What is Ishq ? A Lesson in Love

, Sher o Sukhan

( Ishq e Haqeeqi vs Ishq e Majaazi )

The word ʻIshq’ is an Arabic word عشق and is derived from the word ‘ashiqah’, a vine: the common belief is that when love takes its root in the heart of a lover, everything other than God is effaced.

Ishq itself is supposed to be only lustless love : the Love of Man for God,divine love. But as with all things the word was adopted by other languages and started getting used as obsessive or passionate love for a Beloved other than the Divine.

So in Urdu, Ishq (عشق) is used to refer to fervent love for any object, person or God

In Hindi, ishq (इश्क़) is mostly used to refer to romantic love in its extreme passionate form as can be seen in the films.

That leads to two categories of Ishq

1. Ishq e Haqeeqi or love for the Divine

2. Ishq e Majaazi or love for God’s creatures.

1. Ishq e Haqeeqi

Ishq-e Haqīqi (عشق حقیقی) literally means “the real love” but metaphorically it means “the love of God”. It refers to the belief that only God is worth loving and He is the only one who can return His creature’s love for Him.

( source : wikipedia )

To understand Ishq e Haqeeqi we have to understand Baba Bulleh Shah’s :

Ranjha ranjha kardi ve main aape ranjha hoyiRanjha ranjha saddo ni mainu heer na aakho koyi

I have been chanting the name of Ranjha so much that I myself havebecome Ranjha)(Call me Ranjha, there is nobody with the name Heer here

Abida Parveen with Ranjha Ranjha kardi

As Kabir said

जब मैं था तब हरि नहीं, अब हरि हैं मैं नाहिं।प्रेम गली अति साँकरी, तामें दो न समाहिं।।

Jab main tha Hari nahi, jab Hari hain main nahi,

Prem gali ati sankri, taame do naa samaahi

( when I was there Hari was absent, now Hari is there and I am missing

The lanes of love are narrow, two cannot exist in it at the same time)

The love for the Beloved which becomes so all -encompassing that nothing else remains except the Beloved and his Presence all around us, till the physical and metaphysical merge to become one.

The first step to achieve Ishq e Haqeeqi is to overcome one’s base desires and ego.

Bulleh Shah gal taeeyon mukdee Jadon May nu dillon gawaeeay

Bulleh Shah the ultimate isWhen the “I” is removed from the heart!

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

and we have Mevlana Rumi’s concept :

Be drunk in love, since love is everything that exists. Without theoccupation and trading of love there isn’t (any) door to theBeloved.


If you find me not within you, you will never find me.

For, I have been with you, from the beginning of me.

Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.
Don’t try to see through the distances.
That’s not for human beings.
Move within, but don’t move the way fear makes you move.

Al-Junayd said:
Love means that the attributes of the lover are changed
into those of the Beloved.

And perhaps the best living example of this is Mansur Al Hajjaj who was hanged for blasphemy for saying , ” Ana l Haq” I am Haq or Truth. Since al Haq is one of the 99 names of Allah it was felt that he was claiming he was God.
The short sighted couldnot understand that he had lost himself in the Divine and become one with Him.

Charha mansoor sooli par, jo wakif tha wohi dilbar
Arey mullah janaza parh, mein jaanoon mera khuda jaaney
Mansoor was hanged , only those who knew his love for God understood his total annihilation of himself in God’s love
O priests recite his funeral prayers, It’s between me & my God
Now compare this to the following verses on ibadat or worship and you will understand what it is to lose onself in love of the Divine :

sir te topi, te niyat khoti,
lena ki topi sir dhar ke….

tasbi fairri, par dil na firreya,
lena ki tasbi hath farh ke…

Prayer cap on your head but self is impure.
To what advantage is the cap.
Tasbeeh in your hand doesn’t change your heart.
To what advantage is your tasbeeh

The man is ready for prayers with a cap on his head and a roasary in his head but the intention is corrupted and while the fingers move the beads, the heart remains unmoved.

