Before asking this question, we must understand what “love” is. This is addressed by the Promised Messiah(as) as follows:
Love is not pretence or ritualistic, rather it is a faculty among human faculties. Its reality is that the heart likes something and is drawn to it. Just as the real qualities of something are made evident when it reaches a state of excellence, so is the case of love. Its treasures are made apparent when it reaches its climax and highest point…In fact when a person completely loves someone it is as if he permeates him or consumes him and is imbued with his morals and manners. The greater the love, the more one is naturally drawn to the qualities of his beloved so much so that he becomes an image of the beloved. This is also the indication when man loves God he attains God’s light on a reflective basis in accordance with his own powers.[i]
When we see something beautiful or aesthetically pleasing, it is human nature to grow a natural inclination towards that thing in our hearts. Similarly, when a person reads the majesty of Allah mentioned in the Quran and follows the tenets of Islam, they develop an inclination towards Allah. This love automatically multiplies as a person tries to adopt the beauty or have a link with the Being that their heart is inclined towards.
When the love of Allah manifests itself into the mind and soul of a believer, respecting the commandments of Allah and seeking His pleasure becomes an honour and a source of pleasure itself, and such lovers of Allah become fiercely obedient to His directives. This love is then reciprocated by Allah Himself who blankets His creation under His gracious protection.
In a hadith, the Holy Prophet(sa) tells us exactly what the benefit of loving Allah is. He states:
Allah said: I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a pious worshipper of Mine. And the most beloved things with which My servant comes nearer to Me, is what I have enjoined upon him; and My servant keeps on coming closer to Me through performing nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides the obligatory) till I love him, so I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks Me (for anything), I grant it to him, and if he asks for My protection, I grant him protection. And I do not hesitate to do anything, but I hesitate to take the soul of the believer, for he hates death, and I hate to disappoint him.[ii]
This hadith tells us that by gaining the love of Allah, the most Powerful Being—the Creator of the universe—Himself becomes our protector; what more could one ask for? What greater privilege could there be?
An outcome of loving Allah is that it eradicates the stain of sin from us and grants us eternal salvation. The Promised Messiah(as) states:
The source of true salvation, therefore, is personal love for God, which, in turn, draws His love through man’s humility, supplication and constant Istighfar. When a person carries his love to perfection and the fire of love consumes his carnal passions, then, all at once, a flame of God’s love—which He has for His servant—falls upon his heart and cleanses him of the dirt of his mundane existence. He then acquires the complexion of holiness of God, Who is Hayy and Qayyum, and partakes of all Divine attributes by way of reflection (zill). He then becomes a manifestation of Divine glory, and all that is hidden in God’s eternal treasure is disclosed to the world through him. Since God—Who created this world—is not a miser, and His blessings are everlasting, and His names and attributes are never suspended, He grants to the people of the latter days the same bounties that He gave to earlier people, but on the condition of piety and effort.[iii]
Hence, developing love for our One true God, Who has blessed every one of His creations abundantly, is an essential duty of all believers. Not a “duty” that is seen as a burden, but a “duty” that is done through a natural yearning for a relationship with God Who is the ultimate source of all pleasures and peace. The intimate connection of communication between a human and the Creator is one that cannot be mimicked by any other relationship in this world, thus it would be foolish to not make every effort to build it.
[i]. Nurul Haq, Part II, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 9, p. 430
[ii]. Sahih Bukhari, Kitab-ur-Riaqaq, Bab-ut-Tawadu’ [Chapter: The humility or modesty or lowliness]
[iii]. Fountain of Christianity, p. 58-59