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What is 'ishq?

What is 'ishq? This word is usually translated as love, and as such it is a part of everyday life, an expression of one's affection for another person, animal or thing. But the Sufic meaning of 'ishq is not simple. Rather than an expression of affection, although that constitutes a part of it, 'ishq is a way to a beloved. The Lughat-Nama defines love in the following manner:

'ishq is derived from the root 'a-sha-qa, referring to a plant from the ivy family. The main characteristic of this plant being that it winds itself around other plants and dries them by blocking their circulation. 'ishq is a disease. Those affected by this disease see only one face and have only one hope: to attain that face. Thus, the lover feels an intensity of passion and is blinded to the failings of the object loved. Love of the true beloved is the basis and foundation of existence. It is the totality of everything in one thing, namely the truth (haqq). The sublime stage of love is pure love ('ishq-i pak), and it is realized only by the perfect man. The perfect man is one who has walked the Way (tariqat) to the end. Love is the foundation of the is and the is not, even the existence of the planets (aflak) and their regular movement in the firmament are controlled by love.

As a Sufic station (hal) 'ishq is the totality of five stages (maratib) . These are:

  1. Loss of heart (fuqdan-i dil).
  2. Regret (ta'assuf), the lover repeatedly regrets that he is alive and away from his object of love.
  3. Ecstasy (wajd), during this stage the lover sees transient flashes of intense light as they appear and disappear.
  4. Loss of patience (bisabri).
  5. Ardour of love (sababat or bihushi), the lover loses all control over his senses, and overwhelmed by love rests unconscious

Source : http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/bashiri/Hafiz/Hafiz.html