Please Note: The views expressed in this blog are my personal views and understanding. These views do not represent Islam. Since, I am a Muslim, all the views expressed are seen through the lens of Islam as I see it. It may or may not coincide with Islamic teachings due to my personal shortcomings. This is a Muslim's blog, not a website teaching Islam. Everything good that is written is from Allah, every mistake below is from my own self.  TaqabbAllahu Minni wa minkum wa astaghfiruAllah, All comments are welcome.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Oh! So Its Valentine's Day... Note for Muslims


When we see the advertisements on the TV and print media it feels like the whole world loves each other so deeply. They are buying greeting cards, flowers, chocolates and electronic gadgets to express their love. There are songs about love and peace all over in this season and hearts and ribbons decorating each shop. Just change the channel on the TV and we see the reality, we see the wars, the killings, the crime rates, the domestic violence, the abuse, the exploitation, the greed and the ever increasing hatred. So, how does it all fit in?

Just On one hand while giving and receiving gifts is encouraged in Islam, one needs to look a little deeply to see how these newly invented special days are to be taken from an Islamic perspective. Why look deeply? even a really simple question about the Valentine's day can convince a less knowledgeable Muslim about the reality of this day. When someone says Valentine's day, what comes to your mind? a) A married couple or b) An unmarried couple dating/seeing each other ? How many times have you seen valentine's day products geared towards married couples? Are the words 'my valentine' synonymous with 'my wife / my husband' or with 'my boyfriend / my girl friend'? The promoters of this day are specially targeting the unmarried, young to middle aged, middle class and upper class population. The day is a sign and symbol of relationships between male and females which are beyond the sanctity of marriage and it promotes and encourages unlawful interactions between the two genders. This one reason is enough for a Muslim to keep away from celebrations and gatherings organized to commemorate this day. To participate in any event associated with this day is equal to patronizing it and propagating falsehood and the forbidden. An aware and concerned Muslim should refrain oneself from any participation as well as discourage fellow Muslims from involving in such gatherings or celebrations.

We are humans and by nature we are designed to love each other. No matter how much we want to refrain from participating in this day, yet the amount of reminders we receive through the ads all around us can still make us remember our loved ones, who are with us or those who are gone.

Most of the times, those who are in love (married couple)* describe the feeling as being lost in the person's presence as the whole world fades away. SubhanAllah, so strong is their love that the whole world fades away when they are together (married couple)*. We as Muslims claim to love our Creator and the Prophet of Allah (SAWS) more than anything else.

If we claim to love Allah the most and his prophet (SAWS) more than anything else, does our world fade away when we are offering our salah five times a day, in the presence of Allah? Do we experience the bliss and calm, the peace and serenity in the presence of our Lord, like the feeling described by a married couple in love? Or do we need to work on developing and strengthening this love, the love which is an obligatory love, the love which can take us to our final destination- jannah. So, now is the time to start and this love requires no valentine's day to strengthen itself or express itself, any moment, any place is fine to express our love for Allah and his prophet, a tiny sincere teardrop in our eyes can be far better than a million diamond gifts in the sight of our beloved Creator.

Infact, it has been made obligatory upon to love Allah and His messenger more than anything else to complete our faith in the sight of Allah. Anas (RA) quotes the prophet as saying:

“None of you is a true believer unless I am dearer to him than his parents, children and all others.” (Related by Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Al-Nassaie and Ibn Majah).

This point is clearly illustrated in the following conversation which happened between the prophet (SAWS) and Umar (RA).

Abdullah ibn Hisham, a companion of the Prophet, reports: “We were with the Prophet (peace be upon him) and he held Umar ibn Al-Khattab’s hand. Umar said to him: ‘Messenger of God! I love you more than anyone and anything else, apart from myself.’ The Prophet said to him: ‘By Him who holds my soul in His hand, this will not do, unless you love me more than you love yourself.’ Umar said: ‘Well, now you are indeed dearer to me than my own self.’ The Prophet said: ‘Now, Umar, you have got it right.’” (Related by Al-Bukhari).

The love for Allah and his messenger is obligatory as also understood from the following evidences:

[Yet there are people who take (for worship) others besides Allah, as equal (with Allah): They love them as they should love Allah. But those of faith (Muslims) are overflowing in their love for Allah…..] (Al-Baqarah 2:165)

Allaah says that which translates as: “Say [O Muhammad], if your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allaah and His Messenger and Jihaad [i.e., fighting] in His cause, then wait until Allaah executes His command. And Allaah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.” (At-Tawbah: 24).


“The Prophet is more worthy of the believers than themselves.” (Al-Ahzaab: 6).

“Say [O Muhammad], 'If you should love Allaah, then follow me, [so] Allaah will love you …'” (Aal 'Imraan: 31).

