The Dawn of Love
I have heard a tale about a man in Baghdad, who sacrificed his heart. Brave and true on the path of love when suddenly fell in love with a maiden.
For him the giant river was a gate, for her the waters of Tigris a veil [1]. Each night consumed by the flames in his heart, wafted above the waters of Tigris light. Destined to her house lost all consciousness of health and heart. Drunken by the intoxicant of love, shamelessly swam across the river by his bare arms.
And this went on (night after night) for a sometime, (but soon) the fire within him diminished somewhat. Suddenly saw his Self in the midst, circling the “What?” and “Why?” around. (All this time unnoticed) There was a mole on her face, but now he saw the mole clearly.
Therefore he asked, “Where did this mole come from my beautiful one?”
She replied, “Tonight swim not upon the waters, do not throw your life away into the river?”
“(As for I) The mole on my face a birthmark, (But for you) burnt mark by the sparks of your love”
“Once you became brimmed with the beauty of my face, suddenly you saw this mark (as an imperfection)”
The man ignored her warning and dived into the Tigris again, drowned, lost the life, his heart and body decomposed in the waters.
For as long as a man dizzying with drunkenness, safe from the quills of porcupine. [2] But once awakened sober from the drunkenness of love, putting his life on the line.
For as long as flames (of love) within the heart ablaze, man unconscious of the outcome of life’s affairs.
But once the fire reduced (even a bit), suddenly mind taking over aware of the approaching perils.
On the path of love when one on a quest, his lion far inferior to the love’s (crafty) fox. Enslaved by the rattling chains of vanity, rejected from the gates of meanings and tidings. His demeanor that of a young lad, shyly infatuated by women.
Didn’t you hear what the beautiful one advised, since for her “his Self” not concealed.
This story is uncovering an important Sufi secret about the Self. In order to understand the poem properly, the authors of the Farsi transcript included an excerpt, another rendition of this story by Ahmad Al-Ghazali in “Sawaneh”:
“Although the beloved is the subject matter of loving for the lover, it exists as beloved as long as the lover’s ‘Self’ is absent, beloved’s manifestation does not exist by its own (needs a self-less lover… and continues with the story above…). And this is a significant and splendid secret, its uncovering points to:
Not conscious of love nor loving
Not my Self not even the beloved“ [3]
Lets go over the story. The man was romancing the girl and each night swam the fatally frigid waters of Tigris that normally kills and drowns any man. But the fire of love within him kept him warm and strong to swim the river to see his beloved. All this time the girl had an imperfection a mole/scar on her face. But the guy was so in love that became EYELESS did not see the mole. Now as time passed on his love just a little bit diminished. Notice the emphasis on the “little bit” by Sanaa-ee. Now this little bit of decrease in love has several significant side effects:
  1. Once the love decreases even a bit, suddenly the lover’s mind takes over and questions fly around e.g. “why her?” “You can do better”…
  2. The Self enter the arena of loving and messes things up by selfishness and giving things order and look for the lover’s best interest (so called)
  3. In doing so the Self eventually extinguishes the flames of love, which then puts the life of the lover in jeopardy for some danger to gobble up and destroy.
  4. The beloved becomes inferior and love can no longer be justified. The slightest little imperfection (the mole) becomes the focus of criticism instead of loving itself.
On the contrary, if love is in full ablaze it means:
  1. Self is forsaken by the lover or the flames of love completely consumed the lover and nothing of him is left except loving
  2. Whether there are dangers or not, lover is most courageous and brave prepared to face all manners of afflictions and tribulations
  3. The beloved is most perfectly flawless, there is no time and reason for lover’s eyes to see anything other than that
  4. Lover is free of all confusions and questions like why or what! Thus no matter what hardship faced there is no stress and emotional disorder
How does this relate to the Beloved the Creator of heavens and earth:
  1. There is no way you love the Beloved (your God) unless you do away with your Self. Selflessness is the requirement for this love. If you sense the Self within you, your love will spoil and shall bring your pain and destruction
  2. No matter what Beloved decrees, though others may question or criticize, for you it is perfection beyond any “Why?”. The only question you ask as a lover of Allah is: “What/how should I do/act now that Beloved decreed this?” In other words you become EYELESS or you see no fault or imperfection associated with the Creator.
  3. When you are Selflessly in love with the Beloved, your courage and powers are intensified. Like the man who swam the frigid waters of Tigris every night, you will be able to achieve feats unimagined by ordinary self-centered men. Lover can bear afflictions and tortures of life that ordinary men would succumb to. He stands as a power being constructed from love in the shadow of beauty of Beloved.
The Sufis have used stories of love to describe by a parallel parable the love for Beloved. In doing so, they have focused on certain kinds of love:
  1. Intimacy (Ashq): Love for women
  2. Greed (Oz): Love for wealth and power
  3. Hypocrisy (Ria): Love for people’s eyes to see you doing righteous actions though you heart is otherwise
These 3 forms of loving are the most intense within. Since love is love, Sufi poets have used the tales about these forms of love as a guide for loving the Beloved.
In particular intimate love for a woman is focal for the Sufis. Though mostly celibate and very pious, they understood some attributes of women lost in today’s hollywoodification of women:
  1. First time Beloved sends you to this earth, even in case of father-less Prophet Jesus, it is via the intermixing of the flesh and love of the woman. It is forbidden for any man to enter upon the surface of this earth without crossing the BRIDGE i.e. the woman.
  2. For some men, whom Allah has blessed, the woman again is a BRIDGE but this time to cross and go back to the Creator! This is when the love/heartache of the woman frees the lover from the Self, he loves her not maternal nor sexual but a form of love only set aside for the chosen few to be returned to their true Owner. This form of love is lost today due to the pop culture and industrialization of women. Remember the day a heartache came to you when something she did or happened to her... your tears rolled down, you fell on your knees begging Allah for her, you gave much money to charity and made vows that if Allah removes this pain of her from you, you shall spent such and such or do such and such to please The Majesty. Well that was when she became the bridge, you could have just walked over to the Beloved.
[1] Tigris is a river in Iraq with many famous biblical and contemporary events happening around it. It is used in the story due to its size and difficulty of crossing it for a single man. I assume Sanaa-ee means that the river was a gate for him to go through to see his beloved, for her this gate was blocked or curtained (like the door covers in mid east and India) by means of the river.
[2] Porcupine in Farsi is an animal shooting arrows from its back at people and here it refers the dangers of life, self, destiny, and people…
[3] When a lover falls in love with the Beloved, there is no longer his self, void are the love or acts of loving and devotion nor even the concept of Beloved (Beloved is a word a Name), because it is all dissolved and reunited into One-ness (Tawheed) nothing left except that which we call the Beloved(though even the name is gone). And this is the secret that dawns the sunrise of love…
Background: Tigris River viewed from satellite. I think the long windy curve diagonally/upwards is the river.

© 2003-2002,  Dara Shayda