Love is a complex construct that is central to human relationships and widely used in every aspect of life. It is challenging to understand love as it can be perceived differently by different people. Some see it as an emotion, while others see it as a belief or a behavior. This makes it difficult to define love in a single way. However, the beauty of love lies in the simplicity of its expression. By knowing how to express love in the right way, we can create a bond that is strong enough to transcend time and distance.
The trace of humanity goes back to Adam and Eve and one of the most significant aspects of their story is the love they shared for one another. As the first human couple, they were created to be in perfect harmony with each other and with God. Their love was pure and unspoiled, free from the complexities and difficulties that would later plague human relationships. Adam and Eve remains a powerful symbol of the human capacity for love and connection.
Even in the face of adversity and loss, their love persisted, and it serves as a reminder of the beauty and value of human relationships.
This companionship is a foundation of love, which is an essential aspect of the Islamic faith. The Quran states, “And among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Verily, in that are signs for those who reflect.” (Quran 30:21).
Islam is a religion built on love, the love Allah (S.W.T) has for Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, as well as for us, and the love the Prophet ﷺ had for humanity.
Nowadays, there is a common struggle around the ability to understand and accept one’s own feelings of love and to identify ways in which your partner expresses their love leading to confusion and frustration in relationships (1). Gary Chapman developed the concept of “Five Love Languages” that describes the different ways that people feel and express love. According to Chapman, everyone has a “love language,” or a primary way that they prefer to receive love and affection (2). The five love languages are:
This is the language of love, which involves using words to express love and affection towards others. People with this as their primary love language value verbal affirmations, compliments, kind words and phrases of encouragement. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ encouraged the use of kind and loving words when addressing others. He said, “The best among you are those who have the best character and manner.”(Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 56).
The Prophet ﷺ was once asked by ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ, “O Messenger of Allah, who do you love most?” The Messenger of Allah replied “Aishah” ‘Amr then asked, “And amongst the men,” The Prophet ﷺ then said, “Her Father, Abu Bakr.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 3462)
He ﷺ always used to praise his wife in front of people and declare his love openly and in private. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was known to hold his wife, Khadijah (RA), in high esteem and spoke of her often in a loving and respectful manner. He would frequently praise her for her qualities, and referred to her as “the best amongst the women of her nation”. (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 3432)
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ would often praise and recognize the positive qualities of his companions to express his deep affection for them. Zahir Bin Haraam was a Bedouin, he received little support from people, Prophet ﷺ approached him once while he was selling his merchandise and embraced him from back. Prophet ﷺ said “Who will buy this slave?” Zahir responded, “O Messenger of Allah, in that case, by Allah, you will find me an unsellable commodity!” The Prophet ﷺ then reassured Zahir by saying, “You are precious to Allah!” (Ash-Shama’il Al-Muhammadiyah 238).
These small affirmations like “I am proud of you” or “you are hard working” can serve as a lovely reminder of our relationships and help to maintain a strong connection.
This involves expressing love through undivided attention and presence, involves spending quality time with their loved ones and engaging in activities together and investing in relationships.
The Prophet ﷺ would spend time with his wives every single day after Asr prayer, listening to their concerns and offering them guidance and support. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ also had the habit of speaking to Aisha (RA) after the night prayer or the Sunnah prayer of Fajr.
On another occasion, the Prophet ﷺ asked his companions to proceed on their trip while he stayed behind to engage in a playful race with his wife, Aisha (RA). This highlights how a simple act of spending time together can be a memorable and meaningful expression of love.
Quality time involves not only spending time together but also valuing each other by actively listening, encouraging, advising and motivating each other.
This involves expressing love through actions that demonstrate care and support, such as doing chores or running errands for a loved one.
The Prophet ﷺ encouraged Muslims to serve others and to put the needs of others before their own. He said, “The best of you are those who are the best to their wives.” (Sunan Al Tirmidhi 1162) He ﷺ would often serve his wives and attend to their needs himself, rather than delegating the task to others, and he played a very instrumental role in doing home chores.
While on a journey, when it was time to cook, one companion volunteered to slaughter the goat, another offered to remove its skin, and a third offered to cook it. The Holy Prophet ﷺ then said, “I will fetch firewood from the jungle.” The companions respectfully replied, “Our Master, may our parents be sacrificed for you! Please do not bother, we can do that too.” However, the Prophet ﷺ replied, “I know that you are capable, but I do not wish to place myself above you.” (3)
This action could be carried out by anyone else, but he ﷺ chose to do it, in order to express the significance he holds for his loved ones.
This involves expressing love through the giving of gifts, both large and small. People with this as a primary love language value the thought and effort that goes into selecting a gift.
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ encouraged the giving of gifts as a way to strengthen relationships. He said, “Exchange gifts, for they remove hatred and jealousy from the heart.” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 594)
After the death of Khadija (RA), Prophet Muhammad ﷺ expressed his appreciation and love for her and continued to send gifts to her friends, he ﷺ would say “Go to such person, for they were a friend of Khadijah. Go to the house of such a person, for they were loved by Khadijah.” (Al-Adab al-Mufrad 225)
The Prophet ﷺ also said, “O Muslim women, none of you should look down upon the gift sent by her (neighbor) even if it were the trotters of the sheep (fleshless part of legs).” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 2566) This suggests that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ valued not only the act of giving, but also the spirit in which the gift was given. This is reflected in his practice of never refusing a gift, as it was not the material value of the gift that mattered to him, but rather the goodwill and kindness behind the gesture of giving.
This involves expressing love through physical touch, such as holding hands, hugging, or cuddling, valuing physical affection and intimacy.
The Prophet ﷺ used to show his love for his wives and family through physical touch, such as embracing, holding hands, and kissing. He ﷺ also showed affection towards his companions and followers by embracing and patting them on the back. Anas ibn Malik (RA), who served as a servant in the Prophet’s household, reported that the Prophet ﷺ would often pat him on the back and call him by affectionate nicknames (4).
When any of the wives of the Prophet were menstruating, he would make them wrap around their lower body and he ﷺ would cuddle, caress them to provide them comfort and show his love (Sahih Muslim 293a).
Whenever the Prophet’s ﷺ daughter Fatima (RA) would enter his home, he ﷺ would rise from his seat to greet her, take her hand, kiss her, and offer her his own seat. Similarly, when he ﷺ visited her home, Fatima would stand up to greet him, take his hand, kiss him, and offer him her own seat. (Sunan Abī Dāwūd 5217)
These languages of love can be used to express love and affection towards others, and they play an important role in strengthening relationships. By understanding and implementing these languages, we can improve our relationships with others and draw closer to Allah.
Nosheen Nasir, 32 years old, Turkey, Clinical Psychologist, am interested in integrating islamic teachings in to psychotherapy. Currently doing my PhD.