Shadia: God means love in Islam too

There are so many lies that get circulated online about Islam that are sometimes printed and repeated as if they're facts.

Some of them really amuse me, especially the one about how Muslims believe in the "Moon God, Allah." We know Allah is Arabic for God.

But the Moon God? Who is he? I've been a Muslim for 28 years and have never heard of him. If my community has been withholding a lunar deity from me, it's about time it fesses up!

Some of the lies point to ignorance, like the notion that Muslims believe in a different God than the Jews and Christians, or that Muslims are supposed to lie to and kill "infidels."

Did I ever tell you about my "infidel" friend of 11 years? I haven't killed him yet.

And some claims are mind-boggling, like the idea that the Muslims' God is not a loving God. Let me tell you, as in Christianity, he is indeed a loving God because he's the same God.

Once, while attending community college, I received one of those emails listing all the reasons Muslims and Islam are evil.

At the time, I had been looking for a topic for my English class paper and when I saw that email, I knew exactly what I was going to write about. Very convenient.

Needless to say, that paper didn't stop the mass emails, but it was hailed by my English professor, who gave me an A and said everyone should read it. Take that.

I basically fought those lies with facts using the Koran; prophetic traditions, called Hadith; and stories of Islam's prophets from Abraham to Muhammad.

I remember pausing when I came across the part of the email that read something like this: Muslims' God is not loving; none of his 99 names means love.

In Islam, God has 99 names. The names describe God's characteristics. Among them are the merciful, the protector, the gentle, the honorer, the first, the last, the guide, the grateful, the forgiving and Al Wadood, which means the loving.

I looked up what love means in the dictionary to remind myself. It means, among other things, feelings of devotion, mercy, compassion and kindness.

Muslims begin everything they do, whether it's work, eating, writing, speaking or reading the Koran, with the words, "In the name of God, the merciful, the mercy-giver."

How is one merciful, forgiving and compassionate but not loving?

There are numerous verses and words in the Koran associating God with love and describing the many ways he loves his people. They include describing God as one who loves those who are patient, kind, just, compassionate and merciful toward others.

And there are probably dozens, if not hundreds, of Hadith describing God's love and tendency to forgive his servants out of compassion and mercy for them.

One Hadith describes God as "gentle and loves gentleness. He gives to those displaying gentleness what he does not give to those displaying violence."

A woman was once running in despair, looking for her small child, whom she lost for a few seconds in the market. When she found him, she ran to him with tears of joy, hugging and kissing him as if he had been lost for ages. When the Prophet Muhammad saw her, he told those around him that God's love for his servants is much stronger than that woman's love for her child.

It's hard to imagine, but I believe it. Muslims are taught from a young age about God's love for his people.

I do get why some may think that for Muslims, God is not loving. But that's just not the case. God is loving, but not all people are.

MONA SHADIA is a reporter for Times Community News. An Egyptian American, she was born and raised in Cairo and now lives in Orange County. Her column includes various questions and issues facing Muslims in America. Follow her on Twitter @MonaShadia.

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