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?”
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?