Love, What is it?
by Ahmed Rehab
The nature of the relationship between man and woman has always been the subject of numerous time consuming and stimulating conversations, thoughts, books, movies and professional studies. Amongst the words most frequently used to define this relationship is ‘love’. However, the word ‘love’ itself is rarely defined. Albeit obvious that the word ‘love’ used in the romantic context is not conceptually equivalent with the ‘love’ in ‘love of an orange’; traveling beyond the vicinity of the obvious connotations of the word results in assumptions and implications running the course of the definition.
Conventionally, and since the time of the ancient philosophical Greeks, through the Shakespearean period, and up to the very modern era of Hollywood, the word ‘love’ has been popularly used to denotate that impulsive, irrational feeling of extreme attraction towards a member of the opposite sex ,which claims its subjects without prior warning or consent. That has been the popularly accepted criteria, indirectly preached, and unconsciously established in the average mind.
‘Love’ has generally been described to be sudden in onset as in "love at first sight"; anxiety causing as in "love hurts"; unstable as in "love is heaven and hell’; unexpected as in "to fall in love"; impermanent as in "I don’t love you anymore"; and inexclusive as in "I am still in love with you, it’s just that I am also in love with someone else". Love is considered to be an emotional state into which one plunges involuntarily, experiencing a mixed contradiction of pleasure and distress. Although such an emotion is valid and oft sincere, it simply is not love, but infatuation.
Love is actually not an emotional state, but a mental state and an emotional state combined. It is not irrational but quite rational. Love in addition to being an attraction towards another is a show of compassion and mercy to another. To watch out for the rights of another, to respect their feelings, to try to make life easier for them, and not to pick petals off a flower over them, is to love them. ‘Mawadah wa Rahma’, Love and compassion, in the Holy Koran the two concepts are readily associated. In that sense, love is not spontaneous but requires a decent acquaintance with one and the other, it is not involuntary but voluntary given the initial attraction is not. . You cannot honestly claim that you love a person unless you have spent considerable time with them. Love is not a sexual liaison, but a spiritual liaison. Love is not an infatuation with the exterior of a person, but an acceptance and admiration of how the exterior of a person interacts with the interior, each factor being
considerably relevant; the latter, which refers to personality, being more relevant.
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