Volume VIII The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan by Hazrat Inayat Khan




The soul on its way to manifestation passes through four states, ‘Ilm, ‘Ishq, Wujud, Shuhud. ‘Ilm is the original state of the consciousness, the pure intelligence. ‘Ishq is love, the next step of intelligence towards manifestation; therefore intelligence and love are the same in their essence. Objects, such as rocks and trees, have no intelligence, therefore they have no love, except a little perception of love that exists in plant life. But among beasts and birds intelligence develops, that is why in them love begins to show itself. Wujud is the objective world, whose purpose it is to be loved, for love could not manifest unless there were an object to love. Shuhud is the realization of love’s experience, in whatever aspect it may be.

The word love is derived from the Sanskrit word Lobh, which means desire, wish. The same word is used in the Russian language, Liubov. Love may be called in other words the desire to be conscious of the object of love. Therefore Shuhud, the realization of love, is the only object of every soul. It is love in different aspects, which is known by all such names as: will, wish, desire, kindness, favor, and so forth.

In love abides all knowledge. It is mankind’s love and interest in the things that in time reveals their secret, and then man knows how to develop, control, and utilize them. No one can know anybody, however much he may profess to know, except the lover, because in the absence of love the inner eyes are blind. Only the outer eyes are open, which are merely the spectacles of the inner eyes. If the sight is not keen, of what use are the spectacles? It is for this reason that we admire all those whom we love, and are blind to the good qualities of those whom we do not love. It is not always that these deserve our neglect, but our eyes, without love, cannot see their goodness. Those whom we love may have bad points too, but as love sees beauty, so we see that alone in them. Intelligence itself in its next step towards manifestation is love. When the light of love has been lit, the heart becomes transparent, so that the intelligence of the soul can see through it. But until the heart is kindled by the flame of love, the intelligence, which is constantly yearning to experience life on the surface, is groping in the dark.

The whole of creation is made for love. Man is the most capable of it. If we have a stone in our house and we like the stone very much, the stone will not be aware of our love to that degree to which a plant would be conscious of it. If we have a plant, and care for it and tend it, it will respond to our care and will flourish. The animals feel affection. If we keep an animal in the house, how much affection and love it can feel! The tame animals in time grow to be as affectionate as one of the family. It was Joseph’s dog that fed him while in the well until he was found by travelers passing that way. It is said that the horse of an Arab who had fallen on the battlefield kept watch over him for three days, guarding his corpse from the vultures until his comrades came. But man, having the largest share of intelligence, has the most love in his nature.

All this shows that creation has evolved from mineral to plant life, from plant life to animal life, and from the animal to the human being, showing a gradual development of love through every stage.

The Sufis say that the reason of the whole creation is that the perfect Being wished to know Himself, and did so by awakening the love of His nature and creating out of it His object of love, which is beauty. Dervishes, with this meaning, salute each other by saying, ‘Ishq Allah, Ma’bud Allah’ -- ‘God is love and God is the beloved.’ A Hindustani poet says, ‘The desire to see the beloved brought me to earth, and the same desire to see the beloved I am taking with me to heaven.’

As love is the source of creation and the real sustenance of all beings, so, if man knows how to give it to the world around him as sympathy, as kindness, as service, he supplies to all the food for which every soul hungers. If man knew this secret of life he would win the whole world, without any doubt.

Love can always be discerned in the thought, speech, and action of the lover, for in his every expression there is a charm which shows as a beauty, tenderness, and delicacy. A heart burning in love’s fire has a tendency to melt every heart with which it comes in contact.

Love produces such a charm in the lover that while he loves one all love him. The magnetism of love is thus explained by a Hindustani poet: ‘Why should not every heart be melted into drops before the flame that my heart has sustained all through my life? As I have all my life shed tears with the pain of love, the lovers make pilgrimage to my mournful grave.’ It was to teach this lesson of love that Christ said, ‘I will make you fishers of men.’ ‘Everyone is drawn to me, to become my friend, but none divines what it is in my heart that draws him,’ said Jelal-ud-Din Rumi.

Love is inherent in every soul. All the occupations of life, however important or unimportant, in some way or other tend towards love; therefore no one in the world can be called entirely loveless. Love is the one thing that every soul brings to earth with it. Yet after coming to earth man partakes of all the qualities of lovelessness. If it were not so, we would have been as bitter, as jealous, as angry, as full of hatred when we were born as we are now. The infant has no hatred. A little child that we have scolded will in a few minutes’ time come and embrace us.

To love, to adore, to worship someone with whom we are connected neither by birth, race, creed, nor in any worldly connection, comes from the love of the soul. Sometimes people fall in love at first sight, sometimes the presence of someone draws a person like a magnet, sometimes one sees a person and feels, ‘I might have known him all my life.’ Sometimes one speaks with another person and finds an intimacy of understanding as if the souls understood each other. All of this is accounted for by the idea of soul-mates.

A heart lightened by love is more precious than all the gems and jewels of the world. There are as many different kinds of hearts as there are different substances in the world. There are hearts of metal which take a long time and much fire of love to heat, and then once heated will melt and may be molded as you wish for the moment, but soon afterwards turn cold. There are hearts of wax which melt instantly at the sight of fire, and if there is a wick of ideal, they will keep their flame until they become nonexistent. There are hearts of paper which are set alight by a slight touch of the fire and turn into ashes in one moment.

Love is like the fire. Its glow is devotion, its flame is wisdom, its smoke is attachment, and its ashes detachment. Flame rises from glow, so it is with wisdom, which rises from devotion. When love’s fire produces its flame it illuminates the devotee’s path in life like a torch, and all darkness vanishes.

When the life-force acts in the soul it is love, when it acts in the heart it is emotion, and when in the body it is passion. Therefore the most loving person is the most emotional, and the most emotional is the most passionate, according to the plane of which he is most conscious. If he is most awake in the soul he is loving, if awakened in the heart he is emotional, if he is conscious of the body he is passionate. These three may be pictured as fire, flame, and smoke. Love is fire when in the soul, it is a flame when the heart is kindled by it, and it is as smoke when it manifests through the body.

The first love is for the self. If illuminated, man sees his true benefit and he becomes a saint. In the absence of illumination man becomes so selfish that he becomes a devil. The second love is for the opposite sex. If it is for love’s sake it is heavenly. If it is for passion’s sake it is earthly. This, if it is quite pure, can certainly take away the idea of the self, but the benefit is slight and the danger is great. The third love is for the children, and this is the first service to God’s creatures. To reserve it for one’s children only is like appropriating to oneself what is given to us as a trust by the Creator, but if this love expands to embrace the whole creation of the Heavenly Father, it raises man to be among the chosen ones of God.

The love of the parents for the children is much greater than the love of the children towards them, for while the parents’ thought is all centered in the children, the children’s thought is for themselves first. Someone asked the Prophet, ‘Whose love is greater, the children’s love for their parents or the parents’ for their children?’ He said, ‘The parents’ love is greater, for while they do all things with the thought that their children may grow and be happy and will live after them, as if they expect to live in the life of their children after their death, even worthy children think that some day the parents will die, and with this thought they render them what little service they can.’ The questioner asked, ‘Of the parents, whose love is greater?’ The Prophet said, ‘The mother’s. The greater respect and service is due to her, for heaven lies at her feet.’ The love of the parents is most blessed, for this love is clear as crystal.

There is a well-known story of Shirvan Bhagat, who was devoted to his aged parents, who had reached the age when they were helpless and entirely dependent upon the service of their only son. Shirvan was so devoted to them that he sacrificed all freedom and pleasure in life in their service. He gently attended to their calls, and bore with patience all the difficulties that one finds in association with the aged.

The parents one day said that they greatly wished they had once in their lives made a pilgrimage to Kashi. This worthy son at once consented to their wish, and, as in those days there was no other means of traveling, he undertook to accomplish the journey on foot. He made baskets in which he placed his old parents and lifted them onto his back, and thus set out on a journey of thousands of miles, through many forests and mountains, crossing rivers on his way.

He traveled for months in this way, but before he arrived at their destination a misfortune happened. Shirvan, at his parents’ request, set down his baskets on the ground and went to fetch some water. When he drew near to the river he was stuck by the arrow of Raja Dasheratha, who had aimed at a deer and by accident hit him. Hearing the deep sigh of a man the Raja went to him, and was grieved beyond expression. He said, ‘Is there anything that I can do for you, O man?’ Shirvan said, ‘I am dying. I have only one desire, and that is to give my parents this water; they are thirsty in the heat of the sun.’ ‘That is all?’ the Raja asked. ‘I will do it with great pleasure as my first duty.’ Shirvan said, ‘If you wish to do anything more, then look after them and see that they are carried to Kashi, although I doubt whether they will live any longer after I am gone.’

The Raja went, bearing water in his hands, and gave it to the old parents without saying a word to them, fearing they might not drink it, hearing the voice of a stranger. The parents said, ‘O worthy son, all our life we have never seen you vexed. This is the first time that you have handed us a bowl of water without your loving word which always gives us new life.’ Raja Dasheratha burst into tears, and told them of the death of their son. They, hearing this, could not live to drink the water. They lived only on the love of their son. Each of them heaved a deep sigh, ‘O, our beloved Shirvan’, and passed away.

This story has since become a tradition in India, and there are followers of this tradition who carry baskets on their shoulders and travel about, teaching the virtue of devotion and service to parents.

When love is centered in one object it is love. When it is for several objects it is named affection. When it is like a cloud it is called infatuation. When its trend is moral it is devotion. When it is for God, the omnipresent and omnipotent, in fact, the whole Being, then it is called divine love, the lover becomes holy.

There is no greater power than love. All strength comes with the awakening of love in the heart. People say, ‘He is tenderhearted, he is weak,’ but there are many who do not know what strength springs from the heart that becomes tender in love. A soldier fights on the battlefield for love of his people. Every work that one does in love is done with all strength and power. Fear and reason, which limit power, cannot stand against love. A hen, timid as she is, can withstand a lion for the love of her young ones. There is nothing too strong, too powerful for a loving heart.

