Love for Allah’s sake – Its meaning and practical implications
Loving other believers “for the sake of Allah” is one of the most highly encouraged elements of interpersonal relationships in Islam. This article explores the meaning of this “love” and what it practically means through a look at the ahadith on the matter that have reached us from the Prophetic Sunnah. These ahadith have dealt with ways to increase this love and thus fulfill the divine order to love other Muslims for Allah’s sake.
In the well known hadith, the Prophet ﷺ said:
Seven types of people Allah will shade them by His Shade on the Day of Resurrection when there will be no shade except His Shade. They will be, a just ruler, a young man who has been brought up in the worship of Allah, a man whose heart is attached to mosques, two people who love each other for only Allah’s Sake, where they associated together because of Him and dissociated from each other because of Him, a man who is called by a charming lady of noble birth to commit illegal sexual intercourse with her, and he said, ‘I am afraid of Allah, a man who gives in charity secretly such that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given and a man who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes are then flooded with tears.
Out of the seven noble actions listed above, loving another for the sake of Allah is the one that perhaps requires the least physical exertion – it is a condition of the heart and one that can be achieved through a refinement of the heart and our intention.
He ﷺ also said:
“Allah (swt) says on the Day of Judgment: Where are those who loved one another for My glory? Today I will shade them in My shade on the Day when there is no shade but Mine (Muslim).
The meaning of loving someone for Allah’s sake
Noteworthy also is the hadith of Abu Hurayrah as reported by Imam Muslim which states that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
By the one in whose hands is my soul! None of you can enter Jannah until you believe and none of you can believe until you love each other for Allah’s sake. Shall I not direct you to something, which if you do it will bring love between you? Do spread the salutations among you.
The hadith of Anas (ra) reported by al-Bukhari states that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
None of you will taste the sweetness of Imaan until a man does not love a person except for Allah’s sake.
Allah (swt) said:
“Those who love one another for My glory will have minbars of light, and the Prophets and martyrs will recognise their high rank.” (Tirmidhi)
A hadith of Anas (ra) reported by Imam Ahmad with a sound isnad states that:
A man came to the Prophet ﷺ and said: “O Messenger of Allah; a man loves another man for Allah’s sake but he is not able to match his good deeds.” Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said: “A man will be with the man he loves.” Anas (ra) said: “I did not see the companions of the Messenger of Allah more overjoyed with anything than Islam except this saying of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.” Anas said: “We love the Messenger of Allah ﷺ but we cannot match his good deeds. If we are going to be with him that would be enough for us.
‘Abdullah b. Mas’ud, the great companion of the Prophet ﷺ, said:
The Prophet ﷺ said to me: O ‘Abdallah b. Mas’ud! I said three times: “Here I am O Messenger of Allah.” He said: “Do you know which bond of Imaan is the strongest?” I said: “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said: “The strongest Imaan is the loyalty for Allah’s sake, by loving and hating for Allah’s sake…”
A hadith of ‘Umar b. al-Khattab (ra) quoted by Imam Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr in his at-Tamheed states that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
Allah has servants who are neither Prophets nor martyrs and who the Prophets and martyrs are pleased to see what they have, due to their place of nearness to Allah.” The companions asked: “O Messenger of Allah! Who are they? What are their actions so that we may love them.’ He said: They are people who love one another for Allah’s sake, without having family connections among themselves or money that they give to each other. By Allah, their faces will be of light and they will sit on minbars of light. People will fear but they will not fear. And people will grieve but they will not grieve. Then he (saw) read the verse:
“No doubt! Verily, the Auliya’ of Allah [i.e. those who believe in the Oneness of Allah and fear Allah much, and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden, and love Allah much and perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)], no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve.” [TMQ Yunus: 62]
A Hadith of Mu’az b. Anas al-Juhani (ra) states that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
Whosoever gave gifts for the sake of Allah, forbade something for the sake of Allah, loved for the sake of Allah, hated for the sake of Allah or gave in marriage for the sake of Allah he has completed his Imaan (Al-Hakim).
Telling others we love them for Allah’s sake
It is sunnah for the one who loves someone for Allah’s sake that he informs him he loves him due to the hadith reported by Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi that the Prophet ﷺ said:
If a man loves his brother, let him tell him that he loves him.
There is another narration by Abu Dawud which he narrated on the authority of Anas (ra) with a sound isnad that:
A man was with the Prophet ﷺ, when another man passed by. The first man said, “O Messenger of Allah (swt), indeed I truly love this man.” The Prophet ﷺ asked him, “Have you let him know that?” He said, “No.” The Prophet ﷺ said, “Tell him.” He caught up with him and told him, “Truly I love you for the sake of Allah (swt),” and the man said, “May Allah (swt), for whose sake you love me, love you. ”
Imam Al-Bazzar narrated also with hasan isnad from Abdullah b. Amr, he said: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
Whoever loved a man for the sake of Allah and said: I love you for the sake of Allah, and then they were admitted to the Jannah, and the one who loved was of higher rank from the other, he would be joined with the one who loved.
The better of two companions who love each other for Allah’s sake is the one who loves his brother most. This is due to what has been reported by Imam Ibn Abd al-Barr in his at-Tamheed and Imam al-Hakim in his al Mustadrak, as well as Imam Ibn Hibban in his Sahih on the authority of Anas (ra) who said that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
No two men love one another, but the better of them is the one who is of greater love for his brother.
Making du’a for another in their absence
It is sunnah also upon a Muslim to make du’a for his brother in his absence due to what Muslim narrated from Umm Dardaa who said: My master (i.e. Abu Dardaa, a reference of respect for her husband) reported that he heard Allah’s Messenger ﷺ say:
He who supplicates for his brother in his absence , the Angel commissioned (for carrying supplication to his Lord) says: Ameen, and the same is for you also.
The Prophet ﷺ also said:
The supplication of a Muslim for his brother in his absence is accepted and the commissioned Angel says: Ameen, and says: ‘The same is for you too.’
It is also sunnah to ask a brother to make du’a due to what Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi narrated with a sound isnad from ‘Umar b. al-Khattab:
I sought leave from the Prophet ﷺ to go to ‘Umrah.
The Prophet gave me permission and said to me:
“Do not forget us in your du’a, O my brother’. Thus, he said a word which I do not wish I have the dunya in its place.
Visiting and spending on another
It is also sunnah that he should visit his brother, sit with him, maintain links with him, and spend on each other for Allah’s sake after having loved him for Allah’s sake. Muslim reported on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (ra) about the Prophet (saw) that:
“A man went to visit a brother of his in another village. Allah (swt) sent an angel to wait for him on the road. When the man came along, the angel asked him, ‘Where do you intend to go?’ He said, ‘I am going to visit a brother of mine who lives in this village.’ The angel asked, ‘Have you done him any favour (for which you are now seeking repayment)?’ He said, ‘No. I just love him for the sake of Allah (swt).’ The angel told him, I am a messenger to you from Allah (swt), sent to tell you that He loves you as you love your brother for His sake.”
Ahmad reported a hadith on the authority of ‘Ubaadah b. Saamit with a hasan chain of transmitters and al-Hakim declared it sound that the Prophet (saw) said His Lord said:
My love is due to those who love one another for My sake, who visit one another for My sake, and who spend on one another for My sake, and who maintain links for My sake.
Malik reported in his al-Muwatta with a sound isnad on the authority of Mu’az who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say:
Allah Almighty said: ‘My love is due to those who love one another for My sake, who visit one another for My sake, and who spend on one another for My sake.’
The Messenger ﷺ showed us the great reward of the believer who loves for his brother that which he loves for himself. He wishes good for his brother in this world and the hereafter as much as he can.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
The companions whom Allah considers best are those who are best to their companions and the neighbours whom Allah considers best are those who are best to their neighbours.
In the hadith of ‘Umar it is narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He neither oppresses him nor deserts him. Whoever helps to remove the hardship of his brother, will have his difficulties removed by Allah in this world and in the Hereafter. One who covers the shortcomings of another Muslim, will have his faults covered up in this world and the next by Allah.
He ﷺ also said:
Allah continues to help a servant so long as he goes on helping his brother.
Meeting with that which pleases and with a smile
It is recommended (mandoob) to meet another brother by that which makes him happy due to the hadith reported by at-Tabaraani, which is hasan, that the Rasul ﷺ said:
The one who meets his brother with something his brother loves in order to make him happy then Allah ‘azza wa jalla will make him happy on the day of judgment.
Also, it is recommended to meet his brother with a smiling face due to what the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
Do not belittle even the smallest act of kindness, even if it were no more than meeting your brother with a smiling and cheerful face (Muslim).
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ also said:
Every act of kindness is charity. Smiling in the face of your brother is charity and pouring out from your bucket into your brother’s bucket is charity.
He ﷺ also said:
Do not look down upon any good work, to pour out from your bucket into the container of he who seeks water, and when you speak to your brother then be cheerful to him by your face, and that is from goodness. Beware of letting the izaar hang down, for it is from pride, and Allah does not like pride. And if a man abuses and shames you for something which he finds in you, then do not shame him for something which you find in him; you shall have the reward and he will bear the evil consequences for it (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa-i, Ibn Hibban).
It is also recommended for a Muslim to give presents to his brother. This is due to the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (ra), which was reported by al-Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad:
If you exchanged gifts you would love each other.
The Hadith of ‘Ayesha (ra) reported by al-Bukhari, where she said,
“The Messenger of Allah (saw) used to accept gifts and give gifts in return.”
We have also the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar as reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and an-Nasa`i which states that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
If anyone seeks refuge by Allah’s Name, give him refuge; If anyone makes a request in Allah’s Name, give it to him. If anyone seeks protection in Allah’s Name give him protection. And if anyone does you a kindness, recompense him; but if you do not have the means to do so, pray for him until you feel that you have compensated him.
