The Second of Seven Discourses on Hubb,
28th July 2007,
Masjid Mahmoud, Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa

I said that we were going to look at the meanings of Mahabba, of Love, inside this terminology of Tasawwuf. It is very important that you understand that the things we are going to look at, which are very exalted and have very fine and subtle meanings, are absolutely grounded in the Qur’an and in fundamental Islamic thinking. Before we actually approach this specific terminology, we are going to look at how love is spoken of by Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, in the Qur’an.

The first thing we find out is that love is Maqam Ilahi – it is a Divine Station. Let us look at Surat al-Ma’ida (5:54):

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 strive in the Way of Allah
and do not fear the blame of any censurer.

This is what we call the Divine Contract. This love is both a Divine Station and it is a Divine Contract. This is something that is laid out for all the human creatures in creation to respond to or to negate. Let us look at the famous Ayat in Surat adh-Dhariyat (51:56):

I only created jinn and man to worship Me.

The Arabic term here is ‘liya‘budun’ from the root verb ‘Abada, which means ‘worship’, although the translation is never exact. ‘Abud is a very interesting term because it is of the nature of slavehood. “I only created jinn and man to make this ‘Abud of Me.” The slaveness is what they are for. In a sense it could be said, “I have created jinn and man to be slaves for Me.” This slaveness is worship of Allah. It is not just Salat but the whole process of adoring Allah and obeying Allah. Imam al-Ghazali was asked, “Why is it seven Tawaf? Why is it forty nine stones for the stoning of the shaytan?” He replied, “There is no ‘Why?’” That is the ‘Ubudiyya. That is the slavehood. You have been told to do it, so you do it! The wisdom is in your doing it, because you have been told to do it.

The human creature was created for the process of adoration of Allah. At the heart of adoration and the fulfilment of adoration is what love itself is. Love is not poetry. Love is submerging yourself in the Beloved. This is what mankind is created for. The human being is created for this adoration and obedience to Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala. If he does not do it, it is because he is sick or he is in loss. Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, says in Surat al-Asr (103:2):

Man is in loss.

What is the loss of man? It is like when you cut off the electric power – man has got cut off from the current of what life is, so that he becomes a disturbed creature because he is not doing what he was made for.

If you have a race-horse and you do not race it, it becomes a sick, heavy, fat animal, but if you race it then it is a race-horse. Equally, man is made for this worship and if he does not do it he is in loss, he is in this Khusr. Then we find that this position of man links him with the whole of creation. Let us look at Surat al-Isra’ (17:44). Here we find out that this worship is a cosmic event. Allah says:

The seven heavens and the earth and everyone in them glorify Him.
There is nothing which does not glorify Him with praise
but you do not understand their glorification.
He is All-Forbearing, Ever-Forgiving.

This is a blessed Ayat. What it means is that now we are finding out that this thing for which man was created puts him into a process which is completely cosmic because the heavens and earth, and everyone in them – everything is making this glorification, this adoration of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala. Thus the fundamental nature of this Love is an actual cosmic, dynamic force that Allah has put into the creation to glorify Him. For further confirmation of this we will look at Surat an-Nur: (24:41):

Do you not see that everyone
in the heavens and earth glorifies Allah,
as do the birds with their outspread wings?
Each one knows its prayer and glorification.
Allah knows what they do.

This means that everything is glorifying Allah. We know that the Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, in certain Ruhani states addressed inanimate objects, am I not correct? He spoke to the stones, so he understood that even the stones were glorifying Allah when he addressed them. Everything is glorifying Allah, “As do the birds with their outspread wings.” If the bird is glorifying Allah by outspread wings in its supreme act which is flying, the human creature, as we shall find out, is glorifying Allah by those actions which are pleasing to Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala.

For the final completion of this we go to Surat al-Hajj (22:18). Here we find a wonderful Ayat. We shall omit the last part of the Ayat because it is not in reference to what we are looking at.

Do you not see that everyone in the heavens
and everyone on the earth prostrates to Allah,
and the sun and moon and stars and the mountains,
trees and beasts and many of mankind?

Here we get the first indication that with the human beings there is a different reality, and we find this in the last phrase:

Many of mankind.

Allah has made the nature of the human creature such that he can take this path or take this other path. If he did not have that possibility, the one who does take the right path would not be able to fulfil his action of submitting, when in fact he could ‘not submit’. This is the glory of the human condition, and also the terror of the human condition.

Many of mankind.

That is the Muslims.

We have been looking at this Divine Contract which Allah has made with the whole of creation, and in particular with mankind. To complete this we look at Surat an-Nahl (16:48-50):

Do they not see the things Allah has created,
casting their shadows to the right and to the left,
prostrating themselves before Allah in complete humility?

Everything in the heavens and every creature on the earth prostrates to Allah,
as do the Angels. They are not puffed up with pride.
They fear their Lord above them
and do everything they are ordered to do.

Here we have another dimension. We find out that in the fulfilling of this contract, there is fear of Allah and obedience to Allah – doing everything we are ordered to do. This is that element which is the delight of Allah and the completion of the Contract.

Now we shall look at seven elements of this love. We are now looking at this Contract in relation to man. We find that the Divine Contract links to the Prophetic Contract which Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, has with His Messenger. That Prophetic Contract links to the Muslims’ Contract because the Muslims’ Contract goes to Rasul, sallallah ‘alayhi wa sallam. His contract with Allah, which is on a much higher level, illuminates and guides the Muslims to fulfil theirs.

The first aspect of Love is love of the Prophet. It is about Allah’s love of Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and the Muslims’ love of him from below to his highest of stations. So we look at Surat Al ‘Imran (4:31-32). This is the link between Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, and the Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam – ‘link’ in terms of course – because nothing is associated with Allah – in terms of this wisdom unfolding itself, and the guidance to the Muslim, how he too can have this highest possible state of love with Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala.

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.”

Say, “Obey Allah and the Messenger.”
Then if they turn away,
Allah does not love the kafirun.

Here you see the linkage, here you see the Path that is the Sirat al-Mustaqim laid out, and it is the path of love. Allah commands the Messenger to tell the Muminun how they can go on this exalted Path of love. Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, is saying to Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “Tell them: ‘If you LOVE Allah, then follow me.’” This is the message you are delivering. This is what the Revelation is. This is what the event of Qur’an is.

Say, “If you love Allah, then follow me and Allah will love you,” […]

And now you get the linkage:

Say, “Obey Allah and the Messenger.”

So the key is put into our hands: from Allah, the Message to Rasul, and from Rasul the Message to the Muslims is that for this love, the key is “Obey Allah and the Messenger.” There is tremendous wisdom is these two Ayats, and tremendous secrets in these two Ayats.

Now we are given a secret of this connection between Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and the Muslims. We go to Surat al-Insan (76:29-30). This goes back to what I have just been saying. What we find is that Allah has given us this Message, but you might also say that this is part of the warning:

This truly is a Reminder,
so whoever wills should take the Way towards his Lord.
But you will not will unless Allah wills.
Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

“Whoever wills should take the Way towards his Lord.” Allah then gives the secret openly in the Qur’an: “But you will not will unless Allah wills.” It will not happen unless you will it, but you will not will it unless He has willed that you will it. This is the great golden door that invites you into the knowledge of Tasawwuf. The second song of Shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi in his Diwan is a meditation on this matter. You have to will it, but the moment you will it, it is because He willed that you will it.

So an obedience to Allah is like you click into harmony with the birds and the beasts and the mountains and the stars because they have all submitted to be that which they are. You are not what you are until you submit and then your fullness is realised. When you will it, there is the knowledge that goes with that, which is that He willed you to be the one who would will it. This is why it is called “the Way towards his Lord.” 

Now we turn to Surat at-Takwir. These are astonishing Ayats. You must realise how tremendous the Qur’an is. The most awesome thing about the Qur’an is not its beauty and it is not that it happened at all, but given that it is beautiful and that it happened, what is amazing about the Qur’an is that Allah speaks many, many secrets of existence, openly, that were not known or understood until they were given to Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to tell to the Muslims. Again, here we find this lifting of veils that had covered mankind way back from the time of the last Prophet before him. Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, says in Surat at-Takwir (81:26-29):

So where, then, are you going?

This is what nowadays you would term an existential question.

It is nothing but a Reminder to all the worlds,
to whomever among you wishes to go straight.

Not everybody wants to go straight. Some people get hit back into being straight. Some people reject it and will never go straight –

But you will not will unless Allah wills, the Lord of all the Worlds.

This is the absolute core of the Qur’an, this is absolutely the heart of the matter. This is why when you turn on the television they talk about ‘Islamic this’ and ‘Islamic that’, but it has nothing to do with Islam! THIS is the Divine Contract, and this is Allah’s address to the human creatures. “So where, then, are you going? It is nothing but a Reminder to all the worlds, to whomever among you wishes to go straight.” Remember that the Divine Contract from Allah to the Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is that he just deliver the Message – finished! That is all he has to do. Allah tells him that all he has to do is deliver the Message, is that not correct?

“It is nothing but a Reminder to all the worlds, to whomever among you wishes to go straight.” The Sufis call this the Ayat of Tariqa. This is the Ayat that clicks in the heart of the Muslim who says, “I want to be one of the people of this Sirat al-Mustaqim.” So the first step on the Tariqa is that your wanting it is because Allah wants it.

All that completes this picture of the relationship of love of the Prophet, linking the Divine Contract to the Prophetic Contract to the Muslims’ Contract. The second and third aspects of love, after the love of the Prophet, are for the Tawwabun – the repentant, and the Mutatahhirun – the ones who purify themselves. So we look for these two qualities, the ones of repentance and the ones of purification, in Surat al-Baqara (2:222). The Ayat in its main part is about menstruation and purification, but then Allah takes it to another level and says:

Allah loves those who turn back from wrongdoing and He loves those who purify themselves.

Again, we have two aspects of this love in this Contract from Allah to the creatures. Allah loves those who make Tawba from their wrong actions and Allah loves those who purify themselves.

The fourth aspect of this love of Allah is for the Sabirun – the patient. We find this in Surat Sâd (38), at the end of Ayat 43:

We found him steadfast. What an excellent slave!
He truly turned to his Lord.

