Metaphorical Love and Divine love

Love is defined as a feeling of being attracted to something eye catching or beautiful. When love intensifies it becomes ishq (ardent love). Sacrificing everything near and dear to one’s heart, be it oneself, home or wealth in the way of Beloved (Allah) is called ishq (Divine love). In fact, it amplifies day by day. The ultimate form of Divine love is when both lover and Beloved become one. For instance, when someone asked Majnu, what his name was? He replied, “Laila”. Then someone added, how come? As she has already passed away. On this Majnu replied, “How is it possible! I am Laila.”


Misconception About Metaphorical Love

The young generation of today’s era thinks of metaphorical love as ishq which in fact is nothing but lust. This is the era in which mosques are vacant, but clubs are packed. The clubs have no morality whatsoever, rather everyone over there is chasing the lusts and desires of their innerself. People have corrupted the pure emotion of ishq by calling their lusts as passionate love. Unfortunately, the young generation considers the metaphorical love as ishq and take pride in devoting themselves and their wealth on their beloved. Often, they lose their lives while chasing love.

Nowadays the writers of novels and plays portray the metaphorical love as ishq. They have been displaying the erroneous concept of ishq to the society. The reason being, they themselves are far away from the real notion of ishq. These narrators fabricate stories and fictional incidents and depict the false meaning of love merely to attain temporary fame. Furthermore, these narrators display their characters in such a fascinating way that people think of it as the truth. On top of that, they show a character which tries to substantiate his/her metaphorical love in the light of Sharia and wayward the legendary lovers.

The food for thought here is that just like the material world, the metaphorical love results in nothing but restlessness and anxiety.


Allah is Love Himself

Every worldly love and relation ultimately face a downfall because this world is temporary and so is everything contained here. Therefore, it is a false claim that a person can fall passionately in love with another person. This concept is beautifully explained by my beloved spiritual guide, Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman in the following words:

“A person cannot passionately love another person. One who claims so is a liar, because Allah Himself is the ardent love (ishq) and one can feel this passion only for Allah.” (Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen)

Ardent love (ishq) is an unconditional sentiment which grows with time and does not fade like worldly love and relations. Due to our limited intellects and thoughts we call the lusts of our innerself as the metaphorical love. How come the love which occurs merely by the charm of apparent beauty and lusts of innerself be the metaphorical love?


Divine Love

Sultan-ul-Faqr VI Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali beautifully explained Divine love in detail as follows:

“The Essence of Allah was hidden. Allah wanted to be recognized, so He manifested Himself in the universe. However, everything burnt into ashes due to His Magnificence and Majesty. Then, Allah concealed Himself with the veil of Meeme ( م , M) of Ahmad and took up the form of Ahmad. Hence everything came into peace and calm. When Allah viewed Himself in the form of an-Nur (light) of Ahmad, He became His own lover. Then the souls of all the creatures were created from the an-Nur of Ahmad.

Here, it should be noted that the beginning of multiplicity from Oneness was only due to ishq. So, the passion of ishq transmitted into all the souls through the sacred soul of Prophet Mohammad. This passion of ishq of Allah is present within every human being in the form of a seed. By the contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat and the spiritual sight of the perfect spiritual guide, it sprouts. Then gradually it enwraps the whole being of the invoker like a fully-grown creeper plant.” (Shams-ul-Fuqara)


How Soul is Connected to Allah Almighty?

At another instance, Sultan-ul-Faqr VI states the following:

“The relation of soul and Allah is that of ishq. In fact, ishq is present in the form of a seed within a human being but is dormant. By the invocation and contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat and inscribing Allah’s name on body along with the attention of Murshid, it becomes active. Then the eagerness and attraction of soul for Allah increases due to the invocation and contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat. This very ishq then annihilates into the Ishq (Allah).” (Shams-ul-Fuqara)

Sultan-ul-Arifeen Sultan Bahoo rehmat-ul- Allah Alayh says:

باھوؒ عشق را بام بلند است اسمِ اللہ  نردبان

ہر مکانے بے نشانے میبرد در لامکان

 Explanation: O Bahoo! The ceiling of ishq is very high. In order to reach it use Ism-e-Allah Zaat as a ladder. As the beneficence of Ism-e-Allah Zaat can take a seeker to all stations rather to the station of no stations.

