Love, oh love.

heart_instant_hot_pack.jpgal-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

The word ‘love’ appeared as a noun in the Qur’an ten times – of those ten, nine were using the word hubb حبّ, as in the verse,

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَتَّخِذُ مِن دُونِ اللّهِ أَندَاداً يُحِبُّونَهُمْ كَحُبِّ اللّهِ

And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allah as rivals (to Allah). They love them as they love Allah.

and once was using the word mahabbah, محبّة in the verse concerning Prophet Musa (peace be upon him),

أَنِ اقْذِفِيهِ فِي التَّابُوتِ فَاقْذِفِيهِ فِي الْيَمِّ فَلْيُلْقِهِ الْيَمُّ بِالسَّاحِلِ يَأْخُذْهُ عَدُوٌّ لِّي وَعَدُوٌّ لَّهُ وَأَلْقَيْتُ عَلَيْكَ مَحَبَّةً مِّنِّي وَلِتُصْنَعَ عَلَى عَيْنِي

Saying: ‘Put him (the child) into the Tabut (a box or a case or a chest) and put it into the river (Nile), then the river shall cast it up on the bank, and there, an enemy of Mine and an enemy of his shall take him.’ And I endued you with love from Me, in order that you may be brought up under My Eye,

The word hubb is the original verbal noun of the verb habba حبَّ, while the word mahabbah is what is known as the ‘masdar meemi‘ (verbal noun begining with a letter meem‘) of the same verb. As it is the original verb, it is the origin, the asl, and thus it appeared 9 times. But mahabbah only appeared once. The reason for this lies in the difference between these two words, which can be summed up in the following three points:


  1. In the nine times in which the word hubb appeared, it was mentioned with regards the actions of man towards Allaah, or with regards instances related to life. When Allaah the Exalted used the word in reference to Himself towards one of His Creation – Musa (peace be upon him) – He used a different word (mahabbah), that was only ever used to describe His own actions, as is most befitting of His majesty.

    Thus, when the love stems from mankind, the word hubb was used, but when it stems from Allaah, the word mahabbah was used.

  2. The love that was bestowed upon Musa from Allaah settled in the soul of Musa and began to emanate from him just as light emanates from the sun, and its beautiful fragrance would attract the people to him and make them love him. Thus, Aasiyah, the wife of Fir’awn (among many others), immediately fell in love with him and requested from her husband that he not kill the baby Musa (see al-Qasas, verse 9).

    But when humans show love to one another, it does not penetrate the beloved such that others then begin to love them also. This only occurs when Allaah loves His servant. Thus, it was only right to use different words to express these different types of love.

  3. The word hubb is much more widely used than the word mahabbah. Thus, the more common word was used with a subject that is great in number (i.e. mankind), while the rare word was used with a Subject that is not (i.e. Allaah).


34 responses to “Love, oh love.

  1. Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatuLlah

    Thanks for this, and all your other wonderful posts!

    I wondered: does the *masdar meemi* usually denote a higher or weightier form than the original verbal noun?

    (On a related note, I’ve always thought that the term *mashaa’ikh* to be a more respectful plural of *shaykh* than *shuyookh* – what think you?)

    Barak Allah feeki and many salams

  2. jazakallahu khayr this was a great read! may Allah(swt) reward you and give you the tawfeeq to keep up this beneficial work.

  3. Jazakallah Khayran Katheeraa. Quite Beautiful.

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  5. This truly is an enlightening forum. God Bless!

  6. Pingback: Yet another Gem « ekhlas

  7. A wonderful post on the two forms of love 🙂 Your blog is always a delight and filled with knowledge.

    Ya Haqq!

  8. Peace to all,

    Consider the following:
    Baqarah: 195

    وَأَحْسِنُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

    Baqarah 222

    إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ

    Al Maidah:

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَنْ يَرْتَدَّ مِنْكُمْ عَنْ دِينِهِ فَسَوْفَ يَأْتِي اللَّهُ بِقَوْمٍ يُحِبُّهُمْ وَيُحِبُّونَهُ أَذِلَّةٍ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَعِزَّةٍ عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ يُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلا يَخَافُونَ لَوْمَةَ لائِمٍ ذَلِكَ فَضْلُ اللَّهِ يُؤْتِيهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ

    There are several verses where the love of God is expressed in the same arabic words as humans would use when expressing love towards each other. This contrasts with point number 2 above.

    Otherwise I would agree with the other points you mentioned. Jazak Allah Khayran.

  9. JazakAllah for sharing such beautiful insights.

    Keep up the good work.

  10. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam wa rahmat Allaahi wa barakaatuhu,

    Fozia Bora, wa iyyaakum, ameen. The basic meaning of the masdar meemi does not actually denote anything different to the original verbal noun. However, there is a rule in Arabic that states زيادة المبنى تدلّ على زيادة المعنى ‘ziyadat al-mabnaa tadullu ‘alaa ziyaadat al-ma’naa’ (‘the more letters a word has, the greater the meaning it connotes’), so based on this rule it can be understood that in many cases, the masdar meemi connotes somewhat of an emphasised or hyperbolic meaning when compared with the original masdar.

    In relation to mashaayikh vs. shuyookh, then the same would apply, so your fitrah maa shaa’ Allaah seems to be tuned in well!

    ibnabeeomar, yaser, and Ahmed Mateen: wa iyyaakum, ameen.

    Irving, thank you. May Allaah allow you to keep benefiting, ameen.

    Chihab, wa iyyaakum. Thank you for your addition also. The point of the main post, however, was regarding the word love when stated in the Qur’an as a noun, and why there is this one time that the word mahabbah has been used instead of hubb. I noticed that all the examples you brought were of the word love used as a verb, so I was unable to find the point of contrast. I would appreciate if you would explain this to me further in shaa’ Allaah, as if there really is a contrast I would like to research the issue further in shaa’ Allaah. Jazakum Allaahu khayran., wa iyyaakum. May Allaah grant us all tawfeeq in what we do – ameen.

  11. Assalam alaikum,

    JazakiLlah khair for this great website. Very useful and informative MashaAllah. May Allah reward you immensely.

    I would like to recommend
    for those interested in knowing more about grammatical and rhetorical aspects (balaghah) of the Quran, as explained by Professor Fadel Al-Samurrai, a scholar of Arabic at the University of Sharjah.
    The link to the appropriate subsection is 6th from top: لمسات بيانية في القرآن الكريم
    and the material consists of transcripts from the scholar’s TV programme of the same name.

    The 30 volumes of Ibn ‘Aashoor’s tafseer (mentioned in the “Don’t be a hater” post) can be downloaded as scanned PDFs from
    or read online at
    (website requires you to register)

    Remember me in your du’a

  12. thanks sister, very informative.

  13. Assalamu alaykum,

    i’m curious about the use of “waw” (and). In …La ilaha il lal la Muhammadur Rasoollallah…, there’s no “and” between the two phrases, while in “Ash hadu Allah ilaha illallah wa ash hadu anna Muhammadar Rasoolallah…there’s a waw here.

    How does the mention and omission reflect upon the meaning?

    Jazak Allahu Khairan

  14. Salam sister,

    My understanding is that although the love of Allah to his servants may indeed be different to the way humans love one another the above verses show that there is no special linguistic term that God uses to denote that difference. I understand your discussion was on the use of the noun not the verb but I object to giving this grammatical distinction more weight that it actually ought to have. It is the concept of ‘love’ that matters and that was the real point of your discussion unless I misunderstood you completely!

    Keep up the good work.

  15. Could there be an aesthetic/balaghah reason why the word mahabbah was used instead of ‘hubban’? The reason why I suggest this is that Al-Tabari gives alternate interpretation of the word mahabbah: to say that Allah loved Moses without the secondary effect of making people loving Moses as a result.

  16. Assalamu alaykum

    Br. Chihab

    This is what al-Tabari had to say; I don’t see what you’re saying:

