love

From Umar Lee:

Quote from Umar Lee:

Romantically, the fairy tale “fluffy” version of love that is the norm today was also strange to the Sahabah and in the history of Islam, outside of Rumi (who many if not most consider to be a deviant) there is very little in terms of a history of romance being glorified by learned religious men.

Ibn Taymiyyah on the concept of “love”. From Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (10/129):

Love is a psychological sickness, and if it grows strong it affects the body, and becomes a physical sickness, either as diseases of the brain, which are said to be diseases caused by waswaas, or diseases of the body such as weakness, emaciation and so on.

Alhamdulilah ibn Taymiyyah isn’t the be all and end all of islam.

I may have mentioned once or twice (or a billion times) that my husband is a fan of ibn Hazm.  He often laments that most of ibn Hazm’s works aren’t translated into english and plans to one day undertake a translation project of his legal rulings.

One of the works that is in english is Ṭawq al-Ḥamāmah, The Ring of the Dove.  It’s an entire book devoted to the topic of love, from one of the scholars modern salafis admire.

Of the Nature of Love

Of Love–may God exalt you! -the first part is jesting, and the last part is right earnestness. So majestic are its divers aspects, they are too subtle to be described; their reality can only be apprehended by personal experience. Love is neither disapproved by Religion, nor prohibited by the Law; for every heart is in God’s hands.

Many rightly guided caliphs and orthodox imams have been lovers. Of those who have lived in our beloved Andalusia I may mention `Abd al-Rahman Ibn Mu’awiya, the lover of Da`ja; al-Hakam Ibn Hisham; `Abd al-Rahman Ibn al-Hakam, whose passion for Tarub the mother of his son `Abd Allah is more famous among men than the very sun itself; Muhammad Ibn `Abd al-Rahman, well-known admirer of Ghizlan who bore him ‘Uthman, al-Qasim and al-Mutarrif; and Al-Hakam al-Mustansir, adorer of Subh mother of Hisham al-Mu’aiyad Billah, who refused to interest himself in any other child but hers.
Such instances are extremely numerous; and but for the rightful claims of our rulers upon the respect of all Moslems, so that we ought to recount concerning them only such stories as illustrate martial resolution and the propagation of the faith-and their amours were after all conducted in the privacy of their palaces and in the bosom of their families, so that it would not be at all seemly to report on them-but for this I would certainly have introduced not a few anecdotes illustrating their part in the love-business. As for their men of State and pillars of Empire, their tender romances are indeed innumerable; the most recent instance being the affair we were witnessing only yesterday between al-Muzaffar `Abd al-Malik Ibn Abi ‘Amir and Wahid the cheese monger’s daughter, a grand passion which so transported that great nobleman that he actually married the girl; she was subsequently ` inherited’ by the-grand–vizier `Abd Allah Ibn Maslama after the fall of the `Amirids; and when `Abd Allah in his turn was put to death, she became the consort of a Berber chieftain. I was told of a similar instance too by Abu ‘l-`Aish Ibn Maimun al-Qurashi al-Husaini: Nizar Ibn Ma` add, ruler of Egypt, would not look upon his son Mansur Ibn Nizar his successor on the throne, the one who claimed to be a god-for quite a time after he was born, so as to spare the feelings of a certain ‘slave-girl with whom he was deeply in love; yet he had no other male issue but this child to inherit his kingdom and keep his memory green.

Of the saints and learned doctors of the faith who lived in past ages and times long ago, some there are whose love lyrics are sufficient testimony to their passion, so that they require no further notice. It will be enough to mention only one name: ‘Ubaid Allah Ibn `Abd Allah’ Ibn ‘Utba Ibn Masud was famous for his tender verses, and he, as we remember, was one of the celebrated Seven Jurists of Medina. As for Ibn `Abbas, a single sentence once uttered by him amply dispenses with any need for further quotation; he pronounced the weighty judgment, ” This man was slain by love: there is therefore no case for blood wit or retaliation.”


