On Love and Hatred

The Prophet (saws) has described love and affection to be among the essential qualities of Faith. The Prophet, himself, was an embodiment of love, and each attribute of his was an attribute of Faith indeed.

(1) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “A Believer is a personification of love. There is no virtue in him who does not love others and the others do not love him.”

MusandAhmad and Baihaqi

Commentary

It shows that to have a loving and affectionate nature is a religious requirement for a Muslim. If he does not care for others and the others do not care for him, he is devoid of virtue and his existence is of no benefit to society. It has a lesson for the dry and unsociable people who imagine detachment and aloofness to be the signs of religiousness and spirituality, and do not feel warmly for others nor let others come close to them. It should, however, be taken for granted that the love and affection of the Believer is for the sake of God and subject to His Will and Command.

Love and hatred for the sake of God

(2) Abu Dharr al-Ghifari related to us, saying: the Apostle of God said: “Among the acts of a bondsman, the most pleasing to God is love which is for the sake of God, and hatred which is for the sake of God.”

Abu Dawood

Commentary

He, of course, dwells on a high moral and spiritual plane who loves whom He (swt) loves and hates whom He (swt) hates solely for the sake of God. In another tradition it is stated, on the authority of Abu Dharral-Ghifarithat the Apostle of God said to him: “The strongest document of Faith is love and affection for the sake of God, and hatred and enmity for anyone for the sake of God.”

They become the beloved of God who care for each other

(3) M’uad bin Jabal related to us: “I heard the Apostle of Allah say: ‘Says the Lord: ‘My love is due, as of right to those who love each other for My sake, and unite and sit together for My sake, and spend on each other for My sake’.”

Muwatta

Commentary

The bondmen who have subordinated their love and attachment and social relations to the good pleasure of God and whose state is that they love whom they love, and meet whom they meet, and sit with and spend on one another wholly for gaining His countenance are, surely, worthy of His special love and good graces.

(4) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “A person set out to meet a brother who lived in another town (or village), and the Lord caused an Angel to sit by the road by which he was travelling and wait for him there. (Thus, when the man arrived at that place), the Angel asked him: ‘Where are you going?’ The man replied, ‘I am going to such-and-such a town (or village) where a brother of mine lives.’ At this, the angel asked, ‘Is he under a debt of gratitude to you which you want to cause to grow and become stronger by your going?’ The man replied, ‘No. There is no other reason other than that I love him for the sake of God.’ The Angel, thereupon, said: ‘(Now), I tell that the Lord has sent me to inform you that He loves you just as you love His bondsman for His sake.’”

Muwatta

 

Commentary

The incident related above, apparently, appertains to a person who belonged to an earlier Ummah. We, further, learn from it that angels can, sometimes, also come to a non-Prophet, by God’s leave, and talk to him face to face. The coming of Gabriel to Mary, for instance, is mentioned in the Qur’an though it is known that she was not a Divine Apostle.The substance of it is that for a man to love his brother for the sake of God and to go to meet him for the same reason is an act that makes him the favourite of the Lord, and occasionally, He (swt), also makes it known to him through an angel.

Those who love for the sake of God will be under the shadow of the Ninth Heaven on the Day of Resurrection.

(5) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “On the Day of Resurrection, the Lord will proclaim: ‘Where are the bondmen who love each other because of My Power and Glory? Today, when there is no shadow save Mine, I shall give them a place under it.’”

Muslim

Commentary

God is All-seeing and omniscient. Nothing in the entire universe, however tiny or insignificant it may be, is hidden from His view, His enquiry, on the Day of Requital about the aforementioned bondmen as to where they were will, thus, not be for getting the information, but in order that His liking and fondness for men who love one another for His sake was made manifest to everyone.The ‘Shadow of God,’ here, probably, denotes the shadowof His Throne, as is clear from some other versions of the same narrative.

A Means to Nearness

(6) Abdullah bin Masud narrates that a person, (once), went to the Apostle of God, and said: “Sir, what do you say about the man who loved a group (or community), but couldnot be with it?” To this, the Prophet (saws) replied, “A man is with whom he loves (or will be caused to be with him on the Day of Final Judgement).”

