Nowadays, the proliferation of false expectations, the cult of the personality and all that is quantitative, the acceleration of the processes of stimulation, the commercialization of ideas and the confusion of different orders, degrees and forms of love often generate a certain amount of frustration and obsession in the realm of what Ibn 'Arabi calls "human love". When love is fixed on a particular object, it can, if it is not accompanied by a deep awareness of the essentially transcendent nature of love, lead to obsession and alienation. If Ibn 'Arabi's ideas about love were internalized and borne in mind in our daily life, it could be extremely illuminating and could help to free us from prejudices and partial points of view, and to transcend limited perspectives.
In what follows, are two commentaries by Ibn 'Arabi on the Divine Name al-Wadûd as translated (full article link with reference at the end of this post). May God bless the great Andalusian sufi saint and gnostic (aref billah) Ibn 'Arabi,'s soul and connect us with his 'irfan (spiritual wisdom, gnosis) and baraka (transmission of blessings).
(I) On The Name Al-Wadûd, from Kashf Al-Ma'nâ
A. Relationship (ta'alluq)
You are in need of Him, may He be exalted, so that He allows you to achieve the consolidation of constant love (wadd) for Him and affectionate love (wadd) for he whom He (God) has ordered you to love, fixing love for him in your soul (nafs).
B. Realization (tahaqquq)
Affectionate love (wadd) consists in the actual manifestation of love (mahabba), from which it originates, and in constancy (thabât) in that love. The Quranic verse says, "Have we not made ... pegs (awtâd) of the mountains?" These pegs (stakes) [which serve as supports for a tent] are called either watad (pl. awtâd) or wadd, so the term wadd means firmness (ithbât) and constancy (thabât). Therefore, the Lover (al-Muhibb) is the one whose love is free and pure and is devoted to the will of the Beloved, whilst the Loving One (al-Wadûd) is the one whose love is constant.
C. Adoption (takhalluq)
If the love (hubb) of Allah – may He be glorified and exalted – and the love of the one whom He has ordered you to love prevail in the heart of the servant in every state (hal) which may arise unexpectedly from the Beloved (mahbub), whether it is agreeable to him or not, then that servant is called loving (wadud).
(II) The Presence Of Constancy In Love (Wadd):The Name Al-Wadud from The Meccan Illuminations
In the name of God, the All Compassionate and Most Merciful.
Indeed faithful love (widâd) consists
in maintaining constancy and persists
even in that state when
disunion agitates and shakes it.
When in the face the signs (simât) are shown,
the abode (maqâm) unites us with Him
in a solitary riverbed (wâdi)
and a land adorned with flowers and plants.
If seen upon His Pedestal
the land's flowers are the sons and daughters.
The clarity of daylight (sabâh)
in the face of fear keeps them safe.
Only the arrival of the darkness of night
plunges them in fear.
He who finds himself in this Presence is named 'Abd al-Wadud, "The Servant of the One who is Constant in love." God – may He be exalted – has said concerning those who share this presence that "He loves them and they love him" (Q. 5:54), and has also said, "Follow me [meaning the Prophet] and God will love you" (Q.3:31). Also in the well-known and reliable hadith (concerning supererogatory works) God shows that when He loves His servant, God Himself is His servant's hearing, sight, hand and foot. Thus His faculties become permanent and immutable (thâbita) for the beloved servant so that, although he may be blind and deaf in the ordinary, physical plane, the original quality subsists through the veil of apparent total blindness, muteness, or deafness.
Therefore, He (al-Wadud) is He who gives permanence to love (mahabba) insofar as love is "loving constancy" (wadd).
Denominations of the Four Conditions of Love
This attribute [of love] has four conditions which each correspond to a name by which it is known. These four conditions are called hawà, wadd, hubb, and 'ishq.
1. The first, which, in the descent of this attribute, overcomes the heart, is called hawà, "sudden desire" or "amorous inclination", in the sense of the expression hawà l-najm which indicates the descent of a star.
2. Then comes the condition called wadd, the "constant" or "persistent faithfulness in love".
3. Next comes "original love" (hubb), which is "pure love", in which the lover has no will (irâda) of his own and conforms without reservation to the will of the Beloved.
4. Then comes the so-called 'ishq [blinding and captivating love, binding passion] that consists of love wrapped around the heart [of the lover] (al-iltifâf bi-l-qalb). This term derives from the word 'ashaqa, climbing, thorned convolvulus (or bindweed) that, twisting in a spiral, wraps around the grapevine and other similar plants. In this way, blinding love ('ishq) wraps around the heart of the lover, blinding him so that he can see no one other than his beloved.
Concerning the love of the Creator for His Creation
How would the artisan not love his own work? We are undoubtedly His work for He has created us and He has created our sustenance and all that is good for us; how then could He not love us?
