Saturday, February 28, 2015

The 5 love languages and faith

I have been thinking a lot lately about the 5 love languages and how to use our deeper understanding of ourselves in terms of getting more spiritually connected with God. If we know how we function in terms of love, maybe we can use that to better our relationship with God. So, I decided I will simply just write about it and in hopes of doing that, I will be able to actually find some good examples.

The  5 love languages are:
1- Words of Affirmation
2- Acts of Service
3- Receiving Gifts
4- Quality Time
5- Physical Touch

You can take the quiz to find your dominant (and recessive) languages of love here.

I will start in the order that I listed them above and hopefully something meaningful can emerge:


The idea of the "words of affirmation" language essentially says that you verbalize your love through positive affirmation to your partner and would like to receive love in the same manner. So, in a sense, something like "I love you because...." not only "I love you" because that is not an affirmation. To say I love you, it could be an "empty" statement.

This understanding or language of love needs to be recognized, in faith, in two ways. The affirmer and the receiver. For those of you who are reading this, I am writing from the Muslim perspective, however, you can reflect on biblical or other holy texts to draw this point home.

a) The receiver

Lets speak from the receiver perspective. You want to receive words of affirmation. In faith, that means, you need to constantly hear how God expresses His love to you. Essentially, you would need to seek out the actions, beliefs, and reflections that are often associated with God's Love in your Holy Text (or in the supporting texts, in Islamic tradition, being Hadith/Sunnah).

Some examples of this would be:

"And spend (freely) in God's cause, and let not your own hands throw you into destruction, and persevere in doing good: behold, God LOVES the doers of good." (2:195)
"Verily, God LOVES those who turn to him in repentance and loves those who maintain their purity" (2:210, similar to 9:108, )
"God's LOVE is of those who are conscious of him" (3:76, similar to 9:4, 9:7, )
"God LOVES the doers of good" (3:134)
"God LOVES those who are patient in adversity" (3:146)
"God LOVES those who place his trust in Him" (3:159)
"Hence, ask your Sustainer to forgive you your sins, and then turn towards him in repentance; for, verily, my Sustainer is a dispenser of grace and a fount of love" (11:90, similar to 85:14, )
"Verily, those who attain to faith and do righteous deeds will the Most Gracious endow with love" (19:96)
"God loves those who act equitably" (49:9, similar to 60:8)
"Verily, God loves those who fight in his cause in solid ranks, as though they were a building firm and compact" (61:4 --> this one needs to be contextualized, in a time and experience of life that is far removed from our current reality; therefore, it can be interpreted in the sense of God doesn't love those who are divisive, but this is for another time).

Keeping in mind, Holy Texts (in particular the Quran) also talk about what God does NOT love:

"God does not love corruption" (2:205, 28:77, )
"God does not love the evil doers" (3:57, similar to 42:40, )
"God does not love any of those who are full of self-conceit, act in a boastful manner" (4:36, 57:23)
"God does not love those who betray their trust and persist in sinful ways" (4:107; similar to 22:38)
"God does not love....and is bereft of gratitude" (22:38)
"God does not love those who transgress the bounds of what is right" (5:87, similar to 7:55, )
"And do not waste (God's bounties); verily, He does not love the wasteful" (6:141, similar to 7:31, )
"God does not love the treacherous" (8:58)
"Truly, God knows all that they keep secret as well as all that they bring into the open; and behold, He does not love those who are given to arrogance" (16:23, similar to 22:86, 31:18, )
"He does not love those who refuse to acknowledge the truth" (30:45)

In reflecting on these varying verses, we find that love, at least in Islamic tradition, is part of affirmation. You cannot love without affirming a good behavior in the process. So, in order to feel the words "I love you" from God, it needs to be associated with the "because" aspect of love. Love is both unconditional and conditional. I love you because "you act equitably" or "I love you because you do good deeds" or "I love you because you are patient". Similarly, words of affirmation aren't just mere "I love you-s" all the time, but "I love you, because you take care of me" or "I love you because you always remember me". Etc.

