Monday, September 19, 2011

Quel est L'amour?

So I was having this invigorating conversation with my friend on the phone discussing the abstract thing known as 'Love'. We tried defining it, categorising it, quantifying it and finally summarising it but to no avail. Love in my head is still a very intangible amalgamation of emotions and experiences which can run in to infinite loops and even though a definition could be correct for you, or even be accepted by the masses, someone refusing to accept the norm is still entitled to call what they feel, love. Another friend of mine said, writing gives clarity to ones thoughts, so here it goes. 

Let's first talk about love as a verb. In the general sense I guess its the superlative form of the word like. When you like something or some one more than the rest its love. But again how do you measure it. Who are these others that you like but not love, and how do you differentiate. Perhaps there needs to be some sort of exclusivity for the action, cream of the crop so to speak. Here I think I should mention why I think Love is a verb, I believe the mind plays a huge part in loving an object, whether it be the aesthetics stimulating the brain in all the right ways or overlooking the short-comings to create an image* that is almost perfect(a very obscure word do grant me the license to use it in this sense) and thus worthy of loving, the brain is actively playing a part. Even on a subconscious level there's the obvious attraction when you really like something but cannot understand why. I think this definition loses all the fireworks attached with love but there are other definitions too.

What about love as a noun? Well the clear case of it would the object one loves, as in "my love". But then there's the abstract feeling Love. For many it's the intense feeling of joy mixed with trust. But I know many a situations where love entails sorrow and pain. So how do you know you are in love when you don't even know what it is? Perhaps the answer is when you don't know what you're feeling whilst being attracted to someone its love.

Moving from that my friend and I talked about the kinds of love. The main categories(as we see them) are Love of God(beautifully put in Urdu as Ishq e Haqiqi {عشق حقیقی} meaning real love) and Love of World(Ishq e Majazi {عشق مجازی} meaning metaphorical love). 

I would like to discuss the latter first. Love of world, is the love you feel for something you see. There are ideas of 'true love' and 'the one' which I honestly find ludicrous. For most of us statistics and science play a huge role in determining who that one person is, the affect of surroundings on ones individual self, the psychological void that is created by what ever one grows up with turns in to desire, and if you are in love, then odd's are the object of your love fills a part(how ever big or small) of that void creating all the feelings and experiences typically called love. Now when I say that I don't want to sound dull and de-romanticise love, for I do think there is something there, something that science cannot explain, a supernatural element perhaps but there is something. This something unfortunately I think isn't the case for most of us. What I am talking about is the love that poets like Mir and  Ghalib talk about, the kind of love that is said to be the love a moth has for a flame, the kind of love that burns you up inside the feeling of longing and incompleteness. That I think is love in it's extremist form, and even though there might be some melancholia associated with this kind of love I find the feeling of being engulfed by the aura of the one you love as something very rare and bittersweet and there is a sense of pathos that I may live my entire life without truly knowing what love is;

جدھر سے میں گزرتا ہوں نگاہیں اٹھتی جاتی ہیں
مری ہستی بھی کیا تیرا ہی عالم ہوتی جاتی ہے ؟          
  جگر مرادآبادی              
(Where ever I pass from people start looking at me
Is my personality turning in to your aura?)
 {Find the complete ghazal by Jigar Moradabaadi here}

According to some schools of thought thats not real, its just symbolic of something else, I have a theory which may link to love of God in the end. I have talked about there being a part of God in every one of us, and the eternal longing to return to the source of that particular part that's a compound in our creation. In simple words The Quran speaks of making Adam(and consequently mankind) from a part of God's divine light, and many literarians discuss how the human spirit long's for the source of that light, that is God. So perhaps this longing translates in to man's need to love, to connect with any glimpse of that light, which exists in fellow beings although getting to the source requires leaving the physical realm behind. Perhaps that's why poets draw parallels between a moth and human beings, they chase after a light they cannot get, until they let it surround them entirely, and burn to death in the process. 

There is one more kind of love, the kind that I think is the purest form of love. This came up in my conversation with my friend when we were wondering what the 'extent of love' can be. We remembered the saying that God loves for you is equivalent to seventy times the love your mother has for you. To me this says that the extent of love in this world is the love a mother has for her child. For example, if I were to explain the amount of a 'Million' to a person who only understands numbers under a 'Thousand', I would say that a Million is a Thousand times a Thousand, as in I would use the biggest quantity comprehended by that person. Similarly the love a mother has for a child is the extent of love a human being is capable of feeling in this world. Another noteworthy deduction can be the nature of this love. Where as worldly love may be classified as metaphorical, This kind of love is 1/70 times the love God has for mankind, that is considered real. So maybe this is as real as it gets here? 

When you think about it, you realise what a blessing motherhood really is. And I feel unfortunate that this is a feeling I will never experience. So no matter how patriarchal this society gets, Love; the thing almost everyone strives for, is entitled to women in all its strength and purity. 

*Image is a topic I have left for another post, but food for thought could be that we live our lives like an optical illusion. We are the only ones who know ourselves, rest of the world just knows me as the illusion it sees. 


  1. Very interesting and thought provoking. Well written Hasan, keep up the good work! =)

  2. Who would've thought your longest article yet would be about love :D Beautifully written.

  3. Mushi, I see you're reading in to things. Interesting. And Thanks so much.