LOVE, FEAR, AND HOPE
One of the most beautiful things about the concept of worship in
Islaam is the truly unique way in which it incorporates the feeling
of love, fear and hope within the hearts of the worshippers of Allaah.
Understanding how to combine these three qualities into the worship
(ibaadah) of Allaah is one of the most essential things that every
Muslim must grasp, not least because every sect which has drifted
from the Straight Path has strayed in the aspect of worship. The
deviation of the other religions in this regard is clear for all
to see: “God is love! Jesus is love!” say the Christians,
denying the fact that Allaah should be feared too. As for the Jews,
their hearts were filled only with hope; hope that the Fire will
never touch them, since they were the “Promised People”.
In Islaam however, no worship is complete without the presence
of all three qualities: love of Allaah, hope in His Mercy and fear
of His Punishment. Contemplate the opening Soorah of the Qur'aan
- Soorah al-Faatihah - and you will see this for yourself.
Aayah 1: “All praise [and thanks] is for Allaah, Rabb of
all the worlds.”
In this opening aayah (verse) of the Qur'aan, we have LOVE of Allaah
and every time we recite this aayah we are testifying to our love
for Allaah. How is that you ask?
It is because in the aayah, we are acknowledging that Allaah is
our Rabb and the Rabb of all the worlds. Rabb is usually translated
as ‘the Lord’, but this translation does not do justification
to this name of Allaah and all the meanings this name carries. In
reality, Rabb means that Allaah is the Creator of everything; He
sustains and nourishes everything; He gives life and Death; anything
good that we have is from Him; everything is dependant on Him and
nothing can happen unless He wills it. Furthermore, for the Muslims
He - the Rabb - in the One who has guided us to the Truth and given
us good morals and manners.
Thus when we testify that Allaah is our Rabb, then we are acknowledging
that He is the One who has given us so many blessings - so many
that if we try to enumerate His blessings, we would be unable to
do so. So how could we not but LOVE Him?
After all, we all love those who show kindness towards us or present
us with gifts. And therefore the Messenger of Allaah (salla-allahu
alaihe wa-sallam) encouraged the exchange of gifts between Muslims
because it helps to strengthen ties and develop love for one another.
He (salla-allahu alaihe wa-sallam) said, “Give gifts to one
another, you will come to love one another.”
So imagine the LOVE we should have for our Rabb who has given us
everything: nice families, shelter, security, food, health and above
all the Guidance of Islaam and the Sunnah. We should be overwhelming
in our love for Him. That is why we praise Him and thank Him and
say, “All praise (and thanks) is for Allaah, Rabbil-‘aalameen.”
Aayah 2: The Rahmaan (Merciful) and the Raheem (Mercy-Giving).”
In the first aayah of Soorah al-Faatihah, Allaah mentioned He was
the Rabb. In this aayah two more of His beautiful names are mentioned:
ar-Rahmaan and ar-Raheem. Ar-Rahmaan means that He is the Most Merciful.
Ar-Raheem means that He is the Giver of Mercy, in other words His
actions are full of Mercy and He shows Mercy to His creation.
When we mention these two names of Allaah, then we have HOPE. Since
He is the One who is full of Mercy, and we hope He will forgive
our mistakes and shortcomings. We should never loose hope, because
Allaah says in the Qur'aan, “O My slaves, who have transgressed
against themselves! Despair not of the Mercy of Allaah, Verily Allaah
forgives all sins (except sins). Truly He is Oft-Forgiving, the
Most Merciful” [39: 53]
The need to have FEAR in our worship is shown by the next aayah
of Soorah al-Faatihah.
Aayah 3: “King/Master of the Day of Judgement.”
When we recite this aayah, we remind ourselves of the Day of Judgement
- that awful Day, when all of humanity shall stand before Allaah
… naked, uncircumcised and barefooted. People will appear
drunk though they are not.
On that Day, every person will stand before Allaah and account for
his sins, knowing that not even the smallest action which he did
is hidden from Allaah: “So whosoever does good equal to the
weight of an atom, shall see it. And whosoever does evil equal to
the weight of an atom shall see it.” [Soorah 99 : 7-8]
So when we recite this third aayah of Soorah al-Faatihah, we remind
ourselves of this Judgement and accountability and that should bring
about in us a sense of fear - that maybe our evil actions will be
too great and we will be responsible for them - May Allaah protect
us from such a fate. Then the next verse goes on to say: “You
alone we worship.” i.e. we single out Allaah for our worship.
And how do we worship Him? With LOVE, HOPE and FEAR. And in order
to achieve these qualities, we need Allaah’s assistance, so
we say then, “We seek Your Aid.”
Striking the Balance
After understanding the need to have love, hope and fear in our
worship, the next question that naturally arises is that, in what
proportion should these qualities be present in our worship? Again
we turn to the Qur'aan for the answer.
“Call upon Him with Fear and Hope.” [ Soorah (7): 56]
“Their sides forsake their beds, to invoke their Lord in
Fear and Hope.” [(32): 16]
So both fear and hope should be present in our hearts in equal
proportions. Anas reported that the Prophet (salla-allahu alaihe
wa-sallam) entered upon a young boy who was dying. The Prophet (salla-allahu
alaihe wa-sallam) asked, “How are you?” The boy replied,
“O Messenger of Allaah, I am in between hoping in Allaah and
fearing for my sins.” The Prophet (salla-allahu alaihe wa-sallam)
said, “The like of these two qualities do not unite in the
heart of a servant except that Allaah gives him what he hopes for
and protects him from what he feared.”
