By Muna Ismail, Guest Writer
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, the SIA organization of the university of Michigan Dearborn held an event on Wednesday February 11th, 2015 labeled “love, Lust, and Islam” the title itself is readily comprehensible. Many students of different religious and ethnic backgrounds gathered in the audience eager to be a part of this engaging discussion on a very relative and controversial topic.
The program started by an introduction of the SIA, which is a nonprofit student organization that aims to provide full awareness of Islam and improve Muslim life on campus.
The introduction was followed by a beautiful recitation of the Quran by SIA board member Muhammad Bazzi, trailed by a translation of the verses. Up next was a very passionate recitation of a poem that speaks of god’s strength and the love between god and his worshipper.
“Let the trust, strength, and love of god settle in you and reflect on all that you see.”
Hajj Wissam Bazzi, a very active member of the community as well as a student at the university of Michigan Dearborn, was the keynote speaker.
“Love is something innate within all of us, for oneself or for others. Once you find the universal principles of the application of love, you will see that it is easier to build on. The hardest thing is to find those principles,” were Bazzi’s opening words.
“A lot of us try to find the meaning of the word love. It is a very difficult thing to define. It’s not something that is tangible. I know I feel it but how do I get it across to someone else, when words are limited to express the actual feeling itself,” he continued.
After providing a universal perspective of love, he got into the religious aspect of it.
“In Islam you are created with a certain “fitra” which are general principles that we all hold as human beings and one of those principles is geared towards God.
There is nothing like Allah, so whatever image you have of Allah is not Allah, so how do you love something you cannot see, touch, feel, or have no concept of?”
He answered his own question by saying, “I’ve sat at the gate of my heart and let nothing in but the love of Allah? How does one get to that level? Once you love god, you go from a finite type of love to an infinite type of love. It’s touching another realm. It is another way of caring.
Since Bazzi established that the love should start with love for Allah, What is the difference between love and lust?
“Biologically speaking, when someone is in love your whole system is generating different hormones, but on a hormonal level there is a big difference between love and lust. However socially speaking, it is determined by the level of intimacy one has with another,” he elaborated.
At this point he much preferred to have an open discussion rather than giving a lecture.
A question from the audience asks “some say Islam is a religion of peace, while others say it as a religion of violence, what would you say to either of those viewpoints?
“Generalizing and blaming the entire religion based on the actions of one is wrong, the prophet himself was always taking a defensive position, when it comes to the battles he fought. The words “sharia” and terrorist” have been glued to the word Muslim. From a general perspective, there is a completely different reality than what has been portrayed in the media,” Bazzi responded.
Another member of the audience discussed the issue of dating in Islam. “Where do you draw the line in terms of “halal dating” (permissible dating)? Where does something stop being right and starts being wrong?”
Bazzi answers, “We are all driven to find someone we really care for. In Islam, in order to complete half of the religion, one must find a significant other. It is a natural part of life. To get married, so we are geared towards that. But, in Islam there is a system one must abide by, such as lowering the gaze. One indecent act could potentially damage ones personality. In the end, a person must ask the question of “who made it halal?” in terms of halal dating. Is it society? Understanding the law is the first step, and the law aims to protect you not to restrict you.
“Love has a positive connotation while lust has a negative connotation. The way the lust factor works is as if standing on a ledge of a tall building, and there is a point where you start to tip forward; there is moment there where you go from control to no control. People in our community want to preserve their dignity, thus halal dating is a door; controlling how open or closed the door is relies on the person,” he continued.
What is your opinion on what some people perceive that there is god’s conditional love vs. unconditional love?
“Since god is in the absolute perfection, he is completely independent and infinite. Relative perfection is for us. God is outside of the human dimension when it comes to love. That gives him the attribute of absolute and he is always accepting of you. He is all encompassing, that is how his unconditional love is defined.
A member of the audience was curious on a verse in the Quran that says Allah does not love the unbelievers. So who does he love or doesn’t love?
Bazzi answers with utmost confidence, “Love can come through punishment; punishment is a source of love. Restriction is a protection factor and that comes out of love. The unbeliever is a person that has removed himself from Allah completely, they are completely independent. When the truth is, no one can be absolutely independent; we depend on the air for example. Only Allah is absolutely independent. In terms of context, the verse refers to God’s justice rather than god’s love. Because the love is always there.”
A person from the audience further elaborated on that by saying, “There is a fine line between loving your creation and loving their actions. God disapproves of a certain action, does not mean he dislikes his creation. He loves all his creations nonetheless.”
Bazzi continued, “There is a notion that god must love everything, however it isn’t really logical and the system doesn’t work that way. Loving the bad unconditionally is something that is in ones heart; however a system must be applied. God is a constant provider, your choice and actions does not define that unconditional love”
The discussion started to take a more political curve when a member of the audience asked, “The radical Muslims such as ISIS, have they strayed away from that love?
Bazzi gave a brief history of the ISIS organization and how it was derived from a sect of Islam called wahabism. “It has completely strayed away from the original teachings of Islam. To say that you are in the right and everyone else is completely wrong is not what Islam is about. Islam says I am either your brother in faith or equal in humanity. Its amazing how one can sit there an execute people because they are different from you and promoting it? You would have to be absolutely certain.”
However, it was important to distinguish that they are a political group before they are a religious group.
The discussion came to a close when a student asked Bazzi on his opinion of whether is a specific time in people’s lives when they begin to love Allah solely out of love instead of out of fear?
“To fear god doesn’t mean being terrified, but rather the fear springs out of not wanting to disappoint.” He said to bring the discussion to a close. “If you truly believe god has given you everything, and you disappoint him, your sin becomes really heavy, and that is where fear springs from.