Prophet Muhammad Spiritual Purification With the Divine

The Love of Allah and His Messenger

by Imam Abū Hamid al-Ghazali | Translated by Huda Shaka`

Excerpts from Mukashafāt al-Qulūb (Exposition of the Hearts)

When the Messenger of Allah ﷺ invited Ka`ab ibn al-Ashraf and his companions to Islam, they said, “We hold an honorable status as the sons of God, and indeed we love Allah more [than you].”

On this occasion, Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala – exalted is He) revealed the following verse:

قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللّهُ وَيَغْفِرلَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيم

Say, [O Muhammad], “If you truly love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins; and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” [Qur’an, 3:31].

The love of the believers for Allah is reflected in following His commands, favoring His obedience and seeking His pleasure. The love of Allah for the believers is in His praise of them, His reward, His forgiveness, and His mercy upon them. It is also in His granting `ismah (protection from committing sins), and tawfīq (success) to them.

If the servant knows that true perfection belongs to none other than Allah, that any good he sees in himself is from Allah, and that his love is only for Allah’s sake, he becomes motivated to obey Him and begins to love whatever brings him closer to Allah. Therefore, love is explained as the desire to obey, and is reflected in following the Messenger ﷺ and in persistently encouraging others to obey him.

Sahl ibn Sa`d (may the mercy of Allah be upon him) said: the sign of the love of Allah is the love of the Qur’an, and the sign of the love of Allah and the Qur’an is the love of the Prophet ﷺ; and the sign of the Prophet’s love is the love of his sunnah, and the sign of the sunnahs love is the love of the Hereafter; the sign of the Hereafter’s love is detachment from the worldly life, and the sign of detachment from the worldly life is taking only sustenance needed to attain Paradise in the Hereafter.

Whoever claims four things without accompanying them with four actions is a liar: claiming to love Paradise without being obedient; claiming to love the Prophet ﷺ without loving scholars and the poor; claiming to fear Hellfire without avoiding acts of disobedience; and claiming to love Allah but complaining in times of adversity.

A scholar was asked about the one who loves Allah. He said, “It is one who spends little time with people and much time alone; who is always in thought and outwardly silent; who is in a spiritual state that overtakes his sight, hearing and speech…who does not become sad if inflicted with a calamity, and if inflicted with hunger he is not aware…who looks to Allah in times of solace, who is happy with His company and speaks to Him intimately, and does not contend with the people of this world over their world.

Whoever claims three, but does not purify himself of three is arrogant: claiming to seek the sweetness of remembrance of Allah but loving this world; claiming to love sincerity in one’s actions yet reveling in people’s adorations; and claiming to love one’s Creator without purifying one’s nafs (self).

The Prophet of Allah ﷺ said:

سيأتي زمان على أمتي يحبون خمسا وينسون خمسا، و يحبون الدنيا و ينسون الآخرة، ويحبون المال وينسون الحساب، ويحبون الخلق وينسون الخالق، ويحبون الذنوب وينسون التوبة، ويحبون القصور وينسون المقبرة

“A time will come when my Ummah will love five (things) and forget five others: they will love this world and forget the Hereafter; they will love money and forget the Reckoning; they will love creation and forget the Creator; they will love sins and forget repentance; they will love palaces and forget the grave.”

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  • If bidah is the antithesis of sunnah, does committing bidah, even if you think it is “good,” diminish, either implicitly or explicitly, your love of Allah (SWT) and the Prophet (SAWS) because you think you know how to worship Allah (SWT) better than the Prophet (SAWS)?

    • Assalamu alaykum

      In order to answer your question, it is important to investigate what true love to Allah, as defined by Allah (SWT) really means.

      Imam Al Ghazali, in the article, quotes for us the ayah that defines what true love to Allah (SWT) is. Allah (SWT) tells the Prophet (S):

      Say, [O Muhammad], “If you truly love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins; and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” [Qur’an, 3:31].

      Allah (SWT) in this ayah tells the Prophet (S) and tells us that true love is defined as following Allah (SWT) and Allah (SWT) alone. Nothing more, nothing less.

      With that in mind, when we fall into a practice that has no basis in the Quran and the Sunnah (Bi’daah), is that following the commandments of Allah? No, because there is no proof that Allah (SWT) said so in the Quran, and there is no proof of the Prophet (S) ever commanding.

      Therefore, when you are committing a Bi’daah, do you even have love for Allah and his Messenger to begin with? The answer is no because you are not following Allah (SWT) and the Prophet (S)’s commandments. You are following your own desires.

      So to answer you question, no, it doesn’t diminish you love for Allah (SWT) and his Messenger (S) because you had no love for Allah (SWT) and his Messenger (S) to begin with.

