LOVE—WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN?

ARTICLE

PART I

 

Love is a noble feeling that is a significant part of our lives.  We have been created with the desire to love and be loved.  Over the course of history, I believe, there are fewer words that have been so often discussed, interpreted, misunderstood and misconstrued as the word love.

 

Love is a feeling which generates intense happiness, joy and benefit for those who experience it.  It is not a necessity of life but it enhances it, makes it more meaningful and decorates it with pleasure.

 

People claim to love different things in their lives—beauty, body, place, time, foods, incidents, hobbies, or style of certain things we do in life can be loved.  To explain my point, some people claim to love sweets while others are drawn to savory tastes.  We label our every day pleasures and preferences as our love using terms such as ‘I love to do’, ‘I love to say’, ‘I love to have’, ‘I love so and so’.  The excessive use of the term for mundane things has devalued its meaning and snatched its beauty and weight.

 

Today, many people are confused between need, want and love.  My hope of sharing this topic with you is for us, especially our youth, to have an in-depth understanding of the topic so they can understand their feelings and allocate them appropriately.

 

Growing up in a materialistic environment that lacks spirituality, morals and right understanding, causes people to become selfish, greedy, and lonely inside. They become hollow and superficial—those who are concerned with the outer and neglect the inner, those who are more interested in the body and external beauty and neglect the inner beauty of the soul, manners and character of the person.  They choose companions, jobs or even a place using their emotions instead of thinking and trying to understand where this love and emotion could lead them.

 

In a state like this a lot of principles and understandings of life get lost and are replaced by confusion.  Imagine when confusion becomes the norm and the normal beautiful aspects of life become confusing!  Even our own feelings!  To the point that now we have a lot of tragedy, oppression, aggression, and even criminal acts carried out in the name of love.

 

SO WHAT EXACTLY IS LOVE? 

 

Some people say love is to give. It is true!

 

Some say love is the ultimate loyalty and belonging. I agree!

 

Some say love is to make the one you love happy or to please the one you love. Agreed!

 

Some say love is to be able to give everything and do anything for the one you love. OK!

 

Some say love is to give unconditionally forever. Sure!

 

Some say love is ultimate sacrifice for the one you love. Agreed!

 

We can continue explaining the different perspectives and understandings of love from different people but I want you to consider this:

 

How many people today suffer, end up in jail, and even lose their lives in the name of love?  How many people end up with a broken heart and deal with a lot of drama, sadness and horror from a so called love relationship?  How many people suffer loss of wealth, time, physical, emotional and mental abilities, all in all a lot of damage over love?  So where does all this sadness, tragedy and drama come from?

 

Let’s go step by step and examine a few questions in order to reach a comprehensive understanding.

 

If love is so beautiful and is supposed to generate happiness and pleasure, how does it end this way?

 

People are created with two powerful internal forces:

  1. Feeling and emotion
  2. Thinking and intellect

These two forces are driven and ignited or can be channeled according to the person’s knowledge, understanding of life, faith, upbringing, and the influence of the most significant companion in the person’s life.  The bottom line is that people’s feelings or thinking are shaped by these elements among many others.

 

This is what develops strength in the feeling or thinking and influences the purpose and goal that this feeling or thinking generates.  This produces the outcome of this feeling or thinking which then reflects in the personality, character, person’s motivation in life and what he is trying to achieve; and can eventually lead the person to success or failure, happiness or tragedy.

 

You add to that the fact that some people are thinking and intellect driven while others are more emotional than intellectual.  In simpler words, some people become emotional and then think later while others think too much and their emotion is very minimal.

 

LOVE IS POWER!

 

Some say love is blind.

 

Others call it selfish.

 

And yet others say love is to take.

 

I want you to open your heart and eyes and examine love as a feeling that is generated according to the person’s understanding of life, his priority in life, his belief, what he is thinking about, what he wants to achieve, and what his goal in life is, among many other factors.  For example, those who believe that money is the answer, they love money, love rich people, love jobs that can give them big money, love men or women who are wealthy; by this way everything will be driven from money perspective.  Those who love prestige will surround themselves with such people.  Those who are into body and looks surround themselves with similar people.

 

How many people actually consider the person’s character, manners and soul while initiating a relationship?  How many people check whether they are comfortable with the soul of the other person and his or her presence?  Above mentioned are just a few examples but the same goes for everything that people might love such as music, dancing, drugs, alcohol, camping, education and degrees, gaining knowledge etc.

 

All that I have shared with you so far is to give you a glimpse of our current situation.  I believe that over time we as humans have lost many values including basic fundamental understanding of life.  If our feeling or thinking is not driven by justice, harmony, peace and happiness then it will be driven by the need of accumulation which causes us to become greedy, selfish, stingy, and oppressive to each other. This causes us to be hollow individuals who are driven by emotions that can lead them to tragedy, hurt, loss and mischief towards others.

 

We underestimate the consequences of this beautiful, noble value, one of the most powerful elements that we humans posses—our feelings and the term love!

 

TWO FORCES OF FEELING

 

Human beings are driven by two forces of feeling—positive and negative.  Positive is the feeling of love and negative is the feeling of fear.  Positive feeling can have a great impact on us as individuals, group or the whole society.  Whereas negative feelings leave a damaging impact on us as individuals, collective and a society.  For example, you can examine jails, hospitals, and rehab centers to find out how many people end up in these places because of a bad or broken relationship or after failed love to a wrong person.

 

Thus far, all the explanation is to help you realize the magnitude of this beautiful force called love!  If we channel this force with the right person for a right cause, to elevate ourselves with this beautiful gift which the Creator has given us, it can be the most powerful experience of our lives.

 

LOVE—IS IT ACTION, OR EMOTION?

 

Often love is used as a noun which describes an emotion that we experience.  However, I believe in the interpretation of the term love as a verb, not a noun.  It is an action because it generates a cycle of successive actions—positive or negative.  Look at how someone you love can change your life forever, whether good or bad.

 

Even if you disagree with me, if you continue to bear with me I promise to help you reach a beautiful understanding of this topic which will not only change your life in this world, but also the hereafter!

 

MEANING OF LOVE

 

Love is a feeling and emotion which generates a desire to achieve what is pleasurable and beneficial to us!

 

Stop and reflect over this statement!

 

Read it multiple times!  Don’t rush!

 

From now on, the words are weighty.

 

We as humans normally love those who are beneficial to us.  Meaning the more we believe something or someone can benefit us, serve us well, or be good to us, the more it strengthens our feelings for that thing or person.

 

Normally people are created with a sense which makes them love goodness.  We love those who are good and kind, meaning people with good qualities.  Apply this to every aspect of our lives.  We like fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh bread, fresh air, clean water, we love beauty and goodness, we love good manners and conduct, and we love those who serve us.  This is why even in a business the key to success is good service!   When you trickle this down to individual level, we love to get closer to those who benefit us or generate pleasure to us.

 

WILL IT LAST FOREVER?

 

All the pleasure and benefit from material life are limited.  Everything people love eventually fades and ceases to exist.  Everyone that we love will grow older and die.  Money comes and goes.  Certain foods that we love today might become a health hazard for us tomorrow.  By this way, every pleasure is limited and cannot be forever!

 

The same is applicable to our feelings.  When we love someone and this love fades or something breaks it, or our feelings change towards this object of our love, we cannot handle it.  We become miserable or we get broken inside.  This is because the expectation was very high and we were negligent from the beginning of the fact that nothing can last forever!

 

Youth doesn’t last!

 

Beauty doesn’t last!

 

Life doesn’t last!

 

People do not last! They die!

 

The weather constantly changes!

 

Everything is in motion and we cannot demand things to remain at a certain status.  It will never happen—from financial, economical, social or political aspect.  Everything goes through a cycle and we have no control over it.  Anything can change anytime without prediction or planning, whether we like it or we don’t.  This is the fact and reality.

 

DEVELOPING A NEW PERSPECTIVE

  • If life is unpredictable, how can I have a successful love story?
  • How do I search for love?
  • Whom to love?
  • Why I love so and so?

 

Asking the right questions will give us different perspectives in life.  These perspectives and understandings will help us to govern our feelings and emotions so that when the time comes, we can use them or share them for the right purpose and right cause.  This way, we can achieve the maximum pleasure and benefit for ourselves.

 

People might argue that this is a selfish approach.  Actually it is the opposite!  It is the most healthy and positive attitude!  One of our elders used to say that if you want to be loved, you have to love; and if you love, you have to give!

 

This brings us to the most crucial point: Who is the one?

  • Who do we love?
  • Who do we share this feeling with?
  • Who do we sacrifice for?
  • And for what purpose?
  • And since love is supposed to be devotion, who do we devote ourselves to?
  • Who do we give ourselves to?

Aren’t these questions important for our lives? Or is our love so cheap that we are willing to throw it anywhere?  Who deserves our love?  Who can really value it?

 

So what is more important: love or the one we are going to love?

 

GOALsS INFLUENCE FEELINGS

 

Love will happen—whether you are smart or naïve, you understand or you do not, you are intelligent or foolish!

 

Bear with me and I will try to help you achieve the maximum understanding of this feeling and beautiful force.

 

As I said earlier, according to our understanding of life, our faith, and our perspective in life, our goals and priorities will change.  Our goals and priorities in life are what define us and make us who we are.  They are the driving force within us which cause us to love something or help us achieve what we are looking for.