The power of love accomplishes all things in life as does the power of dynamite that conquers the world. But when dynamite explodes it sets everything on fire, and so it is with love: when it is too intense it becomes a wheel of destruction, and everything goes amiss in the life of the lover. That is the mystery that accounts for all the pain and misery in the life of a lover. Still, the lover is the gainer in both cases. If he has mastered the situation he is a master. If he has lost everything he is a saint.

Love is above law, and law is beneath love. There is no comparison between them. One is from heaven and the other from earth. Where love dies law begins. Therefore law can never find a place for love, nor can love ever limit itself within law, one being limited, the other being as unlimited as life. The lover can give no reason why he loves a certain one, for there is a reason for everything except love.

Time and space are in the hands of love. A journey of miles will become a few yards in the presence of the beloved, and yards become miles in his absence. A day of separation in love is equal to a thousand years, and a thousand years of the beloved’s presence are not even as long as a day.

If there is any protecting influence in the world, it is no other than love. In all aspects of life, wherever we find protection, its motive is always love, and no one can have trust in any protection, however great, except the protection that love offers. If a giant were to frighten a child, the child would say, ‘I will tell my mother.’ The strength and power of any man is too small in comparison with love’s protection which the mother affords her child.

Love can heal better than anything in the world. There is nothing like a mother’s touch when a child is in pain. There can be no greater cure than the presence of the beloved in the illness of the lover. Even cats and dogs are healed by a little pat of love.

For thought-reading, for sending and receiving telepathic messages, people try psychical processes in vain. If they only knew that the secret of all occult and psychical phenomena lies in love! The lover knows all: the pleasure, the displeasure, the happiness and unhappiness, the thoughts and imaginations, of the beloved. No time, no space, stands in his way, for a telepathic current is naturally established between the lover and the beloved. The lover’s imagination, thought, dream, and vision, everything tells him all about the object of his love.

Concentration, which is the secret of every attainment in life, and the chief thing in all aspects of life, especially in the path of religion and mysticism, is a natural thing in love. The loveless will strive for years in this path, and will always fail to center their minds on one object. But love compels the lover, holding before his admiring view the vision of the beloved. Therefore the lover need not concentrate on his mind. His love itself is his concentration which gives him mastery over all things in the world. The lover attains the object of his love by the power of concentration. And if he does not attain the object, then he rises beyond it. In either case the lover has his reward.



Love is never tempted by wealth and grandeur. Shirin, the daughter of a poor man, but rich in ideal, was kidnapped and taken to the Shah of Faras, who instantly became enamored of her, and gave great rewards to those who had brought her. But, to his great disappointment, he found that Shirin was unresponsive to his love, and her ideal was too great to allow her to be tempted by the wealth and grandeur of the Shah. He did everything to please her and to make her willing to marry him, but every effort had the contrary effect.

When Shirin saw that there was no hope anywhere of rescue from the palace, which to her was a cage, and the importunity of the Shah and his servants wore out her patience so much that she was obliged to consent to their offer, she did so on one condition, which was that a canal should be made as a memorial of the occasion. This was, of course, a pretext for putting off the marriage, for the cutting of a canal was the work of years. The Shah was so much fascinated by her youth and beauty that he seized upon even the smallest sign of yielding, and at once gave command to the engineers and architects of the court to begin work on a canal without a moment’s delay, and to accomplish it as soon as possible, sparing no expense or labor. Thousands of workmen were soon engaged in this, and the work went on night and day unceasingly, under the watchful eye of the king himself and his servants.

The nearer the work came to being accomplished, the stronger grew the hope of the king, and he, with great pleasure, requested Shirin to go and look at her canal. She, with despondent mind, went to see the canal, fearing that it would soon be finished and she would have to yield to the wishes of the Shah, which she regarded as worse than death. While she was walking, looking at the work going on where thousands of workmen were busy night and day, to her great surprise a workman came up, won entirely by her beauty and charm, and fearlessly exclaimed, ‘O Shirin, I love you.’ ‘Love overlooks the difference of position of the lover and the beloved, and the height that the lover has to climb.’

It was that voice of love and that word of devotion that Shirin was looking for, and had not found until then. Shirin replied, ‘Do you love me? Then break these mountains, and cut a pathway through them.’ ‘Gold has a test to go through.’ Farhad said at once, ‘Most willingly. Yes, Shirin, whatever you please.’ ‘There is nothing too hard for the lover to do for the beloved.’

Farhad set out on his journey wholeheartedly, not wondering why he should cut a path, nor reasoning how this great work might be accomplished. He did not stop to think how long it would take to finish, nor had he any misgiving that his efforts might ever be in vain. He went to those mountains in the wilderness and began to break the rocks with his pickax. He repeated the name of Shirin at every stroke he gave. The strokes of Farhad wrought a miracle. Instead of one stroke it was as if a hundred strokes fell at a time. ‘Man’s power is the strength of his body, but love’s power is the might of God.’ No sooner was the work begun than it neared completion. Work that would have taken years with many workers engaged on it was accomplished in days.

Shirin had refused the Shah since she had seen Farhad, saying, ‘There is another lover who is undergoing a test, and until I know the outcome of his trial I think it better to keep from marriage.’

The king’s spies had been watching Farhad from afar, and they immediately sent a report that Farhad had completed his work before the canal was finished. The Shah was very much alarmed, thinking that Farhad would most probably win Shirin’s love, and that after his having done all this for her, Shirin would not be his. When he told this to his confidants one among them said, ‘Sire, you are the king, Farhad is a workman. What comparison between heaven and earth? I will go, if it be the pleasure of your Majesty, and will finish him in a moment.’ ‘Oh, no,’ said the Shah, ‘Shirin will see the stain of his blood on me, and will turn her back on me forever.’ One among the king’s servants said, ‘It is not difficult for me, my Lord, to bring the life of Farhad to an end without shedding a single drop of blood.’ ‘That is much better’, said the Shah.

The servant went to Farhad, who had very nearly finished his work, with great hope of a glance from Shirin. ‘The lover’s happiness is in the pleasure of the beloved.’ This servant of the Shah said, ‘O Farhad, alas, all in vain! O, that rival of the moon, your beloved Shirin, has passed away by a sudden death.’ Farhad said in the greatest bewilderment, ‘What? Is my Shirin dead?’ ‘Yes,’ the servant said, ‘O Farhad, alas, Shirin is dead.’ Farhad heaved a deep sigh, and fell to the ground. ‘Shirin’ was the last word that his lips uttered, and made a way for his life to pass away.

Shirin heard from her well-wishers that Farhad had done marvels, that he had cut the path through the mountains, repeating the name ‘Shirin’ with his every stroke, and finished the work that might have taken a whole life time in the shortest time. Shirin, the chords of whose heart had already been struck by Farhad, and through whose soul the love of Farhad had pierced, had not the patience to rest one moment, and she set out for the mountains at the first opportunity she could find. ‘The higher powers separate two hearts that come together.’ Shirin, who had the great fortune of having a lover like Farhad, had not the fortune to see him anymore.

To her greatest grief and disappointment, Shirin found the body of Farhad lying by the side of the wonderful work he had done for her. The spies of the Shah came near to assure her of his death, hoping that now that Farhad was no more she might fix her mind on the crown of the Shah. They said, ‘This is poor Farhad. Alas, he is dead.’ Shirin heard from the blowing of the wind, from the running of the water, from rocks, from trees, the voice of Farhad calling, ‘Shirin, Shirin.’ The whole atmosphere of the place held her soul with the magnetism of love that Farhad had created all around. She fell down, struck by the great loss that her loving heart could no longer sustain, crying, ‘Farhad, I am coming too, to be with you.’ 'The fate of the lover is a great disappointment in the sight of the world, but it is the greatest satisfaction in the eyes of the wise.’

Those people whose qualities harmonize, like each other. It may be the bodily qualities that harmonize, of the mental qualities, of the qualities of the soul. The physical fascination lasts least, the emotional fascination lasts longer, and the spiritual fascination lasts forever.

Love little expressed kindles another heart, love more expressed haunts it, but when it is too much expressed it repels the object of love.

Contact makes people friends, though neither the contact of mortals nor friendship is everlasting. Being together, sitting together, eating together, breathing the same air, bring hearts closer. Two burning coals close together in time make one fire. The flames unite them. When the two hands are joined, an electric current goes from one hand to the other. This is the reason for the custom of shaking hands, that the flame in the two people may meet. This is why people have a tendency to clasp their hands, fold their arms and cross their legs when sitting or lying, for it comforts them. This is the reason of the affinity existing between those of the same nation or race.

Love has a tendency to produce the qualities, even the likeness, of the object of love in the lover. Often we see that friends, husband and wife, lovers, the murshid and mureed, in time grow to look alike. The portraits of the different Shadkhs of Khandan-i Chisht all look as if they had been molded in the same mold. A person who goes away from his own country, and lives a long time in another country, becomes familiar with that country, likes it, and sometimes does not want to go back to his own land, because love is produced in him by association.

Meeting is the kindling of love, and separation is the blazing of love. As far as is the object of love from the reach of the lover, so wide a scope is there for the expansion of love. Therefore the love for the unattainable object has every possibility of developing, whereas when the object of love is within reach this is often a check upon love. If separation lasts a short time it increases love, but if it lasts very long the love dies. If the meeting is for a short time it kindles love, but it is hard to keep up the flame. And if the association lasts a long time, love is not so much stimulated, but it takes root, to grow and flourish and to last long. In the absence of the beloved hope is the oil which keeps the flame of love burning. Presence and absence in turn keep the fire of love blazing. Too much association chokes the fire of love, and in absence too long continued its flame dies from lack of oil.

