Which verses of the Holy Quran specifically speak of man’s love for God, or of God’s love for man, using the very word ‘love’?
Let it be clear that the real object of the teaching of the Holy Quran is that just as God is One and without partner, we, too, should love Him without associating any partners with Him. This is the meaning of the Kalimah1, which is professed by all Muslims. is a derivative of meaning ‘the Beloved who is worshipped’. Neither the Torah nor the Gospel taught this Kalimah, only the Quran did. The Kalimah is thus an inherent part of Islam and can be rightly called its distinctive feature. It is proclaimed aloud from minarets five times a day, at times to the irritation of Christians and Hindus. Apparently, they consider it a sin to remember God with love. It is a unique characteristic of Islam that everyday at the break of dawn the muezzin proclaims aloud i.e., ‘I bear witness that we love, adore and worship no one except Allah’. The same call is repeated from mosques in the early afternoon, at ‘Asr [mid afternoon], Maghrib [sunset], and this resounding call also fills the heavens at ‘Isha’ [evening]. Do we find this in any other religion?
What is more, the word ‘Islam’ itself means love. Surrendering oneself to God and being ready in all sincerity to lay down one’s life in His path — as signified by the word ‘Islam’ — is a state that originates from the fountain of love. The word ‘Islam’ also indicates that the Holy Quran has not confined love to mere verbal profession, but has taught us how to love and sacrifice ourselves in practice. Is there any other religion in the world that has been named ‘Islam’ by its founder? ‘Islam’ is indeed a wonderful word which conveys truthfulness, sincerity and love. Blessed is the faith called ‘Islam’!
God speaks of Divine love in these terms:
i.e., True believers are those who hold God dearest.
i.e., Celebrate the praises of Allah as you celebrate the praises of your fathers; nay, remember Him with far greater love.
i.e., Tell them who seek to follow you, ‘My prayer, and my sacrifice, and my life and my death are all for the Almighty Allah’.
This means that whoever wishes to follow the Holy Prophet(sa) should offer the same sacrifice. Elsewhere, He says that if you hold your own life, your friends, your property and your wealth dearer than God and His Messenger(sa), then go your separate ways until God decides.
He also says:
i.e., Believers are those who feed the poor and the orphan and the prisoner solely for the love of God, saying, ‘We feed you only for God’s pleasure and His love. We desire neither reward nor gratitude from you.’
In short, the Holy Quran is full of verses that enjoin us to show our love for God in word and deed, and to love Him more than anything else.
As for the second part of the question, pertaining to God’s love for mankind, let it be clear that the Holy Quran contains many verses in which God says that He loves those who repent,6 do good deeds and exercise patience. But nowhere does the Holy Quran say that God also loves those who love infidelity, sin and injustice; rather in their case it uses the word Ihsan7. For instance, it says:
i.e., We have sent thee out of compassion for the entire world.
Since the world includes disbelievers, sinners and evildoers, God has opened the door of His mercy for them too and they can also attain salvation by following the guidance contained in the Holy Quran. I also declare that, according to the Holy Quran, God’s love for mankind is not such that He should be required to crucify His son and cause him to become accursed in order to redeem the sins of the evildoers. Curse upon the son of God will obviously entail a curse upon God Himself — God forbid — for, [according to the Christians], the Father and the Son are inseparable. Godhood and curse cannot go together. Another point to consider is, by what love did God kill the virtuous and save the wicked? Surely no righteous person would be guilty of such conduct.
The third part of the question is: where in the Holy Quran is it written that man should love his fellow beings? The answer is that, instead of using the word ‘love’, the Holy Quran uses two different terms, i.e., mercy and compassion. The word love has been used specifically for God because love culminates in worship.9 But in the case of mankind the Holy Quran uses the words ‘mercy’ and ‘kindness’ instead of ‘love’, for love results in worship, while compassion results in sympathy. It is because of their failure to understand this difference that people of other faiths have conferred upon God’s creatures what was in fact due to God. I do not believe that Jesus could ever have taught such idolatry. I would rather believe that such abhorrent teachings were added to the Gospels at a 10 and 11 i.e., believers are those who exhort one another to truth and compassion. Elsewhere, He says:
i.e., God enjoins you to show justice to all people, and if you wish to go further then be kind to them, and, better still, show such compassion towards your fellow beings as you would do towards your own kindred.
Just consider whether there could be a better teaching than one that does not stop at enjoining compassion for mankind, but goes further and teaches [being kind to others just as one is kind to one’s kindred] which results from a natural desire [to do good]. Often, one who shows kindness expects something in return and at times shows resentment towards those who fail to acknowledge it. Occasionally, swayed by one’s emotions, one might even remind others of what one has done for them. But the doing of good through a natural inclination, which the Holy Quran compares to doing good to one’s kindred, is indeed the highest and final stage of virtue. It is like a mother’s kindness for her child, which is her natural instinct. Obviously she does not expect any gratitude from a mere infant.
These are the three stages set forth by the Holy Quran for fulfilling our obligations to mankind. But when we look at the Torah and the Gospel we must admit that we do not find such sublime teachings regarding our obligations to our fellow beings. How can we expect them to teach us the third stage of compassion when they have not even fully comprehended the first two? The Torah was revealed only for the Jews and the Messiah came solely for the [lost] sheep of Israel, therefore, they were both unconcerned with other people and did not teach about justice and kindness towards them. Their teachings remained confined to the Israelites. If this was not so, why did Jesus, hearing the cries and humble entreaties of a [gentile] woman, refuse to show her mercy and say that he had been sent only for the children of Israel? When Jesus did not show any compassion and mercy towards those outside the tribes of Israel, how can we expect him to have given such a teaching? Jesus himself clearly said that he had not been sent to any other people, hence it is unreasonable to expect that his teachings would provide any guidance regarding kindness to people of other nations. All the teachings given by Jesus were meant for the Jews. He did not consider himself as having the right to provide guidance to others, how then could he be expected to teach universal compassion? And even if there is something in the Gospel which contradicts Jesus’ statement that his teachings and his compassion was limited to the Jews, we would consider it an interpolation, for such a contradiction is unacceptable.
In the same way the Torah was solely for the Jews and it declared that its teachings were exclusively for them. The Holy Quran alone is the law that brought universal justice, benevolence, and compassion. God Almighty says:
i.e., Say, O mankind, I have been sent as a Messenger to you all.
i.e., We have sent thee as a mercy for all the worlds.
1 There is none worthy of worship except Allah. [Publishers]
2 Al-Baqarah, 2: 166 [Publishers]
3 Al-Baqarah, 2: 201 [Publishers]
4 Al-An‘am, 6: 163 [Publishers]
5 Al-Dahr, 76: 9-10 [Publishers]
6 Divine love is not like human love, which involves pain and agony of separation. Rather, it means that God treats those who do good deeds in the same way as a lover treats his beloved. [Author]
7 Compassion, kindness, benevolence. [Publishers]
8 Al-Anbiya’, 21:108 [Publishers]
9 Whenever the word ‘love’ has been used in connection with human relationships, it does not imply true love. According to Islamic teaching, true love is only for God. Every other love is unreal and is only called love in the figurative sense. [Author]
10 Al-‘Asr, 103:4 [Publishers]
11 Al-Balad, 90:18 [Publishers]
12 Al-Nahl, 16:91 [Publishers]
13 Al-A‘raf, 7:159 [Publishers]
14 Al-Anbiya’, 21:108 [Publishers]