–          Bukhari and MuslIm

Commentary

The aim of the questioner, perhaps, was to know what would the end be of a man who loved a good and virtuous person (or a group of such persons), but, in his conduct, he could not be wholly like them. The Prophet’s reply, consequently, would mean that in spite of being somewhat inferior in his deeds, he will be blessed, in the Hereafter, with the company of those whom he loved. The next Tradition is more explicit.

A Means to Nearness

(6) Abdullah bin Masud narrates that a person, (once), went to the Apostle of God, and said: “Sir, what do you say about the man who loved a group (or community), but couldnot be with it?” To this, the Prophet (saws) replied, “A man is with whom he loves (or will be caused to be with him on the Day of Final Judgement).”

–          Bukhari and MuslIm

Commentary

The aim of the questioner, perhaps, was to know what would the end be of a man who loved a good and virtuous person (or a group of such persons), but, in his conduct, he could not be wholly like them. The Prophet’s reply, consequently, would mean that in spite of being somewhat inferior in his deeds, he will be blessed, in the Hereafter, with the company of those whom he loved. The next Tradition is more explicit.

(7) It is related by Abdullah bin Samit, on the authority of Abu Dharral-Ghifari, that once he (Abu Dharr) said to the Apostle of God: “O Apostle of God! There is a man who loves the chosen bondmen of the Lord, but is incapable of doing deeds like them. (What is going to be his end)?” The Prophet replied: “Abu Dharr! You will be with whom you love.” To this, Abu Dharr exclaimed, “Sir, I love God and His Apostle.” The Prophet (saws), again replied,“You will be with whom you love.” On hearing it, Abu Dharr repeated the enquiry, and the Apostle of God gave the same reply once again.

Abu Dawood

(8) Anas relates that, once, a person said to the Apostle of God; “Sir! When will be the Hour (of Doom)?” The Prophet (saws) replied, “Fie upon you! (You want to know about the Hour). (Tell me), what preparation have you made for it?” The questioner replied, “I have made no special preparation.But I (do) love the Lord and His Apostle.” At this, the Prophet (saws) remarked, “You will be with whom you love.” The narrator, Anas, adds that, “I have not seen the Muslims (the Companions) happier (to hear) any other tiding since theyhad embraced Islam.”

Bukhari and Muslim

Commentary

In another version of the above Tradition, the concluding remark of HazratAnas(ra) has been quoted as follows: “We, (the Companions), never felt happier at anything than the Prophet’s observation that ‘you are with whom you love.’ By the Grace of God, I love the Apostle, and I love Abu Bakr and Omar, and I do hope to be blessed with their company, on account of this love, although my works are not the same as their works.”

Two things, however, must be borne in mind. Firstly, to be with whom one loves does not mean that the position of the lover and the beloved will be wholly alike and they will be treated entirely in the same manner, but that with regard to their respective states and stations, it will be identical to what obtains, in this world, between the servants and the masters, and the followers and their leaders, and, it too, is a very great honour and blessing indeed.

Secondly, submission is a necessary accompaniment of love, and it is inconceivable that a person was in love with God and His Apostle and yet led a life of defiance and transgression. Thus, people who commit sins and violate God-given laws, without compunction, and still claim to have love for God and the sacred Prophet are liars and hypocrites, and if they really imagine themselves to be of those who are blessed with devotion and attachment just referred to, they are labouring under a great fallacy and are victims of self-deception. About such a man, RabiaBasri has aptly ramarked, “Oh pretender of love! Thou disobeyeth God, and, yet, claim to have love for Him. It is impossible! If thou wert, really, truthful in what thou asserteth, thou wouldst be faithful to Him for a lover carries out the wishes of the beloved with all his heart and soul.”

Be that as it may, it is necessary to observe one’s duties to God and the Prophet in order to be in love with them. True submission is born out of love alone.The tidings that those who love God and His Apostle are in the company of the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs and the Righteous are contained in the Qur’an itself:

Whoso obeyeth Allah and the Messenger,they are with those to whom Allah hath shown favour, of the Prophets and the Sincere and the Martyrs and the Virtuous, The best of company are they!” (IV: 69).