We may spend a year in a town, and we may know people there and like them very much, and they may like us very much, so that the love increases and we think, ‘If we could only spend all our life there!’ When we go away it is hard to leave them. Then we go away, and our friends send letters and we answer, first every day, then every week, then every month, until the correspondence is reduced to a Christmas card or New Year’s greetings. For we grow apart by the fact that we have much less to do with them and much more to do with those who may now surround us. If we go back to the same place after five or six years we first find that the climate is strange to us, and then that neither are the streets and houses familiar nor is there that warmth in the friends that there was. If a person is ignorant he blames the friends. If he understands he will blame himself too. It is growing together that increases love and being separated that has the tendency to decrease it, and so it is with our attachment to places also.



From the story of Yusuf and Zuleikha we learn what part beauty plays in the world of love. Yusuf was the youngest son of Jacob, the seer, who was blest with the gift of prophecy as were several among his ancestors. He was thrown into a well by his elder brothers, who were jealous of his beauty and the influence that it had on their father and everyone that met him. ‘Not love alone, but beauty also has to pay its forfeit.’

Some merchants traveling that way saw Yusuf in the well as they were drawing water, and took him up and sold him as a slave to a chief of Misr, who, charmed by the beautiful manner of this youth, made him his personal attendant.

Zuleikha, the wife of this chief, grew fonder every day of this handsome youth. She talked to him, she played with him, she admired him, and she raised him in her eyes from a slave to a king. ‘Those crowned with beauty are always kings, even if they are in rags of sold as slaves.’ ‘A true king is always a king, with or without a throne.’

The friends and relations of Zuleikha began to tell tales about her having fallen in love with Yusuf, and, as it is natural for people to take interest in the faults of others, it eventually put Zuleikha in a difficult position.

She once invited all her relations and friends, and put into the hands of each of them a lemon and a knife, and told them all to cut the lemons when she should tell them, and then called Yusuf. When he came she told them to cut the lemons, but the eyes of everyone among them were so attracted by the appearance of Yusuf, that many instead of cutting the lemon cut their fingers, thereby stamping on their fingers also the love of Yusuf. ‘Beauty takes away from the lover the consciousness of self.’

Zuleikha, so entirely won by Yusuf, forgot in the love of him what is right, what is wrong. ‘Reason falls when love rises.’ They became more intimate every day until a spell of passion came and separated them. When the shadow of passion fell upon the soul of Yusuf, Zuleikha happened to think of covering the face of the idol, which was in her room. This astonished Yusuf and made him ask her, ‘What doest thou?’ She said, ‘I cover the face of my god that seeth us with his eyes full of wrath.’ This startled Yusuf. He was the vision of his father pointing his finger towards heaven. Yusuf said, ‘Stay, O Zuleikha, of what hast thou put me in mind! The eyes of thy god can be covered with a piece of cloth, but the eyes of my God cannot be covered. He seeth me wherever I am.’ ‘He is man who remembers God in anger and fears God in passion,’ says Zafar.

Zuleikha, blinded by the overwhelming darkness of passion, would not desist, and when he still refused, her passion turned into wrath. She hated him and cursed him and reminded him of his low position as a slave. On this he began to leave the room, and she caught him by the nape of the neck and thus Yusuf’s garment was torn. The chief happened to enter the room during this. He was amazed at this sight, which neither Zuleikha nor Yusuf could hide. Before he asked her anything she complained to him, in order to hide her evident fault, that Yusuf had made an attempt to lay hands upon her, which naturally enraged the chief, and he at once gave orders that Yusuf should be taken to prison for life. ‘The righteous have more trials in life than the unrighteous.’

Prison was a delight to the truthful Yusuf, who had kept his torch alight through the darkness of passion while walking in the path of love.

It was not long before the spell upon Zuleikha faded, and then came a settled melancholy. There was no end to her sorrow and repentance. ‘Love dies in passion, and is again born of passion.’ Years passed, and the pain of Zuleikha’s heart consumed her flesh and blood. She wasted away. On one side as the love of Yusuf, on the other side the constant trouble that her guilty conscience caused her and the idea that her own beloved had been thrown into prison on her account, which almost took her life away.

Time, which changes all things, changed the conditions of Yusuf’s life. Though he was in prison he had never blamed Zuleikha, by reason of her love, but he became every day more deeply immersed in the thought of her and yet remained firm in his principle, which is the sign of the godly. He was loved and liked by those in the prison, and he interpreted their dreams whenever they asked him. Yusuf’s presence made the prison heaven for the prisoners. But Zuleikha, after the death of her husband, fell into still greater misery.

After many years it happened that Pharaoh dreamed a dream which greatly startled and alarmed him. Among all the soothsayers and magicians in the land there was none who could interpret his dream. Then he was told by his servants of Yusuf and his wonderful gift of interpreting dreams. He sent for Yusuf, who after having been told Pharaoh’s dream gave the interpretation of it, and by his wise counsel he greatly relieved the King in his cares. Pharaoh made him chief over all his treasures, and bestowed on him honor and power that raised him in the eyes of the world. ‘Verily the truth at last is victorious.’

Then his brothers came to Yusuf, and afterwards his father Jacob, who was released form the years of pain that he had suffered through his love of Yusuf. ‘The reward of love never fails the lover.’

Once Yusuf, riding with his retinue, happened to pass by the place where Zuleikha in her utter misery was spending her days. On hearing the sound of horses’ hoofs many people ran to see the company passing, and all called out, ‘It's Yusuf, Yusuf!’ On hearing this, Zuleikha desired to look at him once again. When Yusuf saw her he did not recognize her, but he halted, seeing that some woman wished to speak with him. He was moved to see a person in such misery, and asked her, ‘What desirest thou of me?’ She said, ‘Zuleikha has still the same desire, O Yusuf, and it will continue here and in the hereafter. I have desired thee, and thee alone I will desire.’ Yusuf became very convinced of her constant love, and was moved by her state of misery. He kissed her on the forehead, and took her in his arms and prayed to God. The prayer of the prophet and the appeal of long-continued love attracted the blessing of God, and Zuleikha regained her youth and beauty. Yusuf said to Zuleikha, ‘From this day thou becomest my beloved queen.’ They were then married and lived in happiness. ‘Verily God hearkens attentively to the cry of every wretched heart.’



There is one moral, the love that springs forth from self-denial and blooms in deeds of beneficence.

The orthodox say, ‘This is good, that is bad. This is right, that is wrong,’ but to a Sufi the source of all good deeds is love. Someone may say that this is the source of bad deeds also, but that is not so. It is lack of love.

Our virtues are made of love, and our sins are caused by lack of it. Love turns sins into virtues, and its lack makes virtues meaningless. Christ said when a woman was brought before Him accused of sin, ‘Her sins are forgiven, for she loved much.’ Heaven is made so beautiful with love, and life becomes a hell through the lack of it. Love in reality creates harmony in one’s life on earth and peace in heaven.

A nautch girl was once watching two funerals from her window, and she said to her lover, ‘The first of those two is a soul that has gone to heaven, the second is a soul that has gone to hell, I am sure.’ He said, ‘How can you, a nautch girl, pretend to know a thing only a saint could know?’ She said, ‘I know it by the simple fact that all the people who followed the first funeral had sad faces, and many had tears in their eyes. And all those who followed the second funeral had dry eyes and their faces were cheerful. The first proved that he loved and won the affection of so many, and therefore surely he was entitled to enter the heavens, and the next cannot have loved anybody, for no one grieved at his departure.’

Therefore, as this world is a hell to the loveless, the same hell will become distinct in the next world. If the soul and heart are incapable of love even a man’s relations and nearest friends are strangers. He is indifferent to them, and dislikes their company.

It is easy to begin to love, and this everybody, more or less, does. But it is difficult to continue to love, because love opens the eyes of the lover to see through the beloved, though it closes the eyes of the lover to all else. First, the more the lover knows the beloved, the more he begins to see the defects as well as the merits, which naturally in the beginning of love casts the beloved down from the high pedestal on which the lover had put her.

Another thing is that besides the attributes that attract the lovers to one another, there are inclinations in each which draw them asunder. The ego always plays a trick in bringing two hearts together and then separating them. Therefore in the world nearly everyone says, ‘I love,’ or ‘I have loved,’ but there are rare cases where love has been ever on the increase since it began. To a real lover it is an absurd thing to hear anyone say, ‘I have loved her, but now I love her no more.’

Love must be absolutely free from selfishness, otherwise it does not produce proper illumination. If the fire has no flame it cannot give light, and smoke comes out of it, which is troublesome. Such is selfish love. Whether it be for man or for God it is fruitless, for though it appears to be love for another or love for God, it is in fact love for the self. Ideas that come to the mind of a lover such as, ‘If you will love me I will love you, but if you do not love me I will not love you either,’ or ‘I love you as much as you love me,’ and all such declarations are false pretensions of love.

The part that a lover performs in life is much more difficult than that of the beloved. Tyranny on the part of the beloved is taken tolerantly and patiently by the lover as a natural thing in the path of love. There is a verse of Hafiz on resignation to the will of the beloved: ‘I have broken my bowl of desire against the rock of the beloved’s will. What may be done when my heart is won by the obstinate beloved, who does her own will and casts aside the desire of the lover?’ This is the study of the lover and of the beloved’s nature, that the beloved will do what she desires, while the lover lives in love. The breaking of it is the lover’s death. Then the only way is resignation, either in the case of an earthly or of the divine Beloved.

The lover never can grudge or grumble about any injustice done to him, and every fault of the beloved he hides under his mantle, as a man in poverty would hide the patch on his garment. The lover takes care not to hurt the feelings of the beloved in anything he does. But as delicate as is the sense of precaution in him, even more delicate is the sensitiveness of the one who is beloved in vain.

Though love is light it becomes darkness when its law is not understood. Just as water, which cleans all things, becomes mud when mixed with earth, so love, when not understood rightly and when directed wrongly, becomes a curse instead of bliss.