Now the question arises that how to stir the hidden essence of ishq within one’s inward? As our physical self tends to love only those things or people whom we can see with our physical sight. However, Allah has no physical self. How can we love Allah? According to the perfect Fuqara the only way to reach Divine love is through the metaphorical love of the perfect spiritual guide.


Metaphorical Love

In Faqr and Tasawwuuf (spirituality) metaphorical love in fact means the love for the perfect spiritual guide. In other words, the only person Allah allows us to love is the one who takes us towards Him. This is because the perfect spiritual guide is like a candle which enlightens the soul. Furthermore, he acts as a sharp sword for our innerself. The perfect spiritual sight of the spiritual guide is like a doctor for the patients suffering from the ailments of the innerself.

In the sacred court to the perfect spiritual guide the seekers are blessed with the Divine love. Also, the seeker gets aware of his own reality. Murshid Kamil (the perfect spiritual guide) blesses him with the recognition, proximity and vision of Allah. The beneficence and spiritual attention of the Murshid Kamil plants the seed of metaphorical love in the inward of the seeker. Then he nurtures this seed and sets the seeker on the journey of the Divine love.


Metaphorical Love Per Sufis

Sultan Bahoo

The soul and the spiritual company of the perfect spiritual guide nurtures the soul of the seeker. Murshid Kamil also grants Ism-e-Allah Zaat which prevails the soul over the innerself. In this way ishq abounds in every bit of the seeker. Sultan Bahoo beautifully describes this state of the seeker as follows:

الف اللہ چنبے دی بوٹی، میرے من وِچ مُرشد لائی ھُو

نفی اَثبات دا پانی مِلیس، ہر رَگے ہر جائی ھُو

اندر بوٹی مُشک مچایا، جان پھلّاں تے آئی ھُو

جیوے مُرشد کامل بَاھُوؒ، جَیں ایہہ بوٹی لائی ھُو

Explanation: In this couplet Sultan Bahoo has likened Ism-e-Allah Zaat with jasmine. Sultan Bahoo is the pioneer Arif (knower of Allah) who has used the metaphor of jasmine for Ism-e-Allah Zaat. Its seedling is sowed into the earth. Then it grows slowly into a plant and laden with flowers. The fragrance of these flowers envelops the surroundings. Similarly, spiritual guide bestows the seeker with contemplation and invocation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat. He then sows a seedling into the seeker’s inward. After that in the care of the spiritual guide the light of Ism-e-Allah Zaat gradually envelops the whole being of the true seeker thus illuminating it.


Importance of Perfect Spiritual Guide

In the aforementioned couplet, Sultan Bahoo says my spiritual guide is boundlessly merciful, kind and affectionate and may Allah bless him with a long life. As he has bestowed me the Ism-e-Allah Zaat and opened all its Divine secrets with his perfect spiritual attention. Also, he has revealed upon me the Divine reality and negated everything within me except Allah. He has removed all the idols from my inward. Moreover, he taught me the real meaning of (only Allah) by affirming the Divine Essence in me. Thus, elevated me by the recognition of Musamma (self) through Ism (name). Now this Divine secret has penetrated my whole existence. The Ism-e-Allah Zaat has enveloped my whole being making me witness all its secrets and mysteries. Now I wish to lay it before the entire world. However, these Divine secrets are for the special ones and cannot be opened on the commonalty.

Sultan Bahoo further adds that it has become hard to live because I am bearing these magnificent secrets and mysteries. Now wherever I turn my eyes I see only Ism-e-Allah Zaat, not only physically but spiritually as well. My condition resembles the Quranic verse, “Wherever you turn, you would see the Divine Face.” (2:115)


Molana Jami

غنیمت داں اگر عشق مجازیست

کہ از بہر حقیقت کار سازیست

Explanation: If you are blessed with the love of the perfect spiritual guide then consider yourself very fortunate. Since the sacred self of Murshid is the medium through which one can attain the ardent Divine love.


