Friday, May 27, 2011

Ashq, love, and passion

Question: Can we call ‘ashq ephemeral passion and love true emotion?

Love and ‘ashq are the same thing. Love is the heart’s inclination towards what it derives pleasure from. It is called love to desire to be all the time together and to get pleasure from being together. The love which is intense is called ‘ashq. The meaning of love in Islamic context is as follows:

Love is to subordinate oneself to the Beloved without expecting anything in return, to obey Him, to consider all His deeds beautiful, to deem every sorrow and trouble sent by Him to be sweeter than any favor, and to think of His friends as friends and His enemies as enemies. The last one is also called hubb-i fillah and bughd-i fillah. The word the Beloved herein refers to Allahu ta’âlâ. The love which is for the sake of Allah is valuable, but there is no goodness in the love which is not for the sake of Allah.

Today, the word ‘ashq is wrongly applied to the sensual, bestial desires of the nafs and to ephemeral passions. It is incorrect. It causes confusion in concepts and terms. If we call the sensual desire of the nafs passion, then passion is abominable:

Passion is a disgrace, but love is virtue.
Passion keeps you from sleeping, but love keeps in mind.
Passion disrupts the process of thinking and reasoning, but love advances towards its goal in company with the mind.
There are pitfalls in passion, but nothing is concealed in love.
Passion sets to nonsensical actions, but love reaches higher ranges.
Passion is quick to change lovers, but love does not keep [people] apart. Instead, it brings [them] together.
Passion removes chastity, but love melts in chastity.
Passion makes you insensitive and makes you meet the beloved in secret, but love alleviates lust.
Passion shakes the confidence and is deceitful, but love inspires confidence.
Passion smells a flower, becomes satisfied, and looks for a new one. But love waters the flower, grows it, and knocks it into shape.
Passion ends and becomes a lie. It bites you like a snake. But love comes true, seeks you, finds you, and protects you against dangers.
Passion continues for a short time only, but love continues all through your life.
Passion deceives you, distresses you, but love does not deceive you. Nor does it deviate from veracity.
Passion is jealous, but love is trustful.
Passion breaks something into pieces, but love pieces them together.
Passion is like hungry beasts with rabies, but love is like health-giving medicines.
Passion is two-faced, insincere. But love is sincere. It shines like the sun and warms you up.
Passion tramples you underfoot and chooses a new prey, but love protects you and goes on with you.
Passion prefers short-term investments, but love’s investment is for eternity.
Passion is temporal and selective, but love is permanent and conciliatory.
Passion makes a ruler a slave, but ashq (intense love) makes a slave a ruler.

Hadrat Zulaikhâ sacrificed all her property, possessions, beauty, moreover, all her riches in the way of Hadrat Yûsuf initially for her passion for him and subsequently for her love of him. She would give gold jewelry to people who said that they had seen Yûsuf. However, when she married Yûsuf ‘alaihis-salâm, she did not go near to him, saying, “The love of Allahu ta’âlâ, alone, suffices for me.” So it was understood that she attained to true love.

We have mentioned above that the love which is intense is termed ‘ashq. Allahu ta’âlâ loves our Prophet much; that is, He has fallen in love (‘ashq) with him. It is stated in a hadîth-i qudsî:
(O My Messenger! I made the Prophet Ibrâhîm My khalîl [friend], but I have made you My habîb [the beloved one, darling].) [Mawâhib-i Ladunniya]
In (the celebrated eulogy called) Mawlid, Allahu ta’âlâ says, “My Habîb, I fell in love with you.” Those who view ‘ashq as the sensual desire of the nafs have fallen into the misfortune of criticizing this statement.
A quatrain is as follows:

What is ashq like?
It is shiny, sunlike
A heart devoid of ashq
is like stones and rock.

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