There are five chief sins against love, which turn nectar into poison. The first is when the lover deprives the beloved of freedom and happiness against her desire, because of his love. The next is when the lover gives way to a spirit of rivalry and jealousy or bitterness in love. Thirdly, if the lover doubts, distrusts, and suspects the one whom he loves. Fourthly, if he shrinks from enduring all the sorrows, pains, troubles, difficulties, and sufferings that come in the path of love. And finally, when the lover pursues his own will instead of complete resignation to the beloved’s wish. These are the natural failings of a loving heart, as maladies are natural to the physical body. As lack of health makes life miserable, so lack of love makes the heart wretched. Only the lover who avoids these faults benefits by love, and arrives safely at his destination.

Love lies in service. Only that which is done, not for fame or name, nor for the appreciation or thanks of those for whom it is done, is love’s service.

The lover shows kindness and beneficence to the beloved. He does whatever he can for the beloved in the way of help, service, sacrifice, kindness, or rescue, and hides it from the world and even from the beloved. If the beloved does anything for him he exaggerates it, idealizes it, makes it into a mountain from a molehill. He takes poison from the hanks of the beloved as sugar, and love’s pain in the wound of his heart is his only joy. By magnifying and idealizing whatever the beloved does for him and by diminishing and forgetting whatever he himself does for the beloved, he first develops his own gratitude, which creates all goodness in his life.

Patience, sacrifice, resignation, strength, and steadfastness are needed in love, and ultimately nothing but hope, until one is united with the beloved. Sacrifice is needed in love to give all there is, wealth, possessions, body, heart, and soul. There remains no ‘I’, only ‘you’, until the ‘you’ becomes the ‘I’. Where there is love there is patience, where there is no patience there is no love. The lover takes hope as the extract of love’s religion, for hope is the only thing that keeps the flame of life alight. Hope to the lover is the rope of safety in the sea. ‘Brahmas collected honey from all things in life, and it was hope.’

Separation is needed according to nature’s law, although it is most painful. Where there are two hearts that are united in love, separation awaits them. Separation must be accepted. A Persian poet says, ‘If I had known what pain separation gives in love I would never have allowed the light of love to be kindled in my heart.’ God is jealous, as the Japanese say, of any other besides Himself. Whoever it may be that you love, it is this spirit of God in nature that separates sooner or later.

This idea is symbolically expressed in an Indian story called Indra Sabha.

A fairy, Sabzpari, who was one of the dancers of the court of Indra, the King of Heaven, was attracted by Prince Gulfam, a man on earth, while she was flying over his palace. Her servant, the black Deva, carried Gulfam at her desire from earth to heaven. Gulfam was at first most unhappy in the strange place, but then the love of Sabzpari attracted him so much that he lived in her love. Sabzpari had to be at the court of Indra every night to dance and entertain him, and as, in the love of Gulfam, she was absent a few times, everyone at the court wondered why she was not there. But her going every night to the court of Indra made Gulfam suspect that perhaps there might be someone else who was entertained by Sabzpari’s charms. He asked her about this many times, and every time she refused to tell him, until he became vexed and Sabzpari thought she could not hide it from him any longer. On hearing her explanation Gulfam requested her to take him to the court of Indra. She said, ‘No man has ever been there, no man can ever go there, and if Indra should see thee it will at once end our sweet days of love and happiness. We shall surely be separated, and I know not what he will not do to thee.’

Gulfam said, ‘No. It is a woman’s tale. Thou art perhaps in love with some Deva, and wishest to hide it by telling me a story.’ She was most unhappy, finding herself in a helpless situation. Under the spell of the agony that his arrowlike words had produced in her heart she consented, without thinking, to take Gulfam to the court of Indra, saying to herself, ‘What will be, will be.’

Sabzpari took him to the court, hiding him behind the folds of her garment and wings which spread about her. The red Deva sensed the presence of a man in the court, and, looking all around, he found that Sabzpari was dancing most skillfully before Indra, hiding Gulfam behind her. He humbly brought him before Indra, the Lord of the Heavens, who was sitting on a throne with a glass of wine n his hand, his eyes red with the wine and his high being full of glory and grandeur. When Indra saw that a man had been brought into the apex of the heavens he rose in great wrath and said to Sabzpari, ‘O shameless one, how darest thou bring a man into the summit of the heavens, where no earthly creature has ever been allowed to come?’ The red Deva said, ‘It is her love for this earthly creature, my Lord, that has turned her faithless to the heavenly crown and made her fail in her duty at the supreme court of your Majesty.’

Sabzpari said to Gulfam, ‘Seest thou, my darling beloved, what has befallen us through thy insistence?’ Indra said, ‘Separate them at once, that they may no more speak a word to one another. Throw him back into the depths of the earth, and tear her wings off and keep her captive until the love of Gulfam is wiped from her heart. Then purify the polluted one from the five elements. Then only can she come again, if she be allowed by our favor, forgiveness, and mercy.’

The symbolism of this story tells us of the jealous God. Indra has its origin in the word Andar or Antar, which means inner, the innermost spirit, which man idealizes as God the Almighty. The Peris are the souls that He created out of His own being, whose dance in His praise, in His knowledge, in His presence, is the only thing He wants of them. The black Deva is the symbol of darkness, which in Sanskrit is called Tamas, under which the soul has built for itself a house of earthly elements, the physical body. God has created the world out of darkness.

Sabz means green, which is symbolical of water, the first element that formed substance, matter in other words. Sabzpari means a soul drawn to the material body. When the soul involves itself in the earthly body, which Gulfam signifies, then the soul involved in the body becomes absorbed in earthy experiences, its love on earth, its joy on earth, and its comfort on earth. As the duty of the soul is forgotten by it, it being in the earthly pursuit, the red Deva, the power of destruction, who is constantly busy causing all change in nature by his power of destruction, then causes separation, death being the separation of body and soul. Still the soul, the dweller of the heavens, becomes wingless by the curse of the supreme Spirit and inclines earthward until it is purified from the five elements that constitute the lower world. ‘Unless a man be born again of water and of the spirit, he shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of God,’ one reads in the Bible. It is only then that the soul rises above all earthly influences and dances forever before the most high Indra, the Lord of lords.

The effect of love is pain. The love that has no pain is no love. The lover who has not gone through the agonies of love is not a lover, he claims love falsely. ‘What love is it that gives no pain? Even if one were crazy in love it is nothing.’ The pain of love is the lover’s pleasure, his very life. The lack of pain is his death. Amir, the Hindustani poet, says, ‘Thou wilt remember me after I am dead, O my pain in love, for I have given thee place all through life in my tender heart, and have fed thee with my flesh and blood.’ Everybody can speak of love and claim to love, but to stand the test of love and to bear the pain in love is the achievement of some rare hero. The mere sight of love’s pain makes the coward run away from it. No soul would have taken this poison if it had not the taste of nectar.

He who loves because he cannot help it is the slave of love, but he who loves because it is his only joy is the king of love. He who, for the sake of love, loves someone who falls short of his ideal in the ruler of love. And he who can seal his heart full of love in spite of all attraction on the part of the beloved is the conqueror of love.

Those who have avoided love in life from fear of its pain have lost more than the lover, who by losing himself gains all. The loveless first lose all, until at last their self is also snatched away from their hands. The warmth of the lover’s atmosphere, the piercing effect of his voice, the appeal of his words, all come from the pain of his heart. The heart is not living until it has experienced pain. Man has not lived if he has lived and worked with his body and mind without heart. The soul is all light, but all darkness is caused by the death of the heart. Pain makes it alive. The same heart that was once full of bitterness, when purified by love becomes the source of all goodness. All deeds of kindness spring from it.

Rumi describes six signs of the lover: deep sigh, mild expression, moist eyes, eating little, speaking little, sleeping little, which all show the sign of pain in love. Hafiz says, ‘All bliss in my life has been the outcome of unceasing tears and continual sighs through the heart of night.’

The sorrow of the lover is continual, in the presence and in the absence of the beloved: in the presence for fear of the absence, and in absence in longing for the presence. According to the mystical view the pain of love is the dynamite that breaks up the heart, even if it be as hard as a rock. When this hardness that covers the light within is broken through, the streams of all bliss come forth as springs from the mountains.

The pain of love becomes in time the life of the lover. The soreness of the wound of his heart affords him a joy that nothing else can give. The heart aflame becomes the torch on the path of the lover, which lightens his way that leads him to his destination. The pleasures of life are blinding, it is love alone that clears the rust from the heart, the mirror of the soul.

Once a slave-girl, making the bed of a Badishah, felt a wish to experience how it would feel to rest in this royal bed. The great heat of the sun, the breeze coming through the windows in this regal bedroom, the flowers and perfumes sprinkled on the ground, the beautiful fragrance of the incense burning, made her so comfortable that she fell asleep as soon as she leaned against a cushion on this bed. She fell as fast asleep as if she were in the embrace of death. But presently the king and queen came, and they were astonished at the boldness and impudence of this slave-girl. The Badishah woke her with a stroke of a whip, and one or two more strokes followed after, in order to free the queen from all suspicions. The slave-girl got up in terror, and cried aloud, but it all ended in a smile. Her smile created more curiosity in the minds of the king and queen than her fault had done. They asked what made her smile. She said, ‘I smiled at the thought that the comfort and joy of this bed gave me an inclination to experience its pleasure for a moment, the penalty of which is given me as these blows, and I wonder, as you have experienced the pleasure of this comfortable bed all your life, what penalty you will have to pay for this to God, the King of all kings.’

The nature of life is such that every little pleasure costs incomparably greater pain. The lover, therefore, has collected all pain that is the current coin, and his path will be smoother through life’s journey form earth to heaven. There he will be rich when all others will be found poor.

The imagery of the Sufi poets portrays the nature of love, lover, and beloved with such a delicacy of metaphor, complexity, and convention in its expression that their poetry makes a true picture of human nature.