The difference between this verse and the aforementioned Traditions is, simply, of interpretation, otherwise, basically, their purport is the same.

It is, further, supported by Hazrat Ayesha’s narrative that has been quoted by Ibn Kathir in his Commentary, on the authority of Mirdwaih and Tabrani, while explaining the background of the verse from Surah Nisa we have just seen. It, briefly, tells that once a person came to the Apostle of God and said: “Sir, I love you even more than my wife, and my children, and my own life. My condition is that when I am at home I think of you and there is no peace for me until I come and see you, and when I think of my death and your death, I feel that, after death, you will go to Paradise and will be elevated to the lofty station of the Prophets while even if I went to Heaven, by the Grace of God, I will not be able to attain that place, and, thus, remain deprived of the joy of seeing you in Afterlife.” The sacred Prophet, upon it, kept quiet until the Qur’anic verse quoted above was revealed.

It gave the assurance, as one would say, to that as well as to all the sincere lovers of the Prophet that if they were honest in their love, they would, naturally, be loyal and faithful to God and His Apostle, and, in that case, they were going to be in the company of the chosen bondmen of the Lord in the Hereafter.

The brief elucidation seemed necessary as people, often, fail to appreciate the real significance of love and the intimate connection it has with self-surrender.

Doing Good

To do an act of kindness, too, is a branch of compassion, or, rather, its fruit. It can have many forms, such as, the doing of a favour, the offering of a gift, or the rendering of a service or acting in any other manner that may be a source of joy or comfort to anyone. The holy Prophet has urged upon his followers to make all these a part of their social and moral behaviour.

(9) Anas and Abdullah, (both) related to us that the Apostle of God said: “All the creatures are the family of God. (He is responsible for their sustenance in the same way as a person, ostensibly, is responsible for the sustenance of his dependents). Thus, the most beloved of God, in the whole creation, is he who does good to the members of His family, i.e., His creatures.”

– Baihaqi

Commentary

In this world of ours, too, we feel drawn to a person who is good and kind to our family. In the above Tradition, we are told that the same is the case with the Lord as well. Whoever shows kindness to His creatures is greatly liked by Him.

Note: It should be noted that such tidings appertain only to those who are not guilty of a mortal sin that renders a man wholly unworthy of Divine benevolence. Take it like this. Suppose it is proclaimed by a king that he will reward and raise in honour anyone who does good to his subjects, will it include even the rebels and professional criminals?

(10) It is related by Huzaifa that the Apostfe of God said: “Do not be of those who do (by others) as the others do (by them), and say that we will do them a favour if they do us a favour, and if they will be mean and unjust to us then we, too, will be mean and unjust to them. On the contrary, resolve that you will do good if the others do good, and if they do a wrong and act unjustly, even then you will not be unfair to them.”

–               Tirmizi

Commentary

It tells that a true Believer should always be kind-hearted and amiable to others and an act of goodness should not be done only to those who are good to us, but to such people, as well, who treat us unjustly.

(11) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “Whoever exerts himself for the sake of a helpless widow or a weak and indigent man is equal in recompense to him who exerts himself in the path of God.” (The narrator adds): “And I think the Prophet also, said that ‘he is like the bonds-man who spends his nights in prayer, and does not feel tired, and the bondsman who fasts throughout the year, and never goes without a fast.”

–    Bukhari and Muslim

Commentary

An act of kindness is most pleasing to God, no matter to what kind, or class, it belongs or to whom it is done. To attend to the need of a poor and helpless man or woman and to take pains in order to bring relief to them is an act of such a high order, in the sight of God, that the bondsmen who do so are worthy of the same reward that is on fighting in the way of God or devoting one’s nights, habitually, to prayer and days to fasting.

