On the meaning and reality of love for the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him)
People disagree about what constitutes love of Allah and the Prophet. They have many things to say about it, but in reality, they are referring to different states. Sufyan said, "Love consists of following the Messenger of Allah." It was as if he were thinking of the words of Allah, "Say-if you love Allah, then follow me." (3:31) One of the scholars said, "Love of the Messenger is to believe in his victory, protect his Sunna, obey it and to fear being in opposition to him." One of the scholars said, "Love is constant remembrance of the beloved." Another said, "It is preferring the beloved." Another said, "Love is yearning for the beloved." One of the scholars said, "Love is the heart following the will of its master, loving what he loves and hating what he hates." Another said, "Love is the heart's inclination to be in harmony with the beloved."Most of these statements indicate the fruits of love rather than its reality.
The reality of love is to incline to what one finds agreeable and harmonious, either-
- by the pleasure in its perfection – like love of beautiful forms, melodious sounds, delicious foods and drink to which one naturally inclines because they are agreeable;
- or by pleasure in the perfection of its noble inner qualities which is sensed by the intellect and heart–- like love for the righteous, scholars and people of correct behaviour whose marvellous lives and good actions have been related. Man's nature inclines to intense love for these sorts of things to the point of fanaticism. Such partisanship of one group against another and sectarianism within a nation can result in homelands being abandoned, inviolable things being dishonoured, and lives lost;
- or someone can love something because he finds it agreeable by reason of gaining benefit and blessing from it. The self is naturally disposed to love that which is good to it. When you have understood this well, then examine these three causes of love in respect of the Prophet and you will find that all three things which inspire love apply to him. The beauty of his form and outward appearance and the perfection of his character have already been mentioned, so there is no need to say any more about them. As regards the benefit and blessing his community gain from him, we have already mentioned the qualities of Allah he possessed – his compassion for them, his mercy for them, his guiding them, his tenderness for them and his striving to save them from the Fire. He is, "merciful, compassionate to the believers," (9:128) and "a mercy to the worlds," (21:107) and, "a bringer of good news, a warner and a caller to Allah by His permission." (33:45-46) "He recites its signs to them and purifies them and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom," (62:2) and "guides them to a straight path." (5:16)What goodness could be worthier or of greater importance than his goodness to all the believers! What favour could be more universally beneficial and of greater use than his blessing to all the Muslims since he is their means to guidance, the one who rescues them from blind error, and the one who summons them to success and honour? He is their means to their Lord and their intercessor. He speaks up on their behalf and bears witness for them and brings them to eternal life and everlasting bliss. So it should be clear to you that love of the Prophet must be an obligation in the Shari'a because of the sound traditions we have related and the nature of his overflowing goodness and universal beauty we have just mentioned. If a man can love someone who is generous to him just once or twice in this world, as is well known to be the case, or someone who saves him from destruction or harm even once, when that damage and harm are only of a temporary nature, then the one who gives him undying bliss and protects him from the eternal punishment of Hellfire should be loved more. A king is loved when his behaviour is good and a ruler is loved for his upright conduct. Someone who lives far away is loved for their knowledge or noble character. Whoever possesses all these qualities in total perfection is more entitled to be loved and more deserving of attachment. 'Ali, describing the Prophet, said, "Whoever saw him suddenly was in awe of him. Whoever mixed with him loved him." We mentioned that one of the Companions could not turn his eyes away because of his love for him.
-Kitab Al Shifa by Qadhi Aiyadh R.A.