How do you respond when someone says to you that they love you for the sake of Allah (uhibbuka fi-Allah)?
The great Hadith scholar and jurist of this Umma, Imam Nawawi (Allah have mercy on him) has dedicated a whole chapter to the topic of loving others for the sake of Allah in his work Riyadh al-Salihin titled: ‘The virtues of loving for the sake of Allah and its encouragement, and a man who loves another, informing him that he loves him, and what to say to him when he informs him.’ The Imam then quotes numerous Qur’anic verses and Hadiths regarding the virtues of loving others for the sake of Allah, its benefits and rewards, and some etiquette.
In summary, there are three issues here: 1) Virtues and benefits of loving for the sake of Allah, 2) Informing the person one loves that one loves them for the sake of Allah, and 3) How to respond when informed of this love?
1) Virtues and benefits of loving for the sake of Allah
Sayyiduna Anas (Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘Anyone who possesses three attributes will experience the sweetness of faith (iman): that he loves Allah and His Messenger more than anything else; that he loves someone for the sake of Allah alone; and that he hates the idea of reverting to disbelief, after Allah has released him from it, as much as he would hate being thrown into fire.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)
Loving for the sake of Allah means one loves an individual simply because of the connection he holds with Allah; either because he worships Allah and is doing something to further the deen of Allah, or, even more praiseworthy, merely because he is from the creation of Allah. There is no worldly motive behind this love such as a favour done by him, and is not subject to any fluctuation. As such, it is not increased by the character and kindness of the one loved and not decreased by his shortcomings. (Ibn Allan, Dalil al-Falihin 2/240)
2) Informing the person that one loves them for the sake of Allah
Abu Karima al-Miqdad ibn Ma’dikarib (Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘When a man loves his brother, he should inform him that he loves him.’ (Sunan Abi Dawud no: 5124 and Sunan Tirmidhi no: 2393)
As such, it is a Prophetic recommendation to inform the person one loves for the Sake of Allah of this love, since this will increase their mutual love and strengthen the bond of brotherhood. It is also good to disclose that this love is for Allah’s sake alone, and not because of any worldly gain or motive.
3) How to respond when being informed of this love?
Sayyiduna Anas (Allah be pleased with him) relates that a man was sitting in the company of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) and another man passed by him. He said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I love this man.’ The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to him, ‘Have you informed him?’ He said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Inform him,’ so he caught up with him and said, ‘I love you for the sake of Allah.’ He said, ‘May the One for whom you love me [Allah] love you.’ (Sunan Abi Dawud 1522)
In light of this practice of the Companion (Allah be pleased with him), if one is informed by someone that they love one for the sake of Allah (uhibbuka fi-Allah), one should respond by saying, ‘ahabbakalladhi ahbabtani lahu,’ meaning may Allah Most high, for the sake of Whom you have love for me, love you. It is a way of reciprocating them for their love and making Dua for them, Insha Allah.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK