Question: Can we call ‘ashq ephemeral whim and love true feeling?
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 togetherness. 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 whims. This is completely incorrect. It causes confusion in concepts and terms. If we call the sensual desires of the nafs whims, whims are abominable:
A whim is a disgrace, but love is virtue.
A whim keeps you from sleeping, but love keeps [something] in mind.
A whim disrupts the process of thinking and reasoning, but love advances towards its goal in company with the mind.
There are pitfalls in a whim, but nothing is concealed in love.
A whim sets to nonsensical actions, but love reaches higher ranges.
A whim is quick to change lovers, but love does not keep [people] apart. Instead, it brings [them] together.
A whim removes chastity, but love melts in chastity.
A whim makes you insensitive and makes you meet the beloved in secret, but love alleviates lust.
A whim shakes the confidence and is deceitful, but love inspires confidence.
A whim smells a flower, becomes satisfied, and looks for a new one. But love waters the flower, grows it, and knocks it into shape.
A whim ends and becomes a lie. It bites you like a snake. But love comes true, seeks you, finds you, and protects you against dangers.
A whim continues only for a short time, but love continues all through your life.
A whim deceives you, distresses you, but love does not deceive you. Nor does it deviate from veracity.
A whim is jealous, but love is trustful.
A whim breaks something into pieces, but love pieces them together.
A whim is like hungry beasts with rabies, but love is like health-giving medicines.
A whim is two-faced, insincere. But love is sincere. It shines like the sun and warms you up.
A whim tramples you underfoot and chooses a new prey, but love protects you and goes on with you.
A whim prefers short-term investments, but love’s investment is for eternity.
A whim is temporal and selective, but love is permanent and conciliatory.
A whim makes a ruler a slave, but ashq (intense love) makes a slave a ruler.
Hadrat Zulaikhâ sacrificed all her property, possessions, beauty, even all her riches in the way of Hadrat Yûsuf initially for her whim for him and subsequently for her love for 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