Best form of love

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What is the approvable form of love for God, the prophets, the saints, parents, children, nature and the world?

An important question

You ask: “Loving is not something voluntary. Due to natural need I love delicious foods and fruits. I also love my parents and children. I love my spouse and friends. I love virtuous people, I love life and youth, and I love the world, spring and beautiful things. Why should I not love those? How can I appropriate all those instances of love to the Divine Being and His Names and Attributes exclusively? What does that mean?”

Answer

Listen to the following four subtle points.

First: However involuntary loving is, one can direct one’s feeling of love to a certain object. For example, by convincing oneself of the ugliness of an object of love or seeing that it is either an obstacle or a mirror to another object worthy of true love, one can divert one’s feeling of love to the true object of love.

Second: I do not tell you not to love those you mention. Rather I tell you to love them in the name of Almighty God and for the sake of His love. For example, to love delicious foods and fruits on account of their being the favors and bounties of Almighty God, the All-Merciful and the All-Compassionate, is loving the Names the All-Merciful and the Giver of Bounties. This is a sort of thanksgiving. However, what shows that that love is in the name of the All-Merciful One, not the carnal self, is lawful earning, and contentment with what is lawful and consumption in gratitude and reflection.

To love and respect one’s parents on behalf of the Divine Mercy and Wisdom which have equipped them with affection and tenderness and brought you up through their compassionate hands, are included in love of God.

Also, to love and respect one’s parents on behalf of the Mercy and Wisdom which have equipped them with affection and tenderness and brought you up through their compassionate hands, are included in love of God. The sign of that love and respect being for the sake of Almighty God is that you show your parents much more love, respect and care when they become too old to benefit you in any way and cause you trouble and difficulties. The verse, If any of them or both of them reach old age with you, do not say to them “Uff!” (al-Isra’, 17.23), which calls the children to love and respect their parents in five ways and degrees, shows how important it is in the view of the Qur’an to consider the rights of the parents and how degrading and detestable filial ingratitude is.

A child who rebels against his parents and annoys them is a monster of cruelty and ingratitude.

Since a father typically prefers his children to be superior to him, the children cannot claim rights against their father. That means there can be no justifiable cause of dispute between parents and children, for a dispute arises from either envy or violation of rights. A father never feels envy for his children, and the children have no right to claim rights against their father. Even if they regard their father as wrong in his treatment of them, they cannot rebel against him.

To love one’s children with utmost care and compassion on account of their being the gifts of the All-Compassionate, All-Munificent One, is again included in love of Almighty God.

To love one’s children with utmost care and compassion on account of their being the gifts of the All-Compassionate, All-Munificent One, is again included in love of Almighty God. The sign of that love being for the sake of God is to show “becoming patience” at their death and not to wail in despair and in rebelliousness against Destiny. One should show submission to God in belief that Judgment belongs to God exclusively and think: that child was a loveable creature of God whom He placed in my custody. Now as a requirement of His Wisdom He has taken him or her back from me to a far better place. Even if I have a single apparent share in that slave of His, thousands of true shares belong to Him.

To love the friends on account of their being believing friends of Almighty God, who do good deeds, according to the principle of Loving for the sake of God--that love is also included in love of God.

The greatest charm and beauty of a woman lies in her lovable good conduct accompanied with the kindness and grace particular to womanhood, and in her elevated, serious, sincere compassion.

Also, love your spouse, your companion in life, because he or she is a sweet gracious gift of the Divine Mercy. Do not set your heart on his or her transient good-looks. To speak of a woman, the greatest charm and beauty of a woman lies in her lovable good conduct accompanied with the kindness and grace particular to womanhood, and in her elevated, serious, sincere compassion. That beauty of compassion and good conduct continue increasingly till the end of her life. It is through the love and respect for the compassion and good conduct of that delicate being that one can observe her rights to the end. If she is loved because of her physical beauty, she is deprived of her rights and the love and respect due to her at a time when she needs them most.

Since loving virtuous people like the Prophets and saints is because of their being the approved servants of Almighty God, it is in the name and for the sake of God, and therefore included in His love.

Life is a most valuable capital given by the Almighty to gain the eternal life

If one loves one’s life because it is a most valuable capital given by Almighty God to gain the eternal life and a treasury containing the faculties with which to acquire all kinds of virtues and perfections, and if one spends it in the service of God, then this love will be included in love of Almighty God, the True Object of Worship.

To love the prime of youth because it is a sweet, fine gift of Almighty God and spend it in His way is a sort of lawful love wedded to gratitude.

Nature is the realm where the inscriptions of Divine Names are exhibited

To love nature, especially in spring, reflectively, because it is a realm where the most beautiful inscriptions of the All-Wise Maker’s light-diffusing Names and the most splendid and embellished works of His Art are exhibited, means to love the Names of Almighty God.

The world is the field to sow for the Hereafter

If one loves the world only because it is the field to sow for the Hereafter, and the mirror of the Divine Names, and because it is the collection of Almighty God’s missives and a temporary guest-house of His, provided one is not under the influence of one’s carnal self, then this love is also in the name of Almighty God.

Love the world and the creatures in it not because of themselves but in the name of the meaning they contain

In short: Love the world and the creatures in it not because of themselves but in the name of the meaning they contain. Do not say, How beautiful they are!, but say How beautifully they have been made! Do not love others than Him at heart and do not have your heart set on others save on Him. For the heart is the mirror of the Eternally Besought-of-All and belongs to Him. So pray to Him: O God! Provide me with love of You and the love of what will make me near to You!

Thus, if all the sorts of love we have so far mentioned are in the name of God, then they both give a painless, pure pleasure and are themselves the means of union with no separation at all. Besides, they cause increase in love of God and also mean gratitude giving pure pleasure, and a reflection which is itself pure love.

