Is it permissible to use the Arabic term ‘Ishq to describe our love for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)? Some people say the word ‘Ishq has unbecoming connotations that do not befit the lofty status of the beloved Prophet. What is the right opinion?
Loving the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is an innate feeling that exists in the heart of every Muslim. It is the condition for a believer’s complete sound faith. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “None of you truly believes until I am dearer to him than his father, his child and all mankind.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
The word love (mahabbah) means a natural inclination towards someone or something. In Arabic, the word (‘Ishq) means intense love for someone or something. The term (‘Ishq) has different shades of meanings. It refers to the strong love and bond between a man and a woman and it denotes great love and attachment in general. In case of the Prophet, (‘Ishq) means intense love and attachment to him. This degree of great love is high above any materialistic worldly desires. It is a pure love for the beloved Prophet that reaches the utmost degrees of sublimity.
In the above-mentioned hadith, love is of three types. The first degree is gratitude and respect like love for one’s parents; the second is mercy and protection like love for one’s children and the third is kindness like love for all mankind. Our love for the Prophet (pbuh) excels and stands high above all these degrees of love. This is called (‘Ishq) in Arabic. Our master, Prophet, and Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is the crown of creation and the gem of our hearts and souls.
God the Almighty knows best.