Who does the Qur’an tell us to “love”?

An argument at the very heart of religions worldwide is centralized on the concept of “love”. This is one of the major differences that separates people groups actually, because they don’t have the same “love” directions.

The most popular verse known in Christianity is John 3:16  For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  The Hebrew concept (remember that Hebrew is the foundation of Christianity) is very similar to Arabic in which the Qur’an was written. To “love” is to “give”. To love is to give of one’s mental energies, emotions, physical actions, efforts, etc.  It is understood that men can only “love” because God first “loved” us.

In I John 4:7-21 alone, the word “love” is used 27 times.

Loved ones, let us love one another, for love is from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 The love of God was revealed among us by this—that God sent His one and only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 This is love—not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atonement for our sins. 11 Loved ones, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God abides in us and His love is made perfect in us. 13 We know that we abide in Him and He in us by this—because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son as Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he abides in God. 16 So we have come to know and trust in the love that God has for us. God is love. Now whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 In this way, love is made perfect among us, so that we should have boldness on the Day of Judgment. For just as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and the one who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar. For the one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that the one who loves God should also love his brother.

From these verses, we see that men love one another because it comes from God’s nature. “God is love,” as it is written. This fundamental understanding in Christianity, though, barely catches a glance in the Qur’an. While “God is great” [Allahu akbar] is a statement of faith, affirmation and expression, “God is love” [Allahu muhibba] is absent from the attributes of God, even not found in the 99 names for God. Such a distinct opposition  between the two religions, Islam and Christianity, demands an investigation as to why. Since Christians are known as “the people of the book” referred to in the Qur’an, it is appropriate for us to look at the Muslim’s book to understand that understanding of God’s character described therein. Here we will analyze several Qur’anic verses that use the word “love” and see who the Qur’an

The Hadith is highly regarded by Muslims, and it would be interesting to see the occurences of “love” written therein, the Qur’an alone is the focus of our study. May it be sufficient to report these numbers of the uses of the word “love” in such: Bukhari – 95 uses of love and 36 of loved. Muslim – 22 usages of love and 4 for loved. Abu Dawud – only 10 for love, one for loved. Malik’s Muwatta – love 12 times and loved 4 times. The fundamental concept of “love” would be expected as more prevalent considering the size of these texts, and the majority only have to do with human love, not love in relation to Allah. The Bible itself, written by many different authors, all account to 409 uses of “love” in their books, which is quite the contrast, many of which relate love between God and man in a very personal way. The Bible is to help mankind know the closeness he can have in his relationship with God; it is to be very personal and intimate. God speaks to man and man speaks to God; people are called his “sons”, his “children”, and even his “bride” in a spiritual sense. The Bible expresses what God does love as opposed and what He doesn’t love so that His people may love Him by doing what He sees as good for them. Free will is respected and there is no hatred for free will, even if it is to the detriment of the person.

Writer Farid Mahally has noted that there are 5 general groups of verses referring to “love” in the Qur’an. He lists them as: 1) Man’s love of things, 2) Human love, 3) Man’s love for God, 4) God’s love in the negative sense, i.e. “God loves not …” 5) God’s love for man.

Farid has also examined the different arabic words translated as the English word “love”. See more from him HERE.

Anyone will notice that many of the surahs refer to “love” in a very negative context.

  1. Man’s love of things (15 times)

14:3 Those who love [istahib] the life of this world more than the Hereafter, who hinder (men) from the Path of Allah and seek therein something crooked: They are astray by a long distance.
16:107 This because they love [istahib] the life of this world better than the Hereafter: And Allah will not guide those who reject Faith.
75:20 Nay, (ye men!) But ye love [hubb] the fleeting life,
76:27 As to these, they love [hubb] the fleeting life, and put away behind them a Day (that will be) hard.
89:20 And ye love [hubb] wealth with inordinate love!
100:8 And violent is he in his love [hubb n.] of wealth.
3:14 Fair in the eyes of men is the love [hubb] of things they covet: Women and sons; heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence); and (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world’s life; but in nearness to Allah is the best of the goals (to return to).