Even the Smallest Act of Goodness is Precious in the Judgement of the Lord

(12) Abu Dharr al-Ghifari related to us that the Apostle of God said: “Let no one of you consider any form or manner of doing good of little value. So, if he has nothing to give to a brother, he should, at least, meet him with a smile on his face. (This, too, is a form of kindness). And when you buy or cook meat, increase the broth, (by putting more water into it), and take out a spoonful from it for your neighbour.”

–    Tirmizi

Commentary

It emphasises that everyone should make it a point to be kind and helpful to his relatives, friends or neighbours. He should give gifts to them, according to his means, and if he has nothing worth giving, he should give what he can afford and not hold himself back thinking that it was valueless, so much so that if he was not in a position to offer anything else, he ought to greet him with a cheerful face. It, too, is a form of kindliness, and like the offering of gifts etc., contributes to the promotion of mutual love and affection. Likewise, even a poor person can add water to the broth when meat is cooked in his house and send some of it to the neighbour.

The Prophet (saws) has mentioned these acts of fellow-feeling and kind treatment, obviously, as an illustration; otherwise what this Tradition means is that everyone should be ready to do what favour he can to others, no matter how insignificant it appeared.

(13) Jabir relates that the Apostle of God said: “Do not consider any form of kindness insignificant and one of its forms (which costs nothing) is that you met a brother with a cheerful face, and it, also, (is among the kindly acts) that you poured water from your bucket into the vessel of your brother.”

 –     Tirmizi

Commentary

Like the preceding, it, too, makes use of examples to stress that no act of kindness is insignificant in the sight of God, and a person should not hesitate to render what little service he can to others, Doing good is not the prerogative of the rich.

Self-denial

A superior form of kindliness is that though a person may be needing a thing himself, he gives it to someone who wants it. This is called self-sacrifice and, without doubt, it is a virtue of the highest order.

(14) Narrates Sahl bin Sa’ad: “(Once) a woman came to the Apostle of God with a mantle (as a present) and begged him to wear it. The Prophet accepted the gift and wore it. His condition, at that time, was such that he really needed a mantle. On seeing him wearing it, a Companion said: ‘Sir! This mantle is very good, Please give it to me.’  Alright’, replied the Prophet and gave him the mantle. After the Apostle of God had gone, some Companions rebuked the person (who had asked for the mantle), and said: ‘You did a wrong thing. You knew that the Apostle of God needed it himself and it was in a state of want that he had accepted it from the lady yet you asked for it knowing well that it was his habit to give away whatever anyone asked for from him. ‘The Companion replied: ‘I did so for the sake of its blessedness. I thought that as the Apostle of God had worn the mantle, it would make a good shroud for me’.”

– Bukhari

(15) Abu Hurairah narrates that (once) a person came to the Apostle of God and said: “I am a poor and needy person, and in great distress. (I am starving).” The Prophet, thereupon, sent word to some of his wives (to send if they had anything to eat for the poor fellow). They replied: “By the Holy Being who has raised you up with Truth, there is nothing to eat or drink with us save water.” The Apostle of God, then, enquired from another apartment of his, and, then, one by one, from all of his apartments, and, received the same reply. At last, he enquired from the Companions (who were with him at that time): “Who, among you can have him as his guest? There will be a special favour of the Lord on him: (who does so).” (Upon it), an Ansar, named Abu Talha, stood up, and said: “Oh Apostle of God! I shall have him for a guest.” Abu Talha took the man to his house, and said to his wife: “Do you have anything for this guest?”  “There is nothing except the food for the children,” she replied. “(Even we have nothing to eat) then,” said Abu Talha, “Put the children to sleep, (somehow), without feeding them, and pretend before the guest that we are going to eat with him. When he stretches his hand for eating, go to the lamp at the pretext of setting it right and put it out (so that there may be darkness and the guest cannot know whether we are eating with him or not).” The wife did as she was told, and while all the three sat down at the meal, it was only the guest who ate, and Abu Talha and his wife remained hungry for the night. When Abu Talha went to the Apostle of God in the morning, the latter named him and his wife specifically, and gave them the glad tidings that “God very much liked the act of such-and-such a bondsman and such-and-such a bonds-woman of His. He was highly pleased.”

