the relation between passion and true love with love

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When affection for an individual or a thing reaches the summit of intensity so that it conquers man's existence and becomes the absolute ruler over his being, it is called ~love~. Love is the peak of affection and the sentiments. But it should not be imagined that what is called by this name is of only one kind; it is of two completely opposite kinds. Those things which are called its good effects are connected with one of its kinds, but its other kind has completely destructive and opposite effects.

The sentiments of man are of various kinds and degrees; some of them are in the category of the passions, especially the sexual passions, and are of those aspects which are shared by man and the other animals, with the difference that in man, for a particular reason the explanation of which cannot be appropriately undertaken now, it reaches its peak and takes on an indescribable intensity; and for this reason it is called love. It never takes on this form among animals, but, in any case, in its reality and essence, it is nothing but a torrent, a bursting forth, a tempest of the passions. It originates from the source of sexuality, and reaches its end there too. Its rise and fall are, too a large degree, connected to the physiological activity of the genital organs and naturally to the years of youth; it diminishes and eventually ceases altogether with an increase in age, on the one hand, and, on the other, with satiation and separation.

A youth who feels himself a-quiver at the sight of a beautiful face or a tress of hair, or who feels a frisson when touched by a tender hand, should know that there is nothing more operating here than a material, animal process. This kind of love comes quickly and goes quickly. It cannot be depended on, nor recommended, it has dangers and it kills virtue. It is only by the help of modesty and piety and not becoming abandoned to it that it may profit a human being; that is, in itself, it is a power which leads man towards no virtue. But it gives a strength and a perfection to the spirit, if it penetrates into a man's being, is met with the power of modesty and piety, and if the spirit tolerates the pressure of it - provided it does not succumb to it.

Humans have another variety of sentiments which, in their reality and essence, differ from the passions; it is better to call these ~noble sentiments~, or in the language of the Qur'an, "love and ~mercy~" (muwaddah wa rahmah [see 30:21 ] ).

As long as man is under the control of his passions, he has not gone out from his self, he seeks a person or a thing whom he is attracted to for himself, and he wants it dearly. If he thinks about a love-object, it is with the idea of how he might profit from being united with it, or at the most how he can derive enjoyment from it. It is obvious that such a state cannot be the perfecter or the educator of man's spirit, or refine it.

However, man occasionally comes under the effect of his higher human sentiments; his loved-one receives respect and eminence in his eyes, he seeks that person's happiness. He is prepared to sacrifice himself for that person's desires. This kind of sentiment brings purity, sincerity, tenderness, compassion and altruism into existence, as opposed to the first kind which creates crudeness, savagery and criminality. The kindness and affection of a mother for her child is of this second kind. Devotion to, and love of, the pure ones and the men of God, as also patriotism and the love of principles, are also from the same category.

It is this kind of sentiment from which, if it reaches its summit and perfection, all the aforementioned good effects result; and it is this kind which gives dignity, distinction and greatness to the spirit, in contrast to the first kind which brings wretchedness. Similarly it is this kind of love which is durable, and which becomes stronger and warmer with union, as opposed to the first kind which is not permanent and whose graveyard union is reckoned to be.

In the ~Qur'an~, the relationship between a man and wife is described as "love and compassion" [And of His signs is that He created for you, of yourselves, spouses, that you might repose in them, and He has set between you love and compassion. (ar-Rum, 30:21)] , and this is a very great point. It is an indication of the human and higher than-animal aspect of married life. It is an indication that the factors of the passions are not the only natural link in married life. The fundamental link is purity, sincerity and the union of two spirits; or, in other words, the thing which joins the married couple one to the other, and unites them, is compassion, mercy, purity and sincerity, not the passions, which also exist between animals.

In his own subtle way, ~Rumi~ distinguishes between the passions and ~true love~; he calls the former animal and the latter human. He says:

Wrath and passion are the attributes of beasts,
Love and compassion the attributes of man.
Thus Love is the characteristic of
Adam, missing in animals, a deficiency.

Materialist philosophers too have not been able to deny this spiritual state which, from several standpoints, has a non-material aspect, and which would not be in conformity with man and what is beyond him being material.

In Marriage and Morals, ~Bertrand Russell~ writes:

Work of which the motive is solely pecuniary cannot have this value, but only work which embodies some kind of devotion, whether to persons, to things, or merely to a vision. And love itself is worthless when it is merely possessive; it is then on a level with work which is purely pecuniary. In order to have the kind of value which we are speaking, love must feel the ego of the beloved person as important as one's own ego, and must realise the other's feelings and wishes as though they were one's own.


attraction and repulsion of Imam Ali (p.b.u.h)- pages:50to54


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