We find Allah’s delight with the Sabirun, the people of patience. Hajj ‘Abdalhaqq likes to translate Sabirun as ‘steadfast’, although I prefer ‘patient’ – but of course the nature of the patient ones is that they hold on, and in that sense he is correct. “We found him steadfast” – we found him patient, we found him holding on. “What an excellent slave! He truly turned to his Lord.” So here is the one whom Allah loves. The one who held on, who was patient, and who turned to his Lord.

The fifth aspect of love that Allah has for His creatures is revealed in Surat Ibrahim (14:7):

And when your Lord announced:
“If you are grateful, I will certainly give you increase,
but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is severe.”

Here we have that Allah loves the people of gratefulness and thanks, the Shakirun. Here Allah has indicated that the reward for this gratefulness is increase, and increase is the gift of the Beloved to the Lover.

The Sixth aspect of Allah’s love is for the people of Ihsan – the Muhsinun. We will look in Surat al-Baqara (2:195):

Spend in the Way of Allah.
Do not cast yourselves into destruction.
And do good: Allah loves good-doers.

So Allah loves the good-doers, the Muhsinun. It is interesting that the translator has translated it as “people who do good,” but let us look at this Muhsin. He is the one of Ihsan. In the first Hadith from the collection of Imam Muslim, the Angel Jibril questions the Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, about his Deen and says: “What is Islam?” “What is Iman?” Then he says: “What is Ihsan?” and the answer of Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, which you all know, is: “To worship Allah as if you saw Him, and while you do not see Him, know that He sees you.” So Ihsan is a knowledge that Allah sees you.

This opens a door into the Suluk of Tasawwuf, it opens a door through the Wird As-Sahl. The Wird As-Sahl is derived from the Qur’an:

Allah is with me, Allah sees me, Allah is the Witness of my acts.

So the one of Ihsan is the one who most importantly knows that Allah sees him. Knowing that he is seen by Allah turns the subject into the object, and that is the real middle of the Path for the Sufi. He is not the observer, but the observed. This was the Wird that was given to Sahl at-Tustari which gave him the fatiha for his Fana’. Allah witnesses you. This is the Muhsin.

The seventh and final aspect of this is in Surat as-Saff (61:4). This is very interesting because it is the last of the group of people whom Allah loves:

Allah loves those who fight in His Way in ranks like well-built walls.

We should take note of this, because today there are many people doing things which we know are against the Shari’at yet they are held up as “Shahids who are dying in the Way of Allah.” They cannot be such, because they have not fulfilled what Allah has told them in the Qur’an. “Allah loves those who fight” – this Arabic word for fight is from the verb ‘Qatala’, which is not some poetic thing like the modernists who want to make everything to do with Jihad a psychological thing – Qatala is to cut, it is to fight.

Allah loves those who fight in His Way in ranks like well-built walls.

So Allah loves those who fight in His Sabil, in His Way. You will find in other Ayats “Jihad fisabilillah” – Jihad in the Way of Allah. But He tells us here that it is in ‘ranks’. What does that mean? It means it is an army. It is not a man tying dynamite to his belly and going out in the dark and committing suicide. It is men who take their strength from the ones on either side of them. They are “like well-built walls,” and a well-built wall is made of stones which take their strength from the stones on either side. THIS is fighting in the Way of Allah, and for the cause of Allah – not to defeat a nation, not to recover territory, but in the Way of Allah, and the Way of Allah is to establish the Deen.

You cannot establish the Deen unless you are taking it with you. This is the Deen. The one who fights this Way is bringing the Deen. When the forces of Sayyiduna ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, radiyallahu ’anhu, spread through this enormous area in his life-time, this is how he did it, with men fighting in ranks. When they entered the place, you then saw this power of the Amir and the power of the Muslims. So wherever they went people accepted Islam. They did not accept it because of some ‘Alim coming with rational explanations about what good sense it all made, they accepted it because these men were superior to them, they were dynamic, they came with life, they came with law, they came with worship, they came with medicine, they came with science – they came with the whole science. And they fought like that too because they fought scientifically.

Jihad fisabilillah has rules, and one of the first rules which these ignorant people do not even know, is that the Sahaba were forbidden to fight if they were outnumbered by more than two to one. So how could they declare war on the United States of America, as if that were a valid thing for Muslims to do? They are completely overwhelmed and outnumbered! The Sahaba used to say, “Oh, we have nostalgia for the time of Badr, when we were grossly outnumbered! The order came down that we were not to fight if we are outnumbered more than two to one, and so we do not fight like that anymore.” These ignorant modern people do not know these things because they do not know the Deen. If they had victory, who would take the victory? The one who would say, “Well, I got my son to blow himself up so now I am in charge!”? Whereas if it had been a victory fisabilillah, the man would say, “My father fought and died fisabilillah, and now I want to establish the Deen, and this is how I will do it.”

This is the final aspect of the seven aspects of Allah’s love for the Muslims. Inshallah, at our next gathering we will begin on the teachings of Shaykh Nasirud-Din, the Chiraghi of Delhi.