Ibn Al-Qayyim Speaks on Love
Excerpt from the book “The Garden of the Lovers and the Excursion of Those Who Yearn”
by Imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah, Translated by Khalîl Abû Asmâ

Chapter: Concerning the Desire for Allah and the Signs of the One Who Knows Allah

As for the desire for Allah (raghbah), wanting Him (lit. His Countenance) and yearning for the meeting with Him, then it is the capital of the slave, the foundation of his affair, the basis of his life of goodness, the source of his (true) happiness, success and bliss, and it is the coolness of his eye. For this reason he was created and for it he has been commanded. The messengers have been sent and the books have been revealed also for this purpose. There is no rectification or bliss for the heart unless its desire is solely for Allah, alone, Mighty and Majestic is He. Hence, He alone should be his desire, what he seeks out and his goal. As Allah, the Exalted, has said, “So when you have finished (your occupation), devote yourself for Allah’s worship. And to your Lord turn your desires and intentions” (Qur’an 94:7-8). And He, the Exalted, has also said, “Would that they were contented with what Allah and His Messenger gave them and had said, ‘Allah is sufficient for us. Allah will give us of His Bounty, and so will His Messenger. We implore Allah’” (Qur’an 9:59).
 

Those who desire are three types:


So the lover is the one who desires Allah. The one who is concerned with works is the one who desires what Allah has. And the one who is satisfied with this life, in neglect to the Hereafter, is the one who desires other than Him. The person whose desire is for Allah alone, Allah with suffice him from every concern, take on all of his affairs, deflect from him what he is not capable himself to deflect, protect him like the protection of a father to his child and preserve him from all afflictions. And whoever prefers Allah to all others, Allah will prefer him to others. And whoever is for Allah, Allah will be for him where he is not even there for his own self. Whoever knows Allah, nothing will be more beloved to him than Him and no desire will remain in this type of person for anything other than Him, except that which will bring him closer to Him or assist him in his wayfaring to Him.

From among the signs of experiential knowledge (ma’rifah) of Allah is veneration and awe (haybah). As the slave’s experiential knowledge of his Lord increases, so to does his veneration and awe increase. As Allah, the Exalted, has said, “It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah” (Qur’ân 35:28), meaning, those who are knowledgeable concerning Him. And the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “I am the most knowledgeable of you concerning Allah and I am the most intense in awe and reverence of Him” (Al-Bukhârî and Muslim).

So whoever knows Allah (has ma’rifah) his livelihood will be pure, his life will be sweet, everything will revere him and all fear of created things will leave him. He will find intimacy with Allah and will have an aversion for (common) people. Knowledge of Allah (ma’rifah) will bequeath to him shyness in front of Allah, veneration and reverence of Him, vigilance (concerning His vision), love, trust in Him, turning to Him, pleasure in Him and submission to His ordinances.

It was said to Junayd, may Allah have mercy upon him, “There are a group of people here that claim that they can attain righteousness by leaving all movement.” He responded, “Such ones have spoken of the removal of all action, and this is something very immense. The one who fornicates and steals is in a better state than the one who says that (as far as I am concerned). For verily, those who have experiential knowledge of Allah (the ‘ârifûn) have taken their actions from Allah and they have returned to Allah in them. If I were to live one thousand years I would not decrease in performing righteous works.” He also said, “One who knows Allah does not really know Allah until he becomes like the earth; the feet of the righteous and the unrighteous tread upon him. And (until he becomes) like the rain that waters what it likes and what it doesn’t like.”

Yahyâ ibn Mu’âdh said, “The one who knows Allah leaves this world (at the time of death) and he has not had his fill of two things: crying over his self and yearning for his Lord.” Others have said, “One who knows Allah will not really know Allah until if he is given a dominion like the kingdom of Solomon it would not distract him from Allah for even the blink of an eye.” It has also been said, “The one who knows Allah has found intimacy with Allah and has an aversion for other than Him. He has realized his poverty in front of Allah, so Allah has enriched him from His creation. And he has humbled himself in front of Allah, so He has ennobled him amongst His creation.”

