“But those who have iman have greater love for Allah.” (Surat al-Baqarah: 165)
Know that the slave’s love of his Lord has two degrees: first, the love of the generality which no mu’min is without, and which is incumbent, and second, the love of the elite which only the Lordly men of knowledge and pure awliya’ have, and which is the highest of all the stations, and the goal of all goals, because all the other stations of the salihun such as fear, hope, reliance etc., are based on the portions of the self. Do you not see that the fearful person only fears for himself, and that the hopeful person only hopes for benefit to himself, contrary to love which is for the sake of the Beloved and is thus not something given in exchange for something else (mu‘awadah).
Know that the cause for the love of Allah is knowledge (ma‘rifah) of Him, so that love strengthens in proportion to the strength of the knowledge and weakens in proportion to the weakness of the knowledge, because what requires love is one of two things, which if united in a person from among the creation of Allah, exalted is He, has attained the furthest limit of perfection. The first requirement is goodness and beauty, and the second is excellent good behaviour (ihsan) and liberal generosity (ijmal). As for beauty it is loveable intrinsically because man necessarily loves everything he reckons beautiful, and ijmal is like the beauty of Allah in His far-reaching wisdom and His wonderful doings, and His beautiful attributes whose lights shine out, which induce wonder in intellects and stir the hearts. The beauty of Allah is only grasped by inner sight (basirah) not by sight (basar).
As for good treatment (ihsan) hearts have been created loving whoever treats them well, and Allah’s good treatment of His slaves is uninterrupted and His blessings to them are both inward and outward, “If you tried to number Allah’s blessings, you could never count them” (Surah Ibrahim: 34). It is enough for you that He treats both the obedient and the disobedient well, and the mu’min and the kafir. Every good treatment ascribed to someone else is in reality from Him, and He alone is deserving of love.
Know that when love is firmly established in the heart, its traces manifest on the limbs, such as in earnest obedience and being actively engaged in serving Him, eager to earn His good pleasure, enjoying intimate discourse with Him, being satisfied with His decree, yearning to meet Him, intimacy with His remembrance, feeling averse to other than Him, fleeing from people, isolating oneself in seclusion, the world leaving the heart, loving everyone whom Allah loves and preferring them over others. Al-Harith al-Muhasibi said, “Love is your surrendering yourself to the Beloved entirely, and then your preferring Him to your self and your spirit, then your being in accord with him secretly and outwardly, and then your knowledge of your own shortcomings in your love of Him.”