In our talks in Islam we hear a lot about the concept of love. Earlier on when we started our dhikr I asked Allah Almighty to please fill our hearts with love for Him. Now I did not say: “O Allah, I am filling my heart with love for Thee.” I did not say that. I said: “O Allah, I ask You to please fill my heart with love for Thee.” In other words, I am saying that if Allah wants anyone to love Him, He places love in that person’s heart for Him. We can’t get access to that Love on our own because it is at a very high degree, a very specialized form of love, and it enters our hearts through His Action.
In the Qur’an, Allah speaks of His Love for different groups of intensely pious people. He speaks, for example, of His Love for the muhsinin, the tawwabin, the mutatahhirin, and the muttaqin. Of course, there are many other groups. In a more general verse Allah says:
يُحِبُّهُمْ وَ يُحِبُّوْنَهُ
He loves them and they love Him (v: 54).
The recipients of His love have a very, very unique status, a very, very special darajah that Allah Almighty only gives to certain of His servants. It is also a very distinctive kind of love, a highly specialised kind of love that Allah Almighty places in the hearts of particular servants of His. This love is Divine Love, the highest form of love. That is why we appeal to Him for that love. We don’t say: “O my Lord, I am placing love for Thee in my heart.” No, in all humility we say: “O my Lord, please, Thou art in charge of my affairs. Thou knowest what my desire is. Grant to me that special favour. Place in my heart love for Thee.” This is an indescribable and unfathomable love that comes from the endless shoreless oceans of Divine Love, as stated by Mawlana Shaykh Nazim. We cannot describe that love. We don’t know what it is but we know that you get certain people who, because of their intense obedience to Allah, are granted love and friendship by Him. And we say: “That man or woman must be loved by Allah because of the way that he or she performs his or her ibadat, and his or her intense obedience to the Prophetic Practice.” It is reflected in what they do. It is shown in those things.
Love for Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) is granted in a similar way. When I asked at the beginning of the dhikr, I did not say: “O my Lord, I am developing love in my heart for Thy Prophet (ﷺ).” No. I said: “O Allah, I am appealing to Thee. Thou art in charge of my affairs. Thou knowest what is in my heart. Thou knowest what my desire is. Please fill my heart with love for Thy Prophet (ﷺ).” Love for Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) is one of the most difficult things to attain because it is a Divine Grant. I want you to understand that. Love for Allah Almighty is a grant from Him and love for Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) is also from Him. It comes from Allah not from us. We are the recipients of those loves. We are not the originators of those loves.
In many cases we respond in our own way to this idea of loving Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ). Sometimes it is just an emotional response. When Salawat are recited, we cry. When Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) is insulted, we get upset. It’s an emotional response. That comes from us. There’s also the intellectual response. We think about him. We read about Him, and we try to develop in ourselves a love for him. But it doesn’t work, you see. It doesn’t work. The only way that we can get love for Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) in our hearts is when it comes from Allah Almighty, when He places it in our hearts. That is why I asked: “O my Lord, I ask, please fill my heart with love for Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ).” I did not say: “I can fill my own heart with love for Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ),” and not accept Allah’s role in the granting. I did not say that. Some of us believe that we have the capability to love Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) on our own. Because of the nature of this love and because it is so out of the ordinary, and because Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) is so special to Allah Almighty, and through our love of Islam, our obedience to Him, and our obedience to Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ), Allah fills our hearts with love for His Prophet (ﷺ). He places it in our hearts.
Many of the scholars, when they speak about love of Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ), they say it is “obedience” to the Prophetic Practice. If we want to measure to what degree Allah has placed love in our hearts for Him and for Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ), measure the extent of our humble obedience to Him and to His Messenger (ﷺ). Measure the degree we are for Him and for His Prophet (ﷺ). We can measure it. We know. If our obedience is minimal, Allah has placed very little love in our hearts for Him and for His Prophet (ﷺ). That is why some of the pious people sometimes refer to the “empty hearts” of others. And this is an important lesson that we have to learn in our understanding of love for Allah Almighty and love for Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ). The important lesson that we learn is that this is a unique, a very special grant from Allah to those who walk a very narrow road in the Shari’ah under spiritual guidance seeking outstanding blessings from Him. We must not be under the imagination that we can do things on our own.
Now those people to whom Allah has granted love for Him and for Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ), they have a special love for each other. Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ), speaking about them, uses the words المُتَحَابُوْنَ فِي اللهِ (al–mutahabuna fillah). They love each other in Allah, they have mutual friendships in Allah. In a hadith (Prophetic Tradition) from Mu’adh (r.a.), he relates that he heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying: Allah, Mighty and Powerful, said, “Those who love each other for the sake of My Majesty, for them are minbars (pulpits) of light, and they will be the envy of the Prophets and martyrs” (Tirmidhi). This is very important for us to understand. When Allah places love in our hearts for Him and for Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ), we attach ourselves to others who have received similar grants, and we become “brothers”, loving each other.
So, what do we do? What is our response to all of these? We must go into sujud and plead for Divine grants. Those endless oceans of Divine Love and Mercy and Repentance are for us, and we must seek an approach to them by considerable sujud and pleading. Allah Almighty is Most Generous and Most Loving and what He has prepared of those oceans of His Names are meant for us. We must never doubt His Generosity and Love and we must never doubt our innate abilities to have access to that Generosity and that Love, and whatever else He has prepared for us. My word, when He created us at the beginning of time, He asked us: “Am I not your Lord?” And that Lordship that He announced to us, and that we accepted, included his Essence, Names, Attributes and Actions. It could not have been otherwise. And when we declared our acceptance of His Lordship, it also meant that we accepted that He had prepared so much for us in the Heavens. Time has clouded and obstructed our access to His Grants. Ibadat, the celebration of His praises and working in His Cause can again open the way for us.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
وَ اللهُ يَدْعُوْا إِلَى دَارِ السَّلاَمِ
And Allah doth call to the Abode of Peace (x: 25).
This Divine Call has come down, has come down over the centuries and lodged in the hearts of those who declare: “We believe.” Those whose hearts hear, they respond. We must start understanding this. There must come in our hearts an intense humility when it comes to our relationship with Allah Almighty and our relationship with Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ), an intense humility and a realization that very little can come from us. That which comes from us is what Allah places in our hearts. We ask Allah to fill our hearts with love for Him, for Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) and for those who love Allah and Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ). We ask for all of these with the blessings of Suratul Fatihah …
And Allah knows best, and I ask forgiveness for any mistakes or distortions in what I have said, Amin.
Selected Talks by Yusuf da Costa [Published 2008]