Love in God’s Name: Searching for Our Identity17 Dec 2021
It is innate for us as human beings to be in search of our true identity. Our place within the vast, varied, and wonderful universe. Our place within the societies we live in. Our purpose, visions and hopes. We may have, subconsciously or consciously, explored the way in which various roles in our lives intertwine with the true identity we hope to be. We may have revised, revisited and reinvented this many a time, as is required of us as we grow and move through the stages of life. We strive to experience harmony as we coordinate the moving parts of our lives. Yet we also know we are eternal souls enshrined within bodies, as opposed to bodies with transient souls. This places immense importance on correctly building the inside of us, that which is the life-force behind every other aspect of our life. Therefore, the soul identity is the first underlying premise in identifying who we truly are at the heart of it all. Yet fundamentally, when we scale it back even further, to the origins of creation itself and as an extension our souls… Love is the origin, foundation, and essence of all soul-centric identity. Why? Because Allah (s) says “I was a Hidden Treasure; I loved to be known, so I created the creation in order to be known.”
Creation became the greatest form of Allah’s (s) self-disclosure. His Loving to be known, is the purpose of a human being’s existence defined. Allah did not need to create us. He did so out of Love – Love for Himself, for He is the Highest Good, and as a result, all that manifests from His Names can only be good. For Him to share His goodness by creating us, was an act of pure love, wherein for Him lies no benefit, yet for us contains the epitome of attainment in the entirety of our existence.
Thus, Allah’s loving to be known, is the highest benefit for us as human beings. When a human being seeks to align to Allah within, they too experience Allah’s love to be known, by experiencing His presence, and through His remembrance comes peace. Be it through the senses that observe His beautified signs that continually surround us, or as one explores scriptures that bear testimony to the love story that is creation, exemplified by the extent to which Allah sought to gift humanity with perfect guidance, or even in the mere breath we breathe, second to second, which illustrates His ever presence as He continually resides closer to our jugular veins. He loves to be known, because He loves for us to be aware of Him. To never be unaware of Him – it is only then we find peace. And to be aware of His greatness is a continual reminder of our position as His slaves, the humility which exists inherent to truly loving Him. He exists within the intentions of the heart, the heart that was created to love Him. For the heart that recognises and knows varying forms of love in life, does so, due to His very presence within. Everywhere there is Him, there is Love, irrespective of its many manifestations. We all know His mercy is love, but so too is His justice.
When asked why we were created, we are aware the answer is “to worship Him.” But how can one worship the one who we do not know? If worship is Praise, how can we truly praise the One who we do not yet love to know? Who we do not know how to love?
Acts of worship are acts of love. For they require commitment, steadfastness, patience – all traits required in the act of loving. And all love for His sake is an act of worship, because to make Him the object of your incentive is to strive to be closer to Him, which too is the purpose of worship. This is why the practice of Islam is not detached from our day to day life. When worship and love go hand in hand, attaining proximity to Allah is not necessarily through long hours of prostration, as much as it is contemplation upon Him, and recognition of His presence in one’s day to day. In your dealings with people, you have the opportunity to manifest His Love. When your eyes set upon profound beauty, it is the manifestation of His Love. When your heart experiences joy and contentment, it is the manifestation of His Love. When your mind unravels its intellectual rationale, it is the manifestation of the highest Intellect which is Him. As we journey towards Him with love, and commit to recognising Him in everything, we too begin to love to worship Him in the way that He loves to be known. Thus, journeying to God is recognition – of all the parts within us, where we are still depriving ourselves of His love and as a result act on vice, and of all the parts within us that are aligned to His love, and as a result embody virtue. What consciously or subconsciously exists within ourselves becomes the paradigm through which we see and interpret the world around us. The heart that is filled with God’s love, is faithful, positive, loving, kind. The heart that is depriving itself of God’s love cannot be. This is why, recognition is the path to refinement and purification.
The Holy Prophet (s) who was sent as the Manifestation of God’s pure mercy, only had love and mercy to give to creation. Because the purest love of God existed within Him; the very purpose for which we were created to strive for. This is why God says I love to be “known” – the more He is truly and existentially known within us, the less we incline towards darkness’s in the soul, and the more we incline towards also manifesting His love. For you can only manifest something you truly are, and you will only strive to be that which you love.
Out of all of creation, Allah favoured humans. Because they have the capacity to best manifest His traits out of their own free will, and this capacity to do so was best illustrated by the Holy Prophet (s). The Holy Prophet is deemed the “Mercy upon the Worlds”, and through His guidance and light, all vices and virtues are made clear. He too is the manifestation of God’s greatest love, for there is no better access to God’s love than through recognition of Him. Thus, Prophet Muhammad is the highest mercy, and also simultaneously God’s Beloved, for Allah is the All-Merciful God who loves mercy. The human being in response to God’s all-encompassing mercy, has free will to choose to love Him, or to turn away from Him, but in both scenarios, Allah’s love still exists. His Rahmaniyyah that touches all of creation, continues to touch the human being who even turns away from recognizing His Good. And His Raheemiyah honours those who choose to love Him through recognition, and as a result sacrifice for their love for Him, honour Him, and are therefore subject to His special favours and Love.
So how are some of the ways we can recognise Allah’s all-encompassing Love in our life?
- Think Well
A mindset focused on thinking well, arises from thinking well of God first and foremost. Because a negative mindset is the antithesis to accepting God’s love within. It is the plague which darkens His purity. Thoughts too can become barriers to His Love. It is important to think about how we are thinking. When we strive to understand that the origin of all acts of God stem from love – be it grace, tests, even punishment and reward – is when there is a mindset shift towards trusting God’s Love above all else. This makes us welcoming recipients to His all-encompassing Love, and also inspires us to seek the special favours of His Love.
- God shows love through people
Remember that every human being you cross in this life, carries their own essence of God’s Love. Irrespective of who they are, they are a recipient of God’s Love, and therefore are also ever-deserving of your respect. People are also an opportunity to share God’s love that resides within you. The Holy Prophet (s) was kind even to his enemies. This is because, the more a person is aware of God’s love that resides within, the easier it is to manifest His love, even to those we deem undeserving. Yet if we truly embodied His love, we would not deem any deserving or undeserving, for that is God’s duty alone. This goes hand-in-hand with recognizing His Greatness in the position of Lordship, and our humility in the position as slaves. Even the Prophet (s) who knew very well who would be deserving and undeserving, freely gave to all.
- Recognition of His provisions
We have been on the receiving end of Allah’s (s) endless favours ever since we were conceived. Every provision granted is from Him, every love bestowed, was Him. How many times do we receive beautiful blessings in our life, that we didn’t even ask for? How many times is it that we prayed for a thing, and God grants even more than we asked for? Even when we are the means for the provision of others, it is Him giving us the opportunity to act on account of His Love, in order to receive more reward. The initiation of goodness is Him, the carrier of the goodness is Him, the completion of the goodness is Him – yet still He grants reward upon us. This is the Love of the All-merciful.
- Prophets and Saints
Prophets and Saints were sent to manifest the ideals of the Highest Good ordained in the scriptures, and to be living examples of what it means to manifest God’s love. Some prophetic missions were focused on God’s love by giving knowledge, some were on correcting guidance and laws, some were on spiritual refinement. The final, completed Messenger is our Prophet (s), who is the perfect balance of the manifestation of love. Being continually familiar with their lives and stories, is what connects us to the love of God, and realigns us to the purposes of our existences, as we align our mindsets to theirs.
- The momentary connections we feel to Him
Sometimes pausing. Contemplating. Reflecting. The brief momentary connections we feel, be it in nature, be it in prayer, be it in the company of good people. These connections are but pulses from the heartbeat of existence, that is continually redirecting to His Love. They are there to remind us, that even when we forget, His Love is ever-present, continually beating for us, whilst we find our way towards beating for Him. This is where recognition causes gratitude, and results in peace in the heart. Striving for this peace also then becomes a vehicle to home the conscious and active awareness of God in our lives.
To conclude, all of this is possible when you love yourself. Not the ego self in you – love the God who seeks to build a home in you. Your soul identity, originating from pure Divine Love, is there to be recognised. Only when you see yourself as a vessel of the Divine, that which carries eternity within, will you recognise that the purpose of this short life is that it contains within it the jewels of eternity. You are precious, because the ideals of goodness that have been bestowed upon you, are from the hands of the Highest Good Himself. When He Himself is Love, it is not difficult to love Him. It is difficult to overcome ourselves, those things which pull us to a life devoid of truly embodying His Love. Yet through consistently, steadfastly, patiently committing to His love, even that He makes easy.
Identity is the very internal skin that we live in. It is the greatest form of home we will ever live in. It is who we truly are on the inside. And if the love of God is not a part of that equation, and rather identity is built on shallow materialist endeavors, relationships, income, adornments of this world – these will all pass away and leave a hollow self inside. These are mere physical extensions of the Origin, which can be beautified only when through the lens of His Love. For all that will remain in us, is how much the love of God truly had a home to reside in us. How much His light truly penetrated it, in order for us to see and be goodness. Because that Love sustains the universe. And without that Love, we are nothing. Only when we strive to build foundationally from the inside, will we manifest outwardly the Godly traits that originate from His Love. To show mercy, His love must be existent and real inside you. To maintain hope, His love must be all that is real to you.
It is never too late to actively seek His recognition in our lives. So go ahead… seek to Love Him, love the Him in you, and show love to all others for His sake too. Perhaps then we may recognise Him in order to best serve Him.
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should serve Me.