(NOTE: Although the plural of “sunnah” سنة in Arabic is “sunan” سنن (and not sunnahs), but this is simply for ease of those who are not aware of the intricacies of the Arabic language and hence do not understand the word sunan whenever it’s written).
The five love languages (a term coined by Dr. Chapman – a marriage counselor) describe five ways that people receive and express love in a relationship. They are: Words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, receiving gifts, and physical touch. Chapman argues that, while each of these languages is enjoyed to some degree by all people, a person will usually speak one primary language. He states that all five are important, but that they can be individually ranked. You may identify a primary love language, but you may also determine that you have a secondary or tertiary love language.
When you are committed to learning someone else’s love language, you are focused on their needs rather than your own. As you learn more about how your partner experiences love, you learn to empathize with them. It helps you step outside of yourself for a moment and take a look at what makes another person feel significant and loved. In a relationship, do you feel more loved when your partner:
- Tells you, “I love you,” or praises something you did?
- Surprises you with a meaningful gift?
- Plans a trip for just the two of you?
- Runs the errands or does the laundry?
- Holds your hand while you’re walking?
Chapman also offers an online 30-question quiz to help you determine your dominant love language. The five love languages won’t fix all of your relationship issues; they are simply one tool of many you can use to improve communication with your partner. Research shows that couples who use each other’s love languages feel the happiest within their relationships when they also use self-regulation tools to handle their own emotions. Everyone has a different way of communicating their love. While this may not apply to you in one way or the other, the love languages could be a helpful starting point on your way to understanding your spouse better through the lens of seerah in shaa Allah.
Love language # 1: Words of affirmation
…Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) returned with that experience; and the muscles between his neck and shoulders were trembling till he came upon Khadija (his wife) and said, “Cover me!” They covered him, and when the state of fear was over, he said to Khadija, “O Khadija! What is wrong with me? I was afraid that something bad might happen to me.” Then he told her the story. Khadija said, “Nay! But receive the good tidings! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you, for by Allah, you keep good relations with your Kith and kin, speak the truth, help the poor and the destitute, entertain your guests generously and assist those who are stricken with calamities.” Khadija then took him to Waraqa bin Naufil, the son of Khadija’s paternal uncle. Waraqa had been converted to Christianity in the Pre-lslamic Period and used to write Arabic and write of the Gospel in Arabic as much as Allah wished him to write. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight. Khadija said (to Waraqa), “O my cousin! Listen to what your nephew is going to say.” Waraqa said, “O my nephew! What have you seen?” The Prophet (ﷺ) then described whatever he had seen. Waraqa said, “This is the same Angel (Gabriel) who was sent to Moses. I wish I were young.” He added some other statement. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) asked, “Will these people drive me out?” Waraqa said, “Yes, for nobody brought the like of what you have brought, but was treated with hostility. If I were to remain alive till your day (when you start preaching). then I would support you strongly.”…[Sahih al-Bukhari 4953]
This love language involves expressing love through verbal compliments, kind words, and encouragement. People who value this love language feel loved and appreciated when their spouse communicates with them in a positive and affirming way. This may be one of your love languages if you thrive on being told that you’re appreciated, hearing “I love you” often, or receiving words of encouragement in general.
Anas reported that: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) had a Persian neighbour who made excellent soup. He prepared some for Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and then came to him to invite him to eat. He (Allah’s Messenger) said, “and her too,” referring to `Aisha. The man said “No,” so Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) then said “No.” He returned later to invite him again, so Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said “and her too.” The man said “No,” so Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) then said “No.” He returned another time to invite him and Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “and her too.” The man said yes on this third occasion, and they then stood eagerly to go out together to the man’s home. [Sahih Muslim 2037]
People who focus on the Appreciation as their love language feel loved when their partner gives them compliments, praise, and thanks. They appreciate hearing explicitly what their partner likes and admires about them. Insults can leave them shattered and are not easily forgotten. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.