b) the affirmer

In the first case, we were discussing how "god loves you". Now, we are discussing "how you love god". This is really simple, in Islamic tradition, similar to how in Catholicism a rosary is used, we have the concept of dhikr or translated as remembrance . By practicing the remembrance of God, we are able to affirm our love of Him. Essentially, by constantly remembering God's blessings and mercy on you, you essentially are affirming your love of God. By making dhikr , you are putting God into your consciousness constantly, which is your affirmation of love. God is reported to have said in a hadith Qudsi, that if my servant (humans) remembers my name in a gathering, I remember his or her name in a gathering that is greater (i.e. a gathering including God and angels) and command the angels to recognize their name.


It seems that in all cases, we want to explore the different way God expresses his love to us as well as how we express our love to God. Therefore, in this case there is the Acts of Service that God has given us out of His Love and the acts of service that we give out of our love  for God.

a) the receiver of God's service

This could be as simple as a gratitude journal. You need to reflect on all the blessings God has given you and "thankfully accept" what he has given you. This is about God's ACT of giving, and not the "thing" you receive in itself. You need to recognize what God is DOING for you, and not just giving you. Meaning, you should aim to recognize God's acts of service and be grateful for it.

b) the acts of service you do for God

In this case, I would recommend ANY TYPE OF VOLUNTEER WORK. Basically, you have recognized your blessings and the service God has done for you. Similarly, you need to return the love in kind. Therefore, the best way to do this is to constantly strive to "pay it forward". To volunteer at soup kitchens, to help box food at food pantries. To help provide clothing at clothing drives. To "pay it forward" everyday. This is because all of the services that God has given you are part of your daily lives and affect you daily. It is impossible to return the service 100%, but aim to do a daily "pay it forward" good deed. Do a weekly volunteer activity. Go to an elderly home and read to them, play games. I don't know. Volunteer to clean the local park, or your mosque/church/synagogue/temple.


This seems similar to to the ACTS of SERVICE category. However, this is difference. The ACTS of SERVICE is about what you do. The RECEIVING GIFTS is about what you get. So, let look at it in terms of the gifts we receive and the gifts we give.

a) the receiver of God's gifts

As a receiver of God's gifts, you sit and reflect on what God has given you, the material stuff. The things that keep you warm at night, whether that be your blanket, your home, the meal in your tummy, or your spouse. Think about the things that keep you full. The food and drinks you are  given, the love in your life, the laughter in you life. You are thinking about the "things". Whereas before, you were thinking of the services. Think about those things and be grateful.

b) the gifts you give

Here, similar to the "pay it forward" notion in "service", you need to "pay it forward" in "things". So, not only run a food drive, but contribute to food drives. Donate, money, clothing, just like you donated time and effort in the earlier language. Here, you are reminding yourself and essentially telling God, I will not let the material life cause me to be entitled. I know that all gifts are from God, therefore, I share God's gifts with His other "loved ones". Its hard to give God a gift, since God has ownership of all things, but you can share God's gift. By giving someone a gift "in the name of God" or sharing God's gift, you are essentially expressing Love of Him. Its up to you define what you consider a gift, it could be an action like a hug, or words, like an affirmation, or even a prayer for a loved one to get what they seek in this life. Essentially, you are "sharing the love".


This is different than the last three categories, in that it is not about the "giver" and "receiver" or "the doer" and "what has been done to you" or the "sayer" and the "what was said to you", but rather about a mutual relationship, both of your presence, in a moment of shared time.  Although, all the above categories can be manifestations of "quality time" if you are constantly conscious of God, but I think this is best summed up in "prayer".

Think about the date you are about to go on with your loved one (whether its a parent, sibling, spouse, friend, or any loved one) think about how you get ready. Take a shower, put on your favorite clothes, put on a little perfume. You build anticipation. Throughout the day, you think about that date. What are we going to talk about? Where are we going to go? Will anyone else be joining us? Even if it is a week in advance, we think about it and build anticipation. Well, why doesn't that happen with prayer?

