by Nur-i-Azal

I'm having a debate with someone regarding the nature of true love and relationships. This debate traverses turf from the philosophical and the sublime to the practical and the not so sublime. It includes depth of height but also depth of lowest lows. I'll begin by stating what my personal core values, principles and understanding of what constitutes a relationship is: a couple is just that, one woman with one man (or one pair of men and one pair of women, depending on your preference these days). I am old fashioned in this regard and find the idea of open relationships where multiple partners are involved completely counter-intuitive and downright wrong, even dangerous. This is where I diverge from the '60s generation and their free-love culture. Both spiritual and emotional (not to mention physical) stability in my view is in monogamy (seriel or unitary) -- period! The notion that a person can really love ('ishq as opposed to mohabbat) multiple people simultaneously just doesn't make any iota of sense to me. It goes also against everything I have learned and intuited about the nature of 'ishq/passionate love during my years of spiritual wayfaring (suluk).

From my perspective as a practitioner of an esoteric spiritual path, passionate love qua 'ishq is ultimately about the realization of the Divine where the female and the male on every level (whether physical or spiritual) become preceptors or mirrors to each other's souls, and as a result of their union realize within each other the Divine Unity both in flesh and in spirit -- or rather, through each other, flesh and spirit become One. A Sufi master, who shall remain unnamed for the present purposes, once said to me "when Light (nur = male) and Passionate Love ('ishq = woman) unite and become one, there is Haqiqat (Ultimate Reality). But in order for that to happen the heart of both the woman and man must be completely united/singular (yeganeh) one for the other. In the absence of this, there is neither Light (nur) nor Passionate Love ('ishq), but rather there is multiplicity (kasrat) and delusion (vahm.) Certainly every individual can hold and show forth love (hobb/mohabbat) towards infinite persons and objects. But true passionate love ('ishq-e-haqiqi) can only ever be about One, or one to one, since true passionate love ('ishq-e-haqiqi) is really about the Divine Unicity (tawhid-e-elahi). So be careful in not confusing these two, hobb/mohabbat with 'ishq. These are two different things. She/he who doesn't have a singular/united heart (del-e-yeganeh) has no true passionate love ('ishq-e-haqiqi), whatever they call it or think it is. So make your heart singular/united (delat-ra yeganeh kon) so that you will know true passionate love ('ishq-e-haqiqi)."

I want comment from people regarding this, especially what their views (from a cultural and a personal point of view) is regarding such notions that people can passionately love (as in eros and 'ishq) multiple people at the same time. Where I come from this is called confusion. Could it be that folks who insist that true passionate love ('ishq) can have multiple persons and objects simultaneously simply do not know what 'ishq is and as such have never really been passionately in love ('aashiq) before (whatever they tell themselves)?

Please comment, and post as much quotations from poetry as you wish where available.



more from Nur-i-Azal

the objects of 'ishq // mahabba

by humanbeing on

i'm onto it nur. i have two beautiful quotations to give, both from theoretical texts. i'm working on the translations of them, and hope to have them in a comment on this thread later this evening, after finishing this shift as mommy.

about the monogamy: i would go beyond it, it is the totality of one. can't scrape the realms of junun if it weren't total.

Farah Rusta

Dear Nur

by Farah Rusta on

I believe what makes ishq different from any other type of love is in what we may call ithar (preference). To prefer the interests of your beloved over your own even if it leads to your demise is what makes ishq, ishq.   Although this word may not have been used frequently and explicitly in the works of our literary giants, Hafiz in particular, the concept of self destruction in serving the beloved is numerously referred to. Here are a few examples:



فکر خود و رای خود در عالم رندی نیست

 کفر است در این مذهب خودبینی و خودرایی


 من که ملول گشتمی از نفس فرشتگان

قال و مقال عالمی می​کشم از برای تو


 چنان پر شد فضای سینه از دوست

که فکر خویش گم شد از ضمیرم


 And even Quran is explicit:

 (Surah Al-Hashr, verse 9)

 وَيُؤْثِرُونَ عَلَى أَنفُسِهِمْ وَلَوْ كَانَ بِهِمْ خَصَاصَةٌ

“But give them preference over themselves, even though poverty was their (own lot).” (Q 59:9). This verse was particularly revealed concerning the poor among the companions.

 Thank you for your thought provoking blogs



Thanks, Yolanda

by Nur-i-Azal on

I should also add that I am genuinely trying to understand the perspective that holds 'ishq (as opposed to mohabbat/agape as well as philia, HB help me out here please!)  can have multiple persons and objects at its focus.

The poem you quoted from Mowlana can be interpreted both ways. But from my perspective it is also confirming what I said in the second paragraph, especially its last line. True passionate love ('ishq) is about the destruction of the boundaries of duality and multiplicity (kasrat) between 'I' and 'Thou'. But such an annihilation of the boundaries by definition then cannot have multiple objects because such annihilation of the boundaries must lead to Unicity (yeganegi/tawhid). In practical terms, therefore, so far as coupling relationships go, this must entail such things as singular fidelity and single focus, even for the purposes of a spiritual discipline (and from the mundane point of view, stability), would it not?

By no means do I have the final answer here. But this is my perspective so far. If I am naive or even too idealistic,  or missing something important, someone please point out the flaws in my thinking here. Talk from a practical point of view. Share your experiences, if you wish. Wax philosophical and poetic too, if you like, because this question is haunting me, and I believe it is a core question many, many people also struggle with. Perhaps it is even the question of all questions.




by yolanda on

A very interesting blog. I like the 2nd paragraph!

A Love Poem by Rumi

With the Beloved's water of life, no illness remains
In the Beloved's rose garden of union, no thorn remains.
They say there is a window from one heart to another
How can there be a window where no wall remains?

From Thief of Sleep
by Shahram Shiva