Love in Sufism 

Shams' Teaching of Layla and Majnun 

This passage, from the discourses of Rumi's teacher, Shams, may shed a little light on the love that envelops Sufis. 

Harun al-Rashid [the caliph] gave the order, "Bring this Layla, so I might see why Majnun--out of love for her-- has cast such passion into the world and why from the East to the West lovers have made the story of his love their mirror." 

They went to great expense, employed much trickery, and succeeded in bringing Layla to the caliph.  She was in a private chamber; at night the caliph would light candles, gaze at her for a while, and then reflect for a while.  [But he could not see what was so special about her.]  He said to himself, "If I get her to speak, perhaps her special quality will become more apparent in her face, by means of her speaking."  He turned to Layla and asked, "Layla, is that you?"  She replied, "Yes, I am Layla.  But you are not Majnun.  Those eyes that are in Majnun's head are not in yours."

 How can you see Layla with eyes with which you see
 other than her and which you have not cleansed by tears?

Look at me with the vision of Majnun!  Those who look at the beloved with the vision of the lover are those whom, "He (God) loves..." [referring to Qur'an  (5:54) "God will bring a people whom He loves and who love Him"] 'The defect [in most people] stems from the fact that they do not look at God with the vision of the lover; they look with the vision of knowledge, the vision of gnosis, and the vision of philosophy.  The vision of love is something else.

From the Discourses of Shams-i Tabrizi  (Maqalat-i Shams-i Tabrizi) 
(Translation A. Godlas © 1991)

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