To cite an example: If a noble king grants you an apple in his presence, you will receive two sorts of pleasure from it and feel two kinds of love because of it. First, you love the apple because it is an apple. This will give you as much pleasure as an apple can give. The love you feel for the apple is not in the name of the king; it arises from your love of yourself because you love the apple because of the pleasure it gives you. This kind of pleasure is transient; it passes when you finish eating the apple. Moreover, the king may not be pleased with such an attitude towards his present.

The second sort of pleasure and love arising from the gift of the king are directly related to the king. If you love and respect the apple because it is an embodiment of the royal compliment to you, then this love is in the name and for the sake of the king himself. The pleasure which will arise from such a compliment is a thousand times greater than the pleasure coming from eating the apple. Such an attitude towards the apple is also pure gratitude to the king for his gift, and the love shown for the apple is in fact for the king himself.

Love the bounties you benefit from on account of their being the favors of the Divine Mercy

Likewise, loving bounties—all the foods and fruits—granted to us because of themselves and the pleasure they give, is for the sake of the carnal self and is itself a carnal love. The pleasure coming from eating and drinking is transient and mixed with pains. If one loves the bounties one benefits from on account of their being the favors of the Divine Mercy and the fruits of the Divine Bountifulness and Benevolence and if one receives pleasure from them and feels appetite for them in appreciation of the Divine grace in them, then this love will be both pure gratitude and pure pleasure without any pains.

Third point: Love of the Divine Names has degrees and levels. As is pointed out above, sometimes it occurs that one loves the Divine Names because of one’s love of their works in the universe. One sometimes loves them on account of their being the titles of the Divine perfections. Sometimes it happens that one loves the Divine Names because one is in limitless need of them due to man’s comprehensive nature.

Since man is a noble, elevated being with a comprehensive nature, he needs one thousand and one Divine Names in so many circumstances of destitution.

For example, if at a time when you seek help in utter despair for either your relatives or the poor or for weak and needy creatures, someone appears unexpectedly and brings them the good you wished for, how you will love such a one (on account of his munificence and benevolence and always be thankful to him for those qualities. Similarly, consider only Almighty God’s Names the All-Merciful and the All-Compassionate: since through the manifestations of those Names of His, Almighty God favors in the world with varieties of bounties all your believing parents and forefathers and all your friends and beloved ones whom you love and have compassion for, and since He will make both you and them happy in Paradise in the world of eternal bliss through seeing Him and through all the varieties of Paradisal pleasures and through bringing you all together—you may understand how much those two Names are worthy of love and to what extent the spirit of man needs them. You may also understand how it is proper and necessary to say: All praise be to God for His being the All-Merciful and the All-Compassionate.

With its creatures being its amiable residents and loveable adornments, the world is like a home for you which you feel deep connection with and whose conditions always affect you deeply.

Also, with its creatures being its amiable residents and loveable adornments, the world is like a home for you which you feel deep connection with and whose conditions always affect you deeply. You may perceive with a slight attention how much your spirit loves, and to what degree you need, the Names the All-Wise and the All-Sustaining of the One Who has organized the world and the creatures therein and governs and grows and sustains them with perfect wisdom.

Again, you may understand after a little reflection to what extent your spirit needs the Names the Heir, the All-Reviving, the Permanent, the Munificent, the Giver of Life and the Benevolent of the One Who brings at their death all those whom you feel connection with and at whose decay you are grieved, out of the darkness of eternal extinction and makes them settle in a place much more beautiful than this world.

Since man is a noble, elevated being with a comprehensive nature, he needs one thousand and one Divine Names in so many circumstances of destitution. A manifold need is eagerness. Manifold eagerness is love. Manifold love is adoration. In proportion to the degree of the perfection of the spirit, love increases and flourishes in degrees according to the levels of the manifestations of the Divine Names. Since the Names are the titles with which the Majestic Being manifests Himself, love of the whole of the Names turns into love of the Divine Being. Now out of thousands of levels of manifestations of the Names the Just, the All-Wise, the Truth and the All-Compassionate we will point out only one as an example:

A comparison in order to be able to see the full manifestation of the Divine Names the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate and the Truth

If you want to see the Names the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate and the Truth in full manifestation in wisdom and justice, consider the following comparison:

Supposing an army consists of four hundred companies each of which have different uniforms of their own, are provided with different kinds of rations, equipped with different types of weaponry, and use different medicines when the occasion arises. If these companies are all situated together, without considering their being different companies, and yet, out of his perfect compassion and based on his extraordinary power and miraculously encompassing knowledge and with utmost justice and wisdom, a single peerless king equips each with their particular uniforms and weaponry and provides them with foods and medicines proper to their need without any confusion and forgetting none of them and without needing any help--you may understand what a powerful, compassionate, just and munificent king he is.

Similarly, if you desire to see the manifestations of Almighty God’s Names the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate and the Truth in wisdom and justice, look at the magnificent armies of plants and animals consisting of hundreds of thousands of different families, genera and species which set up their tents on the face of the earth in spring: although all those families and species exist one mixed with the other, and each have different kinds of uniforms, provisions, weaponry, instructions, life-styles and demobilization, and although they have no tongues with which to voice their needs and no power to meet them, see how the One with the Names the Truth, the All-Merciful, the All-Provider, the All-Compassionate and the All-Munificent, provides, maintains and raises them in perfect justice and wisdom and without confusing and forgetting any of them.

Is it ever possible that another hand should have had a part in this amazing order and all-comprehensive organization based on an absolute measure and balance? Who other than the Single One of Unity, the Absolutely All-Wise and All-Powerful One would have a hand in this art, regulation and government, and this raising and sustaining?

 

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