“You will not find a people who believe in Allaah and the Last Day having affection for those who oppose Allaah and His Messenger, even if they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred. Those – He has decreed within their hearts faith and supported them with spirit from Him. And We will admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide eternally. Allaah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him – those are the party of Allaah. Unquestionably, the party of Allaah – they are the successful.” (Al-Mujaadilah: 22)



But, as a human, even Muslims can end up in love with someone. What a Muslim needs to realize is that: Our beloved Allah is the one who has bestowed upon us the love of someone or love for them in our hearts and this worldly love should never compete with our love for Allah and his prophet. We should always be mindful and thankful to Allah and when something given by Allah is taken back, we should remain a thankful slave, bowing down to His decisions and asking for His mercy. A Muslim will not get depressed on losing someone he or she loved, if we they realize that Allah is the Giver and Taker of all things and to Allah is our final return. Being sad upon a loss is a part of human nature, but sadness should not extend into depression and transgression against Allah.

The best reason to love someone, is to love them because of our love for Allah. This way, we clearly make a distinction between our love for Allah which reigns supreme and our love for someone else. The following hadith explains how we can attain the sweetness of emaan (faith):

Anas (RA) narrated the Prophet (SAWS) as saying: “There are three qualities which are certain to give anyone the sweetness of faith: to love God and His Messenger more than anyone else, to love a person for no purpose other than for God’s sake, and to hate to relapse into disbelief after God has saved him from it as much as to hate to be cast in the fire.” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and Al-Nassaie).

Yes, to love a person for the sake of Allah, to love them to please Allah. Even if you lost this loved one, you will always remember that your love for this person was only to please Allah due to your love for Allah- and the love of Allah is never lost.

A with any love, our love is expressed by actions and the actions which express our love for Allah and his messenger are the actions which are prescribed by Him in the deen of Islam. Allah (SWT) has promised great rewards for this love we have for Him. The sahaba (companions of the prophet) had gained this level of understanding and level of love for Allah and his messenger, one hadith which shows us how much they loved the messenger is quoted below:

‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, reported that a man came to the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam and said: "O messenger of Allaah! You are dearer to me than my family, my children and even myself. Sometimes I am sitting in my home and I remember you, and then I am overwhelmed with the desire to come and see you. When I think about your death and mine; I realise that when you die you will at the rank of the Prophets in paradise, but I fear that if I enter paradise, I will not be able to see you." ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, continued: "The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam did not answer this man until Allaah revealed this verse “And whoever obeys Allaah and the Messenger – those will be with the ones upon whom Allaah has bestowed favour of the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of the truth, the martyrs and the righteous. And excellent are those as companions.” (An-Nisaa’: 69)." (At-Tabari and others).

SubhanAllah!, a verse of the Quran revealed when one sahaba expressed his sincere love for the messenger.

Which of us does not want to be with the prophet and his great companions in paradise?
We are humans and sometimes, we are not able to perform the innumerable extra prayers and actions as performed by the sahaba. But, is there a way to get close to them without performing all the extra worship, charity and actions? (Extra here means the nafil/ optional actions). Yes, the following ahadith are an answer:

Ibn Mas’ood, may Allaah be pleased with him, and others narrated that a man came to the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam and said: "O Messenger of Allaah! What do you say about a man who loved some people yet did not do what it takes in order for him to be with them (in the hereafter" The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam replied: “One will be with whom he loves” (Bukhaari, Muslim and others).

Anas bin Maalik, may Allaah be pleased with him, said that a man asked the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam: "When will the (last) hour come?" He sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam replied: “What have you done to prepare for it?” The man replied: "Nothing, except the love I have for Allaah and His Messenger." The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam replied: “You will be (on the Day of Judgment) with those whom you love.” Anas bin Maalik, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: "We (his companions) never rejoiced at anything more than his words, when he said “You will be (on the Day of Judgment) with those whom you love.”
Abu Dharr, may Allaah be pleased with him, said to the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam: "O Messenger of Allaah! What is the status of a man, who loves a group of people, yet cannot perform the same (righteous) actions as they do?" He sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam replied: “O Abu Dharr! You will be with those whom you love.” Abu Dharr added: "I love Allaah and His Messenger." He sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam he said: “You will be with those whom you love.” Then Abu Dharr, may Allaah be pleased with him, repeated his statement and so the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam repeated his. (Ahmad, Abu Daawood and Daarami).

So YES! It is possible to get ourselves closer to them even if we are unable to perform the extra actions they performed (optional actions). Our sincere love for the prophet and his companions may, inshAllah get us there.

May Allah give us the correct understanding of His deen, give us the clean hearts and intentions to perform actions for His sake. May Allah give us the heart to love Him and his messenger more than anything else. May Allah put love and mercy among this Ummah and bind us into the strong bond of Islam and unite us against the oppression and falsehood. May Allah raise us close to our beloved prophet and his noble companions and May Allah give us a high station in paradise with His blessings.

Ameen


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* The reason I wrote 'married couple' twice in parenthesis, is to remind the reader that it is not even to be imagined that an unmarried Muslim couple will share such moments together physically, because it is explicitly forbidden.