 

Take the example of a dancer; s/he will end up loving a dancer too or a trainer.  The person who loves to drink ends up loving a companion who will spend time with him at a bar or pub.  Those who love sweets keep eating them.  People who love traveling and nature, they love similar people.  People who love to write are the same.  A woman, who loves jewels and wealth, has to love someone rich who can provide what she loves.  She may not necessarily love the person but will end up marrying him because he can provide what she loves.  There are many other examples that I can share with you but I am sure you got my point.

 

People love those who can provide for them the things they love or the things they want to achieve!

 

Even then, this benefit and therefore this love is limited because it is bound by age, means, health, wealth and life which are all perishable.

 

BELIEVERS ARE COURAGEOUS

 

Did we ever really think about who it is that can truly benefit us in this life, at the moment of death and life after death?

 

If you have, you have to be a believer of the Creator and of life after death.  An atheist wouldn’t care about any of this.  Death is an inevitable reality of life yet most people treat it as if it was doubtful.  People claim to believe in it though nobody wants to talk about it, let alone actively prepare for it.  This is the real future of our existence yet farthest from our thoughts.

 

Everyone prepares for future but how many people factor in sickness, illness or death in this equation?  It is not in the agenda; almost like it will not happen!  But practically and realistically speaking, none of us will live forever, neither will any of us be healthy forever.  Meaning we have to die—whether we like it or we don’t!  Whether we believe or we don’t! When, how, where…we do not know!

 

This discussion leads us to our next set of questions:

  • If we believe we are going to die, can any of our possessions or all the material life benefit us at the moment of death and after death?
  • Can any human being, money, or status help us at the moment of death or after death?
  • Can any of our relationships or love stories last forever?

If you are still with me, I will take you to the next stage of understanding.

 

THE ULTIMATE MEANING, BENEFIT AND PLEASURE OF LOVE

 

Human beings are created with a beautiful sense of quality.  It is a built-in characteristic; call it quality, call it nature, or genetic.  It is part of us as humans.  It is the fact that we love goodness.  We love anything that is good or that can be good to us.  We love high quality!

 

All of us carry two aspects: good and bad; things that we like and those that we don’t like.

 

That is why when people at the start of a relationship believe that they will get everything they want; they end up miserable because it will never happen!  No status, money, person or pleasure can ever fully satisfy a human soul and cause complete happiness and fulfillment.

 

This is the reason we find supermodels, multi millionaires and billionaires, famous actors, successful business persons, famous athletes, and pioneer researchers and scientists—those who are materialistically accomplished to be unhappy.  Majority of them are found to be depressed, under medications, using heavy drugs and alcohol, involved in crazy actions and abnormal acts, all in the attempts of seeking fulfillment.  A lot of them have miserable lives and a lot of them end up committing suicides because of their hollow, unknown, empty and unfulfilled lives.

 

Why?

 

Even if human beings achieve everything that they believe will bring them pleasure and joy, or love something that they think will generate happiness and contentment, it ends up as a mirage.  Usually it ends up being the complete opposite of their expectations.

 

Even though we see it and we hear about it, we are still running after the same.  At this point we should agree that nothing from the material world can bring real love, happiness, and pleasure as people think it would.  This either doesn’t happen at all or if it does, it is for a very short time and soon fades away.

 

IS THERE A ‘HAPPILY EVER AFTER’?

 

Let’s look into the love story that will never end.  The love that brings the true happily ever after in the form of infinite success, happiness, pleasure, peace, and tranquility.  This can only be achieved when the person has fallen in love with the One who Himself is forever—the Almighty Creator!

 

In order to step on this ladder of divine love, let us first examine a few questions:

  • Who is the Creator?
  • What is He capable of?
  • What is His quality?
  • How and what can He give us or provide to us in:
    • This life?
    • To our bodies?
    • To our souls?
    • To our existence?
    • At the time of our deaths?
    • And in life after death?

What we need to do is:

    • Learn the Creator’s names and attributes.

 

  • Study the Qur’an well, especially Makki Qur’an (the part of Qur’an that was revealed in Makkah).

Once we do this we will discover His qualities, how much we need Him in our lives, and we will come to the conclusion that He is the ONLY one who deserves ultimate love.  After gaining this knowledge we have to fall in love with the Creator, His message and the Messenger SAW who delivered this message.  This love then drives us to live according to the will and pleasure of the Creator, Allah SWT and devote our lives to Him.

 

WHAT WILL WE GAIN FROM THIS RELATIONSHIP?

 

We will gain a continuous relationship that will never end.  A relationship that is full of support, happiness, pleasure, caring, benefit—call it 100% successful relationship!  Most of all this relationship is with the One who will never divorce us or forget us, get sick, or die.  It is with the one who will forgive us despite all our mistakes.  He will guard us, protect us, care for us, govern us, take care of our body and soul and help us to have a successful end.  He is the One who can give us peaceful ending and the ultimate success and pleasure which is to let us enter Paradise.

