If one were to describe the main focus of the Islamic religion, it is the personal relationship between the believer and God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
The objective of the Islamic creed is to keep this relationship as pure as possible, wherein the position of the Creator as the only possible and reasonable entity worthy of any type of worship is acknowledged and confirmed in both the intentions and in deeds.
The believer recognizes the oneness and uniqueness of the Creator as being independent and perfect.
Also, the believer recognizes his own position as part of the creation, being dependent and imperfect.
He tries to strengthen his relationship with the Creator by worshiping Him alone, by asking for His guidance and His forgiveness and by seeking His acceptance and contentment.
Love and Fear
The strength of this relationship is based on two factors: love and fear.
It is the love one has for the Creator that makes one want to obey the obligations such as praying or fasting. It is the love for the Creator that will make one want to be close to everything this Creator is associated with or each act which will bring him closer to the content of God.
At the same time, it is the fear of the discontent of the Creator that will keep one far away from what is forbidden or whatever act that would cause His disapproval.
In order to have the best possible relationship with God, one must have both love and fear and both emotions should be in a just balance with the other.
Some say that in times of prosperity and welfare, one’s fear should be stronger than one’s love as to prevent falling into pride and haughtiness. Also, in times of adversity and distress, one’s love should be stronger than one’s fear as to prevent falling into pessimism and hopelessness.
For those who are looking for advice to strengthen their love for the Creator, they will find two common answers on their path: read from the Quran and perform voluntary prayers. And even though this advice is correct, it can fall short or be too limited to really get the anticipated results. Why?
Reading the Quran
Some of our brothers and sisters turn to the Quran when in need of more inspiration of divine instructions. This is a good decision which we can only agree upon and which we can only stimulate.
However, the manner of approach with which someone reads the Quran can be different from person to person and greatly influence the impact.
In many cases, people attempt to read as much Quran as their schedule allows them. And they can refer to the lives of the companions, who used to read the entire Quran is just a matter of days. However, as with all relationships, it is the quality that matters, not the quantity.
If one is to read as much Quran as he can, however what is read does not lead to self-reflections or contemplation, he or she is missing the goal of the Quran.
Again, we should refer to the lives of the companions. When they would read from the Quran, they would not only read the verse (out loud) but would also directly put an effort to practice the guidance from this verse or verses.
When this is the mindset, the Quran is no longer a book which one can read like any other book, but it becomes the basis of one’s acts and deeds.
There is no way one can do this without understanding the meaning of the text. So for all of those for whom Arabic is not their primary language, they should learn to read and recite the Quran, not only in Arabic but also in their own language.
If a person is incapable to briefly explain what Chapter 103 stands for and how its teachings affects his daily life and choices, then something very important, even essential, is missing.
Extra Voluntary Prayer
Another way to increase the love one has for the Creator is to increase the amount of voluntary prayers one carries out on a daily or weekly basis.
Many acts can be performed ‘for the sake of Allah’ while they are not primarily focused on Islam, like feeding the poor or helping the needy.
Prayer is one of the acts where the intention of the act and the act itself become fully focused on God and His contentment. Our five daily prayers are the minimum required amount of prayers to be performed by all Muslims all around the world, but they do not limit the maximum number of prayers.
Again, one should make sure his intention with the voluntary prayer is also to grow in his love for the Creator. For those who do not speak Arabic, they should understand that this requires they are not only able to make ‘the sound’ of prayer but again, to fully understand what they say and why. This is the only way how the content of the prayer can lead to internal long lasting change.
Contemplate God’s Creation
Last but not least, one should gaze at the creation of God. One of the best ways to get to know more about the Creator is to look at the creation. The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to go into nature all by himself to contemplate and meditate even before the revelation came to him. God also clearly states in the Quran that in the creation:
… are signs for a people who give thought. (13:3)
In fact, the creation contains so many blessings, such as sunshine, shade and rain, that the Quran states:
… thus does He complete His favor upon you that you might submit to Him. (16:81)
If one wishes to draw closer to the Creator, he needs to draw closer to the creations. It is time to get out of the office buildings and into nature. Once you’ll walk in the forest, near the waterfalls, seeing all incredible birds, plants and animals, the love for the one who has created this all will grow and expand.
There are thousands of tips for those who wish to strengthen their love for the Creator. This article contains some tips which I consider to be relevant to each and all of us, regardless of any personal differences which we might have.
May Allah fill our hearts with love for Him and may Allah accept and answer this love with what is good for us.
(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)