Have you seen a passionate gardener, who not only looks after the plants, but also talks and sings to them? He is always concerned about the plants’ health and yield. He ties the weak stems to a metal rod in order to make them upright and strong. He uses herbicides to diminish undesirable plants which harms his garden. Whenever he sees the feeble plant becoming productive, he is filled with happiness, gives thanks to Allah for it and shares the fruit with his family and friends.
Well, you are the gardener of your own body and soul; the knowledge you feed your body is the water and fertilizers, which are essential for the soul, fasting and consciousness of Allah are the herbicides for eradicating desires, the metal rod is the food and drink for strengthening the healthy body. When the weak plant is well taken care of, the fruits would be loving yourself and others for the sake of Allah .
We need to understand the need to fulfill “love for me”. Loving ourselves first might seem a little egotistical, but if the intention is to please Allah , to serve people and diffuse goodness merely for Him, then it won’t be egoistic at all!
A few days back, I questioned my youngest seven year old sister, who she loves the most, and gave her three options – Ammi (mom), Papa (dad) or yourself. I expected her answer to be either mom or dad but to my amazement, she replied, “I love myself very much.” Surprised, I asked her, “Why is that so?” She gave me a cheeky smile and said, “It’s because that if I love myself first, I can become a good doctor and then take care of them when they grow old.” Her reply made me contemplate deeply, about how loving yourself does good to others. Even as a seven year old, she knew that if she completes her studies first and accomplishes her goal in life, she could love and give proper care to others.
Though the gardener has a deep love for his garden, he still has to take actions for its betterment. That’s how true love works; a few restrictions, precautions and improvements are necessary and then, ultimately we rejoice at its success.
Why should we love ourselves for the sake of Allah ?
To love others, we must first love ourselves; and the more we love others for the sake of Allah , our love for ourselves for the sake of Allah also increases. Thus, it’s important to know if we love ourselves enough or not.
Prof. Hendricks, Ph.D., a leader in the fields of relationship transformation and body-mind therapies, says that if throughout the day, every day, we find ourselves silently criticizing others, then it’s the biggest clue that we are not loving ourselves enough.
Early Muslims were cognizant of this fact and Hamdun al-Qassar had said,
If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to do this, then know that the shortcoming is in your own selves [Shu’ab al-Iman]
Loving yourself is not about being selfish or arrogant. Loving and accepting yourself will ensure that you are a happy and healthy person. It means that you are content with what Allah has given you, and you embrace your flaws and work to better them. Loving yourself means that you are able to be grateful for your blessings, and wish the same for your fellow brothers and sisters. You understand that you are valuable to the ummah and that your actions can bring benefit to society. Feelings of bitterness and jealousy can never enter your heart, so you are able to love others easily and sincerely.
Why should we love others for the sake of Allah ?
To start with, there is an invaluable reward, as Allah says He loves those who love others for His sake, and if Allah , Al Wadud (The Loving) starts loving a person, imagine the prolific rewards and eternal contentment which will be honored to him, not only in the dunya but also in the hereafter. Prophet Muhammad said,
A man set out to visit a brother (in faith) in another town and Allah sent an angel on his way. When the man met the angel, the latter asked him: Where do you intend to go? He said: I intend to visit my brother in this town. The angel said: Have you done any favor to him? He said: No, I have no desire except to visit him because I love him for the sake of Allah, the Exalted, and Glorious. Thereupon the angel said: I am a messenger to you from Allah (to inform you) that Allah loves you as you love him (for His sake). [Sahih Muslim]
Isn’t this awe-inspiring? By loving someone for the sake of Allah , we can gain the love of the Highest and which love is better than His?
How to love yourself for the sake of Allah
1. Keep the soul alive by learning more and more
Knowledge is the appetite for our mind and soul; it is alive and healthy once fed, but stops nourishing if the diet is ignored. Allah says,
There is a direct link between knowledge and fearing Allah , the more we gain the fruits of knowledge, the more we will fear Allah , which eventually will lead us to maximize our good deeds and build a strong foundation.
2. A healthy mind dwells in a healthy body
Knowledge, soul, and body are directly proportional to one another; if needs of two are fulfilled but the other one is incomplete or poorly done, all of them are negatively affected. Body definitely needs a lot of exercise and activeness to be agile and in shape.
