Love is in the air!
…Or at least that’s what advertisers want you to think this month. While it’s nice to express your love often, Valentine’s Day comes once a year, leaving you no choice but to do so or risk seeming heartless. For the owners of floral boutiques and chocolate shops, Eid comes in February.
But even amidst such commercialized affections, one can hardly keep from thinking about those they love. And while we do so, we are inevitably faced with some pivotal questions.
I was reminded of some of those questions when I reflected on something a friend of mine had told me. She described how it felt to be with the person she loved. In her words, the whole world disappeared when they were together. The more I reflected on her statement, the more it affected me, and the more it made me wonder.
As humans, we are made to feel love and attachment towards others. This is part of our human nature. While we can feel this way about another human being, five times a day we enter into a meeting with our Lord and Creator. I wondered how often we ever felt the whole world disappear while in His presence. Can we really claim that our love for Allah is greater than our love for anyone and anything else?
So often we think that Allah only tests us with hardships, but this isn’t true. Allah also tests with ease. He tests us with na`im (blessings) and with the things we love, and it is often in these tests that so many of us fail. We fail because when Allah gives us these blessings, we unwittingly turn them into false idols of the heart.
When Allah blesses us with money, we depend on the money rather than Allah. We forget that the source of our provision is not and never was the money, but rather it was the giver of that money. Suddenly we’re willing to sell alcohol to avoid losing money in our business, or we need to take out loans with interest to feel secure. In so doing we are foolishly—and ironically—disobeying the Provider in order to protect the provision.
When Allah blesses us with someone that we love, we forget that Allah is the source of that blessing, and we begin to love that person as we should love Allah. That person becomes the center of our world—all our concerns, thoughts, plans, fears, and hopes revolve only around them. If they are not our spouses, we are sometimes even willing to fall into haram just to be with them. And if they were to leave us, our whole world would crumble. So now, we have shifted our worship from the Source of the blessing to the blessing itself.
Allah says of such people: “And [yet], among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals [to Him]. They love them as they [should] love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an 2:165)
It is because of this tendency to lose sight after Allah has bestowed His blessings that He warns us in the Qur’an when He says: “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 Allah and His Messenger and jihad in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.’” (9:24)
It is important to note that all the things listed in the above ayah (verse) are halal (permissible) to love and are, in fact, blessings in and of themselves. In fact, some of those blessings are signs of Allah. On the one hand, Allah says: “And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.” (Qur’an 30:21)
But on the other hand, Allah warns: “O you who have believed, indeed, among your wives and your children are enemies to you, so beware of them.”
The warning in this ayah is critical. Our spouses and our children are listed here because they are among the blessings we love the most. And it is in that which you love most that you find the greatest test. So if conquering that test means seeing through a storm of greeting cards and roses to a greater love that awaits, then so be it. And when could that be more relevant?
Because after all, love is in the air.