    واختلف أهل التأويل في معنى المحبة التي قال الله جلّ ثناؤه( وَأَلْقَيْتُ عَلَيْكَ مَحَبَّةً مِنِّي ) فقال بعضهم: عنى بذلك أنه حببه إلى عباده.
    * ذكر من قال ذلك:
    حدثني الحسين بن عليّ الصدائي والعباس بن محمد الدوري، قالا ثنا حسين الجعفي عن موسى بن قبس الحضرمي، عن سلمة بن كهيل، في قول الله( وَأَلْقَيْتُ عَلَيْكَ مَحَبَّةً مِنِّي ) قال عباس: حببتك إلى عبادي، وقال الصُّدَاني: حببتك إلى خلقي.
    وقال آخرون: بل معنى ذلك: أي حسنت خلقك.
    * ذكر من قال ذلك:
    حدثنا القاسم، قال: ثنا الحسين، قال: ثني إبراهيم بن مهدي، عن رجل، عن الحكم بن أبان، عن عكرمة، قوله( وَأَلْقَيْتُ عَلَيْكَ مَحَبَّةً مِنِّي ) قال: حسنا وملاحة.
    قال أبو جعفر: والذي هو أولى بالصواب من القول في ذلك أن يقال: إن الله ألقى محبته على موسى، كما قال جلّ ثناؤه( وَأَلْقَيْتُ عَلَيْكَ مَحَبَّةً مِنِّي ) فحببه إلى آسية امرأة فرعون، حتى تبنَّته وغذّته وربَّته، و إلى فرعون، حتى كفّ عنه عاديته وشرّه ، وقد قيل: إنما قيل: وألقيت عليك محبة مني، لأنه حببه إلى كل من رآه. ومعنى( وَأَلْقَيْتُ عَلَيْكَ مَحَبَّةً مِنِّي ) حببتك إليهم، يقول الرجل لآخر إذا أحبه: ألقيت عليك رحمتي: أي محبتي.

  17. wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam wa rahmat Allaah,

    3qeel, jazaakum Allaahu khayran. I love that site and refer to it often.

    Muhammad, you’re welcome.

    Chihab, Abu Bakr has answered.

    Abu Bakr, jazakum Allaahu khayran for your help.

    Doodee, you’re welcome

  18. Assalamu alaykum.
    Jazaki-Allah khair dear sis,

    Please ecxuse my ignorance; I’ve only just started learning Arabic –
    Is Mahabbah used in relation to the love Allah has for His Most Beloved ones, i.e. the Prophets, and hubb used as a general love He has for the the believers?

  19. Ibn Abu Talib


    What is the difference between “hoob” and “wadd”?


  21. As Salam Alaykum,
    I’ve just finished reading the book The Map of Love of Ahdaf Soueif and she writes that Love in the different expressions, can be written and described as:
    Gharam and finally, Hana.
    Can Someone explain me if the differences are real and I really would like to learn how to write all the forms in Arabic as I’m studying all by myself. I thank you very very much since now!

  22. Pingback: Pearls of Love & Wisdom « Abdur Rahman’s Corner

  23. Pingback: Love, oh love

  24. Very informative post. jazakallahu khayr

  25. Wow! at first I thought, where is this going …

    It made sense in the end,

    those who allah loves, the loves spreads and makes everyone else love those who allah loves..

    -The Muslim Kid-

  26. by birth i’m a hindu , but i converted into muslim
    recently …. so please help me to learn arab
    advance thanks
    also suggest me some websites

  27. Excellent work…

    May allah reward you for this


  29. How true that we laugh together, but cry alone! Send this movie to someone today. You never know whose life you might have silently and unknowingly touched.
    There are not enough words, to describe the effect u have on me…
    You make it easy to be myself, and its you who set me free…
    You are just so amazing, I can’t believe how good you make me feel…
    I was scared this was only just a dream, but you assured me this was real…
    When you told me how you really felt, i had difficulty trying to breathe…
    My heart began to beat much faster, but you promised me you wouldn’t leave…
    Every word that you wrote, made me want to be with you so much more…
    The thought of you had me trembling, deep down inside my core…
    I long to b with u boo, like we envisioned for our first meet…
    The thought of my arms around you, with your hand in mine is just so sweet…
    Watching the beautiful Cali sunset, and a breeze that is so gentle…
    We connect on many levels boo, not yet of the physical, but the mental…
    But soon enough you’ll be in my arms, falling fast asleep…
    I said no harm would come your way, and a promise i always keep…
    You’re safe with me at all times boo, id never do you wrong…
    We’ve talked about what does not kill you only makes you strong…
    You’re open and you’re willing, to tell me how you truly feel…
    You’re beautiful, and you care for me, i can hardly believe you’re real…
    But the day will come when i look into your eyes, and see what you r made of…
    And when I realize where your heart lies, I’ll know your my true love!

  30. jazakallahu khayr this was a great read! may Allah(swt) reward you and give you the tawfeeq to keep up this beneficial work.

  31. I luv the teachings of islam and I would luv to convert

  32. Pingback: Love, oh love. (via Arabic Gems ~ جواهر العربية) | quran reciter blog

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