It was narrated that Anas said: “It was said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, which of the people is most beloved to you?’ He said: “Aishah.’ It was asked, ‘And among men?’ He said: ‘Her father.'” [Sunan Ibn Majah 101]
Love language # 2: Quality time
This love language involves spending undivided attention and time with your spouse. People who value this love language feel loved and appreciated when their spouse takes time to focus on them and give them their undivided attention. When their partner takes an interest in their hobbies and activities, and makes an effort to enjoy hobbies and interests together. Quality time may be one of your love languages if you feel disconnected when you don’t spend enough time with your spouse and that affects your libido. You work hard at making time to spend with others.
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin: while she was on a journey along with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ): I had a race with him (the Prophet) and I outstripped him on my feet. When I became fleshy, (again) I had a race with him (the Prophet) and he outstripped me. He said: This is for that outstripping. [Sunan Abi Dawud 2578]
Quality time can perhaps be further divided into two sub-categories: emotional and intellectual. Those who focus on the Emotional love language feel loved when their partner is able to connect with them and support them through difficult and scary emotions. Being present for the highs and lows is very important to those with the Emotional love language. While people with the Intellectual love language like to connect through the mind. They feel loved when their partner values their intelligence, respects their opinion, and takes part in thoughtful discussion of important issues.
It was narrated from Shuraih that he asked ‘Aishah: “Can a woman eat with her husband while she is menstruating? She said: ‘Yes. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) would call me to eat with him while I was menstruating. He would take a piece of bone on which some bits of meat were left and insist that I take it first, so I would nibble a little from it, then put it down. Then he would take it and nibble from it, and he would put his mouth where mine had been on the bone. Then he would ask for a drink and insist that I take it first before he drank from it. So I would take it and drink from it, then put it down, then he would take it and drink from it, putting his mouth where mine had been on the cup.'” [Sunan an-Nasa’i 279]
Dr Chapman says: “In the vernacular of Quality Time™, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there – with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby – makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. The Love Language® of Quality Time™ also means sharing quality conversation and quality activities.”
Narrated `Aisha: Eleven women sat (at a place) and promised and contracted that they would not conceal anything of the news of their husbands. The first one said…The eleventh one said, “My husband is Abu Zar` and what is Abu Zar` (i.e., what should I say about him)? He has given me many ornaments and my ears are heavily loaded with them and my arms have become fat (i.e., I have become fat). And he has pleased me, and I have become so happy that I feel proud of myself. He found me with my family who were mere owners of sheep and living in poverty, and brought me to a respected family having horses and camels and threshing and purifying grain. Whatever I say, he does not rebuke or insult me. When I sleep, I sleep till late in the morning, and when I drink water (or milk), I drink my fill…”….Aisha then said: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said to me, “I am to you as Abu Zar was to his wife Um Zar.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 5189]
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ gave such undivided attention that he knew how his wife indirectly expresses her anger with him.
Narrated Aisha: That Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said to her, “I know when you are pleased with me or angry with me.” I said, “Whence do you know that?” He said, “When you are pleased with me, you say, ‘No, by the Lord of Muhammad,’ but when you are angry with me, then you say, ‘No, by the Lord of Abraham.’ ” Thereupon I said, “Yes (you are right), but by Allah, O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ), I leave nothing but your name.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 5228]
Love language # 3: Physical touch
This love language involves expressing love through physical touch, such as hugs, kisses, and holding hands. People who value this love language feel loved and appreciated when their spouse touches them in a loving and affectionate way. Physical contact might be your love language if you feel lonely or disconnected when you don’t get physical affection from your spouse or you feel especially loved when your spouse randomly kisses you or holds you.
Narrated Zainab (daughter of Um Salama): that her mother said, “While I was (lying) with Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) underneath a woolen sheet, I got the menstruation, and then slipped away and put on the clothes (which I used to wear) in menses. He asked, “What is the matter? Did you get your menses?” I replied in the affirmative and then entered underneath that woolen sheet. I and Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) used to take a bath from one water pot and he used to kiss me while he was fasting.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 1929]
Tender caresses and physical affection are everything. This love language is refreshingly straightforward, easy to satisfy, and doesn’t involve a lot of planning, exertion, or money. It’s as easy as reaching out for connection through physical touch. They want their partners to show they’re attracted to them and initiate loving touch.
