By Al-Hubb Al-Islam
In Islam, the concept of love is one of the most important concept. This fact manifests itself in Islamic philosophy, theology, mysticism and ethics; indeed, in some aspects, it plays the crucial role.
For example, in defining the Islamic point of view on the relation between God and Universe in general, and between God and Mankind in particular, love has the most significant and profound place.
Love is so central in Islam that it seeps as "the firmest handhold of faith" and "faith (Iman) is nothing but love for the sake of God and hate for the sake of God".
Ibn Abbas reported that Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "The strongest faith is to be sincere for the sake of Allah, to hate for the sake of Allah (Tabarra), to love for the sake of Allah (Tawalla), and to discard for the sake of Allah."
There is a tendency among some people to think that there should be no hate at all. These people assume that excellence and nobility of character and "being sociable" consist of having all men one's friends. Certainly Islam recommends Muslims to love people and optimize compassionate and sincere relationship with them, even if they do not believe in Islam or in God.
However, it is not feasible for a person who has principles in his life and has devoted his life to realize sacred values to be indifferent to evil and oppressive deeds of wrongdoers and make friendship with everybody.
Such a person certainly will have some enemies, whether he likes it or not. There are always good people in the society and bad people. Good and bad are two opposite poles. Attraction towards the good is not possible without repulsion from the bad.
When two human beings attract each other and their hearts wish for them to be friends and companions with one another, we should look for a reason for that. The reason is nothing other than similarity and resemblance. Unless there is a similarity between these two persons, they cannot attract one another and move towards friendship with each other, as saying goes, Birds of the same feather flock together.
Maulana Rumi in his Mathnavi mentions fine story that illustrates this fact.
The story relates to a wise man that saw a Raven who had formed affection for a Stork. They perched together and flew together! The wise man could not understand how two birds of two different species that had no similarity either in shape or in colour with each other could be friends. He went close and discovered that both of them had only one leg.
The same idea is emphasized by Imams of the Household (Ahlul Bayt) of Prophet Muhammad (saw). For example, Fudayl ibn Yasar, a disciple, asked Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) whether love and hatred derive from faith (Iman). Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) replied: "Is faith anything but love and hate?"
It is also narrated that Imam al-Baqir (as), stated that: Religion (Deen) is love and love is religion.
As these statements and traditions indicate, love plays an important and significant role. Hence it deserves our close attention in order that we may discover the real meaning of the concept of love in Islam.
First of all, some questions come to the mind. What is the kind of love that has been emphasized by Islam? Who is the object of this special kind of love? Why should the believers have this kind of love and what purpose does it serve?
In Islam Love can be broadly categorized into: Love for God, love for Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his Household (Ahlul Bayt), and love for the faithful.