasures – spiritual pleasure is felt in the heart and in order to experience it you need a pure heart, ready to receive knowledge of Him. The less clear the heart, the darker and hazier its perception of Allah.
In order to achieve a sound heart one needs to apply the mechanism of continuous tawbah and istighfar (repentance) and dhikr of Allah. This is what makes the heart sound and ready to receive light and knowledge from Allah. If one does not clear the heart and purify it, one cannot become close to Allah. When one becomes close to Allah, one experiences pleasure that is greater than any pleasure of the dunya, greater than any pleasure you have known in your life. We saw this in the story of Abu Dhar al Ghifari who was so elated when he accepted Islam that he felt his spirit soar, proclaimed his faith loudly in front of the Kaba and even when he was beaten up for declaring his faith, the delight of knowing Allah made him numb to any pain he received from his assailants. We are not all at his level but it takes practice and time to get there.
When you get to know Allah, all matters and troubles pale into insignificance. Allah becomes the most important part of one’s life. You no longer need to feel concerned about your rizq (provision), health, relationships, or plans because you know Allah is looking after you. It brings comfort and peace to one’s heart. But this doesn’t mean that we don’t go to work, or see the doctor or don’tplan. When we meet those who are deeply connected to Allah, we feel tranquility in their presence, they are the awliya – the people of Allah. They have a magnetism and their magnetic field pulls you to them. They become the people of Allah when they obey Allah, know Allah and love Allah; when they are willing to sacrifice their time, effort and money for Allah and in return, Allah gives them everything they want and beyond.
The incomparable pleasure of seeing Allah
You cannot compare the peace and tranquillity you feel to the pleasure of seeing Allah. To see Allah is not possible in the dunya. It will only be possible in the akhirah. Allah promised that on that Day, bright faces will look at their Lord:
وُجُوهࣱ یَوۡمَىِٕذࣲ نَّاضِرَةٌ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهَا نَاظِرَةٌۭ
Some faces will be radiant on that Day and will be looking towards their Lord; [75:2-2-3]
One of the Companions asked if we would be able to see our Lord and the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that our vision of Him would unobstructed by others. Regardless how many billions of beings will be looking at the Lord, people of Jannah would be able to see Him as clearly as one beholds a full moon, regardless how many millions of people are gazing up it at that same time. Nothing will obscure their vision.
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَتُضَامُونَ فِي رُؤْيَةِ الْقَمَرِ لَيْلَةَ الْبَدْرِ وَتُضَامُونَ فِي رُؤْيَةِ الشَّمْسِ قَالُوا لَا قَالَ فَإِنَّكُمْ سَتَرَوْنَ رَبَّكُمْ كَمَا تَرَوْنَ الْقَمَرَ لَيْلَةَ الْبَدْرِ لَا تُضَامُونَ فِي رُؤْيَتِهِ
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Do you overlook a crowd to see the full moon? Do you overlook a crowd to see the sun?” They said no. The Prophet said, “Verily, you will see your Lord just as you see the full moon and you will not need to overlook a crowd to see him.” [Tirmidhi}
By contrast, the people of hell will not see Allah. Their sight will be veiled from seeing Allah, and they will be deprived from any vision of Him, because the people of Jahannam are punished but not rewarded. And seeing Allah is the greatest reward.
Greater than any of the luxuries of Jannah will be the delight of seeing Allah.
