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Love, the Pivot of Life

By: Ali Akbar Mazaheri
Just as the human body needs spirit to continue living and a spiritless body is cold, frigid, and withered, marital life, too, stands in need of spirit to become prosperous, fruitful, and dynamic; and that spirit is love. A life short of love is like a lifeless and spiritless body.
Similarly, as a building needs some binding material (cement, etc) and the page of a book requires glue to remain organised, the institution of the family also needs a cement and glue as the binding force to strengthen and continue its fruitful life; that is to say love and affection between the husband and the wife.
Love is and elixir of prosperity, which gives hope to sad depressed hearts and turns coldness and frigidity into fervently warm emotions. Love turns thorns into fragrant flowers.
We turn to professor Martyr Mutahhari's worthy saying: The boy and girl who never thought of anything while single, except those things which were directly related to their own personalities, had no sooner attached their hearts to each other and set up the assembly of a family, that they find themselves, for the first time attached and associated with the destiny of another being. And when they have a child, their spirits are completely changed. That lazy, slow moving boy has now turned into a clever and fast moving one and the girl who would not leave her bed even by force, no sooner hears the voice of her baby in the cradle when she jumps like lightening.
What is that power that took away and removed that looseness, laxity, and slackness and made the youth so sensitive? It is nothing but love and attachment. Love awakens the dormant and sleeping organs and frees the tied up energies just like the breaking up of the atom, freeing the atomic energy. It is inspiring ad a hero maker. Love completes the soul and brings the amazing and astonishing interior potential talents into view. It is inspiring from the comprehensive and perceptive point of view and strengthens the intention and courage from the emotional aspect.15
If love governs family life and the wife and husband love each other from heartily, many difficulties are eased and solved, and are not even considered and counted to be difficulties, just like the hardships of a holy war on the way of Allah; for such hardships taste sweeter than honey for a mujahid. And similar to the odds and hardships that a researcher bears and endures on the way of knowledge and takes pleasure form them and enjoys them.
Be merry, oh our sweet love; Oh the physician of all our ailments.16
But if love does not exist, then many of life's matters, even those which are simple and easy, become hard and tough and appear like the cumbersome toil of a prison annoying and molesting the soul and the body.
If love is there, then the husband and the wife put on the spectacles of beautification and whatever that they see it is good and beautiful to them. The may even consider each other's faults as beautiful. But if this life-giving element is lacking, then they put out the spectacles of misconception and view everything as ugly. Even to the extent that they might view each other's merits as demerits and dismaying.
Ali (a.s) the commander of believers said:

If a person does not like a thing, he does not like to look at it and hear about it.
It is part of human nature and instinct that when he dislikes a thing, even its name, sign and memory is disliked by him. And if he loves a thing, then everything, which leads to it and reminds him of it is likes by him. He enjoys everything attached and associated to it.
If one does not like one's spouse, and instead feels hate and scorn for him or her, then one would unconsciously and unknowingly wrong him or her. This would make one find faults and pick a quarrel and enter into contention and dispute. But if love is there, one never views the partial faults and even if one views them, one neglects them.
In an atmosphere and environment of purity where a couple has mutual affection and attraction, all life is beautiful. Even the walls and doors of the house reflect beauty, charm and freshness, and the atmosphere of the home is attractive, hopeful and refreshing. The two heart of the loving couple are full of sentiment and love, beating for each other.
As if their heart beatings are harmonious and analogous. And those are not two hearts, but one heart in two chests - like a single soul in two bodies. They love everything pertinent to each other. They love each other's families, relatives, and associates. Everything belonging to the other one is lovely, sweet and pretty: the face, conduct, speech, pictures, clothes, dresses, letters, memories, etc.
If two spouses love each other, they would even get along with each other's deficiencies and lapses. The husband and the wife want to live together for the whole of life. They are supposed to meet hardships, odds and burdens during this time, as these are the musts of worldly life. They must have some kind of provision to traverse this lengthy way of life.
And love is the best provision for this journey. If they have this energy right at the starting point of the journey of life, they would be able to carry on with it to the end and at each other's side, reaching the destination of prosperity. But if this energy is lacking, then they should fail to combat the odds of life and perform their heavy duties and carry this trust to the destination.
Frigidity and coolness turns into warmness, and bitterness into sweetness under the fascinating and charming shade of love. In this fragrant and enchanting atmosphere decent and trained children evolve.
We again refer to the words of professor Mutahhari, the sagacious philosopher and martyr of the way of love: The support and kindness of man's heart toward his wife is so worthy and valuable to the woman that marital life is not endurable for the women without it. The woman's life must take in emotions and sentiments from the man so as to be able to saturate sentiments from the man so as to be able to saturate her children from her full of tender spring and kind sentiments and emotions. The man is like a mountain and the woman like a spring and the children like flowers and plants. The spring should receive the rain of the mountain and sprout it in the form of pure and clean water to make the plants, flowers and herbs green, fresh, and blooming. If rain does not fall upon the mountains or the mountains' form is such that nothing is absorbed by the soil, the spring will dry up and the plants and flowers wither.
Thus, as the life of landscapes and deserts is dependent upon the mountain rain, similar is the case of the man's sentiments and feeling with regard to the woman. These sentiments make the lives of the woman and the children pure, sublime and felicitous.17

