Exactly one year ago, I attended the Twins of Faith with my single friends. This time round, none of them could come for various reasons. The past year went by in a blur and brought significant changes. Who would have thought that, in the space between ToF2011 and ToF2012, one of those said single friends is now blissfully married and is recently a mother to an adorable baby girl?
This year's theme was 'For the Love of God' and thus the first talk (given by Sheikh Daood Butt) attempted to tackle the pertinent question, 'What is Love?'
Sheikh Omar Suleiman came up next to talk about 'Exemplary Love'. Below is what I synthesised from the two talks (any mistake is due to my own faulty understanding):
It's interesting to learn that LOVE is one of the most searched words in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. We typically look up words that we do not understand/are unfamiliar with. So, if you think about it, the list seems to suggest that we don't know much about love and the many forms it assumes.
Human beings are programmed to love. We are hardwired that way. Jane Austen wrote that "to love is to burn, to be on fire". This intense desire is not exclusively directed to people as there are those who covet wealth, status or material things just as violently.
There are certain universal truths about being in love:
1) It's easy to serve the one that you love.
2) If you love someone, you want to know everything about him/her.
3) You're oblivious to other things. In fact, the Arabic words 'mahabbah' comes from the word 'to erase'; which gives the connotation of erasing everything other than your beloved.
4) You yearn to be with your beloved.
5) Your entire existence is adjusted to accommodate your beloved. He/she presides at the very centre of your universe as illustrated by the lines below:
Set against the points listed above, how true is your claim that you love your Lord?"The lover loves that which his beloved lovesand hates what is hated by the beloved.He supports whomever is supported by his belovedand the enemy of the beloved is his enemy.The pleasure of the beloved is also his pleasureand so too is their anger shared.What his beloved requires he also requires,he forbids what his beloved forbids,for they are, in all things, agreed."
Often times we only call upon Allah when we're in trouble or when we need something.
But while we should turn to Allah when we're in despair and in need of assistance, the real test of our faith is when everything is hunky dory.
When we have everything that we need, when we're worry-free, will we invoke Allah with the same level of sincerity?
Or will we be like those whom Allah describes in Surah Ar-Rum, Ayah 33 & 34;
"And when harm touches men, they cry sincerely only to their Lord (Allah), turning to Him in repentance, but when He gives them a taste of His Mercy, behold! a party of them associate partners in worship with their Lord. So as to be ungrateful for the graces which We have bestowed on them. Then enjoy (your short life); but you will come to know."
Plato described love as a serious mental disease as one who is "infected" becomes extremely vulnerable and is unable to function normally.
So, from Austen's and Plato's perspectives, love is not only an inconvenience, it's also potentially destructive.
But loving Allah is a different matter.
Loving Allah gives us strength like no other.
If we truly believes the Ayah, "on no soul doth Allah place a burden greater than it can bear", then we will no longer be incapacitated by fear, doubts and worry.
Allah will surely tests us and though we'll bend, He will never break us.
There were so many things to take in and really, one blog post, could never encapsulate all that took place.
May the knowledge gained be well-digested, internalised, and implemented...