Question: How should Allah be loved and feared?
Just as love is of different kinds, so is fear. The love of Allah is different from the love of parents, children, a wife, and the nature. Likewise, the fear of Allah is a far cry from the fear of enemies. It is declared in the Qurān al-karīm, Fear Allah as He should be feared (Sūrat-u Āl-i Imrān, 102).
The fear felt for Allah the way He wants is termed taqwā. Taqwā is to believe in Allah, to love Him, to be a servant to Him, that is, to observe His commandments and prohibitions. It is not taqwā to fear enemies, for enemies are not believed in. Nor do they have the authority to put people in Hell or Paradise. One fears enemies only because they may do harm. Then there is a world of difference between these two types of fear. Again, it is declared, If you have believed, do not fear them [enemies], but fear Me (Sūrat-u Āl-i Imrān, 175).
A lover is afraid of upsetting his or her beloved in any way. Not only we must love our Rabb much, who has created us from nothing and has conferred various favors upon us, but also we must be very much afraid of losing this love. As a matter of fact, the Qurān al-karīm purports:
(Fear Allah! Know that Allahs torment is extremely severe.) [Sūrat-ul-Baqara, 196]
(Fear Allah, so that you can attain to salvation.) [Sūrat-ul-Māida, 100]
Fearing Allah should not be supposed like fearing a cruel person. It is the fear combined with reverence and love. In poems which lovers wrote to their darlings there are many couplets telling about similar fear in them. A lover who regards his darling much higher than himself does not deem himself worthy of this love and explains his feelings in such a fear.
Certainly, the fear of Allah is out of the question for disbelievers. As for the Believers, they must love Allah greatly and be very much afraid of becoming a disbeliever so that they can get the taste of īmān. A hadīth-i sharīf declares:
(A person who loves Allah and His Messenger more than everything else, who loves only those whom Allah loves, and who is afraid of becoming a disbeliever more than he is afraid of being burnt in fire relishes īmān.) [Bukhārī]
Most of the scandals and crimes arise mainly from lack of chastity. Most people cannot refrain themselves from indulging in the things of the wrong path even though they may know the result of being unchaste. The remedy that can lead them to right path in the face of this strong feeling is an educational and ethical matter. Religion means ethics. A person who fears Allah cannot be unchaste. Consequently, it must be our primary duty to try to teach our children the fear of Allah.
In order to fear Allahu taālā, one should know Him very well. To know Allahu taālā well, we must learn His grandness and attributes. To fear Allah is a matter of knowledge, work, and effort. It will not emanate from a vacuum.
The wings taking people to happiness
Fear of Allah and love of Allah are like two wings taking people to salvation and happiness. Our master the Prophet said:
(If a person fears Allah, everything fears him. If he does not fear Allah, he fears everything.) [Abushshaikh]
(The wisest of you is the one who fears Allah most and who observes commandments and prohibitions best.) [Ibni Muhbar]
(The extent of a persons intellect will be evident in the extent of his fear of Allah.) [I. Māwardī]
A Believer who obeys Allahu taālās commandments loves his Rabb immensely. It is purported in the Qurān al-karīm:
(The Believers love of Allah is very strong.) [Sūrat-ul-Baqara, 165]
(A Believer is such that his heart feels fear when the name of Allah is mentioned.) [Sūrat-ul-Anfal, 2; Sūrat-ul-Hajj, 35]
It is not possible for people to love or fear what they do not know. Those who love Allah much and know Him well fear Him very much. Since the one who knows Him best is our master the Prophet, he is certainly the one who fears Him most. As a matter of fact, he stated:
(It is I who, among you, fear Allah most.) [Bukhārī]
After prophets, people who know Allahu taālā best are savants, who are prophets inheritors, and those who are close to them. It is purported in the Qurān al-karīm:
(Only ulamā fear Allah among His servants.) [Sūrat-u Fātir, 28]
(Those who obey Allah and His Messenger and those who fear Allah and guard themselves against violating His commands are the ones that will be saved on the Day of Judgement.) [Sūrat-un-Nūr, 52]
When our master the Prophet was asked concerning the people mentioned in the sixtieth verse of Muminun Sūra that reads (in English) Their hearts beat with fear as they will return to their Rabb whether they are thieves or fornicators, he answered:
(They are the ones who perform namāz, who fast, and who give zakāt. And they fear whether their acts of worship have been accepted.) [Tirmudhī]
The fear of Allah is highly useful for sustenance as well. Our master the Prophet declared, The sustenance of a person whose capital is the fear of Allah comes to him without trading or capital, and then recited [the second and third verses of Talaq Sūra, which purport] Whoever fears Allah, He grants a way out for him and sends him sustenance from places which he does not expect. (Tabarānī)
The fear of Allah is a great blessing that makes people attain endless bliss. It is purported in āyāt (verses):
(There are two Paradises for the person who fears his Rabb.) [Sūrat-ur-Rahman, 46]
(He who fears Allah receives warning.) [Sūrat-ul-Alā, 10]
(Fear only Me.) [Sūrat-ul-Baqara, 40]
(Do not fear human beings but fear Me.) [Sūrat-ul-Māida, 44]
Furthermore, it is declared in ahādīth:
(The sins of a person whose heart shivers with the fear of Allah fall off just like leaves falling off a tree.) [Bayhaqī]
(He who remembers his sins and cries over them will enter Paradise without any questioning.) [I. Ghazālī]
(He who weeps out of the fear of Allah will not enter Hell.) [Nasāī]
(If you feared Allah thoroughly, you would attain knowledge that does not contain ignorance.) [Ibni Sunnī]
The love of Allah is one of the conditions of īmān. The following ahādīth declare:
(Īmān is to love Allah and His Messenger more than everything else.) [I. Ahmad]
(You will not be considered to have īmān unless Allah and His Messenger are more beloved to you than everything else.) [Bukhārī]