There are different types of love mentioned in the Quran, Hadith and from the scholars. In fact Imam al-Ghazali has written a book, found in his Ihya – Book 36, on Love, Longing, Intimacy and Contentment.
This book establishes, not merely the possibility, but the necessity for the love of God. On the flip-side we see narrations such as “Love of this world is apex of every wrong”.
The focus, in this brief article, is on the importance of introducing children to love as a concept i.e. the different types of love, the importance of love and the sharia confines of love.
We are living in times when the true meaning of love, in any of its forms has been significantly eroded and the focus is on lust, gratification and fleeting desires. Imam al-Ghazali deals with these aspects in other books with the Ihya.
You could break love down into 5 levels – the first 3 being positive and the last 2 being negative:
1. Love of God (the highest and every other love links back to this)
2. Love of His Messenger (the means of gaining closeness to Allah)
3. Love of family/spouse/companions (the means of gaining closeness to the Prophet)
4. Love of self (creates distance from Allah as you start to believe that you are the creator of your own fate)
5. Love of dunya (creates distance from Allah)
There are over 12 words which can be used in Arabic to indicate love of various forms and intensity, much like in English. If we simply look up the synonyms for love in English we find the following: affection, appreciation, devotion, emotion, fondness, friendship, infatuation, lust, passion, respect.
Why teach children about love? There are three reasons:
1. It is the apex of our relationship with Allah and His Messenger
2. It is the focal point of our relationship with the creation of Allah.
3. If misaligned it can be the great deceiver.
Loving Allah and His Messenger, see the hadith: None of you truly believe until I [The Messenger] am more beloved to him than his parents, children and everyone else, is born from knowledge and action. A household where the parents speak about Allah and His Messenger with love, who show reverence and respect for Allah and His Messenger and act in a way which projects this love – will find children who share this love. When you build that love, worship doesn’t just become easy – rather it becomes a pleasure.
Loving the creation of Allah is born out of adab (manners) i.e. putting things in their rightful place. It is of extreme importance that children are shown practical examples of love, and the Prophet (SAW) is the best example of this. We see amazing examples of the Prophet’s love for his wives i.e. Khadijah and Aisha. We see his love for his uncles, cousins and community.
Given the thrust of commercialism forcing children, young children, to take part in Valentine’s Day it is imperative for us, as caring Muslims living in the West and sending our children to secular schools, that we plan for their future. We need to plan for them by educating them about love because knowledge forewarns and forearms.
The purpose of this article isn’t to look at the legality of Valentine’s Day, for that I find that this legal opinion suffices – http://www.dar-alifta.org/Foreign/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=4770&CategoryID=5 and I would distinguish it from Christmas and Easter, which although ubiquitous, have blatant religious connotations which Valentine’s Day doesn’t. The purpose is how do we tackle Valentine’s Day so that our children steer clear of conversations around boyfriends/girlfriends and “love” with a red rose whilst feeling compelled to acquiesce to a culture which is directly at odds with Divine Law.
1. Speak to children about love, normalise love in the household and explain the importance of love and the problems of love – as above.
2. Introduce those categories of people who should be loved and the reasons why we love them.
3. Reflect on the importance of childhood and what children should be focussing on and that they will grow up and have a family – this is best done in narrating stories from Prophets and Companions.
4. Discuss the purpose of life and the reason for marriage and family i.e. to raise and nurture people who believe in Allah and that this can only take place when people are mature.
How these conversations take place and when are at the discretion of the parent. It is a delicate balance between introducing some concepts such as family and relationships too early, but also not leaving it too late. Whether we like it or not our children will be confronted with aspects of “love” and it is the parents who should dictate the conversation. Things of course get more complicated with the LGBT+ lobby who are advocating and teaching children about love from an angle totally divorced from traditional norms.
Raising children on the love of Allah and His Messenger is the key to success in this world and the next. We are planning a weekend retreat on 13/14th April 2019 looking at a traditional poem on raising Muslim children, which will be a crucial study opportunity in raising the next generation of Muslims. Further details will follow.
I end with an important verse from the Quran:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ
O you who believe! Protect yourselves and your families (from) a Fire whose fuel (is) people and stones.