(Whenever adversity afflicted the Prophet – when he faced a flow of news about invading enemies, the killing of his companions, acute poverty at home, broken treaties by pagan enemies and harmful rumours from hypocrites in Madinah – it was not easy for him (ﷺ) to be expressive in affection and love unless he had extreme sabr (patience). Yet he expressed them eloquently not only to his wives but his companions. How did he manage to do it? This article offers ways of managing love without crossing the boundaries set up by Allah, and how sincere love and affection are to be expressed in day-to-day life with people around you whether you are in prosperity or adversity.)
A house may be built upon bricks, but a home is built upon love and affection. Love and affection are the building blocks of any relationship, and managing them effectively to maintain healthy relationships is essential. Under the Islamic way of life, the character is displayed through love and affection.
One of the names of Allah is ‘Al Wadood’. Although the common Arabic word for love is hubb, the word Wadood offers a higher level of love, which covers affection, kindness and a caring nature. Such love is without any selfish motives and sincerely out of well-wishing for the other. The root word is al-wadd, and from it comes the word mawwadatun, which means affection, love and care. Allah has placed love and affection in the hearts of people. He says,
“And among His Signs is that He created for yourselves mates for you so that you may find solace in them. He put mawwadatun (love) and rahmah (mercy) between you.” [Surah Rum, 30:21]
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Managing Love and Affection with One’s Wife
How was it that a man who was more than fifty years old and had around nine wives still managed to maintain love and affection towards all of them. The Prophet (ﷺ) maintained a closeness with all his wives, showing kindness and affection to all of them. He never kept himself away from any one of them, but would visit each and every one each day. His actions would not allow any one of them to feel lonely or increase any jealousy in their heart. He made it a point to visit all of them during the day before spending his night with the designated wife.
Anas (Allah be pleased with him) said,
“The Prophet (ﷺ) had nine wives, and when he divided his time among them, he did not return to the first one until the ninth day. But every night they used to gather in the house of the one whose night it was.” (Sahih Muslim: 1462)
Aishah (Allah be pleased with her) said,
“Every night he would go around to all of us and would come close to each wife without being intimate until he reached the one whose day it was, and he would spend the night with her.” (Abu Dawood: 2135, Classified Sahih by Albani)
Imam Nawawi explains this hadith by saying that it demonstrates the good attitude that the Prophet (ﷺ) had, where he showed kindness to all. (Sharh Muslim (10/48)
The above hadiths demonstrate the importance of being affectionate and giving attentive time to our spouses. Many husbands complain that their wives focus more on their children and ignore their duty towards them, while some wives complain that their husbands spend more time with their friends or the television. Expressing love before a spouse is not a leisure activity but should be reflected whenever they are together.
Thus, the Prophet had to be an ideal example for us to follow, as per the Quranic instruction,
“Indeed in Messenger is the best example for you to follow.” [Surah Al Ahzab, 33: 21]
He was also an example of being affectionate and loving towards the ummah. His love was reflected in his response when people approached him for advice or shared their pain and suffering.
“The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves.” [Al-Ahzab, 33:6]
Ibn Kathir (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “Allah knew how compassionate His Messenger (ﷺ) was towards his ummah, and how sincere he was towards them, so He made him closer to them than their selves and decreed that his judgement among them should take precedence over their preferences.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 6/380) How did the Prophet (ﷺ) manage to do it?
Express Your Feelings to the People
Most married men and women stop expressing their love with words within a few years of marriage. They expect their love to be taken for granted or expect their spouse to understand it without them expressing it. Love and affection are reflected through kind words, gentle corrections, beneficial advice, offering help and a smiling face. The Prophet (ﷺ) said,
“If one of you loves his brother for the sake of Allah, let him tell him, for it does good and makes love last.” (Silsilah al-Saheehah:1199)
Even Allah announces His love for certain good people. The Prophet (ﷺ) said,
“If Allah loves a person, He calls Gabriel saying, ‘Allah loves so and-so; O Gabriel! Love him.’ Gabriel then loves him and announces it to the inhabitants of Heaven”. (Sahih Bukhari: 3209)
Most of us adopt a very strict disciplinarian attitude towards our children right from a young age, forgetting the affectionate example of our beloved Prophet towards them. The Prophet ﷺ said about Hasan,
“O Allah, I love him, so love him and love those who love him.” (Sunan Ibn Majah: 142)
It was then said that he hugged him to his chest.
