What is Love?

Why is it that whenever I hear that question, I think of that long-ago song that goes, “What is love? Baby, don’t hurt me, baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me…no more!” I always seem to hear this song everytime I walk into a supermarket. How strange, this idea that love is almost invariably coupled with pain. Anyhow.
A group of friends and I were discussing this age-old question, and this is what I had to say (wanted to keep it for posterity so that I look back on it in a few years and see what changed in my head 🙂 ).

Love is: inexplicable. Its that thing that makes you put your needs and wants second. Its the best of times and the worst of times. It makes you realize the power of Allah, and how you really don’t even know your own destiny. It makes you appreciate all that you have, and give thanks for the sorrows you are not burdened with. But my words are not as succint as the words of Fatema Mernissi. In her book, Scheherazade Goes West: Different Cultures, Different Harems, she had a great description of love. She uses the Arabic word ‘isq and says that Jahiz, a ninth century Arab writer described it thusly:

‘isq includes and nurtures many kinds of affects…it links together the feeling of love (hub), erotic passion (hawa), affinity (mushakala), and the inclination to keep the companionship going (ilf).”

So love is made up of various elements: passion, connection, and commitment. Any of these elements missing from a relationship would indicate that true love is not at play. Not bad for a dude of the 9th century, huh? Ah,mashallah, our people were never as backward as modern-day armchair quarterbacks would like us to believe!

And the purest form of love, for those of us fortunate enough, is from our parents–evidenced in their countless sacrifices and endless worrying for our well-being. No other man or woman could replace that love. 🙂

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3 Responses to What is Love?

  1. Very true. But I have heard that love with Allah swt is wonderous too. Surely, it must be because its divine. Ofcourse we’re nowhere near that stage but it must be…something. I’ve heard that people who are in love with Allah swt are so completely bound up and so indifferent towards the world, its very evident. I’m not sure how that love is reciprocated but there must be some way or feeling…

  2. Thank you for that excellent point 🙂 I believe, and this is obviously pure speculation, that the purity of the love towards Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala is rewarded by a full and complete measure of inner peace and acceptance of all that happens to you in this world. And the ultimate reciprocation is saved for the eternal after-life. May Allah guide us all to be closer to our Creator rather than his creation. Ameen, ya Rabb al Alameen!

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