Buleh Shah

According to Buleh Shah as well the metaphorical love of Murshid Kamil is the key to the Divine love. The metaphorical love, in fact results in the Divine love.

جے چر نہ عشق مجازی لاگے، سوئی سیوے نہ بن دھاگے

عشق مجازی داتا ہے جس پچھے مست ہو جاتا ہے

Explanation: If a person does not love the perfect spiritual guide then he cannot reach Allah. Just like a needle cannot sew without a thread similarly without metaphorical love (for Murshid) one cannot start the journey of Divine love.


Mohammad Bakhsh

Mian Mohammad Bakhsh states the following about the metaphorical love for his Murshid:

میں نیواں میرا مرشد اُچا اَسی اُچیاں دے سنگ لائی

صدقے جاواں انہاں اچیاں توں جنہاں نیویاں دے نال نبھائی

Explanation: I was a humble ordinary man. However, I take pride on the fact that my Murshid is perfect and accomplished. He blessed me according to his majesty and kept me in his slavery till the end. Also, he blessed me with the ultimate destination of Divine love.


Mujadad Alif Sani

گرد مستاں گرد، گر مے کم رسد بوئے رسد

بوئے او گر کم رسد، روئیت ایشاں بس است

Explanation: Keep encircling around the perfect Fuqara who are engrossed in the Divine love. If you are unable to attain the wine of Divine love from them, then at least you will get the fragrance of Divine love. And if you are not able to reach the fragrance either then even their sight is well enough.

Since eternity the tradition of sacrificing everything, be it one’s own self, wealth or home, for the beloved (perfect spiritual guide) continues. Abu Bakr sacrificed his house and everything he owned in the sacred court of his Murshid and guide, Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). As he knew that only the love and close connection with Prophet Mohammad can bless him with the wine of Divine love.


Divine Reality is Recognized Through Perfect Spiritual Guide

There are infinite examples of the friends of Allah who recognized the Divine Reality through their spiritual guide. In this way they blended in the color of their beloved (Murshid). Sultan Bahoo describes the reality of Ishq in the following words:

ثابت عشق تنہاں نوں لدّھا، جنہاں تَرٹی چَوڑ چا کیتی ھُو

نہ اوہ صوفی نہ اوہ صافی، نہ سجدہ کرن مسیتی ھُو

خالص نِیل پرانے اُتے، نہیں چڑھدا رنگ مجیٹھی ھُو

قاضی آن شرع وَل بَاھُوؒ، کدیں عشق نماز نہ نیتی ھُو

Explanation: Only those people attain Divine love who sacrifice everything they own in the way of love. Such people are blended so well in the color of their beloved that they are inseparable. The Divine lovers neither care about attaining high ranks nor they strive to be pious. Also, they don’t spend hours in the mosque praying, rather they are engrossed in the Divine love and Divine sight. The scholars of Sharia emphasize on the matters of Sharia only. However, in Divine love, the lover focuses on both outward and inward matters. Those immersed in Divine love pay no heed to anything else. The scholars of Sharia don’t know that the Divine lovers don’t offer salat five times a day. Rather, they offer salat to their Beloved every moment.


Metaphorical Love in Sarwari Qadri Order

In the Sarwari Qadri order the metaphorical love means the love for perfect spiritual guide. It is achieved through the invocation and contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat. As it reveals the true reality of the spiritual guide upon the seeker. Moreover, it verifies whether a seeker is on the right path on not. Invocation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat grants love for the spiritual guide which then grows into the ishq for Prophet Mohammad and ultimately transforms into Divine love. Thus, the seeker reaches the destination of annihilation in Allah and immortality with Allah.

Shah Shams Tabraiz states the following about the love for the perfect spiritual guide.

