A question was presented to me recently on how to understand love and fear of God. The person was wondering what does it mean to fear God? Do we fear Him or His attributes? And how is it possible to fear God when I love Him?
First off, this question is great because it shows that the person who is asking it is thinking actively about their relationship with God. It’s also a good question because it shows honesty in trying to understand and balance the feelings we should have about God in our relationship with Him.
So let’s start with love because I think that it all begins there. The urge to know God and serve Him is an urge that is founded in love. When we contemplate about the creation and what we have been given we are pulled naturally towards thinking about God. We recognize His grandeur, magnificence, power, beauty, mercy, etc. All of this becomes apparent to us not only in our minds but the intense realization of it settles in our hearts. For example, when we look out onto the vast expanse of the ocean we feel His majesty long before our tongues figure out an inadequate way to describe it.
The reason we started with His love is because from the state that we just mentioned we can begin to understand how it is possible to love and fear Him at the same time. When we reflect on these blessings and His magnificent and beautiful qualities we then come to another set of realizations. If He is able to bring all of this into existence He is able to take it away? If He brought all of this into existence how extensive must His power and ability be? With all that He has created and all that He has given us how can I live in a way that is against His pleasure?
This set of questions leads us to wanting to understand what God wants from us, and the best place to go to for that is His Word, the Quran. Read and think about it for a few minutes everyday and everything will be more clear.
In summary, fearing and loving God are no more than the consequences of recognizing His majesty and His beauty. We do not fear Him in a debilitating or terrorizing way. We fear Him out of awe for His majestic qualities and wanting to attain His pleasure. We love Him out of appreciation for His beautiful qualities and wanting to attain His love and kindness.
“He is God, the Creator, the Inventor, the Fashioner. To Him belong the most beautiful names. Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies Him, He is the Powerful, the Wise” (Quran 59:24).
"How blessed an I to be able to see another Ramadan; how blessed an I to be able to spend it at ICOI, where I get to be apart of a Halaqa, listen to khatirahs by Shaykh Jamaal, and pray behind Shaykh Ibrahim and Shaykh Mohammad." - ICOI Community Member
It is true that we all make mistakes and we all turn to God to ask for His forgiveness. However, some mistakes affect the lives of other people in heavy ways and so one of the conditions for repentance is to make amends with those that have been wronged.
This, however, is sometimes very tricky.
Anyone who has made mistakes knows that often times those mistakes haunt us. We think about them when nobody else is around, they plague us at times and we forget them at others. We ask Allah’s forgiveness and move on but sometimes the scars remain.
This is life though, the scars always remain. All we can do is try to treat them in the best way possible.
There are two major lessons here:
1) Our lives and interactions with people are very serious and often delicate things. Many people are hurt, many people are vulnerable, and that means our actions can have serious consequences. We should live our lives knowing and acknowledging this important truth. It is difficult, but it is real.
2) The nature of our existence is that we will make mistakes and we will scar others. We have to learn to not allow that to paralyze us while at the same time not making light of it. Sometimes there is not much we can do to mend without making things worse. In such cases the best we can do is to try to ask for Allah’s forgiveness and do as much good as we can, hoping that with time wounds will heal. In this we learn not only to ask for Allah’s forgiveness but also to forgive ourselves.
This Ramadan at ICOI we will be journeying and growing through a detailed discussion of 5 Quranic Pillars for Meaningful Faith. These pillars will be the topics for the nightly reflections, each night highlighting a new verse and a new step in growing closer to God.
The Friday night post tarawih reflections will also revolve around the pillars. Each day will be a new step in the journey as we all take this month as an opportunity to grow together.
O our Lord, allow us to reach Ramadan and benefit from it!
In the 18th chapter of the Quran God tells the story of two men, one of whom was given great wealth. (Click here for the story).
In this story one man has been granted abundant wealth and the other is not as well off. The main lesson for us here at this time is in verse 35. In this verse the man has just told his friend about how he has more than him and is described as entering his garden “while he was unjust to himself.” The sentence structure here is called (haal), literally: his internal spiritual state at the time of entering the garden was such that he was oppressing himself.
The question here is: what was his internal spiritual state?
He looked at his friend and he looked at himself and he was proud of himself and arrogant over what he had “accomplished” and how much wealth he had.
When we act in the earth with arrogance we will oppress others, but we are actually the first victims of the oppression in that we oppress ourselves. We betray the truth of our dependent relationship with Allah and bring ruin and misery to ourselves in this life and the next.