You need to build anticipation. Think about God throughout your day. You've already thought about some of His blessings earlier. Try and make that a habit. When it comes to prayer time, designate a special place "where your date would normally take place", and special set of clothing (what we know as your 'Sunday's Best' in Christian tradition), and go through the hygienic prep you would normally go for (i.e. for Muslims this would be ghusl or wudu, which are ritualistic cleaning rites for prayer).  When you are excited about your date, you usually end up showing up early and wondering about the other person. So, go to prayer (even if its in your own home) early. Think about God before going through the motions. People talk about how prayer is so ritualistic and robotic that you're done before you even realized it... Well, so are dates. People always do the same things. They go on a date for coffee, or food, or drinks, or some sort of activity. They've done the same things hundreds of times before. They have probably eaten or drank something a few times throughout the day. But that doesn't make their date any less "robotic". Similarly, prayer needs to be seen in that light. By building anticipation, by prepping yourself, by showing up early, by thinking about God as you wait, your prayer will be much less robotic and much more "meditative". You think about God and you talk to him through his verses (ayat). Similarly, just like when you and your loved one are so in-tune with one another, you begin to say the same things at the same time, almost developing similar speaking patterns. In this case, you are talking to God. You are using His words. And He is speaking back to you. Maybe not in the same way you would on a normal date. But you are speaking to God, in His language (whatever Holy Text you ascribe to) and He is responding back to you in that same instant, using your voice and the same words. To the point that your breathing is a manifestation (symbolically) of His breathing; your words are His words; your thoughts are His thoughts.

Every time you pick up the Quran (or any scripture), you are learning about God. You are reading His profile. You are getting to know Him in depth. You are reading His autobiography. Any time you have a question  you want to ask Him, He has an answer for you somewhere in there and is challenging you to find it. He is being "mysterious" and you want to unlock all His secrets. This is God's love letter. How many times have you read and reread your crush's text message, email, or watch one of his/her vines? So many times that you have memorized their words verbatim. The Quran (or God's scripture) is His love letter. It is the key to unlocking (understanding) His love for you. Spend some time learning about your Loved One, because he already knows everything about you.


This one right here, well this is a challenge. I was struggling to figure out how to "touch God". I mean, does that mean that everyone who speaks the "love language of physical touch" will be completely neglected? Then, I thought about what the Quran says about this situation. Essentially, the biggest challenge that people face in faith is this question of their "senses". How do they believe in something that they cannot see, hear, taste, smell, or touch. Therefore, this is the most challenging love language of all. It is also one of the most common ones, in regards to faith. Therefore, I had to think of it in terms of "creation" and "creator". That we cannot really "touch (or physically sense)" the "Creator", but we can physically "sense" the "Creator's creation".

Therefore, go out into nature, go out into the world and observe, God's creation. All of these are a reflection of God. Spend a day just staring at the skies. Trust me, you will begin to feel this feeling that life is bigger than you. Spend a day hiking in the woods, you will see so many different types of trees, plants, animals, bugs, and so forth. Spend a day at the beach, don't be staring at the girls in their bikini tops or those muscled manly abs, but stare off into the water. Close your eyes, listen to the waves. Feel the sun warming your skin. Feel God's warmth. (lol, don't get sunburned!). You're in a cold state, like Michigan, well go to a planetarium. Go to a science museum. Go to an art and history museum. See how ancient people's lived and let that give testament to God's timelessness. That all these people had some connection with God (maybe different than your own) but God was always part of the picture. Go to the park. Go to the zoo (although, I am not endorsing the imprisonment of animals). Experience all of God's creations. Go have a conversation with someone who is so "utterly different than you" in all aspects. Ask them about how they "feel" God.

Pick up His scriptures, read the words aloud. Are they calming? You are hearing God's words through your own voice. You are, in a way, hearing God's voice. Listen to the words. Look at the words. Feel the words. Meditate on them.


I hope this is a helpful. Honestly, I know not many people read my blog... most of my posts are for me. I come back to them months or years later and read them. Not many people  comment. So, this is to my future self, if your "love language" changes.... don't feel lost. Just learn a new language.