Discourse on Hubb
You must concentrate very hard. We are going to discuss and examine a subject that is one of the key terms of the Qur’an and therefore one of the key, crucial terms for the Sufis. On it everything revolves and you will see to what an extent this is true. This is the word ‘Hubb’ — love. Hubb is mentioned in the Qur’an and the Sunna as both the privilege of Allah and of the creatures. This is something which is given and which belongs to Allah, and it is also the privilege of created beings. Allah explicitly relates different categories of the loved ones, the mahbubun, and also the condition of those He does not love, and even those who are related to those He does not love. This is very important in the Qur’an. Allah is very specific about it and even categorises the conditions of it, the nature of it and defines it throughout the whole Qur’an. Allah orders His Messenger, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to transmit to us this prescription.
A’udhu billahi min ash-shaytanir-rajim. We go to Surat Al ‘Imran, 3:31: “Say: if you love Allah, then follow me and Allah will love you and forgive you for your wrong actions. Allah is Ever-forgiving, Most Merciful.” “Then follow me,” — that is Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. So this is the divine contract with the muminun. Then we come to Surat al-Ma’ida, 5:54, where Allah begins to tell us what the nature of this contract is.
“You who have iman! If any of you renounce your Deen, Allah will bring forward a people whom He loves and who love Him — humble to the muminun, fierce to the kafirun, who do jihad in the way of Allah and do not fear the blame of any censurer.” So Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, says: “Allah will bring forward a people whom He loves and who love Him,” — in other words, people who have held to the contract He has made, and he defines how such people would be — humble to the muminun and fierce to the kafirun. Of course what you find now, especially among the Arab peoples, is that they are humble to the kafirun and fierce to the muminun, but the people whom Allah loves are humble to the muminun and fierce to the kafirun, they do jihad in the way of Allah and do not fear the blame of any censurer. They do it just for Allah and in the way of Allah, in obedience to how war is to be fought as has been defined by Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala. Allah speaks openly of those He loves and we will look at five in a very interesting series of definitions in which we find out who these people are. Look at Surat al-Baqara, 2:222: “Allah loves those who turn back from wrong-doing and He loves those who purify themselves.” It also means that the love of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, can take someone in the middle of their life, it can take someone at the very last breath of their life if they turn back from wrong-doing. And He loves those who purify themselves, who are clean, and then do the Salat, who worship Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Purification has two dimensions in Islam: one is the purification of water. Then, as Imam Junayd said, “Purify yourselves with the water of the Unseen” — that is, an inward purification which accompanies the purification of the limbs. That is why, from the moment you start wudu, there must be no conversation. Ignore what you see in the mosques, especially among the Arabs, so many of whom have lost the Deen. Wudu is an ‘ibada which takes an equal importance alongside the Salat because there is no Salat without the wudu. Wudu is part of the Salat. When you start the wudu you do not speak to anyone until you have completed the wudu which is part of your ‘ibada which then takes you to the Salat. The next ayat is in Surat Al ‘Imran, 3:159. “Allah loves those who trust in Him.” Tawakkilin — the people of tawakkul, the people who have trust in Him. The people who have trust in Allah, Allah loves them. This is to be among the beloved of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala. It is not that you trust in Allah as if it were something thrown out into the void — in the act of your trusting Allah, you are encompassed in the love of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala. This is the contract with Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Now we look at Surat Al ‘Imran, 3:146. It is very interesting because a lot of these definitions come in these surats, Al ‘Imran and Al-Baqara, these foundational, explanatory surats, you might say, of the Deen. This is considered necessary to the understanding of the Deen of Islam. “Allah loves the steadfast.” Now we go back to Surat al-Baqara, 2:195. “Do good, Allah loves the good-doers.” This is the command to enter into the company of the ones whom Allah loves. “Do good, and Allah loves the ones who do good.” The Muhsin is the standard, it is the definition of the one who is on the Sirat al-Mustaqim. You have got to do good — you enter a situation and you bring the good with you. We will see in a moment the importance of this and also what it means, so that your tawhid is not complete until you have grasped what this contract of love is with Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Now Surat as-Saff, 61:4. This is a very important ayat for the age we live in. Allah tells us something again unexpected. “Allah loves those who fight in His way in ranks like well-built walls.” Fight means fight — it does not mean some interior thing about the nafs. Qatala is to cut, to fight, it is the sword, battle. Allah loves those who fight in His way and the sabil of Allah is according to what has been clearly defined by Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Fighting in the way of Allah is not the same as fighting to defend your home, which you are entitled to do, and it is not the same as fighting just because you are attacked. Fighting fisabilillah, in the way of Allah, is fighting because you have raised high the banner of Islam. This is what fighting in the way of Allah means, and it means that you fight in ranks like well-built walls. In other words, it is not individuals taking on the enemy, it is that the way of Allah is with leadership and the leader leads from the front. He leads the way the Rasul led, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the way the great rulers of the Moghuls and the Osmanli led their men into battle. What we are witnessing today cannot be connected to this ayat. There must be leadership. His head must be above the shoulders of everyone and he must have raised high the banner of Islam which means he is coming with the confirmation of unity, the completion of the messengership of Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam — he is coming with Salat, he is coming with Sawm, he is coming with Zakat and he is guaranteeing the Hajj — that is the way of Allah and nothing else will do. These are the people Allah loves. It is important that you understand this. When Allah refuses to love those who are disapproved of because of certain characteristics, He makes it clear that they must disappear only and necessarily by the appearance of their opposite. Thus there is not a dualism of good and evil in the universe, but a dynamic reality governed by love. This is very important because, again, in the deviations of the modern world, you hear many people using the terms of the Haqq and the Batil as if there were some kind of duel between the haqq and the batil. This is from the language of the modernists and is an outrage against Islam. Allah makes very clear, as you can see in the ayats that follow, how His rule of love is put into action and that there is not a dualism of good and evil because Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, says: “When the truth comes, the lie has to vanish.” So there can be no way that it can confront it. We are going to come upon what exactly the process is that nevertheless creates a conflict among men that will divide the people who are loved by Allah and the people whom Allah does not love.
Now we are looking at those whom Allah does not love. We will look at six ayats that explain this and the first is Surat al-Ma’ida, 5:64. “They rush about the earth corrupting it and Allah does not love the corrupters.” This is a very important term because now we have the definition of those people whom Allah does not love — the people of fasad, the mufsidin — the people who actively corrupt, and not only that but they are busy with corruption. You are getting used to opening the Qur’an and moving around in it. This is how you learn. It is not this book which is shut and brought out for deaths. You live by it. Now we look at Surat al- An’am, 6:141. “He does not love the profligate.” Then strengthening this, we get a clear definition in Surat ar-Rum, 30:45. “He certainly does not love the kafirun.” Tough luck on them! There is no way that we can join with them and say that we have unity with them. Whatever they say about this group or that group and whatever names they give them, the muminun know that these people are not loved. Whatever wrong among our own community there may be now, the truth is Allah does not love these other people so they are finished. Allah certainly does not love the kafirun. They want us to go to the other extreme and take out all these ayats of Qur’an so that we all have tolérance of each other. But this is not possible — Allah does not love them! We did not do it — there is no use us trying to love them, because Allah does not love them. “Innahu la yuhibbul-kafirin,” — that is the truth.
Surat an-Nisa’, 4:148. Another personal aspect of the intimacy of Allah’s dislike is that it affects individuals, not just bodies of people. “Allah does not love evil words being voiced out loud except in the case of someone who has been wronged.” In other words, the one who does this is outside the love of Allah, they cannot enter into this fortress of divine protection. If someone has been wronged then you have to tell something dreadful in order to protect them. That is why the presence of an active shari’at is necessary, because you should not denounce anybody unless the protection is complete — they can be protected by the ‘amr of the ruler. But there is not any shari’at. In this appalling situation in Nigeria where these imams who think that they run things — and our Islam is not about imams, we are not shi’a and our imams do not run things — they find a woman and say that she has committed adultery but none of it fits anything of how these matters are arrived at. They pass sentences of execution, and because the ‘amr is not there all the Muslims are disgraced and then they say how bad we are.
The reason that happens is because the judge makes a judgment without an amir. When the qadi gives the judgment the amir says, “Carry out the qadi’s orders,” and then it is complete. When it is complete a totally different social order is established, but if you have a qadi saying, “This person is an adulterer. Execute them. Stone them,” and there is no amir to complete the process, then the whole edifice of Islamic law collapses. Allah says in Qur’an: “Enter Islam kafah” — completely. You have to take the whole thing. You cannot not have the ‘amr, and this is the responsibility we have to recover in our lifetimes, inshallah. “Allah does not love evil words being voiced out loud except in the case of someone who has been wronged.” We have to create a framework where that can happen. If you voice against someone who has been wronged and there is no judgment and there is no punishment then you have slandered them. You have to come before the qadis with your proofs and a judgment has to be given. Then you can speak out about these things. But the one who says, “He drinks,” or this or that — he is just a slanderer because the process has not been completed. But for the one who has been wronged, that voicing of what is wrong has to be accomplished. This is the rahma, this is the mercy of the shari’at.
Now we look at Surat al-Baqara, 2:190. This is again very relevant to the time we live in, as are many things that you will find as you open the Qur’an. “Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight you but do not go beyond the limits. Allah does not love those who go beyond the limits.” Part of everything we are seeing now in this time is people fighting beyond the limits. They do no know that there are rules. Allah has set down rules about fighting. Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, has set down detailed rules about fighting and we cannot go beyond these limits. When you hear this Indonesian saying, “Oh, I’m sorry that in blowing up these people in Bali I killed eighty one Muslims — it was collateral damage,” this is nothing to do with Islam. Killing eighty one Muslims is collateral damage? This is the language of the kuffar. I cannot find ‘collateral damage’ in Qur’an. “Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight you but do not go beyond the limits. Allah does not love those who go beyond the limits.” In other words, if you fight with a total nihilistic obliteration of people then Allah has put you outside this protected fortress of the ones He loves. The sixth ayat is in Surat Al ‘Imran, 3:32. This, in a way, completes the whole set of ayats we have been looking at. “Say: obey Allah and the Messenger.” This is one of the most important ayats in the Qur’an. “Say: obey Allah and the Messenger:” these two are put together. There is no way you obey Allah if you do not obey the Messenger. “Say: obey Allah and the Messenger. Then if they do turn away, Allah does not love the kafirun.” There is no doubt about this, that Allah has placed His love with the muminun and He does not love the kafirun. The sign of the people who are in His protection of love is that they obey Allah and the Messenger.
What we find from this is very interesting. We find the presence of the Salih is the end of fasad and its way. This is why good is not fighting evil. It is the arrival of the Salih which brings about the defeat and the vanishing of the people of fasad, of the mufsidin. The mufsidin are cast out by the presence and the reality of the Salih. There is no way in which any war against the kuffar is to be seen in terms of the logistics of either dead bodies or destruction. It is the presence of the salihun, it is the reality of the salihun that brings the victory to the Muslims. Sayyiduna ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, radiyallahu ‘anhu, finished the enemy and Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said about him, “O ‘Umar, I could go with you into any valley because shaytan would never follow you.” So the arrival of ‘Umar ibn al- Khattab was the defeat of the shayatin. The creation and the advancement and the leadership of the salihun is what destroys the people of fasad.
We find out from Allah’s explaining about love, that a process is taking place all the time in the world but it is not something the outcome of which is uncertain, it is not good fighting evil in some dualism, there is no dualism, this is tawhid. Allah is in charge. Allah cares for us, and Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, cares for us as we know from Surat at-Tawba: “A Messenger has come to you from among yourselves. Your suffering is distressing to him; he is deeply concerned for you; he is gentle and merciful to the muminun.” Allah has shown us how this love spills out into all the process of living. Look at Surat al-Hujurat, 49:7. “Allah has given you love of iman and made it pleasing to your hearts.” This is how the dynamic of Allah’s love manifests among the creatures. Iman is belief in Allah, His Books, His Messengers, His Angels, the Last Day, the Balance and the Decree. So Allah has given us love of these unseen truths and realities — Allah has given us love of iman and made it pleasing to our hearts. Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, indicated that taking pleasure in wudu is a sign of iman — his pleasure in the act of wudu was the indication of this inner quality.
Now we go to Surat ar-Rum, 30:21. This, again, is about Allah’s outpouring in all the processes of life. “He created spouses for you of your own kind so that you might find tranquillity in them, and He has placed affection and compassion between you.” So this gift of Allah to the couple is part of this transaction of this kingdom of love which is Allah’s domain of the muminun. Mawada and Rahma are two dimensions of love — the Sufis say that mawada is the beginning of love which then becomes richer and becomes love. Rahma is mercy and if mercy is in the heart then that heart is predisposed to love, because it is the motor of love. Now we go to Surat al-Mumtahana, 60:1, “O you who have iman, do not take My enemy as friends showing love for them, when they have rejected the truth that has come to you.” So if you express love to those whom Allah has forbidden from this circle of love, everything is lost. Do not do this when they have rejected the truth that has come to the Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. That is against the contract of love with Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, that He has made with the muminun. “O you who have iman, do not take My enemy as friends, as awliya,” because to us the term ‘awliya’ is used for the ones who love Allah and whom Allah loves. Wilayat is something pure and exalted and to degrade it by saying that the kuffar have wilayat is a betrayal of the contract with Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala.
So it follows from these blessed ayats that Allah has created us for Him alone and not for ourselves. This is what we find out from these ayats — that we were not created for ourselves. For this reason, retribution is tied to the acts that we do for ourselves and not for Him. For the acts that we do for ourselves, there is a price to pay. Our ‘ibada is for Him and not for us, even though the worship is not the act itself. The outward behaviour of the created beings belongs to Him, for He remains the Agent. He is the Agent of action. The perfection of acts is returned to Him because everything comes from Him. So when the act of ‘ibada is perfect, it is actually His. It is not for us and it is not ours. This is Allah’s Hadrat ar-Rabbani, and this is what is happening in all the acts of worship.
Look at Surat ash-Shams, 91:7: “And the self and what proportions it, and inspires it with depravity or taqwa.” This takes us into the secret of tawhid, into the secret of the Qadr, of the seal of the destiny. Allah puts some people on a path of depravity and some people on a path of taqwa. The difference between the people of depravity and the people of taqwa is a matter of knowledge. The difference between the two parties is not that one is doing wrong acts that are not pleasing to Allah and the other is doing good actions that are pleasing to Allah, the difference is that the ones who have taqwa know that the whole process comes from Allah. The whole thing is in Allah’s hands. This changes the people of taqwa. The difference is not their displeasing acts and their good acts but that the people of taqwa know that the whole process is decreed and determined by Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala. This is the point. This is how love flows to those people and it is that love which is knowledge. “Fear Allah and He will give you knowledge.” Then that knowledge is the receptivity of the love flowing from Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, on His slave. It is further confirmed in Surat As-Saffat, 37:96: “Allah created both you and what you do.” The person and the actions cannot be separated. You cannot separate dogginess from the dog. You cannot understand a dog as just a creature with four legs and a tail. Dog is also the one which is faithful, the one which will turn on you, the one which can be used to hunt, the one which is dirty, the one which eats disgusting things — all these things make dog. But so with the human creature. Allah created both you and what you do. These things are not separate. So the first stage of the Sufic path is where grasping comes not intellectually but in the heart — the recognition that Allah is the Creator of us and our actions, that Allah is the Actor in every situation. Allah is the Doer.