Therefore whenever we do a good action, we should hope that it
has been accepted by Allaah, but at the same time we should also
have fear that maybe it isn’t enough or that the good deed
has not been worthy of acceptance. Likewise when we sin, we should
have hope that Allaah will accept our repentance and forgive us,
but we should also fear that we may be accountable for it.
This balance should be reflected in our Dawah (which of course
is also worship). So when we invite others to the Truth, we should
not give them the impression that ‘they have nothing to worry
about’, nor do we suggest that ‘they are doomed forever’.
Rather we couple warnings with encouragement. We inform them of
the horrors of the Fire and tell them about the bliss of Paradise.
Just as we find Allaah telling us in the Qur'aan: “Verily
your Lord is Quick in Punishment and verily He is the Oft-Forgiving,
the Giver of Mercy.” [(7): 167]
And the scholars of Islaam say, “He who worships Allaah with
hope only is a murji’ee. He who worships Him in fear only
is a Harooree [Khaarijee]. And He who worships Allaah in love only
is a Zindeeq [eg. the Soofis, the Christians, etc]. But he who worships
Allaah in fear, love and hope is a Muwahhid Mu’min [a believer
The Murji’a were a sect that emerged within the first century
of Islaam. The people of this sect (i.e. the murji’ees) believe
that sins do not affect faith i.e. no matter what sins a person
commits, his eeman (faith) is complete and perfect. They worship
Allaah only with hope because they believe that as long as one believed
and testified to Islaam, they would enter Paradise regardless of
Unfortunately, all too often nowadays we find a similar attitude
amongst many Muslims today, which is why we find that so often we
try to advise someone to turn to the Deen and abandon sin, they
just point to their hearts and say, “Allaah knows what is
in my heart”, or “Allaah forgives”, or something
else like that.
As for the Khawaarij, they worshipped Allaah in fear only because
they held that anyone who commits major sins was a disbeliever and
would therefore dwell in Hellfire forever. This of course is gross
extremism and straying from the correct path. The Prophet (salla-allahu
alaihe wa-sallam) said: “There were two men of Banoo Israa’eel
who strove equally. One of then committed sins and the other strove
hard in worship. And the one who strove in worship cto see the other
in sin and kept saying to him: “Desist.” So one day
he found him committing a sin and so said to him: “Desist”
So he replied, “Leave me by my Lord, have you been sent as
a watcher over me?”. He said, “By Allaah, Allaah will
not forgive you, nor will Allaah admit you to Paradise”. Then
their souls were taken and they came together before the Lord of
the Worlds. So Allaah said to the one who strove in worship: “Did
you have Knowledge of Me, or did you have any power in what is in
my Hands?” And He said to the sinner: “Go and enter
Paradise through My Mercy.” And He said to the other: “Take
him to the fire.” Aboo Hurairah t said: “By Him in whose
Hand is my soul! He spoke a word which destroyed this world and
the hereafter for him.”
Therefore we should never say of anyone that he or she is a ‘lost
cause’ or ‘doomed’ or the like for this is a great
sin. However, we fear for those who commit major sins because they
have been threatened with punishment in the Qur'aan and the Hadeeth.
However it is up to Allaah whether He chooses to punish them or
whether He will forgive them.
The Zindeeqs - or the heretics - are groups, such as many of the
Soofis who have become like the Christians and reduced the religion
to just ‘love’ and so all their talk and their mystical
practices are centred around developing more ‘love’.
It is thus clear how imbalances in any of the three qualities of
worship can lead to major deviation and straying to the True Guidance.
It is therefore important for every Muslim to combine all three
of them in his heart properly. As was mentioned before, the fear
and hope should be in equal proportions, but as for love then
that should be uppermost. As Fudayl ibn-‘Iyaad - rahimahullah
- (d.187H) said,
“The love is better than the fear. The fear checks us from
sinning, and the love makes us do what is prescribed with an open
May Allaah grant us what we hope for and protect us from what we
fear. And may the Blessings of Allaah be upon our Prophet Muhammed,
upon his family, his Companions and upon all those who follow Guidance
until the Last Day.
 Collected by Imaam Bukhari in al-Adabul-Mufrad and declared
hasan by al-Albaanee in al-Irwaa (1601)
 As explained by Ibnul-Qayyim (d.751H) in Badaa’I ul-Fawaa’id.
 Collected in Sunan at-Tirmidhi and Sunan Ibn Majah and authenticated
by Sheikh al-Albani in Ahkam al-Janaa’iz (no.2)
 Quoted by Ibn Rajjab in al-Takhweef minan-Naar.
 Collected in Sunan Abu Dawood (english trans. vol.3, p.1365,
no.4883). See Saheehul-Jaami (4455) by Sheikh al-Albani.
 This was the opinion of most of the Salaf. Al-Fudayl ibn ‘Iyyaad
said that, when one is healthy and well, then fear should predominate,
but when terminally ill then hpoe should predominate - so that one
should strive to do good when well and not despair of Allaah’s
Mercy when terminally ill. [Al-Takhweef minan-Naar]
 Reported in Al-Takhweef minan-Naar of Ibn Rajab. Note that some
scholars hold that the fear is better than love, and Allaah knows