Love is a Journey

By Dr. Shahid Athar *

God out of His infinite mercy has given us as a gift, the beautiful feeling of love. "And God has joined their hearts in love. If you had spent all that is in earth, you could not have done it, but God has done it. He is mighty and wise." (Quran 8:63)

Love is the sail which charts the course of life. Poet Khalil Gibron wrote "Do not change the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, will change the course of your life." Love may be the only reason for living. Love cannot be demanded but has to be given before it is expected in return.

Love mandates us to please the beloved and avoid acts which displease the beloved.

The challenge before us is how to incultate love in this world full of hate. Hate between men and women, between rich and poor, between white and colored people, between tribes and nations and so on. How can we become love givers and plant seeds of love that we may receive God's love?

The source of our love is God Himself and the beneficiary of our love should be His creations.

How can we be recipients of God's love? According to Quran, God loves those who are conscious of Him, who turn to Him for repentance, who keep themselves clean, who do good, who trust in God, who do justice, who patiently persever. We also must avoid being those who m He does not love.

God does not love evil doers, mischief makers, oppressors, refectors of faith, arrogant people or prodgial liars. Such folks not only deprive themselves of God's love but His guidance.

O you who believe, fear God and find ways of approachment to Him and strive in His cause, so that you can attain success." (Quran 5:35)

God's love also requires us to follow Prophet Mohammad (Pbuh).

Quran says "Say (o Mohammad to Mankind) if you love God, then follow me (i.e. Mohammad). God will love you and forgive your sins." (3:31)

The love of our prophet need not be expessed with words only, but actions like enjoying the good and forbidding the wrong, in propagating the message of love to everyone and having a conduct reflecting the "shining lamp".

When a traveler sets on a journey towards God, Satan puts obstacles on his path, sometimes appearing as fellow humans who will oppose and hurt him. We must recognize this, remain cool and turn our affairs to God. We must forgive all in order to be forgiven by God. We must fight hate with love and remain in love with God's creation no matter how they treat us. We should be humble and accept opposition as a test.

There are few love stories from my own life. For wearing a tie and mixing with non-Muslims, some fanatic Muslims called me a kafir, in fact, once pulled me back from giving Friday sermon.

Thirty years ago, as an intern, I was examining an alcoholic patient admitted in DT's. As I bent down to listen to his heart, he spat on my face. I forgave him, knowing that if he was sane he would have not done it.

Ten years ago, I was volunteering at a free clinic for homeless. A young man came to see me with fever and chills. He was wearing a shirt only, in the cold winter of the midwest. All other belongings had been stolen. I was afraid he would catch pneumonia. So, in addition to giving him medicine, I gave him my jacket that I was wearing. He said "Doctor your life is more important than mine, you are a doctor and I am a homeless man." I said "all lives are important". Once during a live radio talk show, a Christian listener condemed me to Hell for "not believing in salvation through Jesus". I still love him. I enjoy being in the company of those who manifest God's love in their personality.

I end this with a prayer fro Prophet Mohammad (Pbuh). "O God, grant me your love. Grant us that we love those who love You. Grant us that we might do deeds which win your love. Make your love dearer to us than love of ourselves, our family and our wealth."

Dr. Shahid Athar is past President of Islamic Society of Greater Indianapolis and author of six books which can be read on line at

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Shahid Athar, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Indiana University School of Medicine
8424 Naab Road
Suite 2D
Indianapolis, IN 46260