All that has been happening at present in the tragic, lost Arab communities is because they have not been taught tawhid. They have not been taught the truth about Allah and so they are going around in circles against things Allah has ordered for them because they do not realise that Allah has created both you and what you do. Now we look at this in Surat al-An’am, 6:102. It is so openly stated in Qur’an. “That is Allah, your Lord. There is no god but Him, the Creator of everything. So worship Him. He is responsible for everything.” When Abu Bakr as-Siddiq had been ill and someone asked him, “Who made you better?” He said, “The same One who made me ill.” “That is Allah, your Lord, your Rabb.” Rabb is Allah’s governance of all the specific details of the created existence. The ayat specifically mentions, “That is Allah, your Rabb.” So the rububiyat, the connected relatedness of all the specific details and contradictory things of the whole existence — He is the Master of it. “He is responsible for everything.” So the Creator is not like the person who makes a glass and then he has created the glass, no. He is the Creator of everything and that means of events. We live in a world of events. Throughout the Qur’an He tells about the events and how it is Allah who has made and is making them happen. We ourselves are an event of divine creation and Allah is making us happen. That is why the prayer of the muminun is, “O Allah, give us an iman that is lasting. Give us an iman that will take us to the grave so that we die with shahada.”
All kinds of things happen at the last minute with people because it is written. Only the other day, one of our people in Switzerland wanted to marry a man who was not Muslim and she said to him, “I cannot marry you because you are not Muslim. You have to become Muslim.” He became Muslim and on the Monday they were married, and on the Saturday he was dead. Allah had written Islam for him and so the wedding was followed by a funeral in the outward, but in the inward he had gone out from this world and from the Fire, to the Garden. This is the seal of the destiny of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala. The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, “Allah the Mighty and Majestic said, ‘Those who approach me come with acts I love the most, the fara’id, then my servant draws nearer by extra, nawafil acts until I love him. When I love him I become his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hand by which he grasps and his foot with which he walks.’”
In other words, the difference between those who are loved by Allah and those who are not loved by Allah is this knowledge by which we then understand the whole process by which we live our existence. It is by this tajalli, this i’tihad, that tawhid can be sustained. It is by this understanding of what Allah has promised to those who love Him — this is the secret of tawhid. We go to the last reference in the Qur’an in Surat al-Anfal, 8:17. Here, Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, is directly addressing Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. At the Battle of Badr, Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, took a handful of dust and threw it at the kuffar and they lost their place, they became unseated from their horses by this event of the Rasul’s doing this. It tipped the balance. Allah explains to Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: “You did not throw when you threw, it was Allah who threw.” Here you see a clear description of this relationship between the creature and the Creator without any incarnation, without any penetration, without any association. The Lord is the Lord and the slave is the slave. Allah explains to the Rasul, “When you threw,” so Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, did throw but He says, “You did not throw when you threw. It was Allah who threw.” This is the secret of existence unveiled by the presence of the Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, bringing wisdom to all the Muslims by it because his action is then explained by Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, in His revelation. It is a tremendous moment, it is like the lifting of a veil to let all the muminun understand. “You did not throw when you threw. It was Allah who threw.”
Thus the maqam of love is an elevated honour and love itself is the ‘asl, the principle of existence itself, of wujud. Shaykh al- Akbar said, “From love we have come, by love we are made, towards love we go, to love we give ourselves.”
Decades ago, when I had just become Muslim, I met a very cultured and educated lady for whom I had great respect, and I told her I had become Muslim. She said, “Oh, that is very beautiful, Islam is a very beautiful religion. There is only one thing, which is that I have read the Qur’an and I found that there is a lot of violence in it.” This disturbed me because I did not know how to answer her. Many years later I was reading Imam al-Ghazali and he says, “When the kafir opens the Qur’an, he finds nothing in it but fighting and battles and blood and the Fire and all the terrible punishments that are due. When the mumin opens the Qur’an he finds gardens under which rivers flow and that Allah loves them. This is the secret of the Qur’an — that it has for its people what it has.” To that we would add that the kafir nevertheless finds in it a warning. Qur’an says in it, “Ya ayuhalladhina amanu,” and, “Ya ayuhalladhina kafiru.” So the kuffar have a warning and the muminun have guidance and we are the people of guidance, and we thank Allah for the gift of Islam, it is enough for us.