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10 Ways To Nurture Love Of God

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In his usual characteristic flair, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (d.751H/1350CE) discusses ten ways in which the seeker may cultivate a deep and abiding love of God.

Rooted in scripture, the journey starts with love as an expression of divine obedience which, as it steadily becomes internalized, culminates in being “lost” in the love of the One being loved.

Elsewhere, he says about the degrees or stages of divine love that: initially the heart shows an interest in the Beloved; it is then followed by an attachment, which steadily develops into an ardent longing. This lover’s yearning is followed by an infatuation. Finally comes tatayyum – “thraldom” or “enslavement”: this is where the Beloved now becomes the possessor of the lover, who finds no other in his heart. It all commences, though, with kindling an interest; igniting the initial spark. As for how to kindle such sparks, Ibn al-Qayyim writes:

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“The causes which give rise to love for God, and which necessitate it, are ten:

Firstly, reciting the Qur’an with reflection (tadabbur), so as to understand its meanings and its intent. Just as a person would ponder over a text he has committed to memory and now wishes to explain, so that the author’s intent is duly understood.

Secondly, drawing nearer to God by doing optional acts of devotion (nawafil), after the obligatory ones. This leads to the degree of being loved by God (mahbubiyyah), after having love for God (mahabbah).

Thirdly, constantly remembering God under all situations; with the tongue, the heart, one’s deeds and spiritual states. His share of God’s love will be commensurate with his remembrance of Him.

Fourthly, preferring God’s love over your own love when desire (hawa) overcomes you; climbing to reach His love even if the ascent is difficult.

Fifthly, the heart examining God’s Names and Attributes; so as to witness them, know them experientially, and immerse itself in the gardens of such gnosis (ma’rifah). Those who know God by His Names, Attributes and Acts will surely love Him…

Sixthly, seeing His goodness, kindness, bounties, and blessings; material and spiritual. This beckons to loving Him.

Seventhly –which is the most wondrous of them-, to stand before God with an utterly broken heart (incisor al-qalb bi’l-kuliyyah). There’s simply no other expression or word that can fully describe its meaning.

Eighthly, being alone with Him at the time of the Divine Descent (al-nuzul al-ilahi)1Referring to the hadith: ‘Our Lord, blessed and exalted is He, descends every night to the lowest heaven when only the last third of the night remains, and says: Who is invoking Me that I may respond to him? Who is petitioning Me that I may grant him? And who is seeking forgiveness of Me that I may forgive Him? Thus He continues till the arrival of dawn.’ [Al-Bukhari, no.1145; Muslim, no.758] so as to converse with Him intimately, recite His Words, be devoted to Him, and display the courtesies of servitude before Him; sealing this with seeking His forgiveness and repenting to Him.

Ninthly, sitting in the gatherings of God’s true lovers, in order to gain the best fruits of their speech – as one is want to pick choice fruits – and to not speak unless there is an overriding benefit in doing so, or if you know it will increase your spiritual state or be of benefit to others.

Tenthly, keeping at bay every means that may alienate the heart from its Lord; Mighty and Majestic is He.

With these ten causes, the lovers will arrive at the stations of love and enter upon the Beloved. The crux of all this lies in two matters: preparing the soul for this affair, and opening up the eye of spiritual insight (‘ayn al-basirah). And from God is the enabling grace.”2Madarij al-Salikin (Riyadh: Dar Taybah, 2008), 3:449-50

 

This article was first published here.

Related reading:

The 7 Rights Of The Heart

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Abu Aaliyah is the founder of The Jawziyyah Institute, a leading institute for Islamic moderation and contemporary thought in the United Kingdom. Sidi Abu Aaliyah has been in involved in Dawah and Islamic teachings since 1986. He has translated a number of books from the Arabic language into English such as "The Exquisite Pearls". Abu Aaliyah's written works and audio lectures can be found online.

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