Legitimate and Illegitimate Love

You who believe! Do not take My enemy and your enemy as friends, showing love for them when they have rejected the truth that has come to you… (Quran, 60:1)

Sentimentalism, or in other words, romantic longing, makes itself known most often under the guise of "love." For example, the romantic nationalists claim to love their country, for which reason they are hostile or even aggressive towards other nations. Or, we may consider a young man in love with a girl which he turns into the sole focus of his life: what leads him to write her poetry saying "I love you," and to become obsessed with her to the point of suicide, and, in fact, to "divinise" her, is the notion of "love." Then, there are homosexuals, those who fall under God’s interdiction, and shamelessly and insistently practise their perversion; they too claim to have found "love."

As for the majority of people, they think that every emotion to which the name of "love" is ascribed is virtuous, pure, and even holy, and that examples of romantic longing, such as what we have mentioned above, are perfectly acceptable.

Love is indeed a wonderful emotion, accorded to humanity by God, but it is important to distinguish whether that love is real or not, and to consider who it is directed to, and what sentiments it is founded on. Such investigation should make apparent the difference between a sentimentalism that leads to perverse love, and real love, as revealed to us by God in the Qu’ran.

According to the Qu’ran, love is to be shown to those who deserve it. Those who do not deserve it are not to be loved. We are even to distance ourselves from them emotionally, or, at least, to not feel inclined towards them. But those who deserve love, deserve it because of their virtue.

The only being who deserves absolute love is God, who created us all. God brought us into existence, proffered us with the countless blessings we enjoy, showed us the way, and promised us everlasting paradise. He helps us out of every anxiety and graciously hears our every call. It is He who feeds us until we are satisfied, cures us when we are ill and then restores our spirit. Therefore, he who understands the mysteries of the universe loves God above all, and loves whom God loves, that is, those devout individuals who conform to His will.

On the other hand, those transgressors who rebel against God, their Lord, are not worthy of love. To harbour love for these people is a grave error, against which God warns the faithful in the following words:

You who believe! Do not take My enemy and your enemy as friends, showing love for them when they have rejected the truth that has come to you, driving out the Messenger and yourselves simply because you believe in God your Lord. If you go out to strive in My Way and seeking My pleasure, keeping secret the love you have for them, know best what you conceal and what you make known. Any of you who do that have strayed from the right way. (Quran, 60:1)

As indicated in above verse, the faithful must not bear any love for the rebellious. There is an important point here that needs to be kept in mind: even though a believer does not feel love in his heart for someone who rejects religion, he will do everything in his power to bring him to faith and submission to God. "Not to nurture love" for such a person does not mean feeling hatred for him, or not desiring what is good for him. On the contrary, one who believes in God will expound the meaning of religion to any person who seeks the true way, and who is disposed to receiving guidance. The believer who reminds that person of the existence of paradise and hell, and warns him of death, the day of Judgement, and of the afterlife, will fulfil his duty with care and compassion.

Moreover, even if a person does not accept faith, despite all efforts, it does not impede the Muslim from dealing justly with him. Unless one tries to hurt the believers, or cause conflict and strife between people, he should nevertheless continue to exercise the same tolerance towards all, because God has given a command to His believers:

God does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you over religion or driven you from your homes, or from being just towards them. God loves those who are just. God merely forbids you from taking as friends those who have fought you over religion and driven you from your homes and who supported your expulsion. Any who take them as friends are wrongdoers. (Quran, 60:8-9)

In the above verses, as well as the one cited previously (Qur’an, 60:1), God, in His great wisdom, teaches us a matter that is very important to understand. Emotions must not guide a person’s behaviour, because they can lead into grave error. A person must act, not according to his emotions, but according to his reason, his free-will, and the commands of God. Moreover, he must train his emotions to conform to his reason and will.

We can recognise this need in all who has fallen into the quagmire of sentimentality. Hundreds of millions of people are enslaved to the desires of their hearts, their ambition, passion, hatred and anger. They do things irrationally, and justify their acts by claiming helplessness, saying for example, "I can’t help it. I just like it." or "I can’t help it. I want it. I feel like it." But, the fact that a person "feels like" something does not mean that the thing is good or legitimate. Our inner-self is always urging us to do wrong, with Satan instigating us to commit even greater wrongs. When someone acts contrary to the will of God, and says, "I can’t help it. I feel like it," his inner-self is actually acting as the tool of Satan. In the Qu’ran, God refers to such people in the following manner:

Have you seen him who takes his whims and desires to be his god-whom God has misguided knowingly, sealing up his hearing and his heart and placing a blindfold over his eyes? Who then will guide him after God? So will you not pay heed? (Quran, 45:23)