3:92 By no means shall ye attain righteousness unless ye give (freely) of that which ye love; [hubb] and whatever ye give, of a truth Allah knoweth it well.
2:216 Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love [hubb] a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.
3:188 Think not that those who exult in what they have brought about, and love [hubb] to be praised for what they have not done, — think not that they can escape the Penalty. For them is a Penalty grievous indeed.
6:76 When the night covered him over, he saw a star: He said: “This is my Lord.” But when it set, He said: “I love [hubb] not those that set.” (This passage is a reference to Abraham when he rejected heavenly objects as being divine.)
7:79 So Salih left them, saying: “O my people! I did indeed convey to you the message for which I was sent by my Lord: I gave you good counsel, but ye love [hubb] not good counsellors!”
9:23 O ye who believe! Take not for protectors your fathers and your brothers if they love [istahib] infidelity above Faith: If any of you do so, they do wrong.
24:19 Those who love [hubb] (to see) scandal published broadcast among the Believers, will have a grievous Penalty in this life and in the Hereafter: Allah knows, and ye know not.
61:13 And another (favor will He bestow), which ye do love [hubb], — help from Allah and a speedy victory. So give the Glad Tidings to the Believers.

2. Human love (15 times)

3:119 Ah! Ye are those who love [hubb] them, but they love [hubb] you not, — though ye believe in the whole of the Book. When they meet you they say, “We believe”: But when they are alone, they bite off the very tips of their fingers at you in their rage. Say: “Perish in your rage; Allah knoweth well all the secrets of the heart.”  (The context here is that believers may show them love, but it will not be reciprocated.)
12:8 They said: “Truly Joseph and his brother are loved [ahubb] more by our father than we: But we are a goodly body! Really our father is obviously wandering (in his mind)! (Context: the love from Joseph’s father causes resentment.)
12:30 Ladies said in the City: “The wife of the (great) Aziz is seeking to seduce her slave from his (true) self: Truly hath he inspired her with violent love [Hubb n.]: We see she is evidently going astray (referring to Potiphar’s wife who seduced Joseph)
28:56 It is true thou wilt not be able to guide every one whom thou lovest; [hubb] but Allah guides those whom He will. And He knows best those who receive guidance. (Context: the death of Abu Talib, an uncle Muhammad loved. This implies that Muhammad would not be able to guide everyone he loved, nor expect to do so.)

5:85 Strongest among men in enmity to the Believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love [mawadda] to the Believers wilt thou find those who say, “We are Christians“: Because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant.
29:25 And he said: “For you, ye have taken (for worship) idols besides Allah, out of mutual love [mawadda] and regard between yourselves in this life; but on the Day of Judgment ye shall disown each other and curse each other: And your abode will be the Fire, and ye shall have none to help.”
30:21 And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love [mawadda] and mercy between your [hearts]: Verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.
42:23 That is (the Bounty) whereof Allah gives Glad Tidings to His Servants who believe and do righteous deeds. Say: “No reward do I ask of you for this except the love [mawadda] of those near of kin. ” And if any one earns any good, We shall give him an increase of good in respect thereof: For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Ready to appreciate (service).
60:1 O ye who believe! Take not My enemies and yours as friends [or protectors], — offering them (your) love, [mawadda] even though they have rejected the Truth that has come to you, and have (on the contrary) driven out the Prophet and yourselves (from your homes), (simply) because ye believe in Allah your Lord! If ye have come out to strive in My Way and to seek My Good Pleasure, (take them not as friends), holding secret converse of love (and friendship) [mawadda] with them: For I know full well all that ye conceal and all that ye reveal. And any of you that does this has strayed from the Straight Path.
60:7 It may be that Allah will grant love (and friendship) [mawadda] between you and those whom ye (now) hold as enemies. For Allah has power (over all things); and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

