True belief materialises when Allah and Rasulullah SAW are more beloved to us than anyone else.
For many who have not started their journey of iman, this concept sounds unreachable. How can we love anyone more than we love our mothers, children, and those around us? The answer relates to the core of our journey to Allah. The more we understand Him, the more we will love Him. The more we understand the characteristics of His messenger (SAW), the more the love of him will take root in our hearts. The love of Allah and the Messenger is not something that can develop otherwise
The love of Allah will cause a believer to seek what Allah loves and avoid what Allah hates. Getting to this level is the pinnacle of the journey, and the one who suppresses his own personal desires, and sacrifices for Allah, can consider his iman as being complete.
The Companions used to sacrifice whatever they could for Allah. Their primary goal in life was to live and die for Allah, because of their immense and unconditional love for Allah and Rasulullah SAW.
This is easier said than done. If we are drowning in material love and desire, the love for Allah and the ability to work for Him is inevitably diminished, because the love of Allah is always at odds with the love of dunia.
Love of Allah empowers one to give generously, to the extent of denying one’s own needs. A verse in the Quran was revealed highlighting the hospitality shown to a guest by the companions Abu Talha (RA) and his wife Umm Sulaim (RA). Abu Talha welcomed a hungry traveller into his home even though they had very little to eat. He asked his wife to bring whatever provisions they had and give it to the guest. They sent their children to bed on empty stomachs and gave their shares to the guest. As the guest ate, they accompanied him and pretended to eat in the dim light, even though their plates were empty, so that the guest did not feel unwelcome.
The following day Prophet Muhammad (SAW) gave them the great news that God had revealed a verse about them and their generosity. “…but give them preference over themselves, even though they were in need of that. And whosoever is saved from his covetousness such are they who will be successful.” (Al Hashr, verse 9)
Our love for Allah is frail because we are distracted by the love of many other things. The knowledge of who Allah is and how much we need Him is abundantly lacking, and this is why the love of Him is not well developed in our hearts.
We are enraptured by the gifts and enjoyment of the material world, because we have been conditioned to believe that material achievements are the primary purpose of our existence. We have faith that our happiness in life is derived from our accumulations and efforts.
Talent, money, beauty and status are all trials from Allah. When in ease and abundance, our arrogance convinces us that these empower us to the point of invincibility. Our material comforts make us lose dependence on Allah but make us slaves to our possessions. We become arrogant to others. We smirk at those who drive smaller cars or wear cheaper clothes.
We deny the fact that we will grow older and more vulnerable, and that we will one day face calamities and will need Allah: for ease in this life, at the moment of death, when in our graves and on the Day of Judgment. This is why, for the vast majority of the rich, beautiful and talented, their relationship with Allah is weak. They are living in a false sense of security that their worldly achievements are all they need.
Those weak in faith will devote themselves to the accumulation of the material life. They wrongly equate success and happiness with material accumulation. Because of these, they do not feel the need to develop a good relationship with Allah. Their faith in dunia incentivises them to dedicate, and even humiliate themselves, to the love of the materialism, or the love of a man, woman or job. They voluntarily demean themselves to yearning and chasing things which will break their hearts or disgrace them. The consequence of defining love according to base desires and dunia milestones cheapens the very definition of love. When our own definition of love is corrupted, it becomes confused with possession, desire and obsession. We end up loving what destroys us, and we ignore the One who can protect and guide us.
Say, [O Muhammad], “If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger and struggle in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.” (At Tawbah, verse 24)
And [yet], among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals [to Him]. They love them as they [should] love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. And if only they who have wronged would consider [that] when they see the punishment, [they will be certain] that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is severe in punishment. (Al Baqarah, verse 165)