Narrated `Aisha: I applied perfume to the Prophet (ﷺ) with my own hands when he wanted to assume the state of Ihram, and I also perfumed him at Mina before he departed from there (to perform Tawaf-al-Ifada). [Sahih al-Bukhari 5922]
Love language # 4: Acts of service
Narrated Al-Aswad: I asked `Aisha what did the Prophet (ﷺ) use to do at home. She replied. “He used to keep himself busy serving his family and when it was time for the prayer, he would get up for prayer.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 6039]
This love language involves expressing love through helpful actions, such as doing household chores or running errands. People who value this love language feel loved and appreciated when their spouse does things for them that make their life easier. These are some signs that acts of service may be your love language if you are exceptionally happy when your spouse helps you with a chore (that they don’t normally do) without having to be asked. If you’re always ready to jump in and do things for the people you care about, then this means that’s how you show love and want to be loved the same way too. They feel cared for when their loved ones do chores and offer help.
Narrated Anas bin Malik: “…I saw him (ﷺ) making a kind of cushion with a cloak or a garment for her. He then let her ride behind him. When we reached a place called As-Sahba’, he prepared (a special meal called) Hais…” [Sahih al-Bukhari 6363]
Dr Chapman says: “Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this Love Language® their feelings don’t matter. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.”
It was narrated from Zainab bint Jahsh that: She had a tub of brass. She said: “I used to comb the hair of the Messenger of Allah in it.” [Sunan Ibn Majah 472]
Love language # 5: Gifts
Aishah narrated: “The Prophet ﷺ would accept gifts and he would give something in return.” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1953]
This love language involves expressing love through giving and receiving thoughtful gifts. People who value this love language feel loved when their spouse chooses gifts that are personal to their relationship (Think: an inside joke or shared memory or event.), as they also put in the time to choose the most thoughtful gift when it comes to gift-giving. Signs that receiving gifts is your love language is that you treasure everything your spouse gives you, no matter how small.
Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Give gifts and you will love one another.” [Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 594]
Dr Chapman says: “Don’t mistake this Love Language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this Love Language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous – so would the absence of everyday gestures. Gifts are visual representations of love and are treasured greatly.”
Aishah narrated: “I was not jealous of any wife of the Prophet as I was jealous of Khadijah, and it was not because I saw her. It was only because the Messenger of Allah mentioned her so much, and because whenever he would slaughter a sheep, he would look for Khadijah’s friends to gift them some of it.” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2017]
It’s important to note that love languages are malleable. Most people have more than one love language and they can also change over time because our needs and wants are constantly shifting, and the way we experience, receive and give love can change, too. Our love language can change in response to our age, time in our life, or in response to difficulties/challenges face in life. It can also evolve the more we learn, grow, and understand ourselves.
As mentioned on mbg: “For example, you might love words of affirmation, but your partner places a premium on quality time and touch. As a bid for connection, you might text him sweet nothings all day and think you’re great at expressing love; meanwhile, he might be wondering why you’re never interested in spending time cuddling on the couch together at night and may actually be feeling unloved because of that. See how it’s easy for disconnection and resentment to enter the picture? By determining our primary and secondary love language preferences, it can be easier to give each other what we innately crave.”
There is also a 7 love styles test, which has been researched on over 500,000 volunteers. To improve their relationships, couples needed to learn to show love in the way their partner wanted to receive it.
اللَّهُمَّ أَلِّفْ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِنَا وَأَصْلِحْ ذَاتَ بَيْنِنَا وَاهْدِنَا سُبُلَ السَّلاَمِ وَنَجِّنَا مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ وَجَنِّبْنَا الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَبَارِكْ لَنَا فِي أَسْمَاعِنَا وَأَبْصَارِنَا وَقُلُوبِنَا وَأَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا وَتُبْ عَلَيْنَا إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ وَاجْعَلْنَا شَاكِرِينَ لِنِعْمَتِكَ مُثْنِينَ بِهَا قَابِلِيهَا وَأَتِمَّهَا عَلَيْنَا
“…O Allah, join our hearts, mend our social relationship, guide us to the path of peace, bring us from darkness to light, save us from obscenities, outward or inward, and bless our ears, our eyes, our hearts, our wives, our children, and relent toward us; Thou art the Relenting, the Merciful. And make us grateful for Thy blessing and make us praise it while accepting it and give it to us in full…” [Hadith; Sunan Abi Dawud 969]