In preparing to write this article, I visited several other Muslim websites to read what the scholars there had to say about love. I was hoping to find some good stories of love and mercy between the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his wives.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed. Most of what I found on these sites were rants against love and compassion. They mostly said the only valid love is the love between the slave and Allah. Some even said a husband is to be blamed for falling in love with his wife.
Allah has blessed me with a little (very little) Islamic knowledge, and I am in no position to dispute what these scholars say when it comes to Islam. However, their concept of love is very old-fashioned, dry, and narrow.
Perhaps this type of thinking works in other cultures where the men are supposed to be stoic and unfeeling towards their wives and the women are supposed to be subservient, quiet, niqaab-clad baby machines.
But that’s not gonna fly with Muslims in the West. Most Muslims are going to be turned off by this type of thinking and will try to figure things out on their own. My goal in this series of posts, Inshallah, is to prevent that.
You should seek advice and guidance concerning love and marriage as it is a big part of your life. If you’re a young person, you have probably never been married and may have been affected by western romanticism and Disneyesque fairy-tales.
My hope is that I can give you some passionate, yet practical advice concerning one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make.
There’s Nothing Wrong With Love
Let me reassure you, it’s perfectly okay to love another person. In fact, I would highly recommend that you love your parents, siblings, best friends, children, and spouses. It makes things much easier in life.
The problems arise when you let this love lead you to do bad things, or it makes you leave good things.
I am married. And yes, I love my wife. My love for her does not cause me to neglect my prayers, nor will it make me do something evil. It is simply a love that has developed over many years of ups and downs, bills and children, fights and apologies.
That is married life in the West, even for Muslims. It is not glamorous, but it’s worthwhile. And it would be impossible (or at least impractical) without love.
But let’s look at how someone who was much better than me dealt with the women he loved. Of course, I’m talking about Prophet Muhamamd (peace be upon him).
The Prophet and Khadijah
The Prophet’s first wife was Khadijah Bint Khuwaylid. His love for her was very clear. Let’s look at a few examples of this love.
One day, after having been appointed the Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sitting with Khadijah. He saw a person in the sky between heaven and earth. He told Khadijah what he saw, and she told him to move closer which he did.
She asked him if he still saw the person, and he replied that he did. Then Khadijah advised him to put his head under her garment, which he did, and asked if he still saw him. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said that he no longer saw him.
Khadijah then said: “Relax, this is an angel. If it had been a devil, it would not have been ashamed of looking at you while you were under a woman’s garment.”
There are many things we can get from this short story.
- Khadijah absolutely believed in the message that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) brought.
- The Prophet had no problem getting intimately close with his wife.
- The Prophet depended on Khadijah for advice and support and she willingly gave it to him.
- The Prophet had no issue seeking help from his wife, even when he was feeling anxiety about his new mission.
- Khadijah was a very wise and intelligent woman.
- These two individuals loved each other very much.
One more story about the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her).
After her death, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) married other women, the most famous of whom was Aishah Bint Abi Bakr (may Allah be pleased with them both).
Aishah narrated the following hadith:
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) rarely went out of the house without mentioning Khadijah and praising her. One day he mentioned her and I grew jealous and said: “Was she not an old woman whom Allah replaced with a better woman?”
He got angry and said: “No, by Allah! Allah did not replace her with a better woman! She believed in me when people disbelieved, supported me with her wealth when people denied me theirs, and Allah blessed me with children from her and not from other women.”
Aishah then said to herself: “Never will I speak negatively of her again.”
You can see how serious the Prophet was in his love for Khadijah, even years after her death. He would not even let Aisha, whom he also loved, speak ill of her.
Brothers and sisters, that is true love.
The Prophet and Aishah
Let’s first look at another hadith regarding Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her):
Amr Ibn Al-’As reported: The Prophet deputed me to lead the Army of Dhat-as-Salasil. I came to him and said, “Who is the most beloved person to you?” He said, ” ‘Aisha.” I asked, “Among the men?” He said, “Her father.” I said, “Who then?” He said, “Then ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab.” He then named other men.
Related in Bukhari.
In this hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) openly declares his love for his wife Aishah first before anyone else, even his best friend. He says it to another man, in fact a man who once fought against Islam (Before accepting Islam, Amr ibn Al-’As once tried to convince the King of Abyssinia to expel the Muslims who were living there).
But for an even better example of love, tenderness, and mercy, let’s look at another hadith.
Narrated Aisha: Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) came to my house while two girls were singing beside me the songs of Buath (a story about the war between the two tribes of the Ansar, the Khazraj and the Aus, before Islam).
The Prophet (peace be upon him) lay down and turned his face to the other side. Then Abu Bakr came and spoke to me harshly saying, “Musical instruments of Satan near the Prophet (peace be upon him)?”
Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) turned his face towards him and said, “Leave them.” When Abu Bakr became inattentive, I signalled to those girls to go out and they left.
It was the day of Eid, and the Black people were playing with shields and spears; so either I requested the Prophet (peace be upon him) or he asked me whether I would like to see the display.
I replied in the affirmative. Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) made me stand behind him and my cheek was touching his cheek and he was saying, “Carry on! O Bani Arfida,” till I got tired.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked me, “Are you satisfied (Is that sufficient for you)?” I replied in the affirmative and he told me to leave.
Can you see how affectionate the Prophet was towards his wife Aishah? Especially when she describes placing her cheek on his cheek. I wonder how many Muslim men today show this sort of affection towards their wives? Very often men only show affection when they want intimacy.
Certainly, Allah has sent us a perfect example in His messenger (peace be upon him).
The Difference Between Love And Lust
Too often people (Muslims included) confuse love with lust. Lust has its place in life. But it is the wrong thing to base your life around.
In my own caveman way of thinking, I believe men and women commit sexual sins based on two reasons:
- Men are often motivated by lust.
- Women are often motivated by a desire for love.
Of course there are exceptions. But the point is that lust i.e. the desire for sex, is a powerful factor.
Lust is not all that bad. In fact, it is necessary. Little Muslim babies don’t come along simply because a husband and wife admire each other’s inner qualities.
But this lust must be controlled and released in the proper manner. And the only manner that is allowed in Islam, is through marriage. Once you are married, you can act out your lustful behavior in various ways with your spouse.
Love At First Sight
Before concluding this article, I want to touch on a common phenomenon. This is the proverbial “Love at first sight.” Supposedly, two people can fall in love upon first meeting each other.
I really don’t believe this is possible. The feelings that these two people feel are almost certainly lust and not love. Love may develop after time, but it is nearly impossible to suddenly love a complete stranger with one glance.
Of course, a certain type of love may develop after meeting someone, getting to know them, and appreciating their qualities. But it is difficult for this to happen without spending many hours with that person.
And other than marriage, there are few permissible avenues for a Muslim man and women to get to this point.
So if you feel yourself falling head over heels for someone after one or two meetings, it might be time to make dua and ask Allah for guidance.
Or maybe it’s time to ask that person to marry you.