Love for Allâh
Shaykh ’Abdur-Rahmân ibn Hasan said: 
“Allâh – the Most High – says:
“Say: If you truly love Allâh, then follow me, and Allâh will love you.” 
This âyah is also known as Ayatul-Muhabbah (the âyah about love). Some of the Salaf have said, “The people claimed that they loved Allâh, so Allâh the Most High revealed the âyah about muhabbah (love), “Say: If you truly love Allâh, then follow me, and Allâh will love you.” 
So this âyah indicates the proofs and evidences for muhabbah and its fruits and benefits. So from the proofs of muhabbah and its clear signs is: to follow the Messenger sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam; and from its fruits and its benefits is: that Allâh will love you. So whosoever does not seek to follow the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam, then such a person will not attain the love of Allâh.
Characteristics of True Love
Allâh – the Most High – also says:
“O you who believe! If any of you turns back from his religion (then wait) Allâh will create a people who will love Him and He will love them, who will be soft and gentle with the Believers and harsh with the disbelievers, who will fight in the path of Allâh, and will not be afraid of the blame from the blamers.” 
Here, Allâh has mentioned four characteristics of those who love Him:
Firstly and Secondly: they are gentle and soft towards the Believers. It is said that this means: to be merciful, compassionate and kind. ’Atâ‘ (d.114H) – rahimahullâh – said, “A Believer’s gentleness for another Believer is like that of a child towards his father, or a slave towards his beloved master; and against the disbeliever, it is like that of a lion towards its prey: “Strong against the disbelievers, and merciful towards each other.”
Thirdly, Jihâd in the Path of Allâh with the soul, the hand, the tongue, and with wealth and property. This is the characteristic by which the true muhabbah is ascertained.
Fourthly, they are not afraid of the blame and reproach of the blamers. This being the truest characteristic of muhabbah.
If the one claiming muhabbah, whilst loving his beloved, fears the blames and reproaches or others, then this is in reality, not considered to be true muhabbah. Allâh the Most High says:
“Those whom they call upon, themselves desire the wasîlah (means of approach) to their Lord to which of them should be nearest. They hope for His mercy and fear His punishment.” 
Here, three levels which are linked to muhabbah have been mentioned, [i] Love, which is desiring to seek nearness to Him; [ii] at-Tawassul (seeking the means of approach) to Him, through righteous and correct actions; [iii] Hope and fear, a proof of desiring the means of approach to Him through righteous and correct actions is that such actions are done hoping in His mercy and also fearing His punishment.
And it is known with necessity that seeking nearness (to Allâh) can only be achieved when there is a desire and love for this, and the desire and love for seeking nearness (to Him) stems from love of Him. Indeed, true love for Him necessitates desiring to draw near to Him. However, the Jahmiyyah and the Mu’attilah, none of this has any value. Since, in their (false) view, Allâh does not draw near to anyone, nor does anyone draw near to Him, nor does He love anyone. So they deny life for the hearts, bliss for the souls, coolness for the eyes and highlights the delights of this world and the Hereafter. And due to this denial, their hearts became hardened, and between them and Allâh there came barriers and obstacles from knowing Him and loving Him. They do not know Him, nor do they seek to love Him, nor do they mention Him, except by negating and denying His Names and Attributes. They criticize and condemn those who make mention of the perfect and majestic Names and the Attributes of Allâh, accusing them of that which is more befitting to be attributed to themselves! And sufficient is it for one possessing knowledge and possessing a heart with life, that they view the sayings of such people with harshness, contempt and hatred; knowing that such people have disassociated themselves from the love of Allâh the Most High and from knowing and understanding His Uniqueness and Oneness (with respect to His Names, Attributes and Actions).
A Comprehensive Definition
Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) – rahimahullâh – says:
“There cannot be clearer recognition of mahabbah than this, and this recognition in itself increases love for Allâh. And people have discussed (at lengths) about mahabbah – its causes, its signs, its fruits, its supports and its rulings. The most comprehensive of what has been said about this is what Abû Bakr al-Katânî relates from al-Junayd (d.297H):
Abû Bakr al-Katânî said:
A discussion about mahabbah took place in Makkah, during pilgrimage season. The Shaykhs who were present spoke about this topic, and al-Junayd being the youngest of them. They said to him: What do you say, O ’Irâqî? So al-Junayd lowered his head and tears were gushing from his eyes, then he said:
“A servant should overcome his soul,
And be continuous in the remembrance of his Lord,
Establishing the rights of his Lord,
Focusing upon Him with his heart,
The light of fear setting ablaze his heart,
Whilst drinking from the vessel of pure love,
And certain hidden realities being unveiled for him.
So when he talks, it is due to Allâh,
When he speaks, it is from Allâh,
When he moves, it is by the Command of Allâh,
And when he is serene, then it is from Allâh,
He belongs to Allâh, is for Allâh and is with Allâh.”
Upon hearing, the Shaykhs all started weeping, and they said: There is nothing left to add to that, may Allâh reward you O Crown of the Knowledgeable Ones.”
Developing Love for Allâh
Ibn al-Qayyim – rahimahullâh – says:
“The reasons which cause mahabbah of Allâh to develop, are ten:
Firstly: Reciting the Qur‘ân, reflecting and understanding its meaning and its intent.
Secondly: Drawing closer to Allâh – the Most High – through optional deeds, after fulfilling the obligatory duties.
Thirdly: Being continuous in the dhikr (remembrance) of Allâh, with the tongue, the heart and the limbs – under all circumstances. The more constant the dhikr, the more mahabbah develops and intensifies.
Fourthly: Giving precedence to what Allâh loves over personal loves, when being overcome by desires.
Fifthly: Contemplating and deliberating over the Names and Attributes of Allâh.
Sixthly: Recognising and remembering the favours and bounties of Allâh – both the manifest and hidden.
Seventhly: To be humble and submissive before Allâh – and this is the greatest matter.
Eightly: To be in seclusion reciting the Qur‘ân, during that time in which Allâh descends to the lowest heaven (which is the last third of every night), finishing this recitation with seeking Allâh’s forgiveness and repenting to Him.
Ninthly: To sit in the gatherings of true and sincere lovers of Allâh, reaping the fruits of their speech, and not to speak except if there is benefit in it and that you know that such talk will increase you in goodness and that it will benefits others as well.
Tenthly: To stay clear of all those causes which distances the heart from Allâh – the Mighty and Majestic.
So these are the ten reasons which cause the person to develop true love for Allâh and to reach the rank of al-muhabbah, by which he reaches his Beloved.” 
Al-Ibaanah Magazine , Issue No.1
By Shaykh ’Abdur-Rahman ibn Hasan Alush-Shaykh  , (d.1285H) – rahimahullâh
Source: Fathul-Majîd Sharh Kitâbit-Tawhîd (pp.470-473).
- In Fathul-Majîd Sharh Kitâbit-Tawhîd(pp.470-473).
2. Sûrah Âli-’Imrân 3:31
3. This is the saying of al-Hasan al-Basrî, as is reported by Ibn Kathîr in his Tafsîr(1/366).
4. Sûrah Mâ‘idah 5:54
5. Sûrah al-Fath 48:29
6. Sûrah Mâ‘idah 5:54
7. Madârijus-Sâlikîn (3/17-18).
Abû Hurayrah – radiallâhu ’anhu – relates that the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam said:
“Allâh – the Most High – has said: Whosoever shows enmity to a friend of Mine, I shall be at war with him. My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more beloved to Me than the obligatory duties. And My servant continues to draw near to Me with the optional actions, so that I shall love him. So when I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask something of Me, I would surely give it to him; and were he to ask Me for shelter, I would surely grant him it.
”Related by al-Bukhârî (11/340-341)