Kinds of Love

1- Loves of Lust and Passion
These are on the basis of sexual attractions, lust and passionate desires. Although this kind of love is necessary in spouse selection and joint life and must definitely exist, it is not sufficient alone. Moreover it does not have all those benefits, qualities, and peculiarities, which have been stated about love, and it can not last forever, because with the passage of time of the couple's joint life, lustful desires and passions would subside and the preliminary zest and fervour of sexual attraction would gradually fade away, Following the birth of children, the freshness of youth would decrease and the faces and physiques would lose their previous shapes and forms.
After many years pass, the effects of old age would become apparent in the man and the woman and that would be the time when strong and powerful incentives and motives to continue a prosperous life would no more exist.
The combining and adhesive force of life should be so strong that it persists and lasts through all the stages and phases of life and is able to make the skeleton of life stand on a firm footing. This (sexual) kind of love does not alone have such strength and endurance; its colour being faded and a shame is brought by it.

2- Lofty Love:
In this kind of love, a person's inclinations are toward the lofty values. If this type of love comes to exist in the husband -wife relationship, the sexual desires, lusts and passions would also be placed under its umbrella and would pick up the colours of lofty and superb values. Both forms of love are essential in marital life and each one in itself is not sufficient.
To say that the inclinations and relations of spouses should only rest upon supreme and lofty values and that sexual love is not necessary would be a mistake. Rather, both must be present to make each other perfect. In this problem, too, like all other marital problems, the middle way should be adopted, not the way of excessiveness or deficiency. The first type of love, when alone, is subversive and damaging, but when accompanies by the other form loses its negative and harmful aspect and having become a part of superb values, turns into a beneficial one.
Here too professor Martyr Mutahhari opens the vista saying: Human sentiments and feeling have form and grades. Some of them are from the category of passions, specifically sexual lust, being common instincts among man and all the animals. It arises from the sexual origin and is finished right there. Its increasing and decreasing is mostly related to the physiological functions of the reproductive system and inevitably is at the time of youth. With the passage of time on one side and its being greatly saturated and satisfied on the other it is used up.
Man has another form of feeling which are factually and naturally diverse to sexual lust. We had better name them sentiments, and by the Quranic interpretation, 'amiability' and 'compassion'.
Quran interpret the marital relations between men and women by the words 'amiability' and 'compassion' and it is extremely lofty point. It is and indication of the human aspect and the super-animal dimension of marital life. It is indicative of the fact that lust and passions are not the only linkage in marital life. The real and actual relation is the purity, truth, communion and unity of the two souls.18

Question And Answer
Q: The first form of love is recognised and known by all, but the second form is not very clear and vivid. What is the love, which rests upon lofty values and the marital life should be set up according to it and the former one should be placed under its umbrella?
A: The facts described in this chapter about the criteria of spouse selection are a complete and comprehensive response to this question, the standards and values, which have been described, cover both forms of love.