Many of us display love towards our parents when we were young, but as we grew older, this display fades; it may also lead to disobedience and undutifulness towards them. The Prophet (ﷺ) declared,
“Among the dearest deeds to Allah is being dutiful towards the parents.” (Sahih Bukhari: 527)
How Abu Hurayrah Displayed Love and Affection Towards His Mother
Abu Hurayrah (Allah be pleased with him) was appointed in charge of Madinah by Marwan, and he lived in Dhu’l-Hulayfah (approximately ten kilometres from Madinah) and his mother lived in the house next to him. Despite being in charge of Madinah, whenever he wanted to go out, he would stand at her door, and say, “Assalamualaikum, warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu, O my mother!” And she would respond, “Walaykumussalam warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu.” And he would say, “May Allah have mercy on you, as you brought me up when I was young.” And she would say, “May Allah have mercy on you as you took care of me when I grew old.” Then whenever he returned, he would do likewise.
Tolerating the Shortcomings of People is Loving Them
Caring for each other is also love, and taking care of domestic duties is also love. Tolerance is patience towards any annoyance from your friend and your wife, or people in general. You may stick together, even though you are not entirely happy with one another and do not love one another, but the need that each of them has for the other keeps them together! This togetherness can turn into love and affection soon.
Umar (Allah be pleased with him) said to a man who wanted to divorce his wife, “Why do you want to divorce her?” He replied, “I do not love her.” Umar asked, “Are all families based only on love? What about care and decency?” (Uyuun al-Akhbaar: 3/18)
Tolerance and patience can cause wonders in a relationship. It generates more love and affection from the one whom we tolerate and Allah guarantees a close friendship with such an attitude.
“Good and evil cannot be equal. Repel evil with what is better, and you will see that the one you had enmity with becomes as if he were a devoted friend. But this cannot be attained except by those who are patient and who are truly fortunate.” [Surah Fussilat, 41:34]
Love Despite Poverty and Adversity
During times of recession, a man requires a lot of support from his family, especially his wife. Bringing down unwanted expenses and not getting stressed when the husband undergoes financial stress is a sign of true love and affection. During that time, kind and motivating conversations play a big role. Imam Malik bin Anas said, “Indeed the wives of the Companions sought the Hereafter, so they did not care about the poverty of their husbands.” (Fiq-as-Sunnah 4/402)
Such was the mindset of wives of the Companions. Their love was not because of the status or wealth of their men but for their being dutiful towards their religion.
Establish a Language of Affection
In this time when social media has taken over our expressions through keyboards, posters and smilies, most of us are ignoring the words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts that show love towards family members and relatives. A ‘Language of Affection’ means something you do that sends a signal to the other person that it is out of your love and affection that you do it, like massaging your parents’ feet when they sleep, helping your wife in the kitchen, or giving a lift to a neighbour in your car. Every such act of kindness is a language of affection.
Work on Your Humility
The Prophet (ﷺ) said,
“The most perfect of the believers in faith is the one who is best in attitude and humble, who gets along with others and others get along with them; there is no good in the one who does not get along with others and they do not get along with him.” (Silsilah al-Saheehah: 751)
Exchanging gifts is a Prophetic tradition and it must be upheld. It is a very loud expression of love and affection. The Prophet (ﷺ) said,
“Accept invitations, do not refuse gifts and do not beat the Muslims.” (Authenticated by Albani in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel (6/59).
If we sum up the entire article in one statement, it would be that love and affection are not just a bunch of floral words but a sincere display of good character.