Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Reality of Love

I posted something a few days ago outlining my aversion to reality, to the news, to bad news in particular. But I really felt ashamed, so I took it down. But now I see that it really matters. I know most of you are confused and don't know what I'm talking about. So for those who didn't see it, I wrote:
"A few years ago I used to be completely obsessed with the news. I'd have to read at least the entire front section of the Toronto Star every day--without it, my day was incomplete. And I would really care about things, I would get worked up about the inequalities in this world. I would get angry at the bigotry of journalists.

And then I stopped wanting to know.

Because I absorb. If I opened up to the sad things in this world, they would engulf me, overtake me. They would render me a meaningless object of time that has been strewn into the extreme chaos of life."
I was thinking about this problem and I realized that it has everything to do with selfishness. I need to conserve love, like I don't have enough to go around. To quote the prince in Ever After: "I used to think that if I cared about one thing, I would have to care about everything, and I'd go stark-raving mad." But this is a twisted selfishness, because without loving other people, without sharing yourself and what you have, you can't love and respect yourself. So by being selfish, you're really taking away that potential for a greater love within yourself, towards yourself.

I went to a lecture last night where the speaker said we have to learn to love better. Some say that love is naturally instilled in us and somewhat chaotic. Isn't love something beyond reason and logic? So how can we love better when love is out of our control? To love yourself and others with something, some power that is not superficial. Some power that is not controlled by money.

Love. Don't we know that love is not a fancy or a fleeting attraction, it's a whole-life devotion to something beyond the physical sphere of living. It's not only something you do with your limbs, it's something you do with your heart. And you might disagree with me, but I find the only way to love better, is to first find that love in God, Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. To truly know, to have the knowlege of His Love and what that love really means. One of God's Names is Al-Wadud, The Loving One: "And He is the Forgiving, the Loving" (Al-Burooj, 14).

He gave us the capacity to love. Allah is The One who loves better. Allah loves best. And the only way for me to also love better is to seek and know His love first.


Elizabeth said...

This is beautiful, Asmaa. I feel that way sometimes too--I'll skip over certain things in the paper because I already *know* that tons of people are getting killed in Iraq, or peace talks are failing in Palestine. And I can't do anything about it.

I heard Julia Butterfly Hill speak a couple of years ago. And a big thing that I came away with was how to avoid "do-good" burnout. People like Iris Chang, who went so deeply into the misery of humanity and tried to stop the huge mountain of human suffering, and ultimately killed herself because the pain was too great--what can we do to avoid this, and still be connected to human suffering? And Julia's answer was: do what you do out of love, not anger, hate, revenge, or whatever. Do whatever you do out of love for humankind. I think the idea frees us from thinking we have to change everything--hopefully things will change, but the most basic thing that happens is love.

'liya said...

I liked this a lot better too, it makes sense :)

sajda said...

So beautiful and so true: "And the only way for me to also love better is to seek and know His love first." If I had to write a handful of things I've learned in my life, that one would make it; it goes hand in hand with the truism "you have to be whole before you can give to others". You have to love God for the type of love you extend to others to be true and authentic love. One of my fave duas is: "O God, I beg of You Your love and the love of those who love You and the love of a conduct which will enable me to attain Your love." According to tradition, this dua was inspired to the Prophet (saw) by Allah.
Beautiful post, Asmaa. Thanks.

hajera said...

You speak words of wisdom.

Asmaa said...

Elizabeth, Liya, Sajda, Hajera, thank you for understanding :)

mezba said...

I understand the part about not wanting to read the news - it's all depressing and all news is bad news.

I don't know if we have to love better, but we may have to love smarter.

Asmaa said...

Mezba, I see your point :) when I said "love better," I meant to say we should love in non-selfish ways. We need to step beyond loving people or things solely for the benefit they may give us. But rather, we should love people for their essence, for their goodness, and for the very fact that they are all souls that come from the same Creator.