كَلَّا إِنَّهُمْ عَن رَّبِّهِمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ لَّمَحْجُوبُونَ
Not at all. On that Day, they will be screened from their Lord. [83:15]
Abu Sa’id Al Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) said the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
“Allah will say to the inhabitants of Jannah: ‘O inhabitants of Jannah!’ They will respond: ‘Here we are, at Your service, O our Rabb. All good is in Your Hand!’ He will ask them: ‘Are you pleased?’ They will reply: ‘Why should we not be pleased, O Rabb, when You have given us what You have not given to any of Your other creation?’ Allah will say: ‘Shall I not give you something better than that?’ They will ask: ‘O Rabb! What can be better than that?’ Allah will say: ‘I shall bestow My Pleasure upon you and I shall never ever be displeased with you.’” [Bukhari]
Seeing Allah in in dunya is so impossible that when Musa (peace be upon him) asked to see Allah, he fainted, because he had not been physically prepared for such an encounter. Allah told Him,
Allah said: “You cannot see Me, but look upon the mountain if it stands still in its place then you shall see Me.” So when his Lord appeared to the mountain, He made it collapse to dust, and Musa (Moses) fell down unconscious. [7:143]
By contrast, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was prepared for his meeting with Allah when he ascended through the heavens during his Night Journey, Isra wal Meraj. There are two opinions whether he actually saw Allah or not, and according to one very valid opinion he did. He was prepared for this meeting by the miraculous splitting open of his chest by the angels to wash his heart on at least three occasions, which enabled him to behold Allah when he reached the highest heaven.
One cannot compare the Creator and the creation, as creation is bound by time, space and direction. However Allah is not restricted by this and one will behold Him outside of these limiting factors when He reveals Himself.
The image of a wonderful form of the divine presence in its splendour, might, majesty and glory is imprinted on the heart of the gnostic, the arif. Knowing Allah comes through His attributes and the more you know Him, the more He will become a vision rather than abstract knowledge.
We have a veil over our eyes in dunya but when Allah will lift the veil we will be able to see the Unseen in the Hereafter. We don’t see Him through our eyes but through our heart.
Ghazali explains this concept using the analogy of the one who loves someone, and whilst seeing one’s beloved brings one joy, if one looks at them in the dimness of the early morning, through a screen while being attacked by scorpions and bees, one’s pleasure at seeing their beloved would be marred. It will not be real pleasure. This is how someone in the dunya perceives Allah – they are distracted by many things. The screen is the distractions that preoccupy our heart, and the bees are the concerns of the dunya which prevent us from focusing on Allah. When the sun rises and there is more light, one has better vision- this is when the heart is prepared. However, we are in the dunya like the bat who cannot tolerate the sunlight, though he may long for it.
When you are filled with competing desires, your desire to know Allah will be weak. The more you beat the other desires, the more you get to know Allah. This is why in Ramadan, in Hadith Qudsi Allah said fasting is for Him, and He is the only one who rewards for it because when you put Allah first, He puts you first. That is why Allah gives special reward to those who fast, because they abstained from food and drink and desires for His sake. When you put Allah first, Allah puts you first and gives you preference.
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“Allah said: The Fast is for Me and I will give the reward for it, as he (the one who observes the fast) leaves his sexual desire, food and drink for My Sake.” [Bukhari]
When you plant good seeds you get good harvest.
Ten signs that you love Allah
1. Allah is a priority in your life
You make His commands a priority in your life. How do you know this is the case? Check yourself. It means you put Allah’s commands before your own whims and desires and ego – do you put profit first or halal rizq? Do you put your meetings first or your salah? When you receive a command from Allah or His Messenger (peace be upon him) and you do what He says, you can tick the box that you love Him. Love is not an empty claim. You prove your love through itiba – obedience to Allah. As the poet says ‘You disobey Allah yet you claim that you love Him and this is, by Allah, something strange! Indeed the one who loves should be obedient to His beloved.’ Therefore, mahabba is not a claim, it is an action. Allah knows what is in our hearts, but He wants us to translate our love into action. What can you do with love that produces no action? It is like candy floss – it appears big, but it has no substance – when you touch it, it shrinks.
2. You don’t overstep the limits prescribed by Allah
You need to protect yourself against ignoring the prohibitions or overstepping the limits of the Shariah. Don’t go beyond the laws of Allah. Allah did not set limits for us to ignore them, so do not overstep them. Our religion is not just love, with the presumption that one can do anything one likes because Allah loves us and therefore will forgive us. Allah’s forgiveness is vast but it is not a license to sin. This is not love – true love is the love that controlled by limits and linked to obedience. No one can claim they love Allah if they are disobeying Allah. True love is to do your best to follow His commands.