It should be noted that this is only between brothers and has no relationship to gifts given to rulers, for such gifts are like bribery and are forbidden.
Making du’a and giving thanks
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
To whom a good deed is done and so he said to its doer: ‘May Allah reward you with goodness,’ then he has conveyed the thanks (thanaa) (At-Tirmidhi).
The Prophet ﷺ also said:
Whosoever is done a good deed and has nothing to give in return other than praise he has thanked him, and the one who remains silent he has been ungrateful. And the one who falsely claims ownership of anything is like a person who has worn two garments of lies (i.e. he has covered himself in lies from head to foot) (Ibn Hibban).
Also reported with a sound chain on the authority of Anas (ra) who said:
The Muhajireen said: “O Messenger of Allah, the Ansar have taken all the reward. We have not seen any people better than them in spending so much and in sharing their little worldly goods. They also saved us the trouble of the provision. He said: Do you not pray to Allah for them and praise them? They said: Yes. He said then this is recompense for that.” (Abu Dawud and an-Nasa-i)
One should give thanks for the small things as one would for the big things. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
The one who does not give thanks for the small things he would not give thanks for the big things. The one who does not thank the people would have not thanked Allah. Talking about the blessing (ni’mah) of Allah is equivalent to giving thanks, while abstaining from doing that is equivalent to ungratefulness. Unity is mercy and disunity is punishment.
It also from the sunnah that a Muslim intercedes for his brother for the sake of rendering a charity or removing a hardship due to what al-Bukhari reported on the authority of Abu Musa who said the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
Intercede and you will be rewarded for that, and Allah will fulfil what He will through His Prophet’s tongue.
It has also been reported by Muslim on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar (ra) that the Prophet ﷺ said:
The one who was a connection for his Muslim brother to one in authority for rendering a charity or removing a hardship he will be helped in crossing the path (siraat) the Day the feet will be blocked.
It is also recommended for the Muslim to defend the honour of his brother in his absence, due to what the Rasul ﷺ said:
Whoever defends his brother’s honour, Allah will protect his face from the Fire on the Day of Resurrection (At-Tirmidhi).
He ﷺ also said:
Whosoever helps his brother in his absence Allah will help him in this world and in the Hereafter.
It has been reported by Abu Dawud and al-Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger for Allah (saw) ﷺ:
A believer is the mirror of his brother and a believer is the brother of another believer, when they met. He holds back from him his loss and defends him in his absence.
Acceptance of apology: Allah (swt) obliged that a Muslim accepts the apology of his brother, keeps his secret and advises him.
The Rasul ﷺ said:
The one who apologises to his brother and he does not accept it then he will have the same sin as the one who takes customs tax (maks) (Ibn Maajah).
Keeping his secret: this is due to what has been reported by Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi with a hasan chain on the authority of Jabir who said that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
If a man speaks to another and looks around to see if anyone can hear them then this is a trust.
It is obligatory to protect the trust (Amaanah). Breaking the trust is betrayal.
The hadith indicates the obligation of keeping the secret of his brother even if he does not explicitly request this – but his body language indicates that that he is informing his brother of something while looking around in case anyone hears him. It is clear that by greater reason it applies to the person who asks him explicitly to keep his secret. This is the case if the information does not contain anything, which is a general harm to the rights of Allah. The one who is told this information should advise him and forbid the evil and he should give testimony before he is asked to do so as mentioned in the hadith:
Shall I not tell who is the best of witnesses? He is the one who testifies before being asked to do so.(Muslim).
Giving him advice: this is due to the hadith of Jabir b. ‘Abdullah who said:
“I gave a pledge to the Messenger of Allah (saw) that I would establish the prayer, give Zakah and advise every Muslim.” (Agreed upon)
The Prophet ﷺ said, (three times):
“The Religion is naseeha (sincere advice).”
We said, “To whom?”
He said, “To Allah, His Book, His Messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and the common people.”
Al-Khattabi said: “The meaning of the hadith is that the pillar of the Deen and its support is an-Naseeha (the sincere advice) such as the Prophet’s saying:
“The Hajj is ‘Arafah,” i.e. it is its pillar and the major part of Hajj.”
The rights of a Muslim on his brother
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ clarified the right of the Muslim over another Muslim and the great reward entailed in this action.
Muslim reported on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said:
A Muslim owes six obligations towards another Muslim: when you meet him, salute him saying ‘Assalamu Alaikum; when he invites you, accept his invitation; when he (or she) solicits your advice, advise him (or her) sincerely; when he (or she) sneezes and praises Allah, respond with the supplication Yarhamuka Allah (Allah have mercy on you); when he falls sick, visit him; on his death, join his funeral.
It is hoped this collection of ahadith underlining the great merits of love for one another and the different methods to achieve it will inspire us in building the bonds of brother & sisterhood tighter and stronger.
Parts of this article have been extracted from the book The Essential Elements of the Islamic Disposition.
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