The lover is always imagined to be the victim of the tyranny of the cold-hearted and vain beloved, who gives no heed, revels with his rivals, pays no attention to his sufferings, gives no hearing to his appeal, and when she responds, responds so little that instead of being cured the malady is increased. The lover holds his unruly heart for mercy before the beloved, taking it on his palms. He places his heart at the feet of the beloved, who coldly treads upon it, while he is crying, ‘Gently, beloved, gently! It is my heart, it is my heart.’ The heart of the lover sheds tears of blood. The lover presses his heart, keeping it from running away to where the beloved is. The lover complains of his heart being so faithless as to have left him and bone to the beloved. The love begs of the beloved to give his heart back if it be of no use. The abode of the heart is in the curls on the beloved.

The lover is restless, uneasy, and unhappy in the agonies of separation. Nights pass, days pass, all things change but the pain of the lover. The pain of love is his only companion through the nights of separation. The lover asks the weary night of separation, ‘Where wilt thou be when I am dead?’ The lover expects the coming of death before the coming of the beloved. He begs of the beloved to show herself to him once before he dies. He prays the beloved to visit his tomb, if not for love, at least for appearances’ sake.

The lover only wishes the beloved to understand him, to know how much he loves and what sufferings he is going through. The lover wishes constantly that either the beloved would come to him or he might be called to the beloved. Even the sight of the messenger of love makes the beloved cross. The good and ill of the world is nought to the lover. The lover complains of being robbed of ease, patience, and peace, and of having lost his religion, morals, and God. The lover is seen without hat and shoes, and regarded as crazy by his friends. He tears his garment in the agony of pain. He is tied in chains for his madness. He has lost honor before all.

The wound in his heart is as a rose to the lover, the soreness in it is its bloom. He weeps in order to sprinkle salt water upon it to make it smart, that he may fully enjoy the sweet agony. The lover is jealous of the attentions his rivals bestow on his beloved. When the lover tells the story of love to his companions of love they all begin to weep with him. The lover kisses the ground where the beloved walks. He envies the privilege of the beloved’s shoes. The lover spreads his carpet at the gate of the beloved. The eyebrows of the beloved are the Mehrab, the archway in the mosque. The patch on the cheeks of the beloved is the magic spot that reveals to him the secrets of heaven and earth. The dust under the feet of the beloved is to him as the sacred earth of Ka’ba. The face of the beloved is the open Qur’an, and he reads Alif, the first and symbolical letter of Allah’s name, in the straight features of the beloved. The lover drinks Kouthar, wine, out of the eyes of the beloved. Her overflowing glance intoxicates him. The sound of the beloved’s anklets makes him alive. The lover is satisfied to see the beloved even in the dream, in got in the waking state.

When the lover speaks of dying the beloved disbelieves him. The lover is so wasted that even Munkir and Nakir, the recording angels, cannot trace him in his grave. Fear of the lover’s approach makes the beloved gather up the train of her garment and lift it when walking past his grave, lest the lover’s hand may reach it.

With the deep sigh of the lover heaven and earth shake. His tears in the thought of the fair one turn into flowers as they touch the ground. Pain is his comrade in the heart of the night, and death is his companion through the journey of life. He plans and imagines a thousand things to tell to the beloved, of his longing, his pain, praise, and love. But when he sees the beloved he is spellbound, his tongue motionless and his lips sealed, his eyes engaged in the vision of the desired one.

Joy in the real sense of the word is known to the lover alone. The loveless know it by name, not in reality. It is like the difference between a rock and man. Man, with all life’s struggles and difficulties, would rather live as a man than become a rock, which no struggle or difficulty can ever touch. For even with struggles and difficulties the joy of living is immense. With all the pains and sorrows that the lover has to meet within love, his joy in love is unimaginable, for love is life, and its lack is death. ‘Angels would give up their free dwelling in the heavens if they knew the joy when love springs up in youth.’

There are two worthy objects of love: on the lower plane man, and on the higher God. Every person in the world first learns to love on the lower plane. As soon as the infant opens its eyes it loves whatever its eyes see, whatever seems to it beautiful. Later there comes the love for what is permanent, for what is unchanging, which leads to the ideal of God. But then the man is already fixed in such a difficult position in life that there is a struggle between the one and the other. The idol pulls from one side and the ideal draws from the other side, and it is only the rare one who rises above this difficulty.

This is explained in the life of Surdas, a very great musician and poet of India. He was deeply in love with a singer and took delight in seeing her. His fondness so increased that he could not live a single day without her. Once there was a heavy rainfall which continued for weeds and the country towns were all flooded. There was no means of getting about, the roads were impassable, but nothing would prevent Surdas from seeing his beloved at the promised time. He set out through the heavy rain, but on the way there was a river which was in flood and unfordable. There was no boat in sight. Surdas therefore jumped into the river and tried to swim. The rough waves of the river buffeted him, raised him up and threw him down as if from mountains to the abyss. Fortunately he was thrown against a corpse, of which, taking it to be a log of wood, he seized hold, and he clung to it and arrived in the end, after a great struggle, at the cottage of his beloved.

He found the doors locked. It was late at night and any noise would have roused the whole neighborhood. Therefore he tried to climb up the house and enter through the upper window. He took hold of a cobra, which seemed like a rope hanging, thinking that it had perhaps been put there on purpose for him by his beloved.

When she saw him she was amazed. She could not understand how he had managed to come, and the impression that his love made on her was greater than ever. She was as if inspired by his love. He was raised in her ideal from a man to an angel, especially when she discovered that he had taken a corpse for a log of wood and the cobra, the enemy of man, for a rope of safety. She saw how death is slain by the lover. She said to him, ‘O man, thy love is higher than the average man’s love, and if only it could be for God, the supreme Deity, how great a bliss it would be! Rise, then, above the love of form and matter, and direct thy love to the spirit of God.’ He took her advice like a simple child, and left her with heavy heart and wandered from that time onward in the forests of India.

For many years he roamed in the forests, repeating the mane of the divine Beloved and seeking refuge in His arms. He visited the sacred places, the places of pilgrimage, and by chance reached the bank of a sacred river where the women of the city came every morning at sunrise to fill their pitchers with the sacred water. Surdas, sitting there in the thought of God, was struck by the beauty and charm of one among them. His heart, being a torch, did not take long to light. He followed this woman. When she entered her house she told her husband, ‘Some sage saw me at the river and has followed me to the house and he is still standing outside.’ The thoughtful husband went out immediately and saw this man with the face of a sage and spiritual dignity shed around him. He said, ‘O Maharaj, what has made thee tarry here? Is there anything that I can do for thee?’ Surdas said, ‘Who was the woman who entered this house?’ He said, ‘She is my wife, and she and I are both at the service of sages.’ Surdas said, ‘Pray ask her to come, O blessed one, that I may see her once more.’ And when she came out he looked at her once and said, ‘O Mother, pray bring me two pins.’ And when she brought them to him he bowed to her charm and beauty once more and thrust the pins into his eyes, saying, ‘O my eyes, ye will nevermore see and be tempted by earthly beauty and cast me down from heaven to earth.’

Then he was blind for the rest of his life, and his songs of the divine ideal are still alive and are sung by the God-loving people in India, and if any Hindu is blind, people call him Surdas, which he takes as a term of honor and respect.

‘Though I have loved only one, yet it is eternal,’ says Mohi. There can be love only where there is one object before us, not many. Where there are many there can be no devotion. ‘When in the place of one there are two, the peculiarity of the one is lost. It is for this reason that I did not allow the portrait of my beloved to be made.’ That one is God, the formless and even nameless, the eternal, who is with us and will remain for ever.

Love for one person, to whatever depth it may have reached, is limited. Perfection of love lies in its vastness. ‘The tendency of love is to expand, even from one atom to the whole universe, from a single earthly beloved to God.’

When love is for the human being it is primitive and incomplete, and yet it is needed to begin with. He can never say, ‘I love God,’ who has no love for his fellow-man. But when love attains its culmination in God, it reaches its perfection.

Love creates love in man and even more with God. It is the nature of love. If you love God, God sends His love evermore upon you. If you seek Him by night, He will follow you by day. Wherever you are, in you affairs, in your business transactions, the help, the protection and the presence of the Divine will follow you.

The expression of love lies in silent admiration, contemplation, service, attention to please the beloved, and precaution to avoid the beloved’s displeasure. These expressions of love on the part of the lover win the favor of the beloved, whose vanity otherwise cannot easily be satisfied. And the favor of the beloved is the only aim of the lover, nor is any cost too great a price for it.

The nature of beauty is that it is unconscious of the value of its being. It is the idealization of the lover which makes beauty precious, and it is the attention of the lover which produces indifference in the beautiful, a realization of being superior, and the idea, ‘I am even more wonderful than I am thought to be.’ When the vanity of an earthly beauty is thus satisfied by admiration, how much more should the vanity of the beauty of the heavens be satisfied by His glorification, who is the real beauty and alone deserves all praise. It is the absence of realization on man’s part that makes him forget His beauty in all and recognize each beauty separately, liking one and disliking another. To the sight of the seer, from the least fraction of beauty to the absolute beauty of nature, all becomes as one single immanence of the divine Beloved.

It is told that God said to the Prophet, ‘O Mohammad, if We had not created thee We would not have created the whole universe.’ What, in reality, does it mean? It means that the heavenly beauty, the beauty of the whole Being, loved, recognized and glorified by the divine lover, moved to a perfect satisfaction, says from within, ‘Well done, thou hast loved Me completely. If it were not for thee, O admirer of my whole Being, I would not have made this universe, where my creatures love and admire one part of my Being on the surface, and my whole beauty is veiled from their sight.’ In other words, the divine Beloved ways, ‘I have no admirer, though I am standing adorned. Some admire my bracelets, others admire my earrings, some admire my necklace, some admire my anklets, but I would give my hand to him and consider that for him I have adorned myself, who would understand and glorify my Being to the fullest extent, wherein lies my satisfaction.’




The story of Leila and Majnun has been told in the East for thousands of years and has always exerted a great fascination, for it is not only a love-story, but a lesson in love. Not love as it is generally understood by man, but the love that rises above the earth and heavens.