3. Longing to meet Allah
Whoever longs to meet Allah, Allah longs to meet him. Whoever longs to meet Allah, Allah longs to meet him. This burning desire is in the heart.
Abu Musa narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“Whoever loves to meet Allah, Allah loves to meet him; and whoever hates to meet Allah, Allah hates to meet him.” [Bukhari]
If you really love Allah, then you love to meet Allah. You don’t hate death. Though you don’t ask for death, you are prepared for it – you don’t know when your appointment is. The more you prepare yourself, the more you love Allah and the more Allah loves you.
4. Loving the Prophet (peace be upon him)
One of these signs you love Allah Almighty is that you love the Prophet (peace be upon him). As Allah stated in the Quran,
‘Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “If you ˹sincerely˺ love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins. For Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [3:31]’
This is how we can increase our love, by following the Prophet (peace be upon him). We know we love Allah, when we love the people of Allah for His sake – righteous people and people of knowledge. We have the dua:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ حُبَّكَ، وَحُبَّ مَنْ يُحِبُّكَ، وَالعَمَلَ الَّذِي يُبَلِّغُنِي حُبَّكَ، اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْ حُبَّكَ أَحَبَّ إِلَيَّ مِنْ نَفْسِي وَأَهْلِي، وَمِنَ المَاءِ البَارِدِ
O Allah, I ask you for your love and the love of those who love you and the love of those deeds that will bring me your love. O Allah, make your love more beloved to me than myself, my family and even cold water. [Tirmidhi]
5. Loving Allah’s Book
Loving Allah means loving His book and His words. Anyone who wants to talk to Allah, let him read His book. If you want to speak to Allah, open His book and read the Quran. You can’t love Allah and neglect His book. What kind of love is it if don’t read Allah’s book. His book is our manual. Loving him means we comply with His book.
6. Being sincere and polishing your heart
Loving Allah means having ikhlas (sincerity) because Allah loves for our actions to be done with sincerity and purely for His sake. That is why we need to polish our heart to rid it of bad traits, like anger and rancour and envy, so we can have a sound heart because Allah looks at a sound heart.
Loving Allah is proved by waking in the night to pray Qiyam al Layl. If you love Allah, you want to have a special conversation with Him. You perform your salah on time. You enjoy carrying out His commands, such as salah, fasting and giving zakah.
7. Praying on time and waking for tahajjud
One of the signs of loving Allah is to enjoy applying his commands in your life. The Prophet (peace be upon him),as narrated in Nasa’i, said the pleasure of his eyes was in salah.
8. Having khushoo (tranquility, mindfulness and focus) in salah
Those who love Allah, love to pray and when they pray, they do it with full attention and khushoo, so they can communicate with Him.
9. Feeling regret when you displease Allah
When you love Allah, you feel bad when you do something wrong. If you don’t feel any remorse your heart is locked. You feel annoyed when you see anyone doing anything wrong because you love what Allah loves and hate what Allah hates.
10. Being content with Allah’s will
When you love Allah, you have content with Allah’s will – rida. You do not complain. It does not mean that you stay motionless for instance or do not try to improve your situation, but you feel content.
Twelve qualities Allah loves
- Allah loves those who keep themselves clean – the mutatahireen. [2:22]
- Allah loves the obedient – the mutaqeen. [9:4]
- Allah loves those who exhibit excellence – the muhsinen. [3:134]
- Allah loves those who put their trust in Him- the mutawakileen. [3:159]
- Allah loves the just – the muqsiteen. [5:42]
- Allah loves the patient- the sabireen. [3:146]
- Allah loves those who are easy-going and make life easy for others.
- Allah loves those who do not argue.
- Allah loves those who are humble.
- Allah loves those who are self-less and put others first.
- Allah loves the grateful.
- Allah loves those who are modest – they have haya
May Allah make us from among those who love Him and are loved by Him. Ameen.
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Ghazali on showing off (part 3)
Ghazali on showing off (part 1)
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Evils of the tongue 4 – joking
Evils of the tongue 3 – arguing
Evils of the tongue 2- backbiting
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