      Think of it this way. Imagine you are a substitute teacher of an elementary school. You enter the classroom, and you see things wayyyy out of control, almost like Lord of the Flies. You got kids jumping on desks, writing on the walls, playing tag, going into people’s desk, everything is chaos. And you, as the innocent substitute teacher, stand at the front of the class and start barking orders at the kids to sit down but whenever you tell them to do something, they won’t listen. How would you feel? You’d feel pretty frustrated right, because nobody is listening to you. Everyone is doing whatever they wanted, right?

      Well, if you are frustrated just reading this, imagine how frustrating it is to Allah (SWT) and his Messenger (S) to see that instead of following their commandments, were following our own desires, doing whatever the heck we want like those little kids. Is that true love? Can you call it true love? Think about that for a sec.

      Hopefully inshallah this helps. Allah (SWT) knows best.

      Assalamu Alaykum

      • Walaikum Assalaam

        Forgive me, I do not know the credentials of Nobody as a mufti, but I feel that was quite a quick issue of a fatwa…without even knowing what the questioner means and understands by the term bi’daah, leave alone finding out about the other circumstances.

        Also, just a reminder to all of us, that we should refrain from attributing mortal emotions such as ‘frustration’ to our Creator, Who is above any such emotions that we can ever attribute to Him. He is as He tells us, Al-Ghani ( The Self-Sufficient).
        “…but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures.” ( 3:97)

        Jazakumullah khair for the reminder about the love for Allah.

        • Assalamu alaykum

          Totally agree with you on every point except one, and that is the attributing part. To attribute something is to give the object some sort of trait or characteristic. For example, “One attribute that Johnny has is that he tends to smile a lot.” An attribute is a distinguishing characteristic.

          Here, I’m not saying Allah (SWT) is, naoothobillah, someone who is frustrated. All I’m saying is imagine if he was. A hypothetical situation. That’s it. That’s all.

          As far as the the questioner’s understanding of Bi’daah, I assumed the questioner didn’t know, which is why I gave a very simple definition above, which was “a practice that has no basis in the Quran and Sunnah.” There is obviously more to it then just that, but as you know, I’m not a scholar to even speak about that.

          But one thing I should have done was make it clear that I’m not a scholar. I appreciate you keeping me in check. I ask Allah (SWT) to forgive me for acting arrogant. I didn’t mean for it to be a fatwa or for people to take it that way. My intention was to give advice that’s all.

          Assalamu alaykum

        • Assalamu alaykum

          I would agree with ‘nobody.’ Although we shouldn’t say there is no love for Allah. We don’t know what is in the hearts of people. Nor should we judge people because that is not our duty.

          RF is correct in that ‘frustrating’ is the improper word, but I think ‘nobody’ was meaning to say displeased or earned anger.

          My next question is going to be much more technical and I hope that whoever responds has the requisite qualifications to speak on the subject and most importantly fears Allah (SWT).

          Please keep in mind I’m only speaking about bidah in terms of acts of ibaadat.

          If Islam has been perfected, then there cannot be anything added or deleted to make it better. Any new act of ibaadat is at best rejected and becomes a waste of time or at worst is a misguidance which leads to the fire. Furthermore, those who involve in bidah do not drink from the Haud on the Day of Judgement. So we have all of these warnings against committing it but people still involve themselves in it.

          Why do people do it? They claim that other pious people have done it after the Prophet (SAWS) died, therefore we can do it.

          There is a fallacy in the logic that there are other “good bidahs” throughout Islamic history. For example, many times those people claim that Umar’s (RA) practice of taraweeh or Uthman’s (RA) compilation of the Quran into its present day mushaf is bidah. While I personally don’t believe that these are bidahs at all because they are not new ways of worship, the similarity between all the people they quote as having committed bidah in fact have all been given the glad tidings of Jannah while the Prophet (SAWS) was alive. Therefore their understanding of the religion was sufficient for them to get into Jannah and that should also be our understanding.

          Now for my question. Knowing that bidah is wrong, does it amount to minor shirk?

          My analysis of this topic has led me to believe that those who follow bidah have actually taken whoever invented that bidah as their lord whether it was someone else or they themselves who invented the bidah.

          In every rakah we pray not to be on the path of those who earned Allah’s (SWT) anger or the path of those who went astray. This is speaking of the Jews and Christians who have taken their rabbis and priests as lords by following them and not strictly adhering to the revelation. The Jews that I know are monotheistic. They only pray to Allah (SWT). But they are not Muslim because they have not submitted to the will of Allah by denying other messengers and books when those things confirm whatever they already have. When you ask them why they hold this opinion, they say my rabbi said so.

          Unfortunately, some Muslims also fall into the same trap by merely replying, even if you bring them evidence to the contrary, my shaykh said so or the maulanas from my home country do it this way.

          To me, the situation is exactly the same. Those Muslims have taken their shaykhs and maulanas as lords by following them in clear contradiction to the sunnah.

          I’m not referring to people who are ignorant of what is actually sunnah but people who manifest the kibr in their hearts.

          I don’t think bidah is major shirk, the type that takes you out of Islam. I think bidah is more in line with minor shirk such as riya.