3. Be a person others can rely on
The Prophet said,
The believers, in their mutual friendship, mercy, and affection, are like one body: if any part of it complains, the rest of the body will also stay awake in pain. [Sahih Muslim]
We have to make sure that if anyone is in need of help, we have to be there to support them. This will eventually increase mutual love, respect and further understanding. There are two types of people who are unforgettable: the ones who help us in times of adversity and the ones who leave us in our downfall. We need to try to be the ones who helps and cares in the times where others’ need us.
Loving others for the sake of Allah
1. Make excuses for people
Think about your mistakes and faults, how many slips and mistakes we’ve committed, and how we expect for immediate forgiveness and good treatment. So be the person who forgives fast, and only thinks about the positive qualities others’ possess. With dua and sincere intention, Allah will grant us the ability to ignore negative suspicions and help us master this problem. I’ve found that Sr. Yasmin Mogahed, author, said: “Sometimes the reason we can’t forgive is that we don’t see our own flaws. We spend our lives holding onto the wrongs others have done to us, but we don’t see all the wrongs we have also done to others.”
2. Promote the greeting of peace
The Messenger of Allah said,
“By Him in Whose Hand is my life! You will not enter Jannah until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I inform you of something which, if you do, you will love one another? Promote greetings amongst yourselves.” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi]
It is more commonplace nowadays to not give the Islamic greeting to strangers, and even those whom you know, due to embarrassment or bad blood between people. Whatever your personal feelings are, remember that giving salam fosters love and good will, because you are actively wishing peace for that person. Remember, Allah says,
“They will not hear therein [Paradise] ill speech or commission of sin – Only a saying: “Peace, peace.” [Quran: Chapter 56, Verse 25-16]
Don’t we want to be of those in Jannah who give the greeting of peace to others? Therefore, spread the greeting of Paradise now, and in sha Allah the reward will be great.
3. Pray for others in their absence
The Messenger of Allah said,
“By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, none of you has believed until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself of goodness.” [Sunan an-Nasa’i]
How can we develop this kind of attitude? Make a lot of dua (supplications) for others in their absence. This will develop pure love for others in your heart. Also, try to learn about others people’s situations and their wants and needs. This will help you understand why they behave in a particular manner and lead you to make specific dua for their hardships.
4. Let them know you love them
Many a time we don’t verbally express how much we love someone, but this is an important thing to do. Anas ibn Malik said that a man was with the Prophet when another man passed by.
The first man, “O Messenger of Allah , indeed I truly love this man.” The Prophet asked him, “Have you let him know that?” He said, “No.” The Prophet said, “Tell him.” He caught up with him and told him, “Truly I love you for the sake of Allah ,” and the man said, “May Allah love you who loves me for His sake.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]
So you express your love to your spouse, your children, your parents, and your brothers and sisters! Simple words will increase love in the hearts, and you will be known to Allah and amongst people, that you are a loving person.
Climb up the ladder, go up, up, up!
- Start recording your daily activities on a diary, two times a day. In the morning, write what you have to do, which additional positive steps you need to take. At night, once you are completely relaxed, take out your diary and note everything down, about what you did.
- Assess your performance by comparing what you thought you might do and what actually happened, this will give you further knowledge about your mistakes. Frequent recordings will help you be aware of what you are doing and what should actually be done.
- Clear the fog and visualize the true path. How abundant these rewards are! However sometimes when quibbles and arguments dig holes between people and when misunderstandings or mistreatment creates further disagreements and distances, it’s hard to think optimistically about that situation. But keeping in mind the prolific amount of rewards in the hereafter, it will be motivating us to be patient and positive.
- Renew the intention that whatever you are doing, it is just for Allah’s sake and for the ones who might feel it hard, it won’t be though anymore because if you are reminding yourself that each and every act is for the Merciful, automatically when you meet and greet people, this intent will be present in your mind.
- Exercise by repeating good acts and, most importantly, make the correct intention, this will not only help you love others for His sake, but also give you a very optimistic and nonjudgmental vision about this trivial life.
I hope that you all found this article helpful and I pray to make this journey of success easy and peaceful, Ameen!
Which tip did you find the most effective? Share it with us in the comments section below!