I was only 8 years old when I was introduced to the formal concept of “Fearing God” while in school. Prior to this realization, my parents and other family members had only taught me of His love and generosity. Learning of this new concept so abruptly confused me; how could love and fear reside in the same space? The idea that I had to fear God was one that caused a great deal of conflict within myself. What troubled me the most was that I didn’t have an ounce of fear toward God. The only emotions that I could express toward this Mysterious Transcendence was love, gratitude, and awe.
Today, my ideas about God are drastically different (I guess this comes with the maturation of the mind and soul). I am able to grasp the concept of being God-fearing, but I still have not let go of the radical seeds of love that have been nestled in my heart for as long as I can remember. Although I have come to understand both concepts, I don’t think I have allowed one to over-shadow the other. I believe that Loving God should come before the Fear of Him. I like to remind myself that my spiritual practice, the way I conduct myself, etc. is driven out of my love for God rather that my fear of Him.
I believe that the fear of God is encouraged upon us in order for us to stay vigilant in carrying out righteous actions, but love is the motivating force that allows these actions to be done with sincerity.
Imam Al-Ghazzali states, “Know that the happiest people are those who are strongest in their love for Allah.” I believe that the fear of God is encouraged upon us in order for us to stay vigilant in carrying out righteous actions, but love is the motivating force that allows these actions to be done with sincerity. In addition to this, learning to fear God has prepared me for the inevitable: The Afterlife. If everything is in His hands, what reason would I have to fear any person, thing, or situation apart from Him?
As I get older and come to understand the world around me a bit more, I can’t help but take a more inclusive view about my spirituality. I am slowly coming to learn that not everything is black and white. I am beginning to understand that this Divine being I have been seeking is so much bigger than what we make Him out to be. I constantly remind myself that Allah has placed me here for a purpose and when I do things that are contrary to what pleases Him, the doors of mercy are still wide open. We have to be careful of falling into extremities when it comes to what we think of God.
Keeping a balance is key to maintaining a healthy view of who Allah is. The next time you decide to Judge yourself or another for your/their shortcomings, remember how loving and forgiving Allah has been to you. Your existences is a testimony to the outpouring of Love and Mercy that He put into His creation.