          Considering that shirk is the only sin that isn’t forgiven, it is imperative that Muslims are vigilant against it. We shouldn’t shy away from trying to purify ourselves from the filth that is shirk even if it may be committed by many Muslims because it will be an oppression upon us on the Day of Judgement.

          Can someone critique this analysis? Any help is greatly appreciated.


  • as salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah,

    We should realize that bid’ah is different from other types of sin because the person committing it has good intentions – they believe/feel/have drawn the conclusion that they are doing something which will bring them closer to Allah and that Allah loves. From that perspective, I don’t see how a layperson, who has heard of a practice or sees a practice being performed by his teacher, etc and follows that – would be guilty of committing shirk. Also we have to realize that there has historically been a difference of opinion on ‘bid’ah hassanah’ and la inkaara fi masa’il ikhtilaafiya – as laypeople (and not scholars) if we find someone acting on an issue on which there is legitimate ikhtilaaf it is not our place to condemn or reject that. An example would be saying dhikr in unison which even Imam an-Nawawi has permitted. (Note: I’m talking here simply about people saying dhikr in one voice, not about hadras etc).

    As for the one who originated an act of bid’ah- again, it depends on their intentions. I really doubt that such a person thought to themself ‘I know better than Rasulullah (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) about how to get closer to Allah.’ It is more likely that they interpreted some texts in such a way that they feel the act they are performing is legitimate. Or, it is possible that they performed an act and later on it became ritualized into a practice by their students/followers. If however, the person does have the belief of ‘I can improve on the Shari’ah’ then I can concede to the pt. being made above.

    A really beautiful pt. that I have heard Sh. Mokhtar mention on the issue of bid’ah is that you have to really look at the person engaging in it, what their intentions are and their understanding and level of knowledge. Also, bid’ahs are at different levels and we have to think about the probable consequences of our actions and the best way of dealing with them. A layperson who for example does some type of dhikr that is not masnun regularly, because they had learned about it from some shaykh – such a person is different from someone who, for example rejects Hadith in its entirety or comes up with their own crazy ideas. Each should be treated differently depending on the particular circumstances, Allahu a’lam.


  • Sorry following the Rewayah included in this book of Imam gazzali is not from Rasul (sm) at all.. It was a mistake of Imam Gazzali—-

    The Prophet of Allah ﷺ said:

    سيأتي زمان على أمتي يحبون خمسا وينسون خمسا، و يحبون الدنيا و ينسون الآخرة، ويحبون المال وينسون الحساب، ويحبون الخلق وينسون الخالق، ويحبون الذنوب وينسون التوبة، ويحبون القصور وينسون المقبرة
    “A time will come when my Ummah will love five (things) and forget five others: they will love this world and forget the Hereafter; they will love money and forget the Reckoning; they will love creation and forget the Creator; they will love sins and forget repentance; they will love palaces and forget the grave.”

  • I am no scholor or mufti or any such titled person, i am a ghulam of a ghulam ;-). I believe Allah (swt) is all about Love whether one dances to it, sings it out loud (zikr) or expresses inwardly, If Allah(swt) loves a person & grants His closeness, only that person would know it truly & any way he can show his love for his Lord be it dance to His love, say out aloud His name in His love or inwardly express it. Now i know many people by this point are disagreeing already, which is why i will make this point that there are people who falsley claim to love Allah(swt) & show off & use any of these techniques to convince their egos & audiences, well then truly u can accuse such of doing wrong. But how would we know who is a true devotee & false? We can’t, but one small pointer is the ones who are true lovers would never say they are, even though you may catch them in expressing their love, but even then the seeir would perssume the true as false. So i say its difficult to distinguish & the point is we should not put a lable on a whole group for ones bad action, as today Muslims have many bad labels because of people who may not even be muslims, who knows. People wake up & stop accusing eachother & look to better the world, look at the real evil going on in the world, its all blatently out there if you oen your eyes. Otherwise i believe its time for the great Imam Mahdi (as) to come & reveal the real evil & deal with it. No other can, but at least we can wake up to it & better ourselves in our own ways to our understanding. May Allah (swt) forgive & guide us & help us to keep peace with eachother. Ameen.

  • Imam Ghazzali was a great Sufi scholor of his time, & his sciences on spirituality & love & closeness to Allah(swt) are very to the point, if one understands this level of thinking. I remember reading an introduction from one of his books, he asks the reader to put the book down if it cannot be understood, & also says that this book is for those who understand. To be honest even myself i have always come to a wall of confusion or disagreement by confusion on many of the doctrines & topics in his books. Obviously there is no better book that the Holy Quran. & the holy Quran is already a very big book written in old Arabic text which already many people misunderstand & misenturprit many parts of it, thus causes confusion & debating. So imagine if every bit of the Holy Quran was written in very simple to read & understand text, it would be a lot longer that 30 chapters

  • please note to all readers that the Quran is the hadith
    and your hadith is the Quran. once you accept this, you will realise , kind regards Shake rashid

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