   3. Man’s Love for God (7 times)

2:165 Yet there are men who take (for worship) others besides Allah, as equal (with Allah): They love [hubb] them as they should love [Hubb] Allah but those of Faith are overflowing in their love [hubb n.] for Allah. If only the unrighteous could see, behold, they would see the Penalty: that to Allah belongs all power, and Allah will strongly enforce the Penalty.
2:177 It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards the East or West; but it is righteousness — to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, [‘ala hubbahu] for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and to practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the Allah-fearing.
38:32 And he said, “Truly do I love [hubb] the love [hubb n.] of Good, with a view to the glory of my Lord,” — Until (the sun) was hidden in the veil (of Night):
76:8 And they feed, for the love of Allah, [‘ala hubbahu] the indigent, the orphan, and the captive, –

76:9 (Saying), “We feed you for the sake of Allah alone: No reward do we desire from you, nor thanks.
21:90 So We listened to him: And We granted him Yahya: We cured his wife’s (barrenness) for him. These [three] were ever quick in emulation in good works: They used to call on Us withlove [raghban] and reverence, and humble themselves before Us.
31:15 “But if they strive to make thee join in worship with Me things of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not; yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration), and follow the way of those who turn to Me (in love): In the End the return of you all is to Me, and I will tell you the truth (and meaning) of all that ye did.” [Interpolated] [anab]
36:37 Beloved [`uruban] (by nature), equal in age, — (companions of the right hand in paradise) [interpretive] (refering to those enjoying the pleasures of paradise and the delights of the companions who are virgins.) 

4:69 All who obey Allah and the Apostle are in the company of those on whom is the Grace of Allah, — Of the Prophets (who teach), the Sincere (lovers of Truth), [sadiqiyeen] the Witnesses (who testify), and the Righteous (who do good): Ah! What a beautiful Fellowship! [Interpretive insert]
57:19 And those who believe in Allah and His apostles — they are the Sincere (lovers of Truth), [sadiqiyeen] and the Witnesses (who testify), in the eyes of their Lord: They shall have their Reward and their Light. But those who reject Allah and deny Our Signs, — they are the Companions of Hellfire. 

4. Negative – God Does Not Love The … (22 times)

Here the idea is that the love of God is withheld from those who practice certain deeds or are described as manifesting a certain character. This is distinctly different from the Bible’s “God so loved the world”, inferring everyone inside, both believers and unbelievers, good and wicked people.

1. God does not love the al-mua’tadeen Those involved in brutal aggression.

2:190 Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors [la uhibb al-mua’tadeen]

5:90 O ye who Believe! Make not unlawful the good things which Allah hath made lawful for you, but commit no excess: For Allah loveth not those given to excess
7:55 Call on your Lord with humility and in private: For Allah loveth not those who trespass beyond bounds

2. God does not love the al-fasideen, the corrupt.

2:205 When he turns his back, his aim everywhere is to spread mischief through the earth and destroy crops and cattle. But Allah loveth [hubb] not mischief. [alfsad]
5:67 The Jews say: “Allah’s hand is tied up.” Be their hands tied up and be they accursed for the (blasphemy) they utter. Nay, both His hands are widely outstretched: He giveth and spendeth (of His bounty) as He pleaseth. But the revelation that cometh to thee from Allah increaseth in most of them their obstinate rebellion and blasphemy. Amongst them We have placed enmity and hatred till the Day of Judgement. Every time they kindle the fire of war, Allah doth extinguish it; but they (ever) strive to do mischief on earth. And Allah loveth [hubb] not those who do mischief
28:77 “But seek, with the (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on thee, the Home of the Hereafter, nor forget thy portion in this world: But do thou good, as Allah has been good to thee, and seek not (occasions for) mischief in the land: For Allah loves[hubb]not those who do mischief.” 

The word al-mufasideen is actually much stronger than the translation of “Mischief,” by the translator. The Arabic word conveys the stronger idea of corruption, decay, and decomposition. In the moral sense it becomes depravity, iniquity, perversion and in today’s usage implies immorality. Thus, this is not referring to people who may have done mischievous things, but one who has fallen into corruption and immorality. The translator may not have been aware of the weakened sense of the word mischief in our English of today.

