Muslim Microlessons: Faith and Love in the Heart

Muslim Microlessons are regular spiritual nuggets by Omer Mozaffar, who has received Islamic studies training both through traditional and academic sources, and has addressed theological, personal, social matters for college students of all sectarian outlooks. 

The contours and struggles of Iman (faith) and the contours and struggles of love find numerous parallels because of the centrality, in both cases, of the heart. You are not designed to be without Iman (in Allah), and you are not designed to be without Love. 

Meaning, you are not designed to be alone. Thus, loneliness is painful. Loneliness, like faithlessness, is an emptiness. As a pain, it becomes an unspoken prayer for relief. Some of us respond to that pain and emptiness with *spoken* prayers for relief. Better: some of us act to find healthy relief. 

In contrast, a few of us take a sour path. Instead of using our tongue for prayers we use our tongues to complain; instead of action focused on healing, we act toward fulfilling our own appetites beyond boundaries. 

Most, however, do nothing. And, it catches up with them a few decades later.

The common believer may need to redevelop their Iman every decade. The logic is simple: you have lived a decade more, with changes in your understanding of life. It follows that the same is true for your Iman: that faith which sustained you with such vigor a decade or two ago no longer sustains you. You need to learn a different approach to your faith. 

The same is true for love, whether we speak of a spouse or a friend. The habit of the relationship of marriage or friendship might sustain two people until they leave this world. In marriage, the changes in life — children, as well as mutual aging, weakness, and sickness — provide that. 

For others, however, they need to learn how to revive a threadbare connection. Professional advancements, changes in social engagements, shifts in religiosity will affect these relationships, for better or worse. For better, if both husband and wife are benefitting; for worse if one feels they are losing something. Life’s fluctuations can lead to a mutual dependency. Still, in our culture, in which we are conditioned to satisfying our narcissisms with individualistic choices, those same vicissitudes can ignite animosity. 

Because both Iman and Love are matters of the heart, one start is to make changes and increases in your service and giving. Shortly after a couple marry, they reach a point in which their infatuation for each other wears off. They feel no love for their spouse. Some misdiagnosis this moment as the end of the marriage. Rather, this is the point in which they need to learn to cultivate the joy of love by cultivating the joy of serving their spouses. If they can do that, they begin to tap into a fuel that seems endless. 

But, a decade-ish later, the approach of giving needs to evolve. Again, another decade-ish later. Your biggest challenge then are your habits, especially the habitual patterns of thinking. Thinking-patterns ossify, and become limiting, if not destructive. Such is the case with faith. Such is the case with love. 

And Allah knows best.

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