Lasting Love
As already described, the love of a husband and a wife must persist and continue and must last even after the days of youth are gone.
The husband and wife need such sentiments and kind feelings, which may hold their family life with all the warmth and fervour even after sexual attraction, passions, lustful desires and the freshness of youth are finished.
Allah has placed the source and origin of this love in the spouse: And He put between you love and compassion.
So if their lives are set upon correct foundations and are managed and administrated in the right way, then that 'love' and 'compassion' will continue and will remain life-long.
We have seen a great number of couple where the passing of the youth period not only did not create any flaw and weakness in their love, but also with the passing of age and movement towards old age, their mutual regard and graciousness increased. As a matter of fact, their conduct becomes the phase of their perfection and the height and ceiling of their joint loves.

A Magnanimous and Beautiful Specimen
Aunt Zainab and Hajj Hassan were life parents for the last seventy years. I can recollect the final 25 years of their lives nearly, in which they had all the reverence and respect for each other and I do not know any event that could indicate any mutual disrespect and disinclination in their lives.
I asked their relatives about the rest of their life together and came to know that they were always like this. Aunt Zainab was both a wife and a nurse for Hajj Hassan who was older than her and who become ill in his last years. She held the old man in such respect, reverence, and kindness that it amazed and made the one who saw it praise her. In this part of their old age, sexual phenomenon did not mean anything to them, since they had surpassed it. But the love, honour and grand respect was overwhelming their relations even still.
Whenever Hajj Hassan fell ill, the aunt would nurse and look after him with extreme kindness and respect. Whenever I visited them, Hajj Hassan said: This lady has looked after me so very well. If it was not for her, I would not have been able to pass my old age honourably. It is because of her kindness and nursing that I can go to the mosque and attend to my services and prayers and lead a honourable life. Her existence is a great boon and beneficence, which Allah has bestowed upon me. I always pray for her.
I enjoyed seeing their sincere relations and felt sorry about many husbands and wives who have cold relations and have scornful and menacing conduct towards each other. I used to wish all spouses had been like aunt Zainab and Hajj Hassan.
Hajj Hassan had grown very old and was nearly ninety years of age and could no longer stand or walk to perform his work. But Allah had saved and spared his perform his work. But Allah saved and spared his kind spouse for him. She used to look after and nurse her old husband with respect, love and self-sacrifice, never allowing him to face humiliation and misery.
The last time I visited Hajj Hassan to enquire after his health, he said: Had Allah not given this spouse tome, I could no longer continue my life.
The last days of Hajj Hassan's life approached and he was about to leave Zainab alone after a lovely joint life of seventy years. Aunt Zainab was nursing him with all her might, looking after him from all aspects, revolving around him like a butterfly around a candle. She served him to all possible extents. Hajj Hassan occasionally opened his eyes and looked at her. His looks reflected the sign of respect, reverence, thankfulness and gratitude for her. As if he was saying: Oh y pure angel, you were my spouse and faithful friend. You spent your youth and life beside me.
You put up with my deficiencies and lacking in our lives and did not complain to anyone. You secured my honour. You were the partner of my sorrows and joys and my companion amid the of odds of life. Now when, I am leaving this world, I am pleased with you. And I bear witness to Allah that you were a good wife. I am pleased with you. And I hope Allah may also be pleased with you. And I hope Allah may also be please with you, and grant you reward.
His lips sometimes moved and he prayed for her.
Aunt Zainab's condition was nearly similar to her husband and she also uttered the same prayers for her old husband through her conduct, speech, condition, and looks.
At last the delegate of Allah came to take his soul as if the death delegate of Allah too thanked and praised her, since only a few hours before the angel's arrival she had bathed and cleaned him up and changed his clothes; as if she wanted to send a bridegroom toward his wedding chamber.
Following the passing away of Hajj Hassan, I went to see the aunt. Her eyes were shedding tears. Her heart was grieved and heavy, but she had a feeling of pride and exaltation, since she felt she had performed the divine duties in connection with her husband.
Dear youths, do you not wish to have a prosperous life like that of aunt Zainab and Hajj Hassan? Of course, you do! So you must observe the existence of love and affection in the selection of your spouse. You should marry someone, whom you definitely love and that person must also love you. Marriage is not only the communion of bodies it is also the unity of heart. And this relation should be so strong and unbreakable as to persist and last until the end of life. And only a relation can have such a quality, which is establishes on two pillars; that is the same two forms of love, which have previously been defined.