– Bukhari and Muslim

Commentary

The incident narrated above speaks of the marvellous sentiments of magnanimity and self-abnegation the holy Prophet had produced among the Companions through his teachings and practical example. It is this spirit of self-sacrifice and hospitality of the Ansars that has been extolled in the Qur’an in these words:

“They prefer the needy to themselves though poverty, (or hunger) become their lot.” (LIX : 9).

Forgiveness and Self-restraint

To pardon the guilty and the offender and to refuse to take revenge are among the virtues that are closely related to soft heartedness. The Prophet, himself, did the same and exhorted his followers, also, to act in like manner.

(16) It is related by Abu Hurairah that: “(Once) a person abused Abu Bakr, and the Apostle of God was sitting [there], [at that time], and he felt amazed and was smiling (at the behaviour of both), (with the man abusing Abu Bakr continuously and the fatter bearing it with patience). But when that person went on with it, Abu Bakr, also, returned some of the invectives. The Apostle of God, thereupon, left the place in some anger. (Feeling greatly perturbed, Abu Bakr went after the Prophet to find out the reason of his annoyance and apologise). As Abu Bakr met the Apostle of God, he said: ‘O Apostle of God! How is that you remained sitting when the man was hurling abuses at me, without end, but when I, too, said something, you got angry and departed from the place?’ The Prophet replied: ‘An angel of God was with you and replying on your behalf as long as you kept quiet and showed patience, but when you started paying him back (in his own coin), the angel went away and the Devil came in, (on seeing an opportunity to add fuel to the fire).’ After it the Apostle of God observed: ‘O Abu Bakr! There are three things that are absolutely true: One, if an injustice is done to anyone and he forgives it solely for the sake of God (and does not take revenge), God will support him, in all respects, in return for it (and raise him in esteem both in this world and the next); two, whoever opens the door of giving to others and showing kindness to kinsmen, God will bestow prosperity upon him and multiply his wealth; and, three, whoever will open the door of begging (not out of need), (but) for adding to his wealth, God will cause a further diminution in his possessions.’”

– Musnad Ahmad

Commentary

Though it is permissible to take revenge with justice, a better and nobler thing is to forgive, for the sake of God, even when one has the power to avenge oneself. SinceHazrat Abu Bakr was regarded with special favour by the Prophet, he did not like him to say anything, by way of a retort, to the offender. Says the Qur’an:

“The legal repayment of an ill-deed is an ill, the like thereof. But whosoever pardoneth, his reward is due from Allah.”  – XLII: 40

(17) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “Musa bin Imran (the Prophet Moses), (once), asked the Lord: ‘Oh Lord! Who are the noblest of bondmen in Thy sight?’ The Lord replied, ‘Those who forgive the guilty when they have him in their control (and are in a position to take revenge).’

– Baihaqi

Commentary

It is worth remembering that the superiority of forgiving the guilty and the defaulter, as mentioned above, is related only to the personal sphere, i.e., where our individual or private rights and interests are concerned. But no one has the right to condone an offence or misdeed that is against God, and upon which a punishment is fixed by Him. The practice of the Prophet (saws), who was the most merciful of men, was also the same. He always forgave those who did a wrong to him, but never failed to punish, according to the Divine Law, men who violated the limits laid down by God.

It is related in Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Ayesha (ra), that “the Apostle of God never punished anyone in a personal matter, but when a person transgressed against a God-given law, he used to punish him by reason of the command of God.”

(18) It is related by Abdullah bin Omar that “(Once) a person came to the Apostle of God and said: ‘O Apostle of God! How many times should I forgive the fault of my attendant (slave or servant)?’ The Prophet kept quiet. The questioner, then, asked again: ‘How many times should I forgive the fault of my attendant (slave or servant)?’ At this, the Prophet (saws) replied: ‘Seventy times each day.’

– Tirmizi

Commentary

What the Prophet (saws) wanted to stress was that forgiveness was not a thing on which a limit could be set. On the other hand, kindliness demanded that a servant should be forgiven even if he was frequently at fault. The figure of seventy on such occasions does not denote the exact number, but profusion.