The words used in the Qur’an for love and its synonyms are wudd ود, hubb حب mahabbah محبة, and mawaddah مودة.
(1) Wudd. Surah xix. 96: “Verily, those who believe and act aright, to them the Merciful One will give love.”
(2) Hubb. Surah v. 59: “God will bring a people whom He will love, and who will love him.”
Surah ii. 160: “They love them (idols) as they should love God, whilst those who believe love God more.”
Surah lxxxix. 21: “Ye love wealth with a complete love.”
Surah xii. 30: He (Joseph) has infatuated her (Zulaikhah) with love.”
(3) Mahabbah. Surah xx. 39: “For on thee (Moses) have I (God) cast my love.”
(4) Mawaddah. Surah iv. 75: “As though there were no friendship between you and him.”
Surah v. 85: “Thou will find the nearest in friendship to those who believe to be those who say We are Christians.”
Surah xxix. 24. “Verily, ye take idols beside God through mutual friendship in the affairs of this world.”
Surah xxx. 20: “He has caused between you affection and pity.”
Surah xli. 22: “Say! I do not ask, for it hire, only the affection of my kinsfolk.”
Surah lx. 1: “O ye who believe! take not my enemy and your enemy for patrons encountering them with affection.”
Surah ix. 7: “Mayhap God will place affection between you.”
From the above quotations, it will be seen that in the Qur’an, the word mamaddah is used for friendship and affection only, but that the other terms are synonymous, and are used for both divine and human love.
In the traditions, hubb is also used for both kinds of love (see Mishkat, book xxii. ch. xvi.), and a section of the Hadis is devoted to the consideration of “Brotherly love for God’s pleasure.”
‘Ayishah relates that the Prophet. said “Souls were at the first collected together (in the spirit-world) like assembled armies, and then they were dispersed and. sent into bodies and that consequently those who had been acquainted with each other in the spirit world, became so in this, and those who had been strangers there would be strangers here.”The author of the Akhlaqi-Jalali distinguishes between animal love and spiritual love. Animal love, he says, takes its rise from excess of appetite. But spiritual love, which arises from harmony of souls, is not to be reckoned a vice, but, on the contrary, a species of virtue :—
Let love be thy master, all masters above,
For the good and’ the groat are all prentice to love.”
The cause oh love, he says, is excessive eagerness either for pleasure or for good; the first is animal love, and is culpable; the second is spiritual love, and is a praiseworthy virtue. (See Thompson’s ed., pp. 227—234.)
The term more generally used in Oriental writings for the passion of love is ‘Ishq عشقa word which az-Zamakhshari. in his work the Asas (quoted by Lane), says is derived from the word al-’ashaqah, a species of ivy which twines upon trees and cleaves to them, But it seems not improbable that it is connected with the Hebrew “a woman,” or is derived from “to desire.” (See Deut, vii. 7: “The Lord hath set, his love upon thee”; and Ps. xci. 14: “Because he hath set his love upon me.”) The philosopher Ibu Sina’ (Avicenna), in a treatise on al-’Ishq (regarding. it as the passion of the natural propensities), says it is a passion not merely peculiar to the human species, but that it pervades all existing things, both in heaven and earth, in the animal, the vegetable, and even in the mineral kingdom; and that its meaning is not perceived or known, and is rendered all the more obscure. by the explanation thereof. (See Taju ‘l-’Arus by Saiyid Murtada.)
Mir Abu ‘l-Baqa, in his work entitled the Kulliyat, thus defines the various degrees of love, which are supposed to represent not only intensity of natural love between man. and woman, but also the Sufiistic or divine love, which is the subject of so. many mystic works :—First, hawa, the inclining of the soul or mind to the object of love; then, ‘Ilaqah, love cleaving to the heart; then, kalaf, violent and intense love, accompanied by perplexity; then ‘ishq, amorous desire, accompanied by melancholy; then, shaghaf; ardour of love, accompanied by pleasure; then, jawa, inward love, accompanied by amorous desire, or grief and sorrow; then, tatayum, a state of enslavement; then, tabl, love sickness; then, walah, distraction, accompained with loss of reason, and, lastly huyam, overpowering love with wandering about at random.
In Professor Palmer’s little work on Oriental mysticism, founded on a Persian MS. by ‘Aziz ibn Muhammad an-Nafsam and entitled the Maksad i Aksu (Maqsad-i-Agsa, or the ” Remotest Aim,” we read, “Man sets his face towards this world, and is entangled in the love of wealth and dignity, until the grace of God steps in and turns his heart towards God. The tendency which proceeds from God is called Attraction; that which proceeds ‘from man is called’ Inclination, Desire, and Love. As the inclination increaaes its name changes, and it causes the Traveller to renounce everything else but God (who becomes his Qibla) and thus setting his face God-wards, and forgetting everything but God, it is developed into LOVE.”
This is by no means the last and ultimate stage of the journey, but most men are said to be content to pass their lives therein and to leave the world without making any further progress therein [SUFIISM]. Such a person the Sufis call Majzub, or, Attracted. And it is in this state that ‘Ishq, or spiritual love, becomes the subject of religious contemplation just as it is in the Song of Solomon. “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for thy love, is better than wine.” But whilst the lover in the Song of Solomon is supposed to represent the Almighty God, and, the loved one the Church, in Eastern Sufi poetry, the ‘ashiq, or lover, is man, and the mash’uq, or the Beloved One, is God.
The Sufi poet Jami, in his Salaman and Absal, thus writes of the joy of Divine love; and his prologue to the Deity, as rendered into English, will illustrate the mystic conception of love.
” Time it is
To unfold Thy perfect beauty. I would be
Thy lover, and Thine only — I, mine eyes
Sealed in the light of Thee, to all – but Thee,
Yea, in the revelation of Thyself –
Self-lost, and conscience-quit of good and evil, –
Thou movest under all the forms of truth,
Under the forms of all created things;
Look whence I will, still nothing I discern
But Thee in all the universe, in which
Thyself Thou dost invest, and through the eyes
Of man, the subtle censor scrutinize.
To thy Harim Dividuality.
No entrance finds — no word of this and that;
Do Thou my separate and derived self
Make one with Thy essential! Leave me room
On that divan (sofa) which leaves no room for two:
Lest, like the simple Kurd whom they tell,
I grow perplext, O God, ‘twist ‘I’ and ‘Thou,’ –
If ‘I ‘— this dignity and wisdom whence?
If ‘-Thou ‘— then what is this abject impotence?”
[The fable of the Kurd, which is also told in verse, is this. A, Kurd left the solitude of the desert for the bustle of a busy city. Being tired of the commotion around him, he lay down to sleep. But fearing he might not know himself when he arose, in the midst of so much, commotion, he tied a pumpkin round his foot. A knave, who heard him deliberating about the difficulty of knowing himself again, took the pumpkin off the Kurd's foot, and tied it round his own. When the Kurd awoke. he was bewildered, and exclaimed—
"Whether I be I or no,
If I — the pumpkin why on you?
If you—then -where am I, and who ?"]
For further information on the subject of mystic love, see SUFIISM.
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam