Loving Allah is the ultimate aim. Having attained the state of true love for Allah, each stage that follows it is one of its fruits and a branch from its roots - such as longing, intimacy and contentment. Each stage that precedes it - such as repentance, perseverance and doing without.
The most beautiful, the most sincere, the most elevated and the most exalted kind of love is most certainly the love of the One Whom hearts were created to love, and for Whom creation was brought into existence to adore. Allah is the One to Whom hearts turn in love, exhalation and glorification, humility, submission and worship. Such worship cannot be directed towards other than Him. It is the perfection of love accompanied by complete submission and humility. Allah is loved for His own sake in every respect. All except Him are loved for the love they give in return. All the revealed Books, and the message of all the Prophets, bear witness to the love that is due towards Him, as does the natural impulse He has created in all His servants, the intellect He has given them, and the blessings He has poured on them.
Hearts, as they mature, come to love whomever is merciful and kind towards them. So how much greater is their love for Him from Whom all kindness springs!
Every good thing enjoyed by His creation is one of His limitless blessings, and He is One with no associates and no partners:
"And whatever good you have - it is from Allah; and then, when misfortune comes to you, you cry to Him for help." (Qur'an, An-Nahl 16:53)
"And from among mankind there are some who take for themselves (objects of worship as) rivals to Allah, loving them as they should (only) love Allah. And those who believe are stronger in their love for Allah." (Qur'an, Al-Baqarah 2:165)
"O you who believe, whoever of you becomes a rebel against his deen (know that in his place) Allah will bring a people whom He loves and who love Him, humble towards the believers, harsh towards the disbelievers, fighting in the way of Allah, and not fearing the blame of anyone who blames." (Qur'an, Al-Maidah 5:54)
The Prophet has sworn that no servant truly believes until he, (the Prophet) is more dear to that servant than his own child, father and all of mankind. (Related Bukhari, kitab al-Iman: 1/58 Muslim, kitab al-Iman, 2/15)
The Prophet also said to Umar ibn al-Khattab, "even until I am more dear to you than your own self". (Related Bukhari, kitab al-Iman wa'n-Nadhur, 11/523)
This means that you are not a true believer until your love for the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) reaches this level.
If the Prophet must take precedence over our own selves; as Allah says: "The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves." (Qur'an, Al-Ahzab 33:6)
When it comes to what we love and what this entails, then is not Allah (Most Exalted is He), even more deserving of our love and adoration than our own selves?
Everything that comes from Him to His servants whether it is something that they hate, directs us to love Him. His giving and His withholding, the good fortune and the misfortune that He decrees for His servants and His abasing them and elevating them, His justice and His grace, His giving life and taking it away again, His compassion, generosity and veiling of His servants wrong actions, His forgiveness and patience, His response to His servants' supplications even though He is not in any need of His servants whatsoever - all this invites hearts to worship Him and love Him.
If a Human being were to do the smallest amount of any of these things to another, that person would not be able to restrain his heart from loving him. How can a servant not love, with all his heart and body, the One who is constantly Merciful and Generous towards him in spite of all his wrong actions?
Allah seeks His servants friendship and love by means of His generosity towards him, even though He is not in any need of him. The servant, on the other hand, invites Allah's anger through his disobedience and wrong actions, even though he is in need of His assistance.
Neither Allah's mercy nor His generosity towards the servant deter him from disobeying his Lord. In the same way, neither the servant's disobedience nor his wrong actions deter Allah from granting him His blessings.
Furthermore, while anyone who we love and who loves us may behave like this for personal gain, Allah does so in order to benefit us.
Furthermore, while anyone with whom we trade will not do business with us if he does not make a profit from the transaction - and he will do what he can to make a profit one way or another - Allah (Most Exalted is He) trades with us in order to enable us to make the best and greatest profit for ourselves from our transaction with him. Thus one good deed counts as between ten and seven hundred good deeds, or even more, while a bad deed is recorded as only one bad deed and can be swiftly wiped out.
Allah (Most Exalted is He), in His infinite mercy has created everything for us, both in this world and in the next. Who else then, deserves to be loved and worshipped more than Allah? All that we - and the whole of creation, for that matter - require and need is with Him. He is the Most Generous. He gives His servants more than they need, even before they ask him. He is pleased with even a little right action and increases its rewards. He forgives untold wrong actions and wipes them out. Whatever is in the heavens and the earth supplicates to Him. The multiplicity of things never bewilder Him, nor is He weary by the insistent pleas of His servants. Indeed He is pleased with those who persist in their supplication.
He is ever pleased with His servants who seek His assistance, and He is angry with those who do not. He is displeased when He sees a servant being disobedient and not caring about his actions, and yet He veils His servant's wrong actions while the servant himself does not veil them. He has mercy on His servant while the servant does not have any mercy on himself.
He has called him to His acceptance and mercy through His compassion and generosity - but he declines. He has sent Messengers to him and made His covenant known through them. Allah, even draws near him and says:
"....Is there anyone who is calling on Me, so I may answer his prayer? Is there anyone who is asking of Me, so I may grant his request? Is there anyone who is seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?" (Related by Muslim, Kitab al-Musafirin wa Qasruhu, 6/36)
How then, can our hearts not love Him, the One who - and no other than Him - grants rewards, answers prayers, pardons mistakes, forgives sins, veils wrong actions, dispels grief and drives away sorrow?
He alone, is worthy of remembrance, worship and praise. He is the most generous to be asked, the most liberal to give, the most merciful to pardon, the mightiest to assist and the most dependable to rely on.
He is more merciful to His servant, than a mother is to her baby. He is more pleased by the repentance of the penitent sinner than a man who is overjoyed to find his riding beast, with all his provisions still on its back after he had lost it in a barren land and had given up all hope of survival.
He is pleased with the obedient servant for his obedience, even though it could not have happened without his help and assistance. He pardons and forgives even after He has been disobeyed. And yet, the rights which are due to Him are the ones which are most rejected and neglected.
He is the nearest witness, the most sublime protector, the most true to His Word, and the most just of all Judges. He knows the secrets of the selves:
"There is not an animal of whose forelock He does not have a hold." (Qur'an, Hud 11:56)
He records the actions and decides the lifetimes of His slaves. To Him, the secrets in the hearts are known and the Unseen revealed. Everyone yearns for Him, faces humble themselves before the Light of His Face, and minds are completely incapable of understanding the Essence of His Being.
Love of Allah the Almighty gives life to the Heart and sustains the soul. The heart experiences no pleasure, nor feels any joy, nor tastes any success - not even life - if it does not have this love. If the heart loses this love, then the loss it suffers is more severe than that of the eye when it is deprived of its sight and the ear when it is deprived of its hearing.
Even worse than this, the decay of the heart when it is devoid of love for its Creator, Source, and True God, is far worse than that of the body when it no longer contains the soul. This truth is only recognised by the people who are alive, for a wound does not pain the dead.
A righteous man once said in a poem:
And love your Lord by serving Him
For lovers are but servants of the Beloved
When she was giving counsel to her children, one of the women of the salaf once said to them,
"Make it a habit to love and obey Allah, for those who have taqwah take their obedience to the point where their body experiences aversion for anything other than obedience. If the cursed one (shaytan) tries to tempt them to do something wrong, the wrong actions is ashamed and avoids them because of the way in which it is rejected by them."
Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak recited:
You disobey Allah,
and yet you still claim to love Him.
By Allah, such behaviour is disgusting,
by any standard!
You would have obeyed Him had your love been true.
For the lover is always obedient to the Beloved!