Divine Love

Divine Love: Islamic Literature and the Path to God

William C. Chittick
Foreword by Seyyed Hossein Nasr
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 520
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  • Book Info
    Divine Love
    Book Description:

    The very heart of the Islamic tradition is love; no other word adequately captures the quest for transformation that lies at this tradition's center. So argues esteemed professor of medieval Islam William C. Chittick in this survey of the extensive Arabic and Persian literature on topics ranging from the Qur'an up through the twelfth century. Bringing to light extensive foundational Persian sources never before presented, Chittick draws on more than a thousand pages of newly translated material to depict the rich prose literature at the center of Islamic thought.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-19510-1
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Seyyed Hossein Nasr

    Can one who has not loved write of love? To this question one can respond by asking, Has there ever been someone who has not loved? Indeed, no one can write of love effectively who has not loved, but in order for such writing to convey something of the reality of love, the person must have been able to go beyond that first stage of love, which is love for oneself. Human beings begin to love themselves as soon as they become aware of their own selves as distinct from others. Even men and women who “hate themselves” for one...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xxvi)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
  6. A Note on Format
    (pp. xxix-xxx)
  7. Part One The Origin of Love

    • 1 The Theological Context
      (pp. 3-40)

      By theology, I mean discussion of the divine reality and its relationship with the universe. During the formative period of Islamic thought, up until around the eleventh century, theologians could be classified into three broad schools of thought, which historians have typically called Kalam (dogmatic, scholastic, or dialectical theology), Sufism or mysticism, and philosophy. At least from the time of Muḥammad Ghazālī, the categories started to break down as authors tended more and more to combine the approaches.

      Those theologians who addressed the issue of love did so in the context of various terminological givens, such as the notion of...

    • 2 The Story of Love
      (pp. 41-104)

      Like any worldview, Islam offers a myth, a grand narrative of the human situation as viewed under the aspect of eternity. Like premodern myths generally, the Islamic version begins before creation, dips into time, and eventually takes everything back to its original home. As told by the Qur’an, the events are similar to those recounted in the Hebrew Bible: the creation of Adam and Eve, the Fall, the toil and turmoil of this world, ultimate salvation or damnation. But the details are not the same, so the overall picture looks skewed to Jews and Christians, not least because of the...

    • 3 Spiritual Psychology
      (pp. 105-146)

      Philosophers and Sufis paid a great deal of attention to analyzing the nature of the human self. Avicenna and others wrote books on psychology, in Arabic ʿilm al-nafs, “knowledge of the soul.” Given the routes that modern psychology has taken, it would be more appropriate to translate this term as “spiritual psychology,” for its whole purpose was to help souls attach themselves to the realm of the spirit. As for Sufi teachers, they were typically spiritual psychotherapists. They taught disciples how to conform themselves to the models of human perfection set down by the prophets, taking Muḥammad’s Sunnah as the...

  8. Part Two The Life of Love

    • 4 The Search
      (pp. 149-194)

      In the worldview of taḥwīd, everything comes from God and goes back where it came from. The unique status of human beings has to do with the fact that they have a certain freedom of choice in going back.

      The creative command is timeless, which is to say that it is always being issued. The universe—defined as “everything other than God,” including paradise and hell—goes on forever, even if our world disappears. All things in the cosmos come into existence by the creative command, for nothing has any being of its own. Once something comes to exist, it...

    • 5 The Path
      (pp. 195-237)

      The Qur’an and Hadith typically refer to people in terms of attributes: the faithful, the unbelievers, the knowers, the fearful, the ungrateful, the spiteful, and so on. Later sources offer numerous schemes for classifying human types. The most basic distinction is that between those who know and those who do not, or the faithful and the unbelievers. The faithful (muʾmin) can then be ranked in ascending degrees. For example, there are the faithful in general, the friends (walī), the prophets (nabī), and the messengers (rasūl). In this sort of scheme, any higher category—or call it a station—includes in...

    • 6 The States of the Travelers
      (pp. 238-276)

      Sufi teachers distinguish in many ways between the majority of Muslims, who simply follow the Shariah, and a minority who have reached advanced stages of the Tariqah. One way is simply to contrast the recognizers with the faithful in general, or with various groups among the faithful, such as worshipers (ʿābid), renunciants (zāhid), and wage earners (ajīr, muzdūr), as in these passages from Maybudī:

      What ever is in the heavens and the earth asks of Him[55:29]. The faithful are two: worshiper and recognizer. The asking of each is in the measure of his aspiration, and the caressing of each...

  9. Part Three The Goal of Love

    • 7 The Reality of Love
      (pp. 279-338)

      Early experts in Kalam typically paid little attention to the creative command, devoting their efforts instead to proving the necessity of following the religious command. In general, they understood God’s love as the kindness displayed by that command, for it leads to salvation. As for human love for God, they understood it to mean obedience to the command. In contrast, both Sufis and philosophers paid a great deal of attention to the creative command and the very nature of things. They saw love as the dynamic force that brings the universe into existence, sustains it constantly, and drives all things...

    • 8 The Suffering of Love
      (pp. 339-380)

      The Qur’an says that faith will call down trial on those who claim it, and the hadith literature makes clear that prophets have suffered more affliction and trial than anyone else. Qushayrī explains why this should be so inSubtle Allusions.

      Do the people reckon they will be left to say, “We have faith,” and will not be tried?[29:2]. Do the people reckon that they will be left simply to claim that they have faith without trial being demanded from them? This will never happen, for the worth of a man lies in his trial. When the mea sure...

    • 9 The Realization of Tawḥīd
      (pp. 381-438)

      Historians of Sufism have sometimes distinguished among three paths to God—activity, love, and knowledge. Some have attempted to see these three as developing one after another, beginning with ascetic practices, gradually turning to expressions of love, then becoming theory and speculation. Although this sort of classification may be useful for heuristic purposes, it falls short when we look at the actual texts, not least because the Qur’an and the Hadith talk constantly about all three issues. Of course historical development takes place, but it is probably more useful to look for it in the manner in which the insistence...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 439-442)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 443-448)
  12. Index of Qur’anic Verses
    (pp. 449-460)
  13. Index of Hadiths and Sayings
    (pp. 461-466)
  14. Index of Names and Terms
    (pp. 467-490)