WORSHIPPING ALLAH OUT OF LOVE, FEAR AND HOPE
One of the most beautiful thing and the most important thing about the concept of worship in Islam is the truly unique way in which it incorporates the feelings of love, fear and hope within the hearts of the worshippers of Allah (Glory be to Him). Understanding how to combine these three qualities into the worship ('ibaadah) of Allah (Glory be to Him) is one of the most essential things that every Muslim must grasp, not least because every sect which has drifted from the Straight Path has strayed in this aspect of worship.
The deviation of the other Religions in this regards is clear for all to see: "God is Love! Jesus is Love!" say the Christians, denying the fact that God should be feared too. As for the Jews, then their hearts are filled only with hope - hope in the belief that the Fire will not touch them since they are the "Promised People".
In Islam however, no worship is complete without the presence of all three qualities: LOVE of Allah (Glory be to Him), HOPE in His Mercy and FEAR of His Punishment. Contemplate the opening Surah of the Qur’an - Surah Fatiha 1:1-3 and you will see for yourself.
In this opening ayah (statement) of the Qur’an, we have LOVE of Allah (Glory be to Him) and every time we recite this ayah we are testifying to our love for Allah (Glory be to Him). How is that you ask? IT is because in this ayah, we are acknowledging that Allah (Glory be to Him) is our Rabb and the Rabb of all the worlds. Rabb is usually translated as 'the Lord', but this translation does not do justification to this name of Allah (Glory be to Him) and all the meanings that this name carries. In reality Rabb means that Allah (Glory be to Him) is the Creator of everything; He sustains and nourishes everything; He gives life and death; anything good which we have is from Him; everything is dependent on Him and nothing can happen unless He wills it. Furthermore, for the Muslim He - the Rabb - is the One who has guided us to the Truth and given us good morals and manners.
Thus when we testify that Allah (Glory be to Him) is our Rabb, then we are acknowledging that He is the One who has given us so many blessings - so many that is we tried to enumerate His blessings upon us, we could not count them. So how could we not love Him? After all, we know that when someone gives us even a small gift or shows even a small act of kindness towards us, then we develop so much love for them on account of that - so imagine then the love we should have for our Rabb who has given us everything: nice families, shelter, security, food, health, and above all, Guidance to Islam and the Sunnah. We should be overwhelming in our love for Him and thank Him and say: "All Praises [and Thanks] are for Allah (Glory be to Him), Rabbil-'aalameen."
In the first ayah of Suratul-Fatiha, Allah (Glory be to Him) mentioned that He is ar-Rabb. In the next ayah two more of His beautiful names are mentioned: ar-Rahmaan and ar-Raheem. Ar-Rahman means that He is the Most Merciful, that is, His Nature or His Essence is Merciful. Ar-Raheem means that He is the Giver of Mercy, in other words, His actions are full of Mercy and He shows Mercy to His creation as explained by Ibn ul-Qayyim in Badaa'i-ul-Faawaa'id.
When we mention these two names of Allah (Glory be to Him), then we have HOPE. Since He has described Himself as so full of Mercy then we have hope that He will forgive out sins, and no matter how numerous out sins may be, we should never lose this hope, because Allah (Glory be to Him) has told us: "O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah (Glory be to Him) verily Allah (Glory be to Him) forgives all sins [except shirk]. Truly He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Mercy-Giving." Qur’an.Surah Zumar 39:53.
The need to have FEAR in our worship is shown by the next ayah of Suratul-Fatiha.
When we recite this ayah we are reminding ourselves of the Day of Judgement - that awful Day, when we shall all stand before Allah (Glory be to Him), naked, uncircumcised and barefooted. Some will be sweating so much that it will go seventy arm-length into the earth. People will appear drunk though they are no. On this Day, every person will stand before Allah (Glory be to Him) and account for his sins, knowing that not even the smallest action which he did is hidden from Allah (Glory be to Him):
"So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom shall see it. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom shall see it." Qur’an.Surah Zalzalah 99:7-8.