عشق معراج است سوئے بام سلطان ازل

از رخ عاشق فرد خواں قصہ معراج را

Explanation: The Divine love in fact grants admission to the seeker in the court of Allah. If a person wants to know the reality behind Prophet’s accession to Allah, then he must fix his gaze on the countenance of the true lover (i.e. the perfect spiritual guide).


The Perfect Spiritual Guide Bestows Divine Love

It is important to note here that only that guide can show the path who himself has walked that path. The perfect spiritual guide is that ocean of Divine love whose depth and vastness can be measured by only those who are aware of his reality. He is at such level of Divine love where there remains no veil of duality. Like Hussain bin Mansoor Hallaj had realized the fact that there is nothing but Allah and that is the only righteous way. He attained such perfection in it that he even forgot his own name. Therefore, when people asked who he was? He replied, “I am the Truth (I am God).”


Who is Granted with Divine Love?

Allah bestows the blessing of Divine love on those who die before death only for His sake. As Prophet Mohammad said:  مُوْتُوْا قَبْلَ اَنْ تَمُوْتُوْا  Meaning: “Die before death”. A Qudsi Hadith states the following:

مَنْ طَلَبَنِیْ فَقَدْ وَجَدَنِیْ ط وَمَنْ وَجَدَنِیْ عَرَفَنَیْ ط وَمَنْ عَرَفَنِیْ اَحَبَّنَیْ ط وَمَنْ اَحَبَّنَیْ عَشَقَنِیْ ط وَمَنْ عَشَقَنِیْ قَتَلْتُہ‘ ط وَمَنْ قَتَلْتُہٗ فَعَلَیَّ دِیَّتَہ‘ ط وَاَنَادِیَّتَہُ۔

Meaning: Whoever seeks Me, undoubtedly finds Me and whoever finds Me, he recognizes Me. Also, whoever recognizes Me, begins to love Me passionately and whoever loves Me, he becomes My ardent lover. One who loves Me passionately, I kill him. Whomever I kill, his compensation is due upon Me. And I am Myself his compensation.

Divine love is in fact love for the Divine Self Who is only One. Only such love is immortal. It is the only love which finds permanence, all other loves are temporary. This concludes that a person’s actual relation is with Allah only. Divine love in fact connects man’s soul to Allah Almighty. Said another way, Divine love is seeker’s anxiousness in the longing for Allah Almighty. Divine lovers are engrossed or lost in the Divine Self.


Divine Love Per al-Ghawth al-Azam

Al-Ghawth al-Azam (Ghaus e Azam) states:

Whoever is friend with Allah, he does not remain friend with anyone else. As Allah Almighty eliminates all other affections from his inward. When someone’s inward is filled with love for Allah, all other loves are eradicated from his inward. (al-Fateh Rabbani Majlis- 58)


Ending Thought:

By the grace of Allah, even today such perfect spiritual guides exist who enlighten the inward of the seekers of Allah with Divine love. Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman is the perfect spiritual guide of the Sarwari Qadri order of the present era. He has enlightened the inward of lakhs of seekers and turned them to the path of righteousness. His spiritual attention has bestowed true seekers of Allah with treasure of Divine love. He bestows the seekers of Allah with Ism-e-Allah Zaat and with his spiritual attention cleanses their inwards. Undoubtedly, Ism-e-Allah Zaat is the precious gift for the seekers of Allah. As when attained from a perfect spiritual guide it leads the seeker to the path of Divine love. May Allah keep us associated with such perfectly accomplished spiritual guide. (Ameen)

عشقِ مجازی اور عشقِ حقیقی is an Urdu article of the magazine “Mahnama Sultan-ul-Faqr Lahore” for February 2020 issue. Originally penned by Arshia Khan Sarwari Qadri and translated in English with few changes by Fatima Noor Sarwari Qadri. If you wish to read the article in Urdu, click the following link:

Do leave a comment or query as we would like to hear from you. For support don’t forget to hit the like button.