109. Why is it essential to believe that God is love?

In the Holy Bible in 1 John 4 verses 16 – 21 it states: ‘We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love, live in God, and God’s love lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect, and we will not be afraid on the day of judgement, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect fear expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. ‘We love each other because he loved us first.’ If someone says, ‘I love God’ but hates a Christian brother or sister, that persons is a liar, for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God whom we cannot see. And he has given us this command; ‘Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.’ ’

All sin has an accompanying penalty. ‘For the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23), and all mankind has sinned and is under the penalty of death. Therefore, if man was to be freed from that penalty, the penalty had to be paid. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, was the provision of God to pay the penalty of sin for man. He was sinless, and did not deserve death. Therefore, by dying in our place, He was able to pay our penalty on our behalf.

‘Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all’ (Isaiah 53:4 – 6).

‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast’ (Ephesians 2:8 – 9).

God’s love is not weak. In fact, it is the most powerful aspect of God’s nature. Satan’s weakness is his pride and selfishness. God’s strength is His humility and unconditional and everlasting love. Without the love of God mankind would be doomed to Hell. God took the initiative to rescue us from such a terrible fate out of His deep love for us. We could not rescue ourselves. Such amazing mercy and grace! The unconditional and compassionate love of God is God’s gift to mankind. Jesus defined all the law and the prophets in only two commands in Matthew 22 verses 37-40: ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is equally important. ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ ’

The Qur’an uses several words for the term ‘love’, with different shades of meaning. If all these words — rafah, rahmah, wudda, hub, are translated as ‘love’, then this word is very frequently occurring in the Qur’an, appearing on average about once in every 15 ayat. Even the word ‘hub’, which is most commonly translated as love, occurs in application to God so frequently in the Qur’an that it is hardly justified to say that Islâm knows only the greatness of Allâh, and not His love. Allâh mentions in the Qur’an what is translated as: ‘And He is ‘Al-Ghafoor’ (Oft-Forgiving), ‘Al-Wadood’ (the Most Loving; full of love) in Al-Buruj, Surah 85, ayah 14. Allâh loves those who follow His religion and loves the believers in their different qualities as explained in His book and translated as: ‘Say (O Muhammad to mankind): ‘If you (really) love Allâh then follow me (i.e. accept Islâm by following the Qur’an and the Prophetic tradition), Allâh will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allâh is Oft- Forgiving, Most Merciful.’ (Ali-Imran Surah 3, ayah 31).

Muslims say that one of the proofs of Allâh’s love for all mankind is that there are many doors into heaven and they open and shut frequently, except for the door of repentance. That is always open. This is proof that Allâh loves sinners who are willing to repent and He forgives them and receives them at anytime.

Love in Islâm is all-encompassing, comprehensive and sublime, rather than being restricted to one form only, such as the love between a man and a woman. Rather, there are more comprehensive, wider and sublime meanings. a) There is love for Allâh The Almighty, the Messenger of Allâh the Companions and the love of good and righteous people. b) There is love of the religion of Islâm, upholding it and making it victorious and the love of martyrdom for the sake of Allâh, The Almighty as well as other forms of love. Consequently, it is wrong and dangerous to restrict the broad meaning of love to this type of love only.

If God’s essence was not love He would have destroyed the earth centuries ago, out of anger for the disobedience of mankind. He would be a God of destruction, (such as Kali of India) rather than a loving, merciful, and compassionate God.