A Beautiful Religion: Part Two


June 23, 2007 at 8:05 pm

A Beautiful Religion: Part Two

The beauty of Islam is directly associated with the beauty of Allah (God). The Prophet, peace upon him, relates the following tradition, “Surely God is beautiful and He loves beauty.” The beauty of God is incomparable. Therefore, the greatest delight of Paradise will be the indescribable joy of gazing upon God. This act is fittingly described as the beatific vision.

God mentions in the Qur’an: Those who do good will have exceeding good, and a great increase. The increase mentioned in this verse will be the beatific vision as related by Imam Muslim in his Sahih. This leads us to a very important point, namely, God’s incomparable beauty should elicit from us incomparable love. As humans, one of the greatest inducements of love is beauty. Incomparable beauty should elicit incomparable love. Hence, the following Qur’anic description is apt for the believers: Among people there are those who take substitutes whom they love as they should love God. Those who believe are more intense in their love of God [than their love for anything else]. (2:165)

This leads in turn to another point: one of the criticisms of Islam is that it is a religion void of love. This is a baseless accusation arising from sheer ignorance. Our love for God is a reflection of the love we receive from Him. One of our fundamental Islamic principles is the following: “What we receive from God is categorical to what we present to Him (Al-Jaza’ min Jins al-‘Amal).” We love God and He loves us. This relationship is mentioned in the following narration: “…my servant continues to draw himself/herself close [to me] with the voluntary acts until I love him/her.” As this tradition relates, our devotion to God culminates in His love for us.

This mutual love—our love for God and His love for us—is of such importance in Islam that it is the first description of the people God will bring to replace those who have turned back on the religion. He says, O, Believers! If any of you turns back on his faith then know that God will bring another people whom He will love and they will love Him. (5:54)

This idea of deep love and devotion to God is not a new one. We read in the Bible that Jesus, peace upon him, responded when asked about the first commandment:

Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. Mark 12:29-30

Hence, our existence should be defined by our love for God. Our love for God not only opens up the Divine Pathways that lead to God’s love for us, it is also liberating in that it qualifies our love for everything else in a way that wards off the harm that inevitably will accrue when we wrongly prioritize our love. Our love for many things is natural. God mentions in the Qur’an: The love of the lusts for the opposite gender, children, heaped up treasures of gold and silver, branded steeds, cattle, and cultivated fields have been made alluring to people. That is the life of the mundane world, and with God is the best repose. (3:20)

However, when our love for the opposite gender is greater than our love for God, then we may be led to fornication, adultery, promiscuity, and other negative behavior that has been forbidden by our Lord. That behavior more often than not results in venereal disease, broken homes, fatherless children, and other destructive consequences.

Similarly, when our love for money is greater than our love for God, we may be led to dealing in usury, hording, monopoly, insider trading, usurpation of the resources and wealth of others, and other destructive economic practices—all of which are forbidden by God through His Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, because of their destructiveness.

God is elevating us from the sources of our destruction, He is calling us to something higher, to a higher love, something that will lead to a higher purpose for our lives. The world wants to debase us, seducing us to misplace our love, leaving us to suffer the consequences of our heedlessness. As believers, the choice and path for us should be quite clear.

Those who believe are more intense in their love of God [than their love for anything else].