 

When we study the topic of ‘Love of the Creator’ and what kind of love He will offer us and the bounties and benefits of this relationship with Him, we will discover that this relationship actually really starts with our death and its pleasure is for infinity.

 

He SWT not only promises to love us in return but to please us in this life and the hereafter.  Now our lives will be full of peace, tranquility, joy, security, assurance and most all pleasure—regardless of our material status or what we have and do not have.

 

These feelings of peace and contentment are generated by the belief that the Provider who loves us gives us what is good for us.  This brings ease in our lives and makes us content with whatever we have.  It also prevents us from running around trying to accumulate material wealth.  This understanding eventually diminishes the vicious cycle of greed, selfishness, hoarding, and stinginess from our lives, which are the worms that eat us alive and cause mischief for us, our families and societies.

 

On the other hand when we have the journey of love to our Creator, it makes us spread love, peace and tranquility around us because this is what we have inside.  He SWT already gave it to us and now we share it with our families, communities, society and mankind.

 

What a difference between a person with this status of heart and the one running after mundane material things!

 

I hope by now you understand that there is no one who can give you, provide for you, forgive you, support you, hide your mistakes, and give you chance after chance except Allah SWT.  He deals with you according to His great attributes which include qualities like benevolence, mercy and forgiveness.

 

Once this relationship of love is established between you and Allah SWT, He will give you an internal navigator which will guide you towards things that will be a cause of pleasure to you in this life and the hereafter.  He will support you at the moment of death, journey of your soul after death and ease your eternal life.

 

I am sure you agree with me by now that there is no comparison!

 

This divine love generates a beautiful feeling; the pleasure of which is so intense that it fulfils our lives and benefits us in this life and the hereafter.  And what is more…it is in our own hands to choose this path of divine love!

 

Some might ask, what about the sinner and those who do mischief?  We say that we hate their actions but we still love them as human beings.  We love to help them to seek guidance in order to share the bounty of love of Allah.  Thus, this relationship of love with Allah SWT trickles down to all aspects of our lives and begins to govern all our actions.  Now this beautiful force of love that is a natural part of us is not for selfish reasons but for the pleasure of our Creator—and the price of that is very high.

 

LOVE IS ACTION

 

Love is:

    • devotion,
    • sacrifice,
    • service,
    • obedience, and
    • belonging.

Imagine instead of giving these emotions to other humans like us, we direct them to the Creator who deserves them?  And share them with each other for the sake of His pleasure and love?

 

What will happen then?

 

Allah SWT will be for us and will generate beautiful love and bond between us and others.  Even love between us and angels!  It is not a talk or word.  Love is obedience to the one we love and this demands actions.

 

Our wise elders used to ask how people can love someone they do not know.  They also said that the main element of causing love is to know the person.  The more we know someone, the more we get attracted to their quality and the love grows.  Who can have higher quality than Almighty Creator Allah SWT?  This is why when we look at the religion of Islam, its very essence is the acknowledgment of the Creator and then later on surrender and submission to His Will.

 

How can it be otherwise?  Every creation of the Almighty bears witness to His oneness, His greatness, His beauty, His magnificence, His wisdom, His kindness and gentleness, His power, His ability, His might and perfection!

 

ALL OF GOD’S CREATION IS A REMINDER FOR US

 

The Creator Allah SWT has surrounded us with messages and advertisements towards Him.  His Creations are a reminder of His existence, His greatness and His qualities.  This is why as Muslims when we look at the sky, sea, mountain, valley, even a butterfly, it leads us to declare “Subhan Allah” (all praise and glory be to Allah)!  The more we know about Allah SWT, His qualities and what He is capable of, the more it attracts us to Him, causes us to love and respect Him, and reminds us that we are in need of Him at every moment of our lives.

 

The more we travel the road of knowledge of Allah, the more we understand Him.  This understanding develops a bond and love which starts us on the journey of obedience to Him SWT.  The more we love Him, the more we find pleasure in obeying Him.

 

Once we truly internalize the magnitude of this relationship, its bounty from Allah to us, the amount of rewarding it brings, and the fruit it bears…it is an overwhelming feeling.  What makes it even more exhilarating is the fact that this relationship is not between two limited individuals, but between the Lord and His slave!

 

Once this relationship of love with the Creator is established, it trickles down to all other aspects and relationships of our lives.  And now it will help us channel our love and emotions towards the right goal and right purpose.  It will help us to choose the right spouse, the right companions, and the right cause to devote ourselves to, along with all other decisions in our lives.  This will allow us to enjoy the love story with others that will not only benefit us in this life but be a legacy for us in the hereafter.

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