Abû Salymân Ad-Dârânî said, “While (resting) in bed, the one who has experiential knowledge of Allah has openings that do not even come to the one who is standing in prayer!”

Dhun-Nûn (Al-Misrî) said, “For everything there is a punishment. And the punishment of the one who knows Allah (the ‘ârif) is being cut off from the remembrance of Allah.”

In summary, the life of the heart is with Allah and there is no life for it without that, ever. So when the heart is in agreement with the tongue in its dhikr (remembrance of Allah) and the heart is in agreement with what the Beloved wants from it; when he (the servant) belittles the many works and statements that he has made and regards even Allah’s subtle generosity and kindness as great; when he embraces obedience and leaves off disobedience, and has left all of it for the sake of his Beloved, so that nothing of it remains; when his heart has become full with reverence, awe, preference and pleasure in Him and his patience in yearning for Him has reached its last straw; when he cannot find repose except in His remembrance, desire for Him and yearning for the meeting with Him; when he cannot find (true) intimacy except in His dhikr, while maintaining His ordinances and preferring Him to others…Then this, this is the true lover (muhibb).

Junayd said, “I heard Al-Hârith Al-Muhâsibî say: “Love (mahabbah) is your inclination to something with all of your being. Then, your preference to that thing over your own self, your soul and your possessions and wealth. Then, your being in accordance with that thing inwardly and outwardly, privately and publicly. Then, realizing your shortcomings with regards to your love of it.”

It was said, “Love (mahabbah) is a fire that burns in the heart. It burns everything other than what the beloved wants from the lover.” It was also said, “Nay, it is exerting all efforts in pleasing the beloved. And that could never be so until one no longer sees the ‘love’ anymore, but only witnesses the beloved.” It is mentioned in some of the Hadith Qudsi, “My servant, I am, by your right, a lover of you. So, be you, by my right upon you, a lover of Me.”

‘Abdullah ibn Al-Mubarak said, “Whomsoever is given something of love and is not given its equivalent of awe and veneration (khashyah), then he is deceived.”

Yahyâ ibn Mu’âdh said, “A muster seed’s amount of love is more beloved to me than seventy years of worship without love!”

Abu Bakr Al-Kattânî said, “An issue concerning love (mahabbah) came up in Makkah during the days of the Pilgrimage. The sheikhs spoke on the matter. Junayd was present and he was the youngest amongst them. So they said to him, ‘Give us what you have O Iraqi!’ He lowered his head in humility and his eyes shed tears, and he spoke: ‘(How great is) a slave who has left himself, connected to the dhikr of his Lord, upholding His rights, witnessing Him with his heart. The lights of His Essence have burned his heart and his drink is pure from the cup of His pure love. If such a one speaks, it is by Allah. If he utters, it is from Allah. If he moves, it is by the command of Allah. If he remains silent, he is with Allah. So he is by Allah, for Allah and with Allah.’ So the sheikhs cried and said, “There is nothing that can be added to this. May Allah rectify you, O Tâj Al-‘ârifîn (crown of those who know Allah)!”

It was said that Allah revealed to Dawûd, peace be upon him, “O Dawûd, I have made it prohbited (harâm) for the hearts to contain the love of Me and the love of others at the same time.”

Those who know Allah (the ‘ârifûn) have all agreed that love is not acceptable without compliance (with the Sacred Law), so much so that some of them said, “The reality of love is being in accordance with what beloved wants, concerning what pleases him and what makes him angry.” The People (of the Science of Purification; Al-Qawm) have also agreed that love is not acceptable without Tawhîd (belief in the Oneness of Allah).

It was related that there was a man who claimed that he was overwhelmed by the love of a certain person. So one day this certain person said to him (the lover), “How can this be, when my brother over here is much more attractive and more perfect in beauty?!” The man looked over to him and then the person pushed him and said, “Someone who claims that he loves us and then looks at other than us?!”

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