In the Name of Allah, and blessings on the Messenger of Allah
I received the following request: Do write a blog post, on the things one can do to be Close to Him, and Love Him. Do you think there is an order of things to do? To begin a response, I quote Imam al-Haddad, someone far better than myself: I seek Allah’s forgiveness and do not claim that my intention in writing this treatise is confined to these religious purposes; how may I do so when I am aware of the hidden desires, egotistic passions, and worldly wishes that I harbour…[for] I am still at the stage of prompting myself to practice what I preach. [taken from the introduction to The Book of Assistance]
- We must ask Allah for His love with the prayer of the Prophet (upon him peace): اللهم إني أسألك حبك و حب من يحبك و العمل الذي يبلغني حبك (O Allah, I ask you for Your Love, and the love of those who love You, and actions which carry me to Your Love!). Love of Allah and closeness to Him is ultimately a Divine gift that Allah gives to those whom He chooses, and what better way to ask Allah for this gift than with the words of God’s beloved!
- We must resolve in our hearts to follow the Prophet (upon him peace), in accordance with Allah’s saying: Say [O Muhammad, to the people]: If you love Allah, then follow me. Allah will love you and forgive your sins, for Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Surah Al Imran, verse 31) Allah has said that He will reciprocate our love for Him when we approach him as followers of His beloved.
- We must resolve to make gradual change. The entire sirah of the Prophet (upon him peace) is about gradual change: change in beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, habits, relationships, internal states, power dynamics, etiquettes, and so on. We usually do not change overnight and all at once. Abu Bakr (may God be pleased with him) followed the Prophet (upon him peace) for over 20 years before he had to lead others as the first caliph. So we aspire to consistency, remembering the well-known hadith: The most beloved actions to Allah are those performed consistently, even if they are few.
- We must take account of our current state, which is something known as muḥāsaba. We should look into our life, and try to determine the most important next step we can take in our individual following of the Prophet (upon him peace). This involves doing the obligatory and leaving the forbidden first and foremost. It also involves coming to terms with our deepest struggles. What might be easy for one person is incredibly hard for others, so this is very personal. For some, it is speaking ill about others. For others, it is desire for the opposite sex. For still others, it is love of status. If we are someone who is already blessed to do everything obligatory and leave everything forbidden, then we must travel on to do that which is recommend and leave the disliked matters. This is how we apply the well-known hadith where Allah says: “My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more loved to Me than the religious duties I have obligated upon him. And My servant continues to draw near to me with nafl (superogatory) deeds until I love him.”
May Allah make this easy for us, for nothing is easy except that which He makes easy, ameen!