The Key to True Love – An Islamic Perspective


Despite the appreciation we all have for the feelings of love……and even though love mostly becomes the idol of this age to which incense is burnt and sacrifices are offered by youths’ blood and from men’s reputations….despite the chants that are recited, and the drums that are beaten and the pipes that are blown for love….and the cinema and television that are devoted to glorify and raise it to the throne to be the first idol, the primary aim, the sole concern, the sole object and the necessary purpose of life without which life is not life………..

Although we all are either perpetrators or victims of love, and there is none of us except he is afflicted by a wound or an arrow or a burning from love, or he hurt others by an arrow, or a wound or a burning.

In spite of that extreme importance and absolute precedence of love, I ask for your permission to think again and to contemplate for a while in an effort to understand that maze in which we all wander.

I ask myself first, and then I ask you: Do you know why love is always associated with pain, and why it ends up with tears and disappointments?
Let me try to answer this question: love is always coupled with desire. You can not love a woman without desiring her. For this the compassionate and gentle breezes of love soon intermix with flesh, blood and human nature to turn into wind, storm and hurricane. That is when flesh and bones melt in a kiln of overwhelming desire and temporary pleasure which almost ignites to extinguish. 
Should I say that love implies a hidden cruelty and veiled aggression? Yes, it does; if it is tinted with lust, and it must be according to human nature.

Moreover, when a woman feels that a man seizes (takes over) her soul, she, in turn, tries to take away his soul and seize it. Here there is a hidden mutual aggression although it takes the form of love. 

The only time that love is mentioned in the Noble Qur’an is in the story of the Aziz’s wife, (the wife of a minister or a great man in old Egypt), when she felt violent love for her slave (Prophet Joseph PBUH). When Prophet Joseph abstained from committing adultery with her and would not give in to her seduction, she asked her husband to imprison and torture him when he entered suddenly while she was trying to seduce Joseph. 
“She said: “What is the (fitting) punishment for one who formed an evil design against thy wife, but prison or a grievous chastisement?” (Yusuf, 12: 25)

Moreover, while relating her love story to her friends, she said, “I did seek to seduce him from his (true) self but he did firmly save himself guiltless!….and now, if he doth not my bidding, he shall certainly be cast into prison, and (what is more) be of the company of the vilest!” (Yousuf: 12:32)

The violence of her love was accompanied with cruelty, imprisonment and torture. On the other hand, Yousuf said, “O my Lord! The prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me…” (12:33)

That is because he realized by his insight that love is a prison, and lust is a shackle which grabs the man’s neck until death if he surrenders to it. Joseph believed that staying in prison for some years is more merciful than submitting to lust which is a lifetime of imprisonment.

Love cannot remain pure, fluttering and transparent; it soon, due to human nature, turns to be a part of a trinity which is: love, sex and cruelty. It is a cohesive trinity which sticks together forever. 

The story of love mixed with lust soon comes to an end in few minutes; that is after the two parties have sexual satisfaction. After that, they both feel weariness, boredom and the desire for a new lover to reignite the lust and curiosity again. That is why love soon crumbles to be doubt; when this occurs, each party then suspects the treachery of the other. This in turn leads to more doubt, suspicion, cruelty and jealousy. Thus love turns out to be misery, pains, tears and hurting.

Love is hardly ever detached from this trinity; (love, sex and cruelty). That is why it is always destined to frustration and disappointment, and doomed to fluctuate from one extreme to the opposite. Thus love apostatizes to be enmity and hatred, passions suffer hundred times a day and that is the essence of agony.

That is why this trinity can never be the basis of marriage nor building a family. It is not valid to establish the constant close ties between the two sexes.
It is from the signs of the greatness and the miraculous nature of the Noble Qur’an that when it speaks about marriage, love was not mentioned; instead it mentioned cordiality and mercy. That is the tranquillity and comfort that souls of married couples feel with each others. That is when marriage is established on mercy instead of love, and cordiality instead of lust.

“And among His Signs is this that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put cordiality and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.”(30:21) 

It is cordiality and mercy which are the keys of marital life. 
Mercy necessarily contains love, but love does not have mercy. Love may turn, with lust, to be aggression.
Mercy is more profound, purer and clearer than love. It is a sublime and compound human sense as it includes love, sacrifice, tolerance, compassion, forgiveness and generosity.

We all, due to human nature, are able to love; however, only very few people can have true mercy. And among thousands of granules, there may be only one who has mercy, while the rest are seekers of love, euphoria and pleasure.

That is why the book of eternal wisdom which descended to us from Allah (SWT) reminded us that marriage is about mercy, cordiality and tranquility. With no mention of one word about love, thus The Noble Qur’an destroyed the idol of this era such as it had destroyed the idols of al-Ka’ba in the old days. 

Those who have vast experience of life and women know the depth and truthfulness of those words descended in the Qur’an.
There is neither confiscation of love in those Quranic words nor cancellation of lust, but they are to confirm that making love and lust without a frame of mercy, cordiality and legitimacy is just futility that must end to frustration. 

Animals can make love and practice lust and courtship. Man alone is distinguished by this frame of cordiality, mercy and compassion. That is because man can overcome his desires; that is when he fasts and resists hunger and sticks to chastity while he has strong desire.

Mercy and compassion is not weakness, but rather is the utmost power because it is overcoming animalism and the darkness of lust.

Mercy is the light and lust is the fire. People of mercy are those who have light, serenity and magnificence, and they are truly dignified.

Moreover, cruelty is cowardice while mercy is courage. Mercy and compassion are the characters of every courageous, generous and noble person. Moreover, those who are possessed by retaliation have nothing but trivia, shabbiness and wretchedness.

Mercy and compassion are the seal of paradise on the foreheads of the happy elite from the people of Earth. You can know them by their mark, their character and their light. 

Signs of a merciful person are calmness, serenity, tolerance, open-mindedness, patience, gentleness, self-examination before rushing into reactions, abstaining from fighting for immediate gains and self benefit, refraining from bearing a grudge, controlling desire, pensiveness, love of silence and enjoying solitude. That is because the merciful person has light inside himself that makes him feel comfortable despite being alone; that is because he is in constant dialogue with Allah, and permanent ease with creation.

Merciful people are few; they are the pillars of universe and its stakes by which Allah saves the Earth and what is on it. 

The Day of Judgment will come only when hearts run out of mercy, when grudges and undignified materialism prevail; when desires control people, then the structure of the Earth will collapse and be demolished completely. 

O, my Lord, I ask for your mercy
I ask for everlasting cordiality
I ask for a compassionate partner and a kind heart
O, my Lord, there is no mercy except with You, from You and towards You

Dr. Mustafe Mahmoud
Translated by: Amany el-Morshidy
Edited by: Catherine Gallgher

A World of Secrets

The believer does not suffer from something called psychiatric diseases. That is because he/she lives in acceptance and harmony with all that is happening to him, whether it is good or evil. He/she is just like a passenger of a plane who has full confidence in the pilot, that he cannot go wrong because he has ultimate knowledge and skills of controlling a plane. He will fly it efficiently in all circumstances and will pass by storms, heat, cold, ice and fog. 

In such a plane, and with full confidence in the pilot, he can sleep in his chair in complete contentment and tranquility. He does not shiver or shake if the plane falls into turbulence, or staggers in a turn, or tends towards a mountain. He knows that all those things happen by the pilot’s will and under his knowledge, and that they happen with wisdom behind them and for a purpose of greater safety. Everything is being masterminded, and every event is predestined, and there is nothing more perfect than what has already been predestined. That is why he gives himself fully to the pilot without accountability or arguing. He has full confidence in him; that is why he stretches in his chair with full serenity, in a state of complete trust.

That is the same sense of confidence the believer has with his Lord, Who drives the ship of destiny, controls the course of events, leads the huge universe, and runs galaxies in their orbits and suns in their rising and setting.

Everything that is happening to him, which he has no power over, is eventually good. If he has an illness and medicine fails to treat him, he says to himself, “This is good!” If his plants burn because of drought and all his means fail to avoid the disaster, he says to himself, “This is good, Allah will provide me with something better.” If he fails in love, he says, “Failed love is better than a failed marriage.” If his marriage fails, then he says, “All praise be to Allah!  Loneliness is better than bad company.” If his business goes bankrupt, he says, “All praise be to Allah. Perhaps Allah knows that wealth is bad for me, and that worldly earns will make me lose in the Hereafter. And if someone dear to him passes away, he says, “All praise be to Allah, Allah is worthier of our life than we are of it and He is the only One Who knows whether it is good or bad for us to live longer. All Glory be to Him, He is not questioned about what He decrees.”

The believer’s slogan is always: “But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.”  (Chapter #2, Verse #216)  

He always has comfort in his heart, with a tranquil soul, seeing by the light of his inner insight that the world is a place for tests and affliction, and it is just a temporary resting spot and not a permanent home. It is a temporary shelter which will be completely removed with its good and evil. Only those who show patience and gratefulness are the winners.

The believer’s heart cannot be invaded by an evil obsession, nor is his soul troubled by any scruple. That is because his soul is always busy with the remembrance of The Almighty, The Most-Merciful, and his heart always whispers: Allah…..Allah…with each pulse. The Satan cannot find a step or a dark corner in such a heart to creep in.

It is a heart that cannot be moved by calamities or shaken by disasters because it is firmly established in the seat of Truth, which never changes or alters.

The believer gives different names to all psychiatric diseases that psychiatrists talk about. For him/her repression is called sticking to chastity….. Deprivation is a spiritual development….Feeling guilty is piety….  Fear (which is fear from Allah) is a protector from slipping into sin. Suffering is the way to wisdom and grief leads to knowledge.

Desires are steps of a ladder that the believer climbs over through suppressing them. He triumphs over his desires by reining them in to reach the status of serenity and spiritual strength.

Insomnia is a gift from Allah, as the night in which the believer cannot sleep can be spent in remembrance of Allah. Spending the night with Allah is a special blessing that the believer should be thankful for; not complaining or seeking for a tranquilizer. Furthermore, if s/he remains awake till dawn, this offers him/her a chance to make his/her dawn prayer which is a great grace.

In addition, going through feelings of remorse sometimes allow the believer to reflect, return to the truth and go back to Allah. Even Pain, including physical and psychological, is considered as a divine aid by which the believer can resist the lure of the worldly life and renounce it.

Despair, carrying a grudge and envy are psychiatric diseases which the believer never suffers. Furthermore, he is capable of overcoming hatred, the urges for revenge and retaliation through forgiveness, pardoning and tolerance. He does not get enraged except to defend one who has been oppressed and help him/her attain justice; he never practices violence except to overcome an oppressor.

The prevailing feelings that overwhelm the believer are cordiality, mercy, patience, gratitude, forbearance, compassion, gentleness, forgiveness, acceptance and contentment. Being occupied with such positive feelings, the believer develops a state in which there is no place for psychiatric diseases or psychiatry.

For the believer, the worshiped idols such as wealth, sex, prestige and authority are all demolished, and are no longer able to fragment his\her emotions, or distract his\her attention. Hence the believing soul can attain focus to unite its energy. Here the fog of desires clears, the vision becomes lucid, eddies calm down and tranquility prevails. As a consequence the believer gains more control over his\her own self, becoming more able to lead it as he turns from slavery to his\her own self to be free, and that is all because of the believer’s profound understanding of Monotheism: (there is no God except Allah). Besides, he\she realizes that there is no ruler, or controller or owner of the creation except only One, thus he\she is freed of the fear of any tyrant and any master. For him/her, even death is seen as liberty and pleasant journey to meet with the beloved.

The soul is different due to faith and becomes protected from psychiatric diseases. It is ascended to such a status by faith, obedience and worship, to the extent that its choices become as the same as what Allah chooses for it and its inclination is the same as what Allah pleases. 

Narcissism and selfishness melt and no longer exist in such a faithful soul, thus it becomes a working tool and a hand executing the will of The Lord.

Such a believing soul is never afflicted by depression as it is always optimistic, having certain faith that there is no distress with the presence of Allah, and that justice can be achieved as long as there is Allah, The Utterly Just. For the believer, the door of hopefulness is always open as long as The All Able is alive and he never dies.

The believing soul is in permanent childish astonishment from the signs of divine power all around. A believer feels ecstasy of the beauty he can see in everything. He can see the traces of The Creator’s creativity in major galaxies as in minor atoms and micro electrons. The larger the scientific domain expands, the wider the area of fascination gets, and the ecstasy multiplies. That is why the believing soul does not know weariness, or apathy, or depression.                                                             

The grief of the believing soul is luminous. It is filled with hopefulness. In the hardest times of pain and tragedy, this soul never gives up hope and thinking well of Allah; that leads it to feel secure all the time, because it believes that Allah is always there.  For this soul, nothing saddens it more than its own deficiencies, shortcomings and sins; not the deficiencies or shortcomings of others.  However, its deficiencies do not discourage it from striving to reform its flaws.  Thus it is engaged in continuous Jihad (striving to reform oneself), continuous climbing up the tree of sins to get out of the cone shadow to the light spreading at the top of the tree. From that light, the soul is given life; not from the thick mud at the bottom of the tree.                             

Thus this soul is in fighting for existence, and always engaging in a war of internal purification. However, it is a calm and confident conflict, which never disturbs its tranquility or dispels its serenity.  That is because it has certainty that it fights its internal flaws with the power of Allah (SWT), not by its own power. That soul’s feeling of being in permanent companionship with Allah never deserts it. That is the reason why this soul feels lasting security despite the inside fighting against ghosts of defeat and forces of nihilism….it is not fighting alone.

That is the biggest Jihad that occupies the believing soul and protects it from being occupied by trivialities, complaints and little pains; it also preserves it from obsession on its own self, lamenting itself or celebrating its talents. It is busy by going beyond itself and ascending over it. It is always in a continuous journey of exit; a journey of ascension and going beyond itself. The constitution of this soul is: to always resist what you desire and bear what you dislike.

The feelings of this soul flow smoothly in complete harmony with the universe, perfectly compatible with its laws, easily adapted to the changes that exist. Tolerance and natural simplicity are deeply rooted in such a soul; it seeks friendship with everything, and its perfect ideal is Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) while he was embracing Mount Uhud saying, “This is the mountain which loves us and we love it.” (Muslim) Thus comprehensive love is the root of all feelings of the believing soul. It is in permanent reconciliation with nature, with destiny and with Allah.

Such a soul never suffers solitude when being alone; on the contrary it enjoys a magnificent feeling of being in the company of Allah. For this soul, loneliness does not mean emptiness, or silence; it is rather busyness in being engaged in a rich and precious internal dialogue and a deep feeling of the luminous presence of Allah all around.  This cannot be loneliness, but rather a secure embrace. The only torment for this soul is its sin, and when it suffers separation and distance from The Creator. It is an agony that can be relieved by the soul’s profound faith in Allah’s forgiveness, generosity, and His love of those who repent and pray for forgiveness.

The nearest the soul comes to its Lord is when it is prostrating itself before Him; that is when the believing soul melts in love and humility to Allah. One of the Awliya’ of Allah [i.e. those who believe in the Oneness of Allah and fear Allah much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which he has forbidden), and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)], said, “We are enjoying a pleasure (of closeness to Allah), which if the kings taste, they would fight us to attain it!” However, the kings are so far from experiencing such a pleasure, while they are sinking in the worldly life, imprisoned in its materialistic pleasures.

Religion, obedience and Jihad (striving against its forbidden desires) are the only way for the believing soul to be born again and get out of its mud cocoon. There is no other way for its birth; as science breeds conceit, art breeds nothing except idolization. Thus, only religion is the incubator in which the soul grows and reaches its target. Among scientists there may be some with mental illness, busy in inventing devastating weapons and poisonous gas. Among artists, there may be some deifying themselves and drowning in sensory pleasures. Religion alone is the path for the soul to attain integrity, salvation and healing.

The believing soul is always active, energetic and working to serve and help others. Its contemplation and worship never cut it off from being engaged in people’s everyday lives. You can see it in streets, markets and crowdedness of livelihood. That is because it sees work as an aspect of worship; and sweat and toil are the treatment and cure of the diseases of luxury, laziness and idleness.

The life of such a soul is a journey of longing for Allah, a trip of gaining knowledge and a message of helping others. Working is its gate to mental health. Its ultimate hope is to still be able to work until the last breath, and to die while planting a tree, building a wall or lighting a candle. Such a soul is a lifeboat, and it is protected from any psychiatric disease. It has no need of these days’ medicine as its life is truly a prescription of happiness.

Source:  “A World of Secrets”

Dr. Mustpha Mahmoud

Translated by: Amany Elmorshidy