Mutual Love
In one way, love alone does not suffice a felicitous life. Instead, both spouses must love and adorn each other. If one loves the other and the other does not, then their life would have difficulty. The indifference and apathy of the other would soon cool down the love and affection of the spouse. Consequently, hatred and scorn will develop on both sides. It is two-way love that created prosperity, not one way love.

A Net of Deception
One of the traps into which most of the youth fall and usually can not escape is that they discover, before the marriage's execution, that they do not like each other (or one of them does not like the other) and they want to avoid the marriage, but the family members and their friends say Now you marry and afterwards love will be created! These inexperienced youths, having believed in their word, marry and thereafter not only love is not created, but also with each passing day their mutual scorn and hatred increases miseries surround them.
And then those people, who recommended their marriage and promised them the development of love, all vanish away. All have left them alone to themselves to pass a cool, frigid, spiritless life with a mountain of difficulties and agonies. Even if those who promised them that love would develop wish to help them, they simply cannot.
Youth (both boys and girls) must concentrate upon and be cautious about this point: that love must be present or should take shape at the beginning so as to build the foundations of marriage. There is no guarantee that it may develop at a later stage. I have seen many persons who married bearing this wrong conception and logic in their minds and their lives were ruined. We would describe one of these bitter stories later on. Here take a look at two sorrowful events, which have been described by Ayatollah Amini.

First Tragic Story:
Mrs ... writes in her letter: Nearly a year ago, I married a young man whom I did not know previously. he twice visited our home, but I did not have the chance to think carefully whether I like him as my future husband or not. I told myself that after the marriage contract takes shape, love would follow. But unfortunately, after the marriage contract, when he came to our home, I discovered that I really did not have any inclination towards him.
Thereafter, I discussed the matter with my family, but I was strongly opposed. They said: You will start to like him later on. But how even after the lapse of one year from the date of our marriage, not only have I not developed any liking for him, but even I do not love the sight of him. Really I am exhausted. Many times I thought of committing suicide, but I was afraid of Allah. My life is like a hell. I burn inwardly and tolerate it. What must I do?19

Second Tragic Letter
Mr ... from ... writes: It is now five years I have been serving in the Islamic Republic's armed forces. Four years ago I married my cousin. During these four years, I did not have any interest in life, nor do I have it yet, because I married this girl, whose life has been made bitter by me, upon the insistence of my parents.
I moved for the asking of her hand in marriage and thus destroyed her life and mine. I do everything possible to forget the past and set my heart and please it with this life, but it is in vain. Whenever I go home on leave, I become the cause of the displeasures and pain to my parents as well as my wife. Now my parents have accepted their fault but to no use. It is very late now and I do not know what to do. I always pray with weeping eyes at the end my service. I feel sorry about why I ruined the life of this girl whom I can not make happy.20

