Does Islam emphasizes law and force over love and mutual forgiveness?

Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad

Q. What is the best answer for Christians who debate Muslims and claim that Islam emphasizes law and force over love and mutual forgiveness?

A. They should state that the Qur’an begins every one of its chapters by invoking Allah as the Beneficent, Merciful, Forgiving, and Loving God.

One of the greatest disappointments for those who look towards Pope John Paul II for signs of intelligent interfaith dialogue with Muslims is his remarks on Islam and the Qur’an in his recent book _Crossing the Threshold of Hope_. In the few pages in which he mentions Islam, he shows an astounding, and I believe deliberately short-sighted view of the reality of love in Islam. His claim in a nutshell is that “the God of the Qur’an is not a God of love,” and that the God of love is found only in the New Testament.

As a former Christian I would have trusted the words of the Pastor of the Church to the extent that I would rely upon them towards the salvation of my soul.

As a Muslim it is my duty to say that there are excuses for such statements coming from parish priests who have not read the Qur’an, or who have read it and misunderstood it, or from Lebanese Christians with pre-conditioned exposure to Islam. But what excuse is there for a twentieth-century Pope, the head of the Catholic Church which has had 1,400 years of exposure to Islam with the greatest minds of mankind at its disposal for translation and consultation, to say such a flagrantly false and offensive lie about Allah? By such words he does no other than throw upon the truth a thick, dark veil of falsehood and this is the essence of kufr — disbelief. There is no excuse.

Following are some of the statements of the God of the Qur’an (and of His Prophet), Who is the God of love, the God of Compassion, Mercy, and Munificence, the God of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isma`il and Ishaq, the God of Moses and Jesus and Muhammad, the God of the Torah and the Psalms and the Injil. John Paul’s people, if you have ears to hear, then hear!


“Allah loves those who do good” (2:195, 3:134, 3:148, 5:13, 5:93)

“Allah loves those who repent from evil” (2:222)

“Allah loves those who purify themselves” (2:222, 9:108).

“Allah loves those who are conscious of Him.” (3:76, 9:4, 9:7)

“Allah loves those bear with patience” (3:146)

“Allah loves those who rely on Him” (3:159)

“Allah loves those scrupulous for justice” (5:42, 49:9, 60:8)

“Allah loves those who fight for His sake” (61:4)

“Allah does not love those who initiate enmity” (20:190, 5:87, 7:55)

“Say (O Muhammad): If you love Allah, then follow me, and Allah shall love you.” (3:31)

“And for His love, they feed the indigent, the orphan, and the captive.” (76:8)

“It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the East or to the West, but it is to believe in Allah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Messengers, and to spend of your wealth out of love for Him on: – your kin, – orphans, – the needy, – the wayfarer, – those who ask, and on – the ransom of slaves…” (2:177)


`A’isha said: “I asked the Messenger of Allah: ‘O Messenger of Allah, if I know what night is the night of qadr [one of the last ten nights of Ramadan], what should I say during it?’ He said: ‘Say: O Allah, You are forgiving, and You love to forgive, so forgive me.'” [allahumma anta al-`afuw tuhibb al-`afwa fa`fuw `anni] Reported by Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and by Tirmidhi, who called it sahih.

The Prophet said: OAllah! I ask Your love, the love of those who love You, and the love of all such actions that bring one closer to Your Love.” Reported by Tirmidhi who says it is a good and sound hadith.

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said: “Shake hands and rancor will disappear. Give presents to each other and love each other and enmity will disappear.” Imam Malik narrates it in the Muwatta’.

Hadith of the Prophet: “The people most beloved to Allah are those most helpful to people.” Tabarani related it.

The Prophet said: Allah said:

Whosoever shows enmity to one of My friends (wali), I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask something of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask refuge in Me, I would surely grant him it…

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “When Allah loves one of His servants, he says to Jibril: I love so-and-so, so love him also, so Jibril loves him and then calls out to the people of heaven, Allah loves so-and-so, so love him also, and the people of heaven love him, and then acceptance is placed in the Earth for him.” Imam Malik narrated it in the Muwatta’.

The Prophet also said: “If you love your brother, tell him.”

One day the Prophet took Mu`adh ibn Jabal’s hand and said to him, “O Mu`adh, I love you.” Mu`adh responded, “May my father and mother be sacrificed for you, O Messenger of Allah, I love you.” Then the Prophet said, “I advise you, O Mu’adh, say at the end of every prayer: ‘O Allah, help me to remember You, to thank You, and to worship You perfectly. Reported by AbuDawud, Nasa’i, Ibn Khuzaymah, Ibn Hibban and Hakim, who said it is sahih according to Bukhari’s and Muslim’s criterion.

Ibn Majah narrates from Abu `Anbasa, and Tabarani from Abu `Utba that the Prophet said: “Allah has vessels from among the people of the earth (lillahi aniyatun min ahli al-ard), and the vessels of your Lord are the hearts of His righteous servants, and the most beloved of those to Him are the softest and the most sensitive.” al-Jarrahi said in “Kashf al-khafa” that this was the basis of the saying attributed to the Prophet : “The heart of the believer is the house of Allah.” al-Qari said that the latter, though not a saying of the Prophet, was correct in meaning. Imam Ahmad narrates in his “Kitab al- zuhd” from Wahb ibn Munabbih: “Allah opened the heavens to Ezekiel until he beheld the very Throne, whereupon he said: “Glory to Thee, what greatness is Thine, O my Lord!” Allah said: “Verily the heavens and the earth are unable to encompass Me, and the devoted, soft heart of My faithful servant is able to encompass Me.”” Imam Ghazali mentioned it in his Ihya’ `Ulum al-din.

Ibn `Umar relates: I was sitting with the Prophet, Allah’s Blessings be upon him, when Harmala ibn Zayd al-Ansari of the Banu Haritha tribe came to him. He sat in front of Allah’s Messenger, Peace be upon him, and said: “O Messenger of Allah, belief is here” — and he pointed to his tongue — “and hypocrisy is here” — and he pointed to his heart — “and I don’t make dhikr of Allah except little.” Allah’s Messenger remained silent. Harmala repreated his words, whereupon the Prophet seized Harmala’s tongue by its extremity and said: “O Allah, give him a truthful tongue and a thankful heart, and grant him to love me and to love those who love me, and turn his affairs towards good.” Harmala said: “O Messenger of Allah, I have two brothers who are hypocrites [i.e. they only pretend to be Muslims]; I was with them just now. Shall I not point them out to you [so you will pray for them]?” The Prophet said: “Whoever comes to us in the way you have come, we shall ask forgiveness for them as we asked forgiveness for you; and whoever keeps to this path, Allah becomes his protector.” al-hafiz Abu Nu`aym narrated it in “Hilyat al-awliya.” Ibn Hajar said in “al-Isaba” (2:2 #1659): “Its chain of transmission is acceptable and Ibn Mindah also extracted it. We have narrated the same through Abu al-Darda’ in the “Fawa’id” of Hisham ibn `Ammar.” Al-Tabarani also narrated through Abu al-Darda’. Haythami said of that chain: “It contains one unknown narrator, but the rest are trustworthy.”

al-`Ajluni the hadith scholar narrates in Kashf al-khafa: My master `Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani — may Allah increase our benefit with his baraka — said in “al-Ghunya”: “The Prophet used to say: “In Paradise, a man will miss his brother and say: “If only my brother had acted better in his life!” fearing that he perished. Allah will look at his heart and thereupon He will order the angels: “Take this servant of Mine to his brother on the spot.” The angels will bring him a mount of the purest breed equipped with travel-bags on top of a saddlecloth of light. They greet him and he greets them back, and they say to him: “Rise, mount, and go visit your brother.” He will mount it and travel with it for a thousand years faster than any of you has ever travelled on the best horse that you could think of. He will travel two parasangs [~7 miles] and it will seem as nothing when he reaches his brother ‘s house. He will greet him and his brother will greet him back. He will say to him: “Where were you, my dear brother? I was so worried about you!” Each will hug the other and they will say: “Thank Allah for bringing us back together!” and they will start glorifying Allah with the best expressions humankind ever heard. Thereupon Allah, the Lord of Might and Majesty, will say to them: “O My servants, I did not give you this because of something you did, but only because of your love for each other, and because that is what you asked of Me: therefore ask Me, and I shall give you anything you want.” They will say: “Our Lord, keep us together in this high level of Paradise!” Allah will grant them what they ask and put them in a high-pitched dwelling made of hollowed pearl and sapphire, and their wives will have dwellings in addition to theirs, and they will eat, drink, and live in ease and luxury.


In his book entitled Rawdat al-muhibbin wa nuzhat al-mushtaqin (The Garden of the lovers and the excursion of those who are longing), the faqih of the Hanbali school Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya compiled some of the sayings of the Muslim scholars on love:

[Ibn Qayyim, Rawdat al-muhibbin wa nuzhat al-mushtaqin (Beirut: Dar al-kutub al-ilmiyya, 1983) p. 406-409.]

Junayd said, “I heard al-Harith al-Muhasibi say, love is when you incline completely towards something and then the preference of that thing over yourself and your soul and your possessions, then the compliance with that inwardly and outwardly, then your knowing of your shortcoming in your love to Him.”

Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak said, “Whoever is given a portion of love and he has not been given an equivalent amount of awe, has been cheated.”

Yahya bin al-Muadh al-Razi said, “An atom’s weight of love is more beloved to me than to worship seventy years without love.”

Abu Bakrah al-Qattani said: “There was a discussion about love in Mecca during the Pilgrimage season and the shaykhs were speaking about it. Junayd was the youngest of them in age and they said: Say what you have O Iraqi. He lowered his head in deference and his eyes filled with tears then he said: A slave taking leave of himself, connected with the remembrance of his Lord, standing with the fulfillment of his duties, looking at Him with his heart, whose heart is burned by the light of His Essence, his drink is clear from the cup of His love, and if he talks it is by Allah, and if he utters it is from Allah, and if he moves it is by the order of Allah, and if he is silent he is with Allah, and he is by Allah, he is for Allah, he is with Allah (fa huwa billahi wa lillahi wa ma`allahi). The shaykhs cried out and said, There is nothing above that, may Allah strengthen you, crown of the Knowers!”

These words by Junayd are related to one of the foundational texts providing evidence for the karamat or miracles of the saints, the hadith qudsi (holy saying) already mentioned related in Bukhari whereby, on the authority of Abu Hurayra, the Messenger of Allah said: Allah said:

Whosoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him…

Love was mentioned to Dhul-Nun and he said, “Enough, do not discuss this question as the ego (nafs) will hear it and take its claim in it.” He continued:

For the disobedient one, fear and sorrow are better! Love is for the one who already has fear and is pure of all filth.

Dhul-Nun also said: “For everything there is punishment, and the punishment of the knower of Allah is the cutting from him of his remembrance of Allah (dhikrullah).”

Junayd referred to this distinction of levels in his answer when he was told: “Over there are a people who say, they are definitely reaching the station of goodness by the leaving of deeds.” He said: “Are they talking about the cancellation of (obligatory and other) deeds? Nay, whoever commits adultery and steals is in a better condition that the one who says such a thing. For certainly Allah’s knowers (al `arifina billah) took the deeds from Allah and returned to Him with these deeds to Him, and if I had lived a thousand years I would never decrease from the good deeds the least bit.”

Junayd also said: “The knower of Allah is not considered a knower until he becomes like the earth: it is the same to him whether the good person or the bad person steps on him; or like the rain, he gives without discrimination to those whom he likes and those he dislikes.”

Sumnun said, “The lovers of Allah have gained the honor of both the world and the hereafter. The Prophet said: “The human being is with the one he loves.” They are with Allah in the dunya and the next life.”

Yahya ibn Mu`adh also said, “He is not a truthful one who pretends he loves Him and trespasses His boundaries.”

And he said: “The knower of Allah leaves this worldly life and he does not have enough of two things: crying over his own self, and his longing for his Lord.”

And someone said: “The knower of Allah does not become a knower until if he has been given the treasures of Sulayman it will not busy him with other than Allah for the blink of an eye.”

Q. “I have two questions. The first concerning sajdah. Do knees touch “the ground first, or do hands? I remember someone quoting a hadith “about not making sajdah like a camel. What does this mean?

The only school that says hands first to my knowledge is the Hanbalis. I saw this in Ibn al-Jawzi’s book of comparative fiqh “al-tahqiq fi ahadith al-khilaf.” I don’t know the hadith quoted, but when the camel sits, his front two knees are first to touch the ground, then the hind knees.

“Also, there is a hadith from Abu Hurayrah (R) saying that the “Prophet (S) saying only three acts benefit a deceased when he dies. “Those being knowledge he gave, charity he spent, or the prayers of a “pious son. “I also read a hadith where Abu Hurayrah (R) prayed for a dweller of the “grave by asking Allah to increase the good of a believer if he did good, “and to forgive his bad if he did bad. How do we reconcile these two “hadith of the Prophet (S)? Especially because some Muslims use the first “hadith to ban acts for the deceased.

The Prophet himself prayed for the deceased and declared that his prayer benefited them, as in the hadith of the mosque-sweeper in Sahih Muslim.

The majority of Ahl al-Sunna consider that the Prophet’s hadith “three things remain” is not absolute. There are so many hadiths drawing lists in similar terms, such as : Seven people will be shaded on the day of Resurrection, and three things of your world have been made beloved to me, and women are betrothed for four reasons, and a woman enters Paradise for three reasons, and the earth is cursed except for four things, and so on and so forth. These do not have an absolute, exclusive value, but a general value. The sense is: Three MAIN acts continue to be fresh and current after one’s book is closed, and Allah knows best.

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