Concerning the nature of Love men have held various and divergent opinions, which they have debated at great length. For my part I consider Love as a conjunction between scattered parts of souls that have become divided in this physical universe, a union effected within the substance of their original sublime element. I do not share the view advanced by Muhammad Ibn Dawud-God have mercy on his soul! -who followed certain philosophers in declaring that spirits are segmented spheres; rather do I suppose an affinity of their vital forces in the supernal world, which is their everlasting home, and a close approximation in the manner of their constitution. We know the secret of commingling and separation in created things to be simply a process of union and disassociation; every form always cries out for its corresponding form; like is ever at rest with like. Congeneity has a perceptible effect and a visible influence; repulsion of opposites, accord between similar, attractions of like for like these are facts taking place all round us. How much more then should the same factors operate within the soul, whose world is pure and etherial, whose substance is volatile and perfectly poised, whose constituent principle is so disposed as to be intensely sensitive to harmony, inclination, yearning, aversion, passionate desire and antipathy. All this is common knowledge it is immediately observable in the moods which successively control every man, and to which we all accommodate ourselves successfully. Allah Himself says, “It is He that created you of one soul, and fashioned thereof its spouse, that he might find repose in her” (Koran VII I8g). Be it noted that the reason God assigns for man’s reposing in woman is that she was made out of him.


If the cause of Love were physical beauty, the consequence would be that no body defective in any shape or form would attract admiration; yet we know of many a man actually preferring the inferior article, though well aware that another is superior, and quite unable to turn his heart away from it. Again, if Love were due to a harmony of characters, no man would love a person who was not of like purpose and in concord with him. We therefore conclude that Love is something within the soul itself.


Sometimes, it is true, Love comes as a result of a definite cause outside the soul, but then it passes away when the cause itself disappears: one who is fond of you because of a certain circumstance will turn his back on you when that motive no longer exists. I have made this point in the verses, which follow. 

My love for thee shall aye endure
As now, most perfect and most pure;
It brooks no increase, no decline,
Since it’s complete, and wholly thine.

I cannot any cause discover,
Except my will, to be thy lover,
And boldly challenge any man
To name another, if he can.

For sure, when any thing we see
Of its own self sole cause to be,
That being, being of that thing,
Lives ever undiminishing

But when we find its origin
Is other than the thing it’s in,
Our losing that which made it be
Annihilates it instantly.

While I’m not an adherent to ibn Hazm’s legal methodology, I do appreciate the non fiqh books that I have access to – The Ring of the Dove and his work on other religions.  Good reads, if you have the time.

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4 thoughts on “love

  1. Salaams Sis:

    With all due respect to Umar, he may not know what he’s talking about. I’ll never forget what I heard Imam Siraj say in a video one time, something to the effect that if one reads Hadith or Quran, they should know the context or read the surah before and after the one they are quoting. Anyone can take things and fit them to their own agenda.

    I’m with you on the “love” issue. We know that the Prophet (saw) dearly loved his wife Aisha (ra). One may even dare speculate that they had a “fluffy” version of love, lol!

    Take care, dear!

  2. wa alaikum assalam,

    I think Br. Umar is missing the balance of the middle way. It makes me shudder to hear the sahaba described as straight up killers and robbers – those are the guys in my neighborhood that I do my best to avoid! No way in heck would I take them as my role models. They killed when killing was necessary, but that doesn’t make them straight up killers.

    2:216 fighting is ordained for you, even though it be hateful to you; but it may well be that you hate a thing the while it is good for you, and it may well be that you love a thing the while it is bad for you: and God knows, whereas you do not know.

  3. As-salamu ‘alaikom~

    The modern notion that romantic love itself is a product of modernity always seems a bit self-important, to me. Although I admit this is the first time I’ve heard it come up in the context of anything but discussions on the history of marriage itself.

  4. wa alaikum assalam,

    I don’t know, reading old arab poets wax on about love, it seems pretty close to our modern notion. But then again, perhaps I’m just reading them through my modern lenses and see in it what I want.

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