By Kashif Shahzada
March 14, 2012
Did you know what the
real measure of love is? Sacrifice. Yes, that is true! You can claim your love
as much as you like, blow your own trumpet as loud as possible, but its real
measure, its factual test occurs when you make or do not make a sacrifice for the
What is it that you
are willing to sacrifice; willing to give up; and willing to forego for your
love is what measures your commitment and devotion! The greater the sacrifice,
the stronger the devotion Also, it is a prerogative of devotion that sacrifices
should be made.
Devotion of any
variety, worldly or romantic, to a cause or to a preoccupation, even to an art
or a profession – all are equally demanding of sacrifices from us. We make all
sorts of sacrifices as a measure of our dedication. We sacrifice our time, or
leisure, our wealth, our energies, all in the pursuit of our devotion.
But these are all
passions of a lesser type. Have you ever wondered about ultimate love? One
which is sacred and supreme? The type of love that is above all and that
demands our complete seriousness and full conviction.
As I am writing as a
Muslim author you would have guessed it right.
I am talking about no
other love, but the love of God. We come across a lot of people who would not
hesitate to say that they love God. Which religious person would dare to utter
that God’s love is not what he seeks.
Ask any preacher or
priest, one who makes religion his day and night preoccupation, whether he
loves God, and his instant reply followed by a frown will be, “why, of course,
I do!” You see, this type of lip service, anybody and everybody can do.
It is all very easy to
say that we love God with all our heart and all our soul, but as I asked
earlier, what is the measure of your love? What proof can we give, not to other
people, but most vitally to our own persons, that we love God?
The answer in this
instance is also - sacrifice. God’s love, like any other love, also demands a
sacrifice from us. As divine love is supreme, so should be the sacrifice. As it
is the ultimate form of love, so should we be ready to make the ultimate
sacrifice as its measure.
People think that
paying money in charity suffices as a monetary sacrifice in the name of God,
but do you really think a few leftover pennies are a measure for a love as
great as God’s love?
Facing the temporary
hardships of a pilgrimage or the austerity of a discipline, even the blood of
goat or sheep and in some cases even human blood has been offered as a way to
attain nearness to the divine and redemption.
But are these really
ultimate sacrifices in nature, or merely shortcuts of our own making?
If the hand offends
us, then should we cut it off? If the eye offends us, then shall we pluck it
out? Is the hand responsible for the sin, or the eye? Do we gamble because we
have too much money in the bank? The answer is, of course, in negative.
Neither is the eye
responsible, nor the hands, and it isn’t the existence of surplus money that
makes gambling addicts destroy their lives.
The real culprit is
the ‘person’ possessing the organs and the material possessions. The problem is
in the thoughts and feelings of the person that takes the step towards games of
Yes, it is the “you”.
The person in charge behind the physical body and the material possessions that
is too blame. And if sacrifices need to be made, then it is of your psyche, the
“you” as a “person” is what that needs to be fixed. This is the crux of the
People do not do
anything about their “person’. They don’t want to change it, but are ready to
get rid of what can be readily jettisoned. While in fact the sacrifice that is
needed is of their “self”, the “person” controlling their human machine, and
not their physical possessions.
The false belief of committing suicide in
If the love of God is
supreme, then it demands that we make the supreme sacrifice, and be ready to
give away our personality in place for a new one. It is not truncating your
life that is demanded.
Suicide would be an
easy way out. In fact, suicide is not the ultimate sacrifice because it
prevents us from the hardship of life and is in reality fleeing from
responsibility and discipline.
Those who are deceived
into believing that suicide or “martyrdom”, as it is sugar-coated to make the
concept more palatable, is a way to reach the divine are often in a hurry to go
They are deceived into
thinking it to be a shortcut to salvation. If it is easier to just take your
own life and land yourself in heaven instantly, then why undergo the hardship
to mortify and train thyself?
Why be a good and
moral person, and follow the discipline of character building all your life,
when your past sins can be forgiven and you reach the ultimate abode by merely
taking your own life?
This is type of logic
that advocates of suicide as a means for salvation use to dupe their followers
into accepting it as a means for attaining it. But can we say that a quick and
easy shortcut becomes the ultimate form of sacrifice? The Quran forbids us from
taking our own lives:
“..and make not your
own hands contribute to (your) destruction..” (2:195)
“..Whoso doeth that (commit suicide) through
aggression and injustice, we shall cast him into Fire, and that is ever easy
for God.” (4:30)
We see very clearly
that suicide has been declared an act of aggression and injustice against one’s
own self and its punishment is grievous. If such is the case, then how can it
be claimed that suicide missions are the ultimate forms of sacrifice acceptable
I hope that my readers
will agree that committing suicide or killing somebody else is not the ultimate
sacrifice that one can make. A greater and more dedicated form of devotion
comes from the entire life lived in a morally upright manner and in accordance
with divine directives.
Killing the self
Love of God demands
that we sacrifice the “self” i.e. ‘kill’ the personality that we possess and in
its place develop a new personality that is based on His guidance. Such would
be the true sacrifice? The life that one is living is it being lived by one’s
own standards or by God’s standards. If the former, then no sacrifice has been
made, irrespective of the number of pilgrimages made, the creeds you profess,
the blood spilled or coins donated in charity. We read in the Quran that Moses
demanded such self-mortification from his people to attain divine pleasure:
“And remember Moses
said to his people: ‘O my people! Ye have indeed wronged yourselves by your
worship of the calf: So turn (in repentance) to your Maker, and kill your
‘Nafs’ (the self, the personality, the psyche); that will be better for you in
the sight of your Maker’. Then He turned towards you (in forgiveness): For He
is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.” (2:54)
When your ego is
subdued and your inner arrogance, greed and pride is no longer upright before
divine directives, it is then that the self has been killed. The realisation
and rejection of false belief and turning towards the truth of God is the first
Making God the
priority in your life
In the words of the
Quran, until or unless you declare from all your heart and all your soul:
“Say: Truly, my prayer
and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for God, the
Cherisher of the Worlds.” (6:162)
Till then, your claim
that God is what you love the most has no meaning. The Quran warns those who
purport to love God, and gives a yardstick against which to measure that
“Say: If it be that
your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred; the wealth
that ye have gained; the commerce in which ye fear a decline: or the dwellings
in which ye delight – are dearer to you than God, or His Apostle, or the
striving in His cause; – then wait until God brings about His decision: and God
guides not the rebellious.” (9:24)
Next time you think
you love God, and then ask yourself: “What sacrifices have you made for Him? Is
God getting mere lip service from you, while you live your life according to
your own wishes and give more importance to other considerations? Are family,
friends, career and homes dearer to you than God and the striving in his
cause?” If yes, then you have not made the ultimate sacrifice and your claim to
love God the most is of no value at all! If you claim that it is God that you
love the most, then ask yourself: “Have I made the ultimate sacrifice for God?
Have I truly sacrificed myself and surrendered my will to His will?”
After all, is
sacrifice not the true labour of love?
The writer is a Muslim author, speaker and campaigner.
He works actively to build bridges and promote dialogue between Islam and other
Source: The Nation