Salaam and Greetings of Peace:
The following is a question a brother asked in an email, and my answer. It is about love on the Sufi path, and is reprinted here with his permission.
How are you today? I hope this email finds you well. There is one more question I would like to bother you with :) I was at the khaniqah yesterday and the Shaikha explained to me some of the things that I had not understood until now. Finally the enormity and the difficulty of what I am about to undertake started to dawn on me. She said that if I am prepared to accept that, I will be initiated.
When I think about the things she told me, the one question that keeps coming up is: when your heart only yearns for the Beloved, what happens to the way you feel about your friends, family, loved ones? Do those relationships start to feel fake or superficial or irrelevant?
Thank you again for your help.
Salaam Dear Brother:
I pray that you and your family are in the best of health and happiness :) Now, you have asked a question that bothered me too when I was first initiated. But I have found that over the years the exact opposite of what I feared has been true.
Instead of feeling less love for family and friends in turning to the Beloved, the opposite happened. When the heart eventually opens to love without reservations, it spreads like water to every corner of your life. I have found that my love for family and friends has increased with my love for God, and for the Master and the other darvishes as well. It really amazed me :)
Now every act of service is an act of love, every prayer, every day of life, is an act of love. Love begins to pervade the heart, and I mean this literally. I give thanks to the Beloved for every day of life, for every breath of zekr, for every small goodness that comes in the process of living.
It may be that the adab of not taking such things for granted anymore has opened the heart, I don’t know, but that is what happened to me. A part of it may have been being with Master, and with the Shaykhs. The loving energy that surrounds them fills the heart of all that are near them and open to it.
That may be the crux of the matter. Being open to it. The nafs are self indulgent, self absorbing, and I am still as guilty of it as anyone, but, inshallah, little by little, with the help of Master and the grace of God, it gets easier.
I don’t know if I have answered your question lol. So I will just say, don’t worry about love, it has a way of being all-inclusive on the path, to family, friends, strangers, animals, everything that lives. That may be how the heart expresses its love for Allah. It is not a narrow beam of light, it is the sun that shines on everything.
O Beloved, everywhere I look, You are!
Every sound I hear is You!
Every touch, taste, scent, all You!
Every child’s face is You,
Every stranger, every friend
Of every nation, end to end.
Every sound echoes Your voice!
The wind stirs the trees and
The leaves sway to La Illaha ill Allah!
The sea waves Your name to the shore
The earth grows Your name in its bounty
The sky colors Your name in aching blue.
In all the worlds, everywhere,
Without end, there is only You
The Merciful and Everlasting Friend.
(The poem came out as I was preparing this post, and was not part of the email exchange.)