Why doesn’t Islam focus primarily on love?

Why doesn’t Islam focus primarily on love?


Why doesn’t Islam focus primarily on love, forgiveness and redemption like Christianity? The themes are there but they’re not as prominent. Islam, like Judaism, seems to be more about perfecting ones faith by following a myriad of rules. I see that it’s probably more practical to have this list of rules to adhere to but sometimes it all feels a bit empty and clinical so I have to resort to outside sources for “self-help” and “spiritual growth” when my religion should be enough. I don’t get it.

Salaam alykum,

Every Surah (chapter) [except the 9th] of The Qur’an begins with the following words:

“In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.”

In fact, when The Qur’an commands the Muslim to take certain actions, there are usually reminders of God’s forgiveness:

“[As for your adopted children,] call them by their [real] fathers’ names: this is more equitable in the sight of God; and if you know not who their fathers were, [call them] your brethren in faith and your friends. However, you will incur no sin if you err in this respect: [what really matters is] but what your hearts intend – for God is indeed much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace!” [33:5] Muhammad Asad

In this ayah, which deals with the issue of adoption, there at the end, is a reminder of God’s forgiveness.

“God is aware that you would have deprived yourselves of this right, and so He has turned unto you in His mercy and removed this hardship from you.” [2:187] Muhammad Asad

This ayah is dealing with the relationship between husband and wife, specifically their sexual relationship during Ramadan, where Muslims are not allowed to have sex with their spouse, a command that is paired, yet again, with a reminder of God’s nature.

The point of all this is to offer examples of what makes Islam different to Christianity and Judaism, whereas Christianity is primarily a religion of faith and Judaism is primarily a religion of law, what Islam offers, while primarily identified by academics as a religion of law–that delineation is made more for “ideational accounting”–the reality of Islam, however, is quite different: Islam offers both faith and law.

The inclinations of Muslims today (not Islam) towards perfecting one’s faith by following rules is a product of Muslims scholars and jurists who are fearful of their communities losing their values and by Muslims themselves who have demanded lessons on rules rather than spirituality. The fault is with the entire community, I’d like to be clear.

I would then say, with respect, that your confusion is not a product of Islam’s supposed deficiency, or a gap you have identified, rather it (your confusion) is derived from the short-comings of the Islam that has been presented to you.

There is a danger of holding onto faith alone, because then we disconnect our actions from our faith. There is also a danger in focusing on rules alone, not only does it create difficulties in the individual from dealing with situations that have not been explicitly explained–since a focus on rules requires people to explain the rules, thus a dependence on “explainers” is created–but this focus on rules alone stunts the growth of the individual’s spiritual connection to God.

Imam Malik said: “He who practices tasawwuf without learning Sacred Law corrupts his faith, while he who learns Sacred Law without practicing tasawwuf corrupts himself. Only he who combines the two proves true.”

Therefore, that we have focused upon our law (Fiqh) at the expense of our spirituality, we have actually mishandled Islam, we have actually altered how Islam is supposed to work.

So, I would suggest looking at the works of Imam Al-Ghazali, as he does a particularly good job at explicating Islam within the view of this balance we must strike between rules and spirituality.

If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to ask me, insha Allah.

I pray this reaches you and your families in the best of health and Iman, insha Allah.

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