“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God...for God is love.”
(I John 4:7-8)
A familiar children’s song in Christian Sunday School repeats “God is Love; God is Love,” echoing a verse from the first of three Johannine letters in the Christian Bible. In this text, an elder addresses both youth and adults of the community with the affectionate greeting “my little children.” Yet the writer uses a Greek word for love that goes far beyond affection: not eros (sensate love), nor even filios (love of friend or kin), but agape, sacrificial love grounded in action rather than feeling. Agape extends compassion, forgiveness, and mercy even towards an enemy. It is the divine love that Christians see manifest in Jesus, and that, in my mind, enables human beings to see God in one another.
In Islam, loving God is incomplete if it is not coupled with doing what pleases Him. All the prophets displayed examples of how to put this love into action. The prophet Muhammad [Peace and Blessings be upon him], whose life was recorded in extensive detail, once said: “The most beloved of you to God are the ones who are best to His creatures.” Honorable qualities such as compassion, forgiveness, generosity, caring and mercy are to be applied towards all God’s creatures as clear signs of our love for Him. Individuals who possess these qualities can lead others to remember, praise and glorify God. The prophet Muhammad [Peace and Blessings be upon him], offered the following supplication, which was attributed to David [Peace and Blessings be upon Him]: “O Lord, grant me the love of Thee; grant me the love of those that love Thee; grant that I may do the deed that wins Thy love; make Thy love dearer to me than self, family and cold water.”
Reading Grace’s words and Yasmina’s response, I am immediately struck by the extent to which all three of us feel connected to God’s love. It is this shared belief that serves as a foundation for our friendship, as well as for our faith. Jews teach that God’s love for all of creation is at the core of God’s compassion for all creatures. This love is best expressed in the Jewish liturgy in a prayer known as “Ashrei,” which is often led by school children and is also attributed to King David: “God is good to all; God’s compassion extends over all creatures.” When I hear the psalmist’s words sung aloud, I am filled with a yearning to embody such pure generosity of spirit. I am inspired to imitate God’s love—to find a way to be good by behaving toward others with compassion and kindness.
 From the Hadith, in the book Sunan at-Tirmidhi.
 Psalms 145:9