A lad called Majnun from childhood had shown love in his nature, revealing to the eye of the seers the tragedy of his life. When Majnun was at school he became fond of Leila. In time the spark grew into a flame, and Majnun did not feel at rest if Leila was a little late in coming to school. With his book in his hand, he fixed his eyes on the entrance, which amused the scoffers and disturbed everybody there. The flame in time rose into a blaze and then Leila’s heart became kindled by Majnun’s love. Each looked at the other. She did not see anyone in the class but Majnun, not did he see anyone save Leila. In reading from the book Majnun would read the name Leila, in writing from dictation Leila would cover her slate with the name of Majnun. ‘All else disappears when the thought of the beloved occupies the mind of the lover.’

Everyone in the school whispered to each other, pointing them out. The teachers were worried and wrote to the parents of both that the children were crazy and intensely fond of one another, and that there seemed no way to divert their attention from their love-affair which had stopped every possibility of their progress in study.

Leila’s parents removed her at once, and kept a careful watch over her. In this way they took her away from Majnun, but who could take Majnun away from her heart? She had no thought but of Majnun. Majnun, without her, in his heart’s unrest and grief, kept the whole school in a turmoil, until his parents were compelled to take him home, as there seemed to be nothing left for him in the school. Majnun’s parents called physicians, soothsayers, healers, magicians, and poured money at their feet, asking them for some remedy to take away from the heart of Majnun the thought of Leila. But how could it be done? ‘Even Luqman the great physician of the ancients, had no cure for the lovesick.’

No one has ever healed a patient of love. Friends came, relations came, well-wishers came, wise counselors came, and all tried their best to efface from his mind the thought of Leila, but all in vain. Someone said to him, ‘O Majnun, why do you sorrow at the separation from Leila? She is not beautiful. I can show you a thousand fairer and more charming maidens, and can let you choose your mate from among them.’ Majnun answered, ‘O, to see the beauty of Leila the eyes of Majnun are needed.’

When no remedy had been left untried, the parents of Majnun resolved to seek the refuge of the Ka’ba as their last resort. They took Majnun on the pilgrimage to Ka’bat-ullah. When they drew near to the Ka’ba a great crowd gathered to see them. The parents, each in turn, went and prayed to God, saying, ‘O Lord, Thou art most merciful and compassionate, grant Thy favor to our only son, that the heart of Majnun may be released from the pain of the love of Leila.’ Everybody there listened to this intently, and wonderingly awaited what Majnun had to say. Then Majnun was asked by his parents, ‘Child, go and pray that the love of Leila may be taken away from your heart.’ Majnun replied, ‘Shall I meet my Leila if I pray?’ They, with the greatest disappointment, said, ‘Pray, child, whatever you like to pray.’ He went there and said, ‘I want my Leila,’ and everyone present said, ‘Amen.’ ‘The world echoes to the lover’s call.’

When the parents had sought in every way to cure Majnun of his craze for Leila, in the end they thought the best way was to approach the parents of Leila, for this was the last hope of saving Majnun’s life. They sent a message to Leila’s parents, who were of another faith, saying, ‘We have done all we can to take away from Majnun the thought of Leila, but so far we have not succeeded, nor is there any hope of success lift to us except one, that is your consent to their marriage.’ They, in answer, said, ‘Although it exposes us to the scorn of our people, still Leila seems never to forget the thought of Majnun for one single moment, and since we have taken her away from school she pines away every day. Therefore we should not mind giving Leila in marriage to Majnun, if only we were convinced that he is sane.’

On hearing this the parents of Majnun were much pleased and advised Majnun to behave sensibly, so that Leila’s parents might have no cause to suspect him of being out of his mind. Majnun agreed to do everything his parents desired, if he could only meet his Leila. They went, according to the custom of the East, in procession to the house of the bride, where a special seat was made for the bridegroom, who was covered with garlands of flowers. But as they say in the East that the gods are against lovers, so destiny did not grant these perfect lovers the happiness of being together. The dog that used to accompany Leila to school happened to come into the room where they were sitting. As soon as Majnun’s eyes fell on this dog his emotion broke out. He could not sit in the high seat and look at the dog. He ran to the dog and kissed its paws and put all the garlands of flowers on the neck of the dog. There was no sign of reverence of worship that Majnun did not show to this dog. ‘The dust of the beloved’s dwelling is the earth of Ka’ba to the lover.’ This conduct plainly proved him insane. As love’s language is gibberish to the loveless, so the action of Majnun was held by those present to be mere folly. They were all greatly disappointed, and Majnun was taken back home and Leila’s parents refused their consent to the marriage.

This utter disappointment made Majnun’s parents altogether hopeless, and they no longer kept watch over him, seeing that life and death to him were both the same, and this gave Majnun freedom to wander about the town in search of Leila, inquiring of everyone he met about Leila. By chance he met a letter-carrier who was carrying mail on the back of a camel, and when Majnun asked this man Leila’s whereabouts, he said, ‘Her parents have left this country and have gone to live a hundred miles from here.’ Majnun begged him to give his message to Leila. He said, ‘With pleasure.’ But when Majnun began to tell the message the telling continued for a long, long time. ‘The message of love has no end.’

The letter-carrier was partly amused and partly he sympathized with his earnestness. Although Majnun, walking with his camel, was company for him on his long journey, still, out of pity, he said, ‘Now you have walked ten miles giving me your message, how long will it take me to deliver it to Leila? Now go your way, I will see to it.’ Then Majnun turned back, but he had not gone a hundred yards before he returned to say, ‘O kind friend, I have forgotten to tell you a few things that you might tell my Leila.’ When he continued his message it carried him another ten miles on the way. The carrier said, ‘For mercy’s sake, go back. You have walked a long way. How shall I be able to remember all the message you have given me? Still, I will do my best. Now go back, you are far from home.’ Majnun again went back a few yards and again remembered something to tell the message-bearer and went after him. In this way the whole journey was accomplished, and he himself arrived at the place to which he was sending the message.

The letter-carrier was astonished at this earnest love, and said to him, ‘You have already arrived in the land where your Leila lives. Now stay in this ruined mosque. This is outside the town. If you go with me into the town they will torment you before you can reach Leila. The best thing is for you to rest here now, as you have walked so very far, and I will convey your message to Leila as soon as I can reach her.’ ‘Love’s intoxication sees no time or space.’

Majnun listened to his advice and stayed there, and felt inclined to rest, but the idea that he was in the town where Leila dwelt made him wonder in which direction he should stretch out his legs. He thought of the north, south, east, and west, and thought to himself, ‘If Leila were on this side it would be insolence on my part to stretch out my feet towards her. The best thing, then, would be to hang my feet by a rope from above, for surely she will not be there.’ ‘The lover’s Ka’ba is the dwelling-place of the beloved.’ He was thirsty, and could find no water except some rainwater that had collected in a disused tank.

When the letter-carrier entered the house of Leila’s parents he saw Leila and said to her, ‘I had to make a great effort to speak with you. Your lover Majnun, who is a lover without compare in all the world, gave me a message for you, and he continued to speak with me throughout the journey and has walked as far as this town with the camel.’ She said, ‘For heavens sake! Poor Majnun! I wonder what will become of him.’ She asked her old nurse, ‘What becomes of a person who has walked a hundred miles without a break?’ The nurse said rashly, ‘Such a person must die.’ Leila said, ‘Is there any remedy?’ She said, ‘He must drink some rainwater collected for a year past and from that water a snake must drink, and then his feet must be tied and he must be hung up in the air with his head down for a very long time. That might save his life.’ Leila said, ‘Oh, but how difficult it is to obtain!’ God, who Himself is love, was the guide of Majnun, therefore everything came to Majnun as was best for him. ‘Verily love is the healer of its own wounds.’

The next morning Leila put her food aside, and sent it secretly, by a maid whom she took into her confidence, with a message to tell Majnun that she longed to see him as much as he to see her, the difference being only of chains. As soon as she had and opportunity, she said, she would come at once.

The maid went to the ruined mosque, and saw two people sitting there, one who seemed self-absorbed, unaware of his surroundings, and the other a fat, robust man. She thought that Leila could not possibly love a person like this dreamy one whom she herself would not have cared to love. But in order to make sure, she asked which of them was named Majnun. The mind of Majnun was deeply sunk in his thought and far away from her words, but this man, who was out of work, was rather glad to see the dinner-basket in her hand, and said, ‘For whom are you looking?’ She said, ‘I am asked to give this to Majnun. Are you Majnun?’ He readily stretched out his hands to take the basket, and said, ‘I am the one for whom you have brought it,’ and spoke a word or two with her in jest, and she was delighted.

On the maid’s return Leila asked, ‘Did you give it to him?’ She said, ‘Yes, I did.’ Leila then sent to Majnun every day the larger part of her meals, which was received every day by this man, who was very glad to have it while out of work. Leila one day asked her maid, ‘You never tell me what he says and how he eats.’ She said, ‘He says that he sends very many thanks to you and he appreciates it very much, and he is a pleasant-spoken man. You must not worry for one moment. He is getting fatter every day.’ Leila said, ‘But my Majnun has never been fat, and has never had a tendency to become fat, and he is too deep in his thought to say pleasant things to anyone. He is too sad to speak.’ Leila at once suspected that the dinner might have been handed to the wrong person. She said, ‘Is anybody else there?’ The maid said, ‘Yes, there is another person sitting there also, but he seems to be beside himself. He never notices who comes or who goes, nor does he hear a word said by anybody there. He cannot possibly be the man that you love.’ Leila said, ‘I think he must be the man. Alas, if you have all this time given the food to the wrong person! Well, to make sure, today take on the plate a knife instead of food and say to that one whom you gave the food, "For Leila a few drops of your blood are needed, to cure her of an illness."’

