What does it mean to love and to hate for the sake of Allah? What should one understand from it? How should one love and hate for the sake of Allah?

The Details of the Question
What does it mean to love and to hate for the sake of Allah? What should one understand from it? How should one love and hate for the sake of Allah?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Our prophet (pbuh) states in his hadiths: “Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then hating it in his heart; and that is the weakest of faith.

Islamic scholars, when interpreting this hadith, point out to that our Prophet addresses this hadith to all classes of our community. And they interpret this hadith accordingly. In this case, “changing with hand is the duty of government, army and the police. To change with tongue is the duty of education system, teachers and religious functionaries. And hating in heart is the duty of ordinary citizens” said they.

As “hatred” may mean treating the people who commit bad deeds like enemies and hating them by heart, it is generally interpreted as treating hostilely. However, this seems to contradict to our religion’s other principles based on love. While some young people said that they applied the Prophet’s hadith as “change with hand”, some said “hating in heart” is for the hostility between relatives. However, this is not how it should be.

It is essential to treat a bad behavior towards us with a good behavior in order to prevent badness. Quran the Glorious states: “The believers are not else than brothers. Therefore make peace between your brethren” (al-Hujuraat, 10) “The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and you there was enmity, will become as though he was a bosom friend.” (Fussilat, 34) “Those who spend freely (of that which Allah has given them) in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind; Allah loves the good’ (al-i-Imran, 134).

In the light of these verses, we need to resort to Bediuzzaman in order to reveal the truth by finding out something moderate between preventing evil deeds and hating by heart.

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi wrote the “Letter of Brotherhood” on this issue. Bediuzzaman suggests us a few principles:

