Ibn al-‘Arabi has dedicated a complete
chapter of his Futuhat al-Makkiya to love,
which has been translated by Maurice Gloton
as ‘Traité de L’Amour’
He describes 3
types of love (pp. 67-127):
1. Divine love
2. Spiritual love
3. Natural love.
For those not
knowing Arabic or French Stephen Hirtenstein
has described these 3 types of love in his
‘The Unlimited Mercifier’ (ISBN
1-883991-29-3). See pp. 191-203. A condