If You Love God Follow Me
The sublime verse,
“Say: “If you love God, follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. For Allah is the Oft Forgiving and the Most Merciful” (3:31).”
Proclaims in definite fashion just how necessary and important it is to follow the Practices of the Prophet. Yes, among the syllogisms of logic, this verse is the most powerful and certain of the sort called hypothetical or conditional syllogisms.
As an example of a hypothetical syllogism it is said in logic: “If the sun comes out, it will be daytime.” For a positive result it is said: “The sun has come out. It therefore points to the conclusion that it is now daytime.” For a negative result, it is said: “It is not daytime. One therefore draws the conclusion that the sun has not come out.” According to logic, these two conclusions, negative and positive, are definite.
In just the same way, the above verse says:
“If you love God, you will follow God’s Beloved. If you do not follow him, it points to the conclusion that you do not love God.”
If a person loves God, it entails following the Practices of God’s Beloved. Yes, one who believes in Almighty God will certainly obey Him. And the most acceptable, the most direct, and the shortest among the ways of obeying Him is without doubt the way God’s Beloved showed and followed.
Yes, it is necessary and self-evident that the All-Generous One of Beauty, Who fills the universe with so many bounties, should want thanks from conscious creatures in return for the bounties. And clearly that All Wise One of Glory, Who adorns the universe with so many miracles of art, will make the most excellent of conscious creatures His addressee and interpreter, and herald and leader of His servants. And certainly and self-evidently that All-Beauteous One of Perfection, Who makes the universe reflect the innumerable manifestations of His beauty and perfections, will give the most perfect worshipful stance to the one who is the most comprehensive and perfect measure and means of displaying His beauty, perfection, Names, and art, which He clearly loves and wants to display. He will make his conduct a fine example to others and encourage them to follow him so that his fine conduct may appear in others too.
If you believe in God, you will surely love Him. Since you love God, you will act in the manner He loves. To do that, you must resemble the one God loves. And he may be resembled by following him. Whenever you follow him, God will love you too. Anyway you have to love God so that He shall love you.
Love of God necessitates and results in following the Practices of the Prophet. How fortunate the person whose share of following them is great! And woe on the person who does not appreciate the Practices and embarks on innovations!
These phrases form only a brief and concise meaning of the verse. It means that the most exalted goal for man is to receive the Almighty God’s love. The verse shows that the way of achieving this elevated aim is by following God s Beloved and his Practices. If at this station Three Points are proved, the above truth will become completely clear.
First Point: Man was created with an infinite innate love for the universe’s Creator. For included in human nature is love of beauty, worship of perfection, and love of bestowal. His love increases in accordance with the degrees of beauty, perfection, and bestowal, reaching the furthest degrees of ecstatic love.
Furthermore, contained in tiny man’s tiny heart may be a love as great as the universe. Yes, the fact that writings equivalent to a library of thousands of books may be inscribed in the faculty of memory, which is a coffer of the heart’s the size of a lentil, shows that the human heart may contain the universe and bear love that great.
Since human nature has such an infinite capacity to love bestowal, beauty, and perfection; and since the universe’s Creator possesses infinite sacred beauty, the certain existence of which is self-evidently established by His works to be seen in the universe; and since He possesses infinite holy perfection, the existence of which is necessarily proved by the embroideries of His art apparent in beings; and since He is the owner of infinite bounties, the existence of which is certainly, indeed, observably, established by the infinite varieties of His bestowal and bounties to be observed in living creatures. These surely demand infinite love from man, who is the most comprehensive, the most needy, the most thoughtful, and the most yearning of conscious beings.
Indeed, all human beings are capable of infinite love for the All-Glorious Creator, and in the face of His beauty, perfection, and bestowal, the Creator is more deserving than anyone to be loved is. All the varieties of love and intense attachment a believing human being has for his life, immortality, and existence, his world, his self, and other beings, are droplets of his capacity to love God. His various intense emotions are transformations of that capacity of his to love, and distillations of it in other forms. It is clear that just as man takes pleasure at his own happiness, so does he receive pleasure at the happiness of others to whom he is attached. And just as he loves one who saves him from disaster, so does he love one who saves those he loves. As a consequence of this state of mind, if a person thinks only of this out of all the varieties of Divine bounties bestowed on all men, he would say:
“My Creator saved me from non-existence, which is eternal darkness, and gave me a beautiful world like this one. Then when the time comes for me to die, He will again save me from non-existence, which is eternal extinction, and from annihilation, and bestow on me in an eternal realm an everlasting and most magnificent world. And like He has bestowed on me external and inner senses and feelings with which to benefit from all the varieties of delights and good things of that world and to roam around it and make excursions. So He also bestows innumerable bounties on all my relations and friends and fellowmen, whom I much love and to whom I am attached. Those bounties are also mine in a way, because I am happy and received pleasure at their happiness. Since in accordance with the rule, `Man is the slave of bestowal,’ everyone in a sense worships benevolence, certainly in the face of such innumerable favors. Since I have a heart as great as the universe, it necessitates its being filled with love at those favors, and I want to fill it. If in fact I am unable to love that much, I can do so through capacity, by intention, by belief, by acceptance, appreciation, longing, taking the part of, and by will.”
And so on.
Analogies may be drawn with the love for bestowal we have briefly alluded to here for the love man feels for beauty and perfection. As for the unbelievers, they are infinitely hostile because of their unbelief, and even bear a wrongful and insulting enmity towards the universe and beings.
Second Point: Love of God necessitates following the Practices of Muhammad. For to love God is to do what pleases Him. And the things that please Him are manifested in most perfect form in the person of Muhammad. There are two aspects of resembling Muhammad’s actions and deeds.
The First: Obeying Almighty God’s commands in respect of loving Him and within the bounds of what pleases Him necessitates following them, for the most perfect leader in such matters is the person of Muhammad.
The Second: Since the person of Muhammad is a most important means to innumerable Divine favors for man, he is surely worthy of boundless love for the sake of Almighty God. If man is capable of resembling someone he loves, by nature he wants to do so. This definitely necessitates that those who love God’s Beloved try to resemble him by following his Illustrious Practices.
Third Point: Almighty God has boundless love, just as He has infinite compassion. As He makes Himself loved in infinite fashion through all the fine qualities and adornment of the creatures in the universe, so He also loves in particular conscious beings who respond with love to His making His artifacts loved. It may be clearly understood how important and exalted an aim it is to try to attract the love of a Being one manifestation of Whose mercy are all the subtle wonders and good things and delights and bounties of Paradise. Since it is stated clearly that His love is won only through following the Practices of Muhammad, it is certain that it should be man’s greatest aim and his most important duty.
By Bediuzzaman Said Nursi
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