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Anonymous asked: Salaams, how does one love Allah and fear Allah at the same time? I can't seem to wrap my head around it.
Wa alykum as-salaam,
I think the root of your question lies in the concept of Taqwa.
When this concept is mentioned in Khutbas (Friday sermons), lessons, or among friends, it is constantly translated as “fear of God” or something along those lines. I do not like this translation, not just because I find it to be inaccurate, but, I dislike the insertion of “fear” into the equation.
Taqwa’s root is “Waqa” (وقى) which means “to protect” and when we conjugate Taqwa into other forms, such as “Ittaqullah” the translation of “fear God” does not grasp the major concept, because again, the root is about protecting one’s self, and thus the translation I prefer (for Taqwa) is “God consciousness.”
I prefer this because it is not that we must fear God as much as we must be aware of God, why? Our awareness of God should (if not must) make us protect ourselves from sin and ensure that we deal with everyone justly because, again, if we are aware of God, the only rationalization we can make for improper action is that we have placed our interests over those of God’s, and God’s sole interest in us is to ensure we are good to others and ourselves.
Thus, it is central to attain and strengthen our Taqwa to ensure we are able to reach this balance in our actions.
Now, it would seem I have side-stepped your question, but it is in how you should think (of God) in the process of attaining Taqwa that your particular question becomes important.
So, on the one hand we have a description of God in The Qur’an that underlines His limitless mercy, His unyielding compassion and grace, reinforced profusely by the opening words of every Surah (except the 9th): “In the name of God; The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.” On the other hand, we have a God that underlines that we are to be held accountable for all that we do, that horrid punishment awaits those who hurt others and themselves, so your question makes sense, how do we reconcile this, how do we love and fear God?
First, we must understand that God does not experience emotions, God does not get angry, God does not get jealous, the only reason why God’s nature is described as “merciful” etc is because our perception is only able to process information relative to what we already know, and that is how God’s nature is expressed.
That is important because we should not impose any characteristics upon God, because when we do so, we can either make God “all about love” and forget our duties or emphasize the punishments (from God) for our (unrepentant) bad deeds to the point of paralyzing fear.
Therefore, like in all things regarding Islam, we must find a balance.
That balance is to ensure that we love God to the point that we realize that He is supremely merciful and forgiving, that His commands are for our benefit, and that when we do sin, to not let our sins prevent us from moving forward because that serves no purpose. We must fear God so that we do not take His mercy as the underlying rationalization as to why we continue doing a particular sin, because as I’ve said before, the concept of “sin” is not simply an act that occurs in a vacuum and is thereby declared “bad” arbitrarily, rather those sins not only harm others, but they harm ourselves. Our fear should ensure that we do not take God’s mercy for granted, not because we’d be “taking advantage of God,” we could never do any such thing, but because we would be hurting ourselves by continuing to sin even while God may continue to forgive us, the damage is on us and others.
Thus, to love God is to know God is there when we fall down so we can get back up. To fear God is to make sure we do not continue to make the same mistakes, for our own benefit.
I hope this helps, and if not, please don’t hesitate to ask follow-up questions, insha Allah.
I pray this reaches you and your families in the best of health and Iman, insha Allah.
One day, spending Eid alone wont even be an option. Insha’Allah