Kabir also said the same thing in his doha:

Mala Fret Jug Bhayaa, Phiraa Naa Man Ka Pher
Kar Ka Man Ka Daar Dey, Man Ka Manka Pher.
You have been clicking the beads for an age, yet your heart is still impure,
If you remove the rosary and recite with your heart you have a greater chance of reaching God.

2. Ishq e Majazi
Ishq e Majazi is transient, self- indulgent and seeks to appease pleasures of the flesh and heart.
According to Sufi concept while ishq e Haqeeqi is the tree, Ishq e majaazi are the branches and at some point can lead to it becoming Ishq e Haqeeqi.
Ishq e majaazi is impatient while the lover in Ishq e Haqeeqi knows that death is the final destination and Union. That is why in Sufi tradition the death centenerary of saints is called a “URS” or wedding.
Because the soul or bride is leaving her maika ( parents house) for her sasural / Beloved’s ( God) house in Paradise.
In Ishq e Majaazi the ego is apparent and it is hurt when the Beloved doesnot reply or give suitable response leading to despair and sorrow.

aah ko chaahiye ek umr asar hone tak
Kaun jeeta hai tere zulf ke sar hone tak

A lifetime passes before a sigh shows its effects
Who would wait so long to see you fixing the tangles in your hair

and then you have the Bollywood version of ishq which is very far removed from the reality of real love. It sounds good when set to music so is used often. This is actually ‘mohabbat’ or ‘pyaar’

I end with this beautiful message by Mevlana Rumi

All night, a man called “Allah”
Until his lips were bleeding.
Then the Devil said, “Hey ! Mr Gullible !
How come you’ve been calling all night and never once heard Allah say, “Here, I am” ?
You call out so earnestly and, in reply, what ?
I’ll tell you what. Nothing !

The man suddenly felt empty and abandoned.
Depressed, he threw himself on the ground and fell into a deep sleep.
In a dream, he met Abraham, who asked,
“Why are you regretting praising Allah ?”

The man said, “ I called and called,
But Allah never replied, “Here I am.”
Abraham explained, “Allah has said,
“Your calling my name is My reply.
Your longing for Me is My message to you.
All your attempts to reach Me
Are in reality My attempts to reach you.
Your fear and love are a noose to catch Me.
In the silence surrounding every call of “Allah”
Waits a thousand replies of “Here I am.”

~ Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi

Note : these are my perceptions and personal beliefs. It is entirely possible you may disagree or have other ideas.

Comment List

  • Sadiq Jaffer Kunnoori 04 / 02 / 2016 Reply

    I liked what you wrote, but I know that Ishq e Majaazi is what leads to Ishq e Haqiqi…. When it started I had not the faintest idea what happened….. Chamki bijli si par naa samaj sakay hum…. Husn tha ? Jamaal tha? kya tha??
    At that time I was 28 years old and now I am 70…. It takes a long time to complete the journey which of course is never ending… Manzil pe pounch kar bhi yeh waham hai maahir…. Yeh ek khadam duuri yeh farsang na hojaaey …. and only in the company of a Kaamil Guide can one progress along the three stages of that journey from Ishq e Majaazi to Ishq e Haqiqi….. People only mention two….
    Muhabbat khud aadaab e Muhabbat sikaati hain….
    Kitaabon kay hawalay sey samjaaya nahin jaata.
    We equate Muhabbat and piyar with movies like you mentioned; that is only because we have forgotten that there is a stage before Muhabbat which if you recall is called Murrawat. And The Prophet Sallallaahu Alai wa Sallam said that “Murrawat Imaan ki Jaan hai”
    It starts with Murrawat progresses to Muhabbat, and still further to Mawadat…. And then one can pick up enough courage to say the word Ishq…..
    An Interesting subject, but has to be experienced…

  • Anand 06 / 07 / 2017 Reply

    Wish you could use devnagari to accompany verses. It will make reading much easier and enjoyable. But still great effort!

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