When the maid next went to the mosque the man as usual came most eagerly to take his meal, and seeing the knife was surprised. The maid told him that a few drops of his blood were needed to cure Leila. He said, ‘No, certainly I am not Majnun. There is Majnun. Ask him for it.’ The maid foolishly went to him and said to him aloud, ‘Leila wants a few drops of your blood to cure her.’ Majnun most readily took the knife in his hand and said, ‘How fortunate am I that my blood may be of some use to my Leila. This is nothing, even if my life were to become a sacrifice for her cure, I would consider myself most fortunate to give it.’ ‘Whatever the lover did for the beloved, it could never be too much.’ He gashed his arm in several places, but the starvation of months had left no blood, nothing but skin and bone. When a great many places had been cut hardly one drop of blood came out. He said, ‘That is what is left. You may take that.’ ‘Love means pain, but the lover alone is above all pain.’

Majnun’s coming to the town soon became known, and when Leila’s parents knew of it they thought, ‘Surly Leila will go out of her mind if she ever sees Majnun.’ Therefore they resolved to leave the town for some time, thinking that Majnun would make his way home when he found that Leila was not there. Before leaving the place Leila sent a message to Majnun to say, ‘We are leaving this town for a while, and I am most unhappy that I have not been able to meet you. The only chance of out meeting is that we should meet on the way, if you will go on before and wait for me in the Sahara.’

Majnun started most happily to go to the Sahara, with great hope of once more seeing his Leila. When the caravan arrived in the desert and halted there for a while, the mind of Leila’s parents became a little relieved, and they saw Leila also a little happier for the change, as they thought, not knowing the true reason.

Leila went for a walk in the Sahara with her maid, and suddenly came upon Majnun, whose eyes had been fixed for long, long time on the way by which she was to come. She came and said, ‘Majnun, I am here.’ There remained no power in the tongue of Majnun to express his joy. He held her hands and pressed them to his breast, and said, ‘Leila, you will not leave me any more?’ She said, ‘Majnun, I have been able to come for one moment. If I stay any longer my people will seek for me and your life will not be safe.’ Majnun said, ‘I do not care for life. You are my life, O stay, do not leave me any more.’ Leila said, ‘Majnun, be sensible and believe me. I will surely come back.’ Majnun let go her hands and said, ‘Surely I believe you.’ So Leila left Majnun, with heavy heart, and Majnun, who had so long lived on his own flesh and blood, could no more stand erect, but fell backward against the trunk of a tree, which propped him up, and he remained there, living only on hope.

Years passed and this half-dead body of Majnun was exposed to all things, cold and heat and rain, frost and storm. The hands that were holding the branches became branches themselves, his body became a part of the tree. Leila was as unhappy as before on her travels, and the parents lost hope of her life. She was living only in one hope, that she might once fulfill her promise given to Majnun at the moment of parting, saying, ‘I will come back.’ She wondered if he were alive or dead, or had gone away of whether the animals in the Sahara had carried him off.

When they returned their caravan halted in the same place, and Leila’s heart became full of joy and sorrow, of cheerfulness and gloom, of hope and fear. As she was looking for the place where she had left Majnun she met a woodcutter, who said to her, ‘Oh, don’t go that way. There is some ghost there.’ Leila said, ‘What is it like?’ He said, ‘It is a tree and at the same time man, and as I struck a branch of this tree with my hatchet I heard him say in a deep sigh, "O Leila."’

Hearing this moved Leila beyond description. She said she would go, and drawing near the tree she saw Majnun turned almost into the tree. Flesh and blood had already wasted, and the skin and bone that remained, by contact with the tree, had become like its branches. Leila called him aloud, ‘Majnun!’ He answered, ‘Leila!’ She said, ‘I am here as I promised, O Majnun.’ He answered, ‘I am Leila.’ She said, ‘Majnun, come to your senses. I am Leila. Look at me.’ Majnun said, ‘Are you Leila? Then I am not,’ and he was dead. Leila, seeing this perfection in love, could not live a single moment more. She at the same time cried the name of Majnun and fell down and died.

‘The beloved is all in all, the lover only veils him. The beloved is all that lives, the lover a dead thing.’



Love is directed by the intelligence. Therefore each person chooses his object of love according to his evolution. That appears to him most deserving of love which is in accordance with the grade of his evolution. There is a saying in the East. ‘As the soul is, so are its angels.’ The donkey would prefer thistles to roses.

The consciousness which is awakened to the material world has its object of love only in earthly beauties. The consciousness active through the mind finds its object in thought and among the thoughtful. The consciousness awakened through the heart loves love and the loving ones. And the consciousness awakened in the soul loves the spirit and the spiritual.

Silent love, which is the divine essence in man, becomes active, living, on seeing the vision of beauty. Beauty may be explained as perfection, perfection in every aspect of beauty. Not love alone is God or the essence of God, but beauty also, even in its limited aspects, shows itself as glimpses of the perfect Being. The mineral kingdom develops into gold, silver, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds, showing perfection in it. The fruit and flower, their sweetness and fragrance, show perfection in the vegetable kingdom. Form, figure, and youth show perfection in the animal kingdom. And it is the beauty of personality which is significant of perfection in the human being. There are some people in this world whose life is absorbed in the pursuit of gold and silver, gems and jewels. They would sacrifice anything or anybody to acquire the object of their love. There are others whose life is engaged in the beautiful vision of fruits, flowers, flowerbeds, and gardens. Perhaps they have no other interest besides. There are some who are absorbed in the admiration of the youth and beauty of the opposite sex, and nothing else seems to them worth more. There are others who are won by the beauty of someone’s personality, and have entirely devoted to the one they love both their here and their hereafter. Everyone has his object of love according to his standard of beauty, and at the same time each one loves the perfection of the divine Being in a certain aspect. When the seer sees this no one, wise or foolish, sinner or virtuous, remains blameworthy in his sight. He sees in every heart the needle of the compass that turns to one and the same Being. ‘God is beautiful and He loves beauty,’ as it is said in the Hadith.

Man is never capable of loving God in heaven when his sympathy has not even been awakened to the beauty of the earth.

A village maiden was on her way to see her beloved. She passed by a Mullah who was saying prayers. In her ignorance she walked in front of him, which is forbidden by the religious law. The Mullah was very angry, and when she, returning, again passed near him, he scolded her for her mistake. He said. ‘How sinful, O girl, on your part to cross in front of me while I was offering my prayer.’ She said, ‘What does prayer mean?’ He said, ‘I was thinking of God, the Lord of the heavens and of the earth.’ She said, ‘I am sorry, I don’t know yet of God and His prayers, but I was on my way to my beloved, and thinking of my beloved, I did not see you praying. I wonder how you who were in the thought of God could see me?’ Her words so much impressed the Mullah that he said to her, ‘From this moment, O maiden, you are my teacher. It is I who should learn from you.’

Someone once came to Jami and asked to be his mureed. Jami said, ‘Have you ever loved anyone in life?’ He said, ‘No.’ Jami said, ‘Then go, and love someone, and then come to me.’

It is for this reason that great teachers and masters have often had difficulty in awakening the love of God in the average man. Parents give their child a doll so that the child may know how to dress it, how to be kind to it, how to look after it, how to love and admire it, which trains the child to become a loving mother in the future. Without this training the later course would be difficult. Divine love would be as strange to the average person as the cares of motherhood to a girl who has not yet played enough with dolls.

A mureed had been a long time in the service of a spiritual guide, but he could make no progress and was not inspired. He went to the teacher and said, ‘I have seen very many mureeds being inspired, but it is my misfortune that I cannot advance at all, and now I must give up hope and leave you.’ The teacher advised him to spend the last days of his stay in a house near the Khankah, and every day he sent him very good food and told him to cease the spiritual practices and to lead a comfortable and restful life. On the last day he sent the mureed a basket of fruit by a fair damsel. She set the tray down and immediately went away, though he wished to detain her. Her beauty and charm were so great, and he was now so much disposed to admire and was so much won by them, that he could think of nothing else. Every hour and every minute he longed only to see her again. His longing increased every moment. He forgot to eat, he was full of tears and sighs, finding his heart now warmed and melted by the fire of love. After some time, when the teacher visited the disciple, with one glance he inspired him. ‘Even steel can be molded if it be heated in the fire,’ and so it is with the heart which is melted by the fire of love.

It is love’s wine which is called Sherab-i Kouthar, the wine found in the heavens. When the intoxication of love increases in man, people call him blindly in love or madly in love, because people wide-awake to the illusion of the surface consider themselves to be the only ones wide-awake. But their wakefulness is to the delusion, not to reality. Although the lover is called crazy, his craze for one object of the world of illusion makes him gradually free from all delusion around him. If he succeeds in attaining to this he enjoys his union with the beloved in his happy vision. Then no time is needed to lift from his sight the veil of the one object which he loved. As is said in the Qur’an, ‘We will lift the veil from thine eyes and thy sight will be keen.’

It is natural for a lover to become infatuated with someone whom he admires, with whom he desires union. But no one object in the world is so perfect as fully to satisfy the aspiration of the loving heart. This is the stumbling-block that causes every beginner in love to fall. The successful travelers on the path of love are those whose love is so beautiful that it provides all the beauty that their ideal lacks. The lover by doing this in time rises above the changeable and limited beauty of the beloved, but begins to see into the beloved’s inner being. In other words, the exterior of the beloved was only a means of drawing the love out of the heart of the lover, but the love led him from the external to the innermost being of the ideal of his love. When in the ideal the lover has realized the unlimited and perfect Being, whether he loves man or God, he is in fact in either case a blissful lover.

In this the journey through the path of idealism is ended and a journey through the divine ideal is begun, for the God-ideal is necessary for the attainment of life’s perfection. Man then seeks for a perfect object of love, idealizing God, the whole Being, the Infinite, who is above all the world’s lights and shades, good and ill, who is pure from all limitations, births or deaths, unchangeable, inseparable from us, all-pervading, present always before the vision of his lover.

When love is true it takes away selfishness, for this is the only solution to wipe off the ego. The English phrase ‘to fall in love’ conveys the idea of the true nature of love. It is a fall indeed from the pedestal of the ego to the ground of nothingness, but at the same time it is this fall which leads to a rise, for as low as the lover falls so high he rises in the end. The lover falls in love as a seed is thrown in the ground. Both appear to be destroyed, but both in time spring up and flourish and bear fruit for the ever-hungry world.

Man’s greatest enemy in the world is his ego, the thought of self. This is the germ from which springs all evil in man. Even the virtues of the egoist turn into sin, and his small sins into great crimes. All religions and philosophies teach man to crush it, and there is nothing that can crush it better than love. The growth of love is the decay of the ego. Love in its perfection entirely frees the lover from all selfishness, for love may be called in other words annihilation. ‘Whoever enters the school of lovers, the first lesson he learns is not to be.’

Unity is impossible without love, for it is love only which can unite. Each expression of love signifies the attainment of union as its object, and two things cannot unite unless one of them becomes nothing. No one knows this secret of life except the lover. Iraqi says in his verse, ‘When I, without having loved, went to Ka’ba and knocked at the gate, a voice came: "What didst thou accomplish in thy home that thou hast come forth?" And when I went, having lost myself in love, and knocked at the gate of Ka’ba, a voice said: "Come, Come, O Iraqi, thou art ours."’

If there is anything that works against the vanity of the ego, it is love. The nature of love is to surrender. The world of variety, which has divided life into limited parts, naturally causes every lesser one to surrender to the greater. And, again, for every greater one there is another still greater in relation to whom he is smaller, and for every smaller one there is another still smaller, in relation to whom he is greater. And as every soul is by its nature compelled to surrender to perfection in all its grades, the only thing that matters is whether it be a willing surrender or an unwilling surrender. The former comes by love, the latter is made through helplessness, which makes life wretched. It moves the Sufi when he reads in the Qur’an that the perfect Being asked the imperfect souls, the children of Adam, ‘Who is thy Lord?’ They, conscious of their imperfections, said humbly, ‘Thou art our Lord.’ Surrender is a curse when, with coldness and helplessness, one is forced to surrender. But the same becomes the greatest joy when it is made with love and all willingness.

Love is the practice of the moral of Suluk, the way of beneficence. The lover’s pleasure is in the pleasure of the beloved. The lover is satisfied when the beloved is fed. The lover is vain when the beloved is adorned. ‘Who in life blesses the one who curses him? Who in life admires the one who hates him? Who in life proves faithful to the one who is faithless? No other than a lover.’ And in the end the lover’s self is lost from his vision and only the beloved’s image, the desired vision, is before him for ever.

Love is the essence of all religion, mysticism, and philosophy, and for the one who has learnt this love fulfills the purpose of religion, ethics, and philosophy, and the lover is raised above all diversities of faiths and beliefs.

Moses once begged the Lord God of Israel on Sinai, ‘O Lord, Thou hast so greatly honored me in making me Thy messenger, if there could be any greater honor I should think it this, that Thou shouldest come to my humble abode and break bread at my table.’ The answer came, ‘Moses, with great pleasure We shall come to thy abode.’ Moses prepared a great feast and was waiting eagerly for God to come. There happened to pass by his door a beggar, and he said to Moses, ‘Moses, I am ill and weary, and I have had no food for three days and am at the point of death. Pray give me a slice of bread and save my life.’

Moses, in his eagerness, expecting every moment a visit from God, said to the beggar, ‘Wait, O man, thou shalt have more than a slice, plentiful and delicious dishes. I am waiting for a guest who is expected this evening, when he is gone, then all that remains I will give to thee that thou mayest take it home.’ The man went away, time passed on, God did not come, and Moses was disappointed. Moses went the next day to Sinai and grieved bitterly, saying, ‘My Lord, I know Thou doest not break Thy promise, but what sin have I, Thy slave, committed that Thou didst not come as Thou hadst promised?’ God said to Moses, ‘We came, O Moses, but alas, thou didst not recognize Us. Who was the beggar at thy door? Was he other than We? It is We who in all guises live and move in the world and yet are remote in Our eternal heavens.’

Whatever diversity may exist among religions, the motive of all has been one: to cultivate and prepare the human heart for divine love. Sometimes the spirit of guidance drew the attention of mankind to see and admire the beauty of God in the firmament, sometimes in the trees and rocks, making them sacred trees, holy mountains, and purifying streams. Sometimes it has guided men’s attention to see the immanence of the Lord among the beasts and birds, calling them holy animals, sacred birds. When man realized that there is no one in creation higher than himself he gave up his worship of the lower creation, recognizing the divine light most manifest in man. Thus by degrees the world evolved to see God in man, especially in the holy man who is God-conscious.

Man, with his limited self, cannot see God, the perfect Being, and if he ever can picture Him, he can best picture Him as man. For how can he imagine what he has never known? ‘We have created man in Our own image.’ Krishna to the Hindus, Buddha to the Buddhists, was God in man. Angels are never pictured in any other image than that of man. Even the worshipers of the formless God have idealized God with the perfection of human attributes, although this is only a ladder to reach the love of the perfect God, to which by degrees one attains.

This is explained very clearly in a story of the past. Moses once passed by a farm and saw a peasant boy talking to himself, saying, ‘O Lord, Thou art so good and kind that I feel if Thou wert here by me I would take good care of Thee, more than of all my sheep, more than of all my fowls. In the rain I would keep Thee under the roof of my grass-shed, when it is cold I would cover Thee with my blanket, and in the heat of the sun I would take Thee to bathe in the brook. I would put Thee to sleep with Thy head on my lap, and would fan Thee with my hat, and would always watch Thee and guard Thee from wolves. I would give Thee bread of manna and would give Thee buttermilk to drink, and to entertain Thee I would sing and dance and play my flute. O Lord my God, if Thou wouldst only listen to this and come and see how I would tend Thee."

Moses was amused to listen to all this, and, as the deliverer of the divine message, he said, ‘How impertinent on thy part, O boy, to limit the unlimited One, God, the Lord of hosts, who is beyond form and color and the perception and comprehension of man.’ The boy became disheartened and full of fear at what he had done. But immediately a revelation came to Moses: ‘We are not pleased with this, O Moses, for We have sent thee to unite Our separated ones with Us, not to disunite. Speak to everyone according to his evolution.’

Life on earth is full of needs, but among all the different needs, the need of a friend is the greatest. There is no greater misery than being friendless. This earth would turn into heaven if one had a desired friend in life, and heaven, with all the bliss it offers, would become hell in the absence of the friend one loves.

A thoughtful soul always seeks a friendship that lasts long. The wise prefers a friend who will go with him through the greater part of his life’s journey. The miniature of our life’s journey may be seen in our ordinary traveling. If, when we are going to Switzerland, we make friends with someone who is booked for Paris, his company will last only so far, and, after that, all the rest of the journey we shall have to go alone. Every friendship on earth will go so far and then will stop. Our journey being through death, if there is any friendship that will last, it is only the friendship with God, which is unchangeable and unending. But if we do not see and cannot perceive His Being, it becomes impossible to be friends with someone of whom we are quite unaware. But God being the only friend and friendship with Him the only friendship of someone on earth who can guide them to the divine Beloved, just as a lover would first find someone belonging to the household or among the acquaintances of the fair one with whom he desires friendship. Among Sufis many attain to the God-ideal through Rasul, the ideal man. And one reaches the door of Rasul through Shaikh, the spiritual guide, whose soul owing to devotion is focused on the spirit of Rasul and so is impressed with his qualities. This graduated way becomes clear to the traveler on the path of the attainment of the divine Beloved.

The friendship with Shaikh has no other motive than guidance in seeking God. As long as your individuality lasts it will last, as long as you are seeking God it will last, as long as a guidance is needed it will last. The friendship with Shaikh is called Fana-fi-Shaikh, and it then merges into the friendship with Rasul. When the mureed realizes the existence of the spiritual qualities beyond the earthly being of the murshid, that is the time when he is ready for Fana-fi-Rasul.

The friendship with the Shaikh is friendship with a form, and the form may disappear. A person may say, ‘I had a father, but now he is no more.’ In fact, the impression of the father whom he has idealized remains in his mind. The devotion to Rasul is like this. His name and qualities remain though the earthly form is no more on earth. Rasul is the personification of the light of guidance, which a mureed, according to his evolution, idealizes. Whenever the devotee remembers him, on the earth, in the air, at the bottom of the sea, he is with him. Devotion to Rasul is a stage that cannot be omitted in the attainment of divine love. This stage is called Fana-fi-Rasul.

After this comes Fana-fi-Allah, when the love of Rasul merges in the love of Allah. Rasul is the Master who is idealized for his lovable attributes, his kindness, goodness, holiness, mercy. His merits are intelligible. His form is not known, only the name which constitutes his qualities. But Allah is the name given to that ideal of perfection where all limitation ceases, and in Allah the ideal ends.

A person does not lose the friendship with the Pir nor with Rasul, but he beholds murshid in Rasul and Rasul in Allah. Then for guidance, for advice, he looks to Allah alone.

There is a story of Rabia, the great Sufi, that once she beheld Mohammad in a vision and he asked her, ‘O Rabia, whom dost thou love?’ She answered, ‘Allah.’ He said, ‘Not His Rasul?’ She said, ‘O blessed Master, who in the world could know thee and not love thee? But now my heart is so occupied with Allah alone that I can see no one but Him.’

From those who see Allah, Rasul and Shaikh disappear. They see only Allah in the Pir and Rasul. They see everything as Allah and see nothing else.

A mureed by devotion to the murshid learns the manner of love, standing with childlike humility, seeing in the face of every being on earth his Pir’s blessed image reflected. When Rasul is idealized he sees all that is beautiful reflected in the unseen ideal of Rasul. Then he becomes independent even of merit, which also has an opposite pole, and in reality does not exist, for it is comparison that makes one thing appear better than the other, and he loves only Allah, the perfect ideal, who is free from all comparison, beyond this ideal, then he himself becomes love, and the work of love has been accomplished. Then the lover himself becomes the source of love, the origin of love, and he lives the life of Allah, which is called Baqi bi-Allah. His personality becomes divine personality. Then his thought is the thought of God, his word the word of God, his action the action of God, and he himself becomes love, lover, and beloved.

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