3. God loves not the al-kafireen, the unbelievers.

2:276 Allah will deprive usury of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity: For He loveth [hubb] not creatures ungrateful and wicked. [kul kffar]

3:32 Say: “Obey Allah and His Apostle”: But if they turn back, Allah loveth [hubb] not those who reject Faith.

30:45 That He may reward those who believe and work righteous deeds, out of His Bounty. For He loves [hubb] not those who reject Faith.

4. God loves not the ad-dalemeen, the wrongdoers.

3:57 “As to those who believe and work righteousness, Allah will pay them (in full) their reward; but Allah loveth [hubb] not those who do wrong.”
3:140 If a wound hath touched you, be sure a similar wound hath touched the others. Such days (of varying fortunes) we give to men and men by turns: That Allah may know those that believe and that He may take to Himself from your ranks martyr-witnesses (to Truth). And Allah loveth [hubb] not those that do wrong
42:40 The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): But if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah: For [Allah] loveth[hubb]not those who do wrong.

5. God loves not the musarifeen, the wasters.

6:141 It is He who produceth gardens, with trellises and without, and dates, and tilth with produce of all kinds, and olives and pomegranates, similar (in kind) and different (in variety): Eat of their fruit in their season, but render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered. But waste not by excess: For Allah loveth [hubb] not the wasters
7:31 O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: Eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth [hubb] not the wasters

6. God loves not the boaster.

31:18 “And swell not thy cheek (for pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah loveth [hubb] not any arrogant boaster57:23 In order that ye may not despair over matters that pass you by, nor exult over favors bestowed upon you. For Allah loveth [hubb] not any vainglorious boaster

4:36 Serve Allah, and join not any partners with Him; and do good — to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the Companion by your side, the wayfarer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess: For Allah loveth [hubb] not the arrogant, the vainglorious

7. God loves not the proud and boasting.

16:23 Undoubtedly Allah doth know what they conceal, and what they reveal: Verily He loveth [hubb] not the arrogant.

8. God loves not those who boast in their riches.

28:76 Qarun was doubtless, of the people of Moses; but he acted insolently towards them: Such were the treasures We had bestowed on him, that their very keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men. Behold, his people said to him: “Exult not, for Allah loveth [hubb] not those who exult (in riches). 

9. God loves not the treacherous.

8:58 If thou fearest treachery from any group, throw back (their Covenant) to them, (so as to be) on equal terms: For Allah loveth [hubb] not the treacherous

10. God does not love those who are given to crime and to evil speaking.

4:107 Contend not on behalf of such as betray their own souls; for Allah loveth [hubb] not one given to perfidy and crime;4:148 Allah loveth [hubb] not that evil should be noised abroad in public speech, except where injustice hath been done; for Allah is He who heareth and knoweth all things. 

5. God’s love for Man (20 times)

1. God loves those who do good.

2:195 And spend of your substance in the cause of Allah, and make not your own hands contribute to (your) destruction; but do good; for Allah loveth [hubb] those who do good.3:134 Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men; — for Allah loves [hubb] those who do good

3:148 And Allah gave them a reward in this world, and the excellent reward of the Hereafter. For Allah loveth [hubb] those who do good

5:14 But because of their breach of their Covenant, We cursed them, and made their hearts grow hard: They change the words from their (right) places and forget a good part of the Message that was sent them, nor wilt thou cease to find them — barring a few — ever bent on [new] deceits: But forgive them, and overlook (their misdeeds): For Allah loveth [hubb] those who are kind

5:96 On those who believe and do deeds of righteousness there is no blame for what they ate (in the past), when they guard themselves from evil, and believe, and do deeds of righteousness, — (or) again, guard themselves from evil and believe, — (or) again, guard themselves from evil and do good. For Allah loveth [hubb] those who do good

2. God loves the pure and clean:

2:222 They ask thee concerning women’s courses. Say: They are a hurt and a pollution: So keep away from women in their courses, and do not approach them until they are clean. But when they have purified themselves, ye may approach them in any manner, time, or place ordained for you by Allah. For Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves [hubb] those who keep themselves pure and clean.9:108 Never stand thou forth therein. There is a mosque whose foundation was laid from the first day on piety; it is more worthy of thy standing forth [for prayer] therein. In it are men who love to be purified; and Allah loveth [hubb] those who make themselves pure.