So when we recite this third ayah of Suratul-Fatihah, we remind ourselves of this Judgement and accountability and that should bring about in us a sense of fear - that maybe out evil actions will be too great and we will be responsible for it - may Allah (Glory be to Him) protect us from such a fate.
Then the next ayah goes on to say:
"You alone we worship." i.e. we single out Allah (Glory be to Him) for our worship. And how do we worship Him? With LOVE, HOPE and FEAR. And in order to achieve these qualities, we need Allah's (Glory be to Him) assistance, so we say then: "We seek Your Aid." Qur’an.Surah fatiha 1:4.
After understanding the need to have love, fear and hope in our worship, the question that now arises is: in what proportions should these qualities be present in our worship? Again we turn to the Qur’an for our answer.
"Call upon Him with Fear and Hope." Qur’an.Surah al-A'raf7:56.
And also:"Their sides forsake their beds, to invoke their Lord in Fear and Hope." Qur’an.Surah Sajdah32:16.
So both fear and hope should be present in our hearts in equal proportions. Anas - (رضي الله عنه) - reported that the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah honour Him and grant Him Peace) entered upon a young boy who was dying. The Prophet (May Allah honour Him and grant Him Peace) asked: "How are you?" The boy replied: "O Messenger of Allah (Glory be to Him), I am in-between hoping in Allah (Glory be to Him) and fearing for my sins." The (May Allah honour Him and grant Him Peace) said: "The like of these two qualities do not unite in the heart of a servant except that Allah (Glory be to Him) gives him what he hopes for and protects him from what he feared." Authenticated by al-Albaanee in Ahkaamul-Janaa'iz no. 2
Therefore, whenever we do a good action, we should have hope that it has been accepted by Allah (Glory be to Him), but at the same time we should also have fear that maybe it isn't enough or that the good deed has not been worthy of acceptance. Likewise when we sin, we should have hope that Allah (Glory be to Him) will accept out Repentance and forgive us, but we should also fear that we may be accountable for it.
This balance should also be reflected in out da'wah (which of course is also worship). So when we invite others to the Truth, we should not give them the impression that they have "nothing to worry about"; nor do we suggest that they are doomed forever. Rather, we couple warnings with encouragement. We inform them of the horrors of the Fire as well as telling them about the bliss of Paradise. Just as we find Allah (Glory be to Him) telling us in the Qur’an: "Verily your Lord is Quick in Punishment and verily He is Oft-Forgiving, the Giver of Mercy." Qur,an.Surah al-A'raf 7:167.
Narrated BY AbuHurayrah(R): I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: There were two men among Banu Isra'il, who were striving for the same goal. One of them would commit sin and the other would strive to do his best in the world. The man who exerted himself in worship continued to see the other in sin.
Therefore we should never say of anyone that he or she is a 'lost cause' or 'doomed' or the like since this is a great sin. However, we fear for those who commit major sins because they have been threatened with punishment in the Qur’an. It is up to Allah (Glory be to Him) whether He chooses to punish them or whether He will forgive them.
Ibn al-Qayim(May Allah be pleased with Him) said: "On his way to Allah, a [believer's] heart is likened to a bird: love is its head, fear and hope are its wings. Hence, when the head and wings are sound, the bird will perfectly fly; if the head is cut, the bird will die and when he loses the wings, he will be inevitably objected to hunting".
It is thus clear how imbalances in any of the three qualities of worship can lead to major deviation and straying from the True Guidance, Therefore it is important for every Muslim to inculcate all three things in his heart properly. As was mentioned before, the fear and hope should be in equal proportions but as for love, then that should be uppermost, As Fudayl ibn Iyyaad (d.187H) said: "The love is better than fear. The fear checks us from sinning, and the love makes us to do what is prescribed with an open heart.
Source: Ad-Dawah ilalLaah Magazine