God revealed to one of His prophets these words: "Son of Adam! For you I have created all things and I have created you for me. Do not disperse what I have created for Myself in what I have created for you.
Son of Adam! In my duty towards you I am the Lover (muhibb). Love me then by reason of my right over you."
The work itself shows the knowledge that the Maker has deposited in it, His capacity of execution, His sense of beauty, His own greatness, and His sublimity. [If His work par excellence, the human being, did not manifest His knowledge] then to whom or in whom or for whom would it become manifest?
So then, we are as necessary as His love for us, such that His love is for us and we are for His love. Thus has the Prophet said – God bless and give him peace – in his prayer in praise of his Lord that "we are through Him and to Him we belong". This is the presence of mutual attachment ('atf) and of permanence.
Without this first original love
the constancy of love would not be known
and were it not for indigence
the Generous One would not be adored.
We are through Him and to Him we belong. He is the foundation of my constancy (wadd).
If God wants an entity to exist (wujûd 'ayn)
having desired that entity for itself (bi-hâ qad shâ'a-hâ)
all resistance fades away.
He said to us "Be!" (kun) and we became without delay,
for such a disposition towards existence
is the attribute of all that is engendered.
So, the essence of original love
is itself the essence of what comes from it,
whose being the constancy of love (widâd)
outwardly manifests and determines.
Therefore, He loves incessantly and remains constant in His love (wadûd), so that he continually gives existence to that which corresponds to us and every day is concerned with a new task; and the name al-Wadûd has no other meaning than this.
Whether in verbal language or in the tacit language of the condition (lisân al-hâl) we incessantly tell Him, "Do this, do that," and He – may He be exalted – does not stop acting [in answer to our request]. In fact, we say to Him "do!" by means of His own action in us.
The Best of All Possible Worlds
You may think that this way of acting is due to the [Divine] ruse (makr), but Allâh is far above such an attribution, for it does not belong to Him [considering his absolute divinity] but is rather the prerogative [ruling property] (hukm) of His name al-Wadûd, since "He is the one who covers (al-Ghafûr), the Constant in His love (al-Wadûd), Lord of the Throne (Dhû l-'arsh), the Glorious (al-Majîd)" (Q. 85:14–15). He sits on this Throne by virtue of His name the All Compassionate (al-Rahmân), and the All-Compassionate (al-Rahmân) only actualizes His compassion in the effusive passion of the lover (sabâbat al-muhibb), who yearns to find his beloved, but whom he is only able to find by means of His attribute which is the primordial, unlimited generosity (jûd), due to which the Compassionate grants him existence (wujûd) [in the most perfect way]. Had there been a possibility of an existence more perfect than the one granted, He would not have been stingy in depriving the lover of it. As Imâm Abû Hâmid [al-Ghazâlî] has observed in this respect, if there had been such a perfection and God had kept it to Himself and impeded the possibility of a greater perfection, this would imply both a lack of generosity in contradiction to His superlative generosity and an incapacity contrary to His unlimited power, [which would be inconceivable].
Those Who Love God are the Eye-Pupils of the Cosmos
God has informed us that He – may He be exalted – is "the one Who forgives and covers, the Constant in His love (wadûd)" (Q. 85:14) whose love (mahabba) persists in His concealment, since He – may He be glorified and exalted – sees us [in His concealment even though we do not see Him] and, on seeing us, sees His beloved [mahbûb, the object of His love] and in this He delights and takes pleasure.
The cosmos as a whole is a single Man: this one man is the beloved (wa-l-'âlam kullu-hu insân wâhid huwa-l-mahbûb) and all of the individuals of the cosmos are the members or organs of this macrocosmic Man (ashkhâs al-'âlam a'dâ' dhâlika l-insân).
The beloved is not characterized by the love of the person he is loved by, [for such a love does not convert him into a lover], since it only confers the passive condition of the "beloved" (mahbûb), but to him whom God has granted to love Him with the same kind of love which God has towards him, he has granted testimonial vision (shuhûd) and has blessed him with the capacity to contemplate God in the images of things (bi-shuhûdi-hi fî suwar al-ashyâ').
Those who love God occupy the same position in relation to the cosmos, as the pupil to the eye.
Even though man has been given many organs, he contemplates and sees exclusively through the use of his eyes. Therefore, the eyes occupy in him a position analogous to the one that lovers occupy in the cosmos.
God grants testimonial vision (shuhûd) to those who love Him when He knows they love Him which, for Him, is direct knowledge [or knowledge of taste] ('ilm dhawq). His action, with those who love Him, is His action with Himself, and this is witnessing [the action] in the state of existence (al-shuhûd fî hâl al-wujûd) which is a beloved for the Beloved (mahbûb li-l-mahbûb). [According to Q. 51: 56] God created the jinn and human beings to adore Him so that He created His creation especially in order to love Him [actualizing love for Him] (mahabba), for only a lover (muhibb) can love Him and bow down to Him. Apart from human beings (insân), everything glorifies God with its own praise, since nothing else can contemplate Him or, in consequence, love Him.
To my knowledge, God does not reveal Himself in the Presence of His name al-Jamîl to any of His creatures except to human beings and in human beings exclusively. For this reason, the human being does not become annihilated or lose himself in his love for [God] in His totality, but only becomes annihilated in his particular Lord or whoever may be the place of manifestation of his Lord (majlà rabbi-hi).
The eyes of the cosmos are, therefore, its lovers, whatever the apparent object of their love (mahbûb) may be, given that all of the created beings are places of manifestation (majâlî) or "seats of honour" [or "the wedding beds"] (manassât) of the revelation of the Truth (tajallî l-Haqq). Therefore the love (widâd) of all [created beings] is constant: they are "the faithful in love" and He is the one who constantly loves [and is loved]. But this reality, by virtue of the relationship between God and humankind (al-Haqq wa-l-khalq) is veiled by the curtain that separates the creation from the Divine Reality. For this reason, in the verse [Q. 85: 14], the name al-Ghafûr, "the One who covers", appears with the name al-Wadûd, "the One who constantly loves [and is loved]", in reference to this protective curtain.
According to this, when it is said that Qays loved Laylâ, the name Laylâ refers to the theophanic place and the same is true when it is said that Bishr loved Hind, Kuthayr loved 'Azza, Ibn ¯Durayh loved Lubnâ, Tawba loved al-Akhyaliyya, or that Jamîl loved Buthayna.
All of these are "bridal chambers" (manassât) of the self-disclosure of the Truth [which for the lovers is manifested in the beloved].
Ultimately Only God is Loved
It is possible for lovers not to know the name of the one they love. It may happen that someone sees another person and falls in love with him without knowing who he is, or his name, his lineage, or where he lives. By its own essence, love drives him to find out the name of the beloved and to discover his dwelling-place so that he may begin to frequent it. When the beloved is absent, the lover has knowledge of him through his name and his relationships, and asks for him when he cannot see him. Thus is our love for Allâh – may he be exalted – We love Him in His epiphanies (majâlî) and in this particular name (ism khâss) which is "Laylâ" or "Lubnâ" or whoever it may be, without having consciousness that it is the same divine Reality ('ayn al-Haqq) [that we love]. In this case we love the name [for example Laylà] and we do not know her real essence which is the Truth. In relation to the created, [as we have already seen] one might know and love the entity ('ayn), possibly without knowing its name, but real love refuses to accept this and is only content with the knowledge of the name, that is to say, the Beloved.
Among us are those who already know Him in this world and those who do not know Him until they die whilst loving something in particular. So, at the removal of the veil (kashf al-ghitâ') it is revealed to them that in reality they did not love any other than Allâh – but they were veiled by the name of the creature (ism al-makhlûq) – in the same way that the servant of the creature ('abd al-makhlûq) here is the one who adores it without knowing that, ultimately, in a manner unknown to him, he only adores God.
The Unity of Love: a Unique Essence
Such is the situation if you understand it well:
If you are in Him, then you are you.
In truth you are the bridal chamber
where the Truth (manassât al-Haqq) reveals Himself,
but you are not you when you are.
You conquered the one you wanted so much
and thus, since you knew the one you adored
now you know he is neither Laylâ nor
Lubnâ but rather He whom you well know.
If from yourself you see His love
then you can contemplate Him being you.
Since the lover only loves himself
as everything is You, everything is You.
How marvellous is the Qur'ân in establishing correspondences between the Divine Names and the states!: "He [God] is the One who covers (al-Ghafûr), the Constant in His Love (al-Wadûd), the Lord of the Throne (Dhû l-'arsh), the Exalted One (al-Majîd), Who always does what He wants (fa''âlun li-mâ yurîd). Thus He is the Lover and "the One who does what he wants," so that he is also the Beloved one (mahbûb) since the beloved does what he wants with his lover. The lover obeys and complies with all that his beloved requires of him with total conformity, since the lover is the one who is faithful in his love (wadûd), that is to say, the one who is constant in the requirements and conditions that the actualization of love (mahâbba) requires. In fact the essence [of both the lover and the beloved] is single as refected in the aforementioned passage in the Qur'ân, in which the Constant in love (wadûd) [attribute of the lover] is also "the One who does what he wants" [attribute of the beloved]. Consider then how marvellous and subtle is this divine suggestion, "and say: My Lord! Increase my knowledge!" "And God says the Truth (al-Haqq) and indicates the way" (Q. 33: 4).
- Shared from the article "The Servant of the Loving One - On the Adoption of the Character Traits of al-Wadud" by Pablo Beneito as published in The Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society
The article first appeared in Volume XXXII of the Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society (2002).