Khalid Zaheer
“I am convinced about the veracity of my opinions, but I do consider it likely that they may turn out to be incorrect. Likewise, I am convinced about the incorrectness of the views different from mine, but I do concede the possibility that they may turn out to be correct.” — Imam Shafa’i
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Why fear and not love in the Qur'an?

Question:
There are several places in Qur'an where Allah tells mankind to fear Him and be obedient. It is asked many times by our Muslim/non-Muslim brothers that why Allah is always threatening mankind when we already know that this fear factor won't help much. In my opinion, love always has done miracles in our lives and has more intense effect than fear. We can be obedient without fearing. Love alone can also serve the purpose. Please throw some light on the issue.

Response:
Qur'an begins with Alhamdulillah, which is an expression of gratitude. This expression and many others clarify that the basic motivation to come close to religion for a normal human is love of and gratefulness to God. However, man has been given freedom which he quite often misuses, ignoring everything God has done to Him. God has made adequate arrangements to take such unscrupulous, ungrateful people to task if they don't mend their ways despite being corrected over and over again. He did it because He is fair as well.

If the grave consequences for wrongdoings is a reality then warning against those consequences is also an expression of love from Him. In case He doesn't warn against those consequences and goes on to just talk of His love alone, he could be accused of being a careless deceiver who was all the time giving a false impression that everything was fine no matter what humans do although the reality was otherwise.

Let's not also forget that the Qur'an had a context in which it was being revealed. The people who were its immediate addressees were the ones who weren't paying heed to God's message. Such people were warned over and over again that if they will continue to behave in the same criminal way, they will soon be taken to task.

In other words God is just apart from being loving. He cannot be fully loving if He isn't just and His justice demands the criminals to be punished. And it is His concern for the criminals as well as others that they shouldn't end up being punished that He has warned them so frequently in the Qur'an. Love therefore remains the primary focus of the Qur'anic message.

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