by Imam Ghazali RA
He who loves himself loves another for himself. Every living being loves his life. That is he/she has in their very nature an attachment to live and dislike for death. Man wants that he should live forever and that his qualities should gain perfection. Nobody wants his destruction and loss of his qualities. So there are several causes of love.
(1) The first cause of love is that a man loves his life, then his limbs, then his properties, children, relatives and friends. Man does not love these things only for them, but for the fact they they help towards his long life and attainment of perfection. Even after his death, he wants to live through his heirs.
(2) The second cause of love is getting benefit. A man loves one from whom he gets benefit as he is a servant of benefits. The Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam said: 0 Allah, do not allow a sinner to do good to me, as my mind may wish to love him. This shows that mind turns towards the benefactor.
There is difference between love for health and love for a physician. Physician is the cause of health and therefore for the sake of health, a physician is loved. Similarly education is loved and also the teacher of education, but education is loved for itself and the teacher is loved as he/she is the cause of education. Similarly food and drink and money are loved, but the former two are loved for themselves and the third is loved as it is the instrument of getting food and drink.
(3) The third cause of love is to love a thing for its quality and not for the thing itself. A good figure is loved for its beauty. Even the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam said: Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty.
(4) The fourth cause of love is acquaintance with beauty. The external eye appreciates external beauty. A man is beautiful when all his organs are proportionately beautiful. When his organs are not such, he cannot be called beautiful even though his colour is light. This is called acquaintance with beauty. So to get acquainted with perfection is a cause for love.
Question. The matters described above are objects of five external sense organs. Can beauty be appreciated other than by external five senses?
Answer. It can be realised. Many a time colourless and figureless things are called beautiful, such as the conduct of man is beautiful, the knowledge of man is beautiful, the character of man is beautiful. The meaning of good conduct is that his knowledge, courage, God-fear, generosity, gentlemanliness and other qualities are beautiful.
Most of those qualities can be guessed not by external organs but by inner light. These conducts and attributes are objects of love and the one possessing these qualities is loved. People love the Prophets, saints and founders of sects for their qualities though they did not see them. Love reaches to such high pitch that the lovers are ready sometimes to dedicate their lives and properties for them.
These internal qualities are divided into two kinds – knowledge and power – All qualities grow out of these two qualities which cannot be gained by external senses. A man possesses two things, external figure and internal nature. External eye sees the beauty of external figure but the internal secret nature is seen by the internal eye. He who is deprived of this secret eye cannot see the secret beauty and hence does not love it. He whose secret eye is strong can see the internal secret beauties.