As we are still flushed from both the National Day and Malaysia Day celebrations, it is not too late to reflect and ponder for a while on the position of Islam in regard to the love of the homeland or country where one is born and brought up based on the practices shown by the Prophet SAW and his companions.
The word “love” in Arabic is mentioned in several other synonymous words in the Qur’an or al-Hadith such as: “hub“, “mahabbah“, “wudd” (or mawaddah), as well as “rahmah.”. The terms carry almost the same meaning as “love”, but they are usually used in different contexts and have a certain degree of or refer to different strengths of love. Interestingly, in the Qur’an, we will not find the terms used to indicate the opposite of the word “love” which is “hate”. For example, we will never find a phrase such as “I (Allah) hate …” or “We (God) hate something / someone …” in the Qur’an. Even though Allah SWT does not like and “hates” one’s actions or behaviour, “hate” is not used by Allah SWT whatsoever. Instead, Allah uses the expression “Allah does not like” in as many verses in the Qur’an, such as, “inna Allaha la yuhibbu …. ” which translates as: “Surely Allah does not like / love so and so… “.
So beautiful is the love and affection of Allah SWT to His creatures that He does not use “hate” to refer to His nature in the Qur’an even though humans do not obey Him or commit iniquity and rebellion against Him.
The term “rahmah” which the Malay community often translates as “mercy” usually refers to the most common love or affection and it usually applies to all beings, both human and animal. The author does not intend to discuss every single word of Arabic which means “love”, but merely to indicate that there are many words which convey the same meaning in the Arabic vocabulary and at the same time symbolise how much Allah Almighty loves His creatures and that Islam is truly a religion of love.
Such is the human nature of the feeling of love. A man has feelings of love for women and vice versa; parents love their children and children reciprocate the love of their parents.
As for the highest and greatest love in Islam, it is the love of Allah Almighty. But the love of Allah inevitably goes by following the command of His Messenger as the Almighty says in Surah Ali-Imran verse 31: “Say (O Muhammad):” If you love Allah then follow me (Allah’s Messenger), Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And remember, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
Further the order to love Allah SWT is stated in a Prophetic hadith narrated by Anas bin Malik RA: “It is not perfect for one’s faith until he loves me (the Prophet SAW) more than his love for his son, and his father and all mankind.”
Allah SWT also created the nature of man to love his partner, that is, the love between a man and a woman as God says in Surah al-Rum verse 21: “And among His signs is that He created for you wives of your own kind, that you may be at ease and be at peace with him, and he will make you love and affection. Indeed, there are indeed signs for the people who think.” In the various forms of love, there is another love which is “love of the homeland” or “Hubbul Watan” in Arabic. While some scholars regard the love of a country as a mere human nature, as the love of other worldly things and not a part of religious claims, nonetheless, the majority of Muslim scholars, whether classical or contemporary, think otherwise, that it is part of Islamic teaching to love one’s nation based on the practice of the Prophet SAW and his companions, although there is no specific claim or direct injunction that one should love one’s homeland.
Among the Arabs is a famous proverb which is “Hubbul Watan Minal Iman” (Loving the homeland is part of faith). Some claim that the proverb is from the sayings of the Prophet SAW. However, after careful analysis, many hadith scholars believe that it is not so. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, a renowned hadith scholar who wrote voluminous commentaries of Sahih al-Bukhari in his book Fathul Bari, stated that although the phrase was not found in the source of the hadith collection of the Prophet SAW, the meaning was valid as it was the practice of the Prophet SAW during his lifetime. Imam as-Sakhawi and Imam al-Ajluni who were famous hadith commentators also said the same that although the source of the hadith was not found, the love for the homeland was practised by the companions and the Messenger of Allah during their lifetime.
In a hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari, the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) prayed, “O Allah, make us love Medina as much as we love Makkah, or exceed our love for Makkah.” (HR al-Bukhari). It is also narrated that when the Prophet SAW returned to Medina from a trip or a pilgrimage, the Messenger SAW would hasten his journey to Medina, due to his love and longing of his homeland and wanted to reach Medina the soonest possible.
Many other arguments that loving the land is strongly encouraged in Islamic teaching. It is evident from a hadith that when the Prophet was ordered to emigrate to Medina and leave Mecca, he turned to Mecca and said: “By Allah you are the best land, and the land beloved by Allah Almighty. If I hadn’t been kicked out of you, I wouldn’t have come out. ” Although some minority scholars see the hadith as referring only to the advantages of Mecca (fadl al-Makkah) and Medina, rather than to the aspect of the injunction to love the homeland, the majority of Muslim scholars still believe that it can be applied to other places as well, where ever one calls home, based on the practices of the Prophet Muhammad and the Companions RA clearly show that the love for one’s own country is a natural trait that exists in humans and is also highly recommended in Islam.