modesty as the element of turning allegorical love into real love

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Another point which should be mentioned and carefully attended to is that we said that even loves of the passions may possibly become beneficial, and that occurs when they become linked to piety and modesty. That is to say, in connection with, on the one hand, separation and inaccessibility, and, on the other hand, purity and modesty, the pains and anguishes, pressures and difficulties to which the spirit is subjected bear good and beneficial results. It is in this connection that the ~mystics~ say that ~allegorical love~ is turned in ~real love~, i.e., love of the Essence of the One; and it is also in connection with this that the following tradition is narrated:

"He who becomes a lover, who conceals (his love), who is chaste (in his love) and dies (in that state) has died as a martyr".

However the point must not be forgotten that this kind of love, with all the advantages that may, under particular conditions, possibly be brought about, is not to be recommended - it is a dangerous valley to enter. It is in this respect like an affliction, which, if it troubles someone and he opposes it with the force of his patience and will, becomes a perfecter and purifier of his soul; it cooks what is raw in it and clarifies what is turbid in it. But one cannot recommend an affliction. No-one can create an affliction for himself so as to profit from these factors which prepare and train the soul; neither should he bring about an affliction for someone else on this pretext.

Here, also, ~Russell~ has something valuable to say:

Suffering fills people with energy, like an invaluable counterweight. Someone who deems himself to be entirely contented will not exert himself any further for happiness. But I do not advocate that this be made a pretext for causing others suffering so that they may tread a profitable path, because it often gives the opposite result and destroys man. Rather, it is better in this case to submit our own selves to chance events that fall in our way [Marriage and Morals-page:134].

As far as we know, the effects and advantages of afflictions and misfortunes have been much emphasized in Islamic teachings, and they are well-known as signs of God, but this in no way permits anyone to create afflictions for himself or for others on this pretext.

Moreover, there is a difference between love an affliction; and that is that love, more than any other factor, is against reason. Wherever it sets foot, it ousts reason from its governing position. This is why love and reason are well-known in mystic literature as two rivals. The antagonism between the philosophers and the mystics originates from here, the former depending on, and confiding in, the power of reason, the latter in the power of love. In Sufi literature, reason is always condemned and defeated in this field of competition. Sa'di says:

My well-wishers advise me
It is useless to make bricks on the sea.
But the power of yearning prevails over patience:
The pretension of the intellect over love is futile.

Another poet has said:
I drew a comparison for the counsel of reason in the path of love:
It is like a fall of dew trying to trace a pattern on the sea.

How can a force which is as powerful as this, which snatches the reins of the will out of our hands, and which, in the words of Rumi "blows a man here and there like a blade of straw in the hands of a fierce wind", and in the words of Russell "is something with propensity for anarchy", be recommendable?

At any rate, it is one thing to happen to have useful results, but it is another to be advisable or recommendable. From this it will be seen that the objection and complaint which some Islamic jurists have levelled against some of the Islamic philosophers' who have set forth this matter in their metaphysics and have explained its results and advantages, is invalid. For the former imagined that the opinion of the latter group of philosophers was that this matter is both advisable and recommendable, whereas they only considered the useful effects of this kind of love which appear under conditions of piety and chastity, without recommending or advising it, just as they would have done with afflictions or misfortunes.


attraction and repulsion of Imam Ali(p.b.u.h)- pages: 54to57


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