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Islam and Spiritualism ( 13 March 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The Ultimate, Sacred and Supreme Love

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 beloved. 

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. 

Love supreme 

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 chance. 

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 matter.

 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 God’s name 

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 to paradise. 

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 in Islam? 

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 step. 

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 devotion: 

“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 faiths. 

Source: The Nation