3. God loves those who are righteous:

3:76 Nay. — Those that keep their plighted faith and act aright, — verily Allah loves [hubb] those who act aright. 9:7 How can there be a league, before Allah and His Apostle, with the Pagans, except those with whom ye made a treaty near the Sacred Mosque? As long as these stand true to you, stand ye true to them: For Allah doth love [hubb] the righteous.

19:96 On those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, will (Allah) Most Gracious bestow love

9:4 (But the treaties are) not dissolved with those Pagans with whom ye have entered into alliance and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor aided any one against you. So fulfill your engagements with them to the end of their term: For Allah loveth [hubb] the righteous

4. God loves those who are just and judge rightly:

5:45 (They are fond of) listening to falsehood, of devouring anything forbidden. If they do come to thee, either judge between them, or decline to interfere. If thou decline, they cannot hurt thee in the least. If thou judge, judge in equity between them. For Allah loveth [hubb] those who judge in equity49:9 If two parties among the Believers fall into a quarrel, make ye peace between them: But if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then fight ye (all) against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of Allah; but if it complies, then make peace between them with justice, and be fair: For Allah loves [hubb] those who are fair (and just).

60:8 Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for [your] Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: For Allah loveth [hubb] those who are just 

5. God loves those who trust Him:

3:159 It is part of the Mercy of Allah that thou dost deal gently with them. Wert thou severe or harsh hearted, they would have broken away from about thee: So pass over (their faults), and ask for (Allah’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast taken a decision, put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves [hubb] those who put their trust (in Him)

6. God loves the persevering or patient:

3:146 How many of the Prophets fought (in Allah’s way), and with them [fought] large bands of godly men? But they never lost heart if they met with disaster in Allah’s way, nor did they weaken [in will] nor give in. And Allah loves [hubb] those who are firm and steadfast.

7. God loves those who love Him and follow the Prophet:

3:31 Say: “If ye do love [hubb] Allah, follow me: Allah will love [ihbbikum] you and forgive you your sins: For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

8. God Himself will produce a people He will love:

5:57 O ye who believe! If any from among you turn back from his Faith, soon will Allah produce a people whom He will love [hubb] as they will love [hubb] Him, — Lowly with the Believers, Mighty against the Rejecters, Fighting in the Way of Allah, and never afraid of the reproaches of such as find fault. That is the Grace of Allah, which He will bestow on whom He pleaseth. And Allah encompasseth all, and He knoweth all things.

9. God loved Moses:

20:39 “Throw (the child) into the chest, and throw (the chest) into the river: The river will cast him up on the bank, and he will be taken up by one who is an enemy to Me and an enemy to him’: But I cast (the garment of) love over thee [muhiba minahu] from Me: And (this) in order that thou mayest be reared under Mine eye. (This passage relates the placing of Moses in the bulrushes and his subsequent adoption by Pharaoh’s daughter and God’s care of him.)

10. God loves those who fight in His cause:

61:4 Truly Allah loves [hubb] those who fight in His Cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure.The end of the matter is this: One God loves everyone and His goodness turns people to repentance. He is ever-loving, ever-merciful, and He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all flesh, and His will is not to kill, steal, or destroy (for that is the job of the enemy), but His will is to bring LIFE and life in abundance.
The other One loves only a select group of people, kills those who do not love him (for he endures not very patiently), and his means are only to keep those who do everything the way he wants, not gained out of love, but out of violence.

Your life is a matter of life and death (see which one you are already prone to choose? You are created to live and not die eternally. Living eternally measures more in character than it does in sexual acts. The essence of life is LOVE. You are created to love and to be loved.  Choose the One who will love you beyond measure, communicates that love to you, and gives you Life and Life to the full.  Guard your heart for from it springs the issues of life


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