First Principle: A person’s own thoughts and opinions cannot be measure to evaluate others’ opinions. If one evaluates others’ opinions according to his/her own views, it is inevitable for him/her to wrong.
Second Principle: It is right that all that you say should be true, but not that you should say all that is true. There are different perceptions and behaviors, the reasons of which we cannot know, in the community. In this sense, a judgment, which is true under some circumstances and according to a person, may be wrong under different circumstances. A judgment made without figuring out the real reason may be deceiving.
Third Principle: Emotion of hatred exists in true nature of human beings. If you wish to nourish enmity, then direct it against the enmity in your heart, and attempt to rid yourself of it. Be an enemy to your evil-commanding soul and its caprice and attempt to reform it, for it inflicts more harm on you than all else. Do not engage in enmity against other believers. It is wrong to respond someone who is hostile to us with hostility. If you wish to defeat your enemy, then respond to his evil with good. For if you respond with evil, enmity will increase, and even though he will be outwardly defeated, he will nurture hatred in his heart, and hostility will persist. But if you respond to him with good, he will repent and become your friend. It often happens that if you tell an evil man, "You are good, you are good," he will become good; and if you tell a good man, "You are bad, you are bad," he will become bad. Hearken, therefore, to these sacred principles of the Qur'an, for happiness and safety are to be found in them: “Those who witness no falsehood, and, if they pass by futility, they pass by it with honourable (avoidance) (al-Furqan, 72). “O ye who believe! Truly, among your wives and your children are (some that are) enemies to yourselves: so beware of them! But if ye forgive and overlook, and cover up (their faults), verily God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (at-Taghabun, 14).
Islam bases relationship between believers on affection and love. A true believer’s heart is a heart freed from all kinds of hatred, enmity, jealousy and conspiracy. The word Islam literally means safety, security, trust, welfare and peace. A person who fulfills the requirements of the Islam must be like this too. A true believer’s duty is to provide peace, welfare and love. Everything must be loved because they are Allah’s art and masterpieces.
When someone asked our Prophet (pbuh) “which deed is more beneficial in Islam?” he replied: “giving others food, saluting people you know and do not know”.
Love and affection are the essence of the universe and the reason for its existence. However, everything should be in accordance with some principles. Anything that is unprincipled is harmful. Pleasantness is hidden in principles. “Loving and hating for the sake of Allah” is pleasant when it is principled and towards whom deserves it. Everything must be loved because they are Allah’s art and masterpieces. Hating for the sake of Allah cannot be towards humans as humans are Allah’s greatest sign and the most perfect art. It is towards humans’ negative features and evil feelings. For this reason, a true believer takes pity on them and tries to improve them. Therefore, hatred and enmity are for infidelity, attributing partners to Allah and other immoral features derived from these.
Allah the Most Supreme created human as kind beings. For this reason, when our Prophet (pbuh) saw a Jewish man’s coffin, he stood up for respect. When people asked him why he did so, he replied: “He is a Human”. Our Prophet’s love and respect for humans is that supreme.
Bediuzzaman who learnt from our Prophet’s (pbuh) teachings, said “We are guardians of love, we have got no time for enmity”. This is the reason of masters such as Mawlana and Yunus Emre, who learnt from Islam.
Limits and Principles of Tolerance
It is necessary to establish limits of tolerance carefully. Tolerance towards people and tolerance towards infidelity, haram, enmity and distortion must not be confused. Those who made infidelity and distortion a part of their personality and who are well-known for these personality traits must not be tolerated. Approaching to people who brag about their infidelity like Abu Jahl and Abu Lahab means to tolerate infidelity and cruelty.
“Abu Jahl” means the father of ignorance and rudeness. He wasted his life being an enemy of our Prophet’s and Islam. It is ensured that “he is the Pharaoh of the prophet’s followers” by Prophet (pbuh)’s words. In spite of this, our Prophet did not allow anyone to talk behind Abu Jahl in order not to offend his son Ikrimah, who converted to Islam after the conquest of Mecca and rendered great service to Islam. “Do not offend their children by criticizing their fathers and speaking unnecessary words about them” ordered he. However, this does not mean tolerating or showing affection towards Abu Jahl. This is for the sake of Ikrimah who is a muslim.
Allah the Most Supreme states in Quran “say: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that ye have gained; the commerce in which ye fear a decline: or the dwellings in which ye delight - are dearer to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause;- then wait until Allah brings about His decision: and Allah guides not the rebellious.”
Believers’ love towards Allah is greater than that of them. Only if those cruel people could understand today that all power and might belongs to Allah and Allah’s wrath is so violent, like they will understand it when they face the punishment. As stated in Quran “On those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, will (Allah) Most Gracious bestow love”, Allah indicates that things that belong to world and to finiteness are not worthy of love.
And there are some among men who take for themselves objects of worship besides Allah, whom they love as they love Allah
True believers do everything in accordance with Allah’s content. For this reason, they love for the sake of Allah and hate for the sake of Allah. In fact, Allah the Glorious states “You shall not find a people who believe in Allah and the latter day befriending those who act in opposition to Allah and His Messenger, even though they were their (own) fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their kinsfolk; these are they into whose hearts He has impressed faith, and whom He has strengthened with an inspiration from Him: and He will cause them to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding therein; Allah is well-pleased with them and they are well-pleased with Him these are Allah's party: now surely the party of Allah are the successful ones.”
Loving for the sake of Allah does not include infidelity and cruelty and those who have these traits and similarly tolerance is not for them either. The main principle in Islamic jurisprudence is this: “Tolerating cruelty is cruelty and tolerating infidelity is infidelity”. For this reason cruel people and those who insist on infidelity and who try to destroy truth, denying it consistently cannot be loved, as they cannot also be tolerated. Allah the Glorious threatens those who incline towards cruelty with violent punishment, let alone the cruel ones.
Again, Allah the Glorious addressed to the believers in the following verse of Quran: “Say: My Lord has enjoined justice, and set upright your faces at every time of prayer and call on Him, being sincere to Him in obedience; as He brought you forth in the beginning, so to Him shall you also return. Some He has guided. Others have (by their choice) deserved the loss of their way; in that they took the evil ones, in preference to Allah, for their friends and protectors, and think that they receive guidance.” (al-Ar’af, 7/29-30).
Allah’s another name is “Aduw”. Allah is the enemy of infidels. It is stated in Quran: “Whoever is an enemy to Allah and His angels and messengers, to Gabriel and Michael,- Lo! Allah is an enemy to those who reject Faith.” Our Prophet states in his hadiths that “One who Allah dislikes the most is the one who becomes infidel though being a believer before. The one with whom Allah gets angry the most is the one who goes too far in enminity. The one amongst slaves Allah dislikes the most is the one whose clothes are better than his/her deeds. They dress up like prophets but they behave like cruel sinners”. It is expressed in these hadiths that a true believer must love faith, not infidelity and enmity and must hate them.
The relation between believers is based on love:
Allah the Most Supreme lists His true slaves in Quran as in the following verses: “Those who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men;- for Allah loves those who do good” and “And those who will not witness vanity, but when they pass near senseless play, pass by with dignity.”
True believers love each other for the sake of Allah. They do not love for a special interest. For this reason, their love will not decrease if they cannot make a profit from it. If someone treats them unfairly, they forgive it and approach to this fault with tolerance, the way it already should be. However, if someone is wrong or falls into an error willingly or unwillingly, the true believer’s way of helping him/her must be saving him/her from this wrongness and guide him/her to the right way. It would be betraying the misguided person to say to him/her “you are doing right”. A true believer gives advices for the sake of Allah to the ones who do wrong and insist on doing so; he/she does not begrudge him/her his/her advices and prays for his/her success. However, if he/she tries to stray him/her from the right way too, he/she keeps away from him/her. He/she hates his/her error, not his/her personally. That’s to say; he/she recognizes the error and avoids it verbally, emotionally and physically. A true believer does not like sins, unfairness and enmity but hates them.
Brotherhood and friendship has got an important place in Islam. However, this friendship and brotherhood do not require tolerating errors; contrarily, a true friend is the one who protects his/her friend from errors and helps him/her through the right way. Three things are of great importance for humankind. First is a friend who will direct us to right way when we stray. Second is halal earning. Third is praying with a community, which will redeem sins. Nevertheless, these three things are very hard to find in the last days of the world. Our Prophet (pbuh) stated that “halal earning and a sincere friend are rarely found in the last days of the world”.
Allah the Most Supreme states in Quran “But those who before them, had homes (in Medina) and had adopted the Faith,- show their affection to such as came to them for refuge, and entertain no desire in their hearts for things given to the (latter), but give them preference over themselves, even though poverty was their (own lot). And those saved from the covetousness of their own souls,- they are the ones that achieve prosperity.” and extols Ansar (people of Madina) for these good manners of theirs.
Our Prophet (pbuh) said: “You shall not enter Heaven unless you have Faith and your Faith is not complete until you show love towards one another.” He also said in another hadith: “Whoever has three things discovers the sweetness of faith: that Allah and His Messenger are more beloved to him than all else, that he loves another only for the sake of Allah, the Most High, and that he hates to return to disbelief as he would hate to be thrown into Fire.”
Allah the Glorious states in a verse: “So fear Allah, and keep straight the relations between yourselves”; “The believers are naught else than brothers. Therefore make peace between your brethren and observe your duty to Allah that haply ye may obtain mercy.”
Hating in heart means to hate the sin, not the sinner. It is established by the verses that those who accept Allah’s oneness and admit it sincerely are Allah’s friends and are close to Allah. Whoever treats a friend of Allah’s hostilely, Allah is that person’s enemy. In this sense, hatred and enmity towards a believer is not permissible no matter how sinful he/she might be.
Abu Derda suggested us a principle by saying “Do not swear to your brother/sister; praise to Allah who saves you from falling into the same error with him/her. Also do not hate your brother/sister, but hate his/her evil deeds”. Bediuzzaman said Nursi, because of all of these, said “It is not time of enmity and hostility anymore. What is the worthiest of love is the act of loving and what is the worthiest of hatred is enmity.”
M. Ali Kaya

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