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).