Important Question and Answer
So far we have come to conclude that love between spouses is the axis and real pillar of marital life, and should be present before marriage, and that life be founded upon it.
Now the question raises about the boy and the girl who did not see and know each other before marriage, or even if they knew one another, there was no attachment and affiliation between them (as they did not have any intention to marry) and now they have made up their minds to take steps regarding proposal and investigation (into each other's characters etc), how is possible that all of a sudden love should be developed in their hearts? How must they understand whether they like each other or not? They were not acquainted and friendly towards each other to discover their love, hatred or any of the two.
Briefly speaking what is the way and criteria of their discovery of each other's love or hate?
Answer: this is a very important and fundamental question and must be perfectly attended to and needs much concentration, careful thought, and contemplation. And now carefully read the explanation in this respect.
The illegal friendships and the street romances, which are practise by immodest people is against the interest of boys and girls, and can never end up in a sacred and prosperous marriage. We definitely do not suggest with reference to the facts described in chapters 5 and 6 that this problem is well soluble.
In this manner we keep the standards described in chapter 5 in view and start following the guide plan of chapter 6. The more we move ahead, the more our recognition of the concerned person increases and the attraction or disinclination towards him becomes evident. With the increase in our information pertaining to one's qualities and traits and that of his family, our love or scorn for him would be inflated.
We keep moving on this course until we reach a final decision (positive or negative). If we do not reach a clear-cut conclusion in the initial phase of the plan, consultation and friendships and mundane loves. And by love we do not mean such unsuitable and incorrect matters. These illegal companionships and loves severely damage the honour and personality of the youth and bring them many miseries. And the girl suffers more harm than the boy.
The fate of a girl who loses her modesty and honour as a result of mixing with passionate and lustful men is extremely painful. Never has a prosperous family been seen to be raised from the effect of these filthy games. Regretfully, some weak-minded girls are deceived by the false promises of these glib-tongued impostors and they lose their honour and modesty on the hope of finding a felicitous marriage. As a result, they smoulder in the hearth of repentance and regret. (Of course, there are girls too who trap boys and make them miserable.)
Anyway, the correct way and answer to the question is as follows: seek advice, mediation, and investigation and sending a messenger, then we carry on with the final phases (writing a letter, sending pictures, direct conversation, seeing each other) until we reach a point of decision.
Do not forget the final point of the sixth chapter; that is step by step and with patience and perfect caution.
Do not forger this. If one works according to what has been described, and the various stages of spouse selection are crossed with patience and caution and the standards described in chapter 5 are observed, the situation of love or no love and attraction or repulsion weld become clear.
I strongly emphasize and stress that until such time as the state of love is no fully clear and evident and it is not known that the girl and the boy like each other, steps in connection with marriage must not be taken. Of course, they may not drop the idea also. If there exists a condition of neither love nor hatred and the fact that whether they love or hate each other remains ambiguous, then a final decision must not be taken; rather the plan of chapter 6 should be carried on until ultimately it is known that thy like each other or not.
My brother and sister, be fully cautious and attentive not to be subjected to any deviational factor. And take your last decision with great care, caution and patience, and by considering all the dimensions of the problem. It is possible that some people may pressurize you by saying Why are you suspending it? What kind of flaw or demerit does that person have? Come on, hurry up, give an answer, you do not need to think so much.
What will people say if they understand the? It will break my heart if you reject him (or her) and I will curse you! and you will remain spouseless for the rest of your life. You just say OK and leave the rest of tit to us! Everything will be all right...
If this style does not work, they may threaten you, particularly in the case of the girl, and make the youth yield to an unwanted marriage thorough fear, pressure and harassment.
But you do not pay heed to such words and false ultimatums and threats, And it cannot take place unless you say Yes and no one can do a thin in this regard. If a marriage takes place without the consent of the boy and the girl and under pressure, it is null and void. And such a marriage would be illegal. Do not submit to an illegal marriage. Some of the elders when confronted with a negative reply or suspension of the reply by the boy or the girl often say What fault does that person have, so that you are not accepting or are delaying the marriage?
The answer to this is that it is not essential that the person must necessarily have some shortcoming so that the reply be given is negative or the matter be suspended, but he may be even good and still one does not accept him as a spouse. And this is the legal right of a person to accept or reject a proposal.

An Artificial Life is Unendurable
If marriage is not accompanied by mutual love and respect, an upset and disturbed life will come into existence, and no force, law or convention can settle it down. Let us look into the philosophical and wise words of martyr professor Mutahhari in this regard: Two persons can be made to work together by force and legal compulsion, so can they be obliged to honour their commitment on the basis of justice and co-work for many years, but it is not possible to force two individuals by law to love an sincerely befriend each other and practice mutual self sacrifice, with each one regarding the prosperity of the other as his own. 21
At the end of this chapter, we again stress and remember that: minute care, Yes! obsession, No! Caution! Caution oh listener! Trial, trial oh unmindful. Nobody informs and awakens you like the wise and knowledgeable one. 22
15. The attraction and repulsion of Ali (a.s), Sadra publication, sixth edition, p. 48-50.
16. Mathnawi Maulavi.
17. Right of the woman in Islam, Sadra Publications, 8th edition, p326, p 317.
18. Attraction and repulsion of Ali (a.s) p55-58.
19. Spouse selection, p 98,96, first edition
20. Spouse selection, p 191.
21. Right of the woman in Islam, p 313, Sadra Publications, fifth edition.
22. Nahjul Balagha, sermon 153, Subhi saleh.

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