What is love in terms of Sufism?

Love is the name of intense liking. In Sufism, it is used in the meaning of affection toward God. (1) Man uses love in either figurative or real meaning. Love in figurative meaning is to be attached to mortals. On the other hand, love in real meaning is to love God. Sometimes, figurative love leads to real love. (2)

It can be said that the best example of this issue is the story of Layla and Majnun. Majnun becomes mad with his love toward Layla. He wanders through deserts. He becomes friends with gazelles in deserts because their eyes are like those of Laylas. One day a dog comes to his whereabouts and Majnun pays great attention to the dog while the others do not care. They ask him why he behaved that way. He answers: You do not know, but this dog came from the place of Layla. Eventually, when he meets Layla, he says, No, you are not Layla. and says, Go, Layla, because I have found Mawla-God. Thus, his figurative love turns into a real love.

It is also divine love that made Yunus Emre say, I need You and only You. Such people as Yunus Emre and Mawlana who are in love with God mean Divine love when they mention love. The expressions of love from now on should be understood this way.

In the first place, love is not a mental issue; it is spiritual. In other words, it is not possible to explain and understand it with clear expressions like the issues of Math and Chemistry; it can only be known in the conscience and feelings. In this respect, love is subjective in nature. Mawlana explains this: One asked, What is it to be in love? I answered, If you become like me, then you will understand. The pen was writing fast, but when it came to the description of love, it could not endure and split into two. Mind became unable in explaining love like a donkey stuck in mud. (3)

Judging from the example given by Mawlana, we can understand being in love as a spiritual intoxication. When a drunkard leaves the pub and forgets which road to take, children make him a laughingstock. This drunkard is thus in the state of intoxication. The children, unaware of his pleasure taken from wine and from intoxication, follow him. All the public, except these who are intoxicated with the love of God, is on the level of a child. No one except those who have abandoned desires has reached maturity. (4)

These words describe the situation of those who have not taken their share from divine love and who are drowned in the transitory dealings of this world: These children get on a stick and say This is our horse. Although they bear the stick, they brag out of their ignorance and imagine themselves riding a horse. (5)

As in the expressions above, in the verses of Sufis, such similes as wine and wine house are often used. Those who do not understand the encapsulated meanings of these terms construed these expressions by looking at outer appearance; and miscalled and wrongly introduced them.

In fact, Supreme God decrees as, Their Lord will favor them with the service of a pure drink. (Al-Insan Surah, 76:21)-in the original (Arabic) form of the verse, sharab, means pure drink, unlike we use it to refer wine or alcoholic drink in contemporary Turkish dialects.

This dialogue highlights the difference of rank between lovers: Yahya b. Muaz says to Bayazid-i Bistami: I have drunk so much from the goblet of affection that I am at last enchanted. Bayazid gives this meaningful answer: I have drunk the wine of affection from bowls, but neither the wine gave out nor my thirst is quenched. (7)

As is seen, this lover of God sees everything coming from the land of God. As is mentioned before, just as everything reminds Majnun of Layla, the lover also says, Everything reminds me of You, reaches God through existents, and becomes vanished. Moreover, people like Hallaj-ı Mansur may say, I am God presuming that they no longer exist. Of course, such words of lovers are contrary to the exterior of Sharia. However, they uttered such words when they were spiritually intoxicated. Mawlana likens the condition of such people to reddened iron saying, I am fire. (8) However, he also makes this important warning: Dont you take the intoxicated as guide! (9) In other words, while these people are on the right path, they are not the people to follow.

Let us return to the world of the lover The lover sees himself in this world as far from homeland. They evaluate the hadith: Love for ones homeland is from faith (10) in relation to Sufism. They take the real homeland as Bazm-i Alast-when the souls were created; God asked them Am I not your Lord? They replied, Yes, You are our Lord. The expression refers to this event. They know it their greatest aim to complete their days in this dungeon of world and to reunite with Divine peace. (11)

The lover is far from both grief and joy. He is always green and fresh without spring and fall. (12) His state is reflected in this verse:

It is nice for me whatever comes from you.
Be it a rose or a thorn.
Be it a garment or a shroud.
Your fire is nice, so is your light.

The lover sees both favors and pain coming from God as a favor. Mawlana points this out: Whether he is a knowledgeable or an ignorant, or a vulgar, everyone can differentiate between favor and pain. However; just few can see favor hidden in pain, or pain hidden in favor. (13)

1. Nursî, The Letters, p. 450
2. Eraydın, Tasavvuf ve Tarikat, p. 203
3. Mawlana, I, 137.
4. Mawlana, V, 1583-1584.
5. Mawlana, V, 1588.
6. Mawlana, VI, 54 (İzbudak).
7. Tahirul-Mevlevi, 1, 72
8. Mawlana, VII, 436.
9. Mawlana, VII, 567.
10. Aclunî, I, 345.
11. See Mawlana, XI, 995.
12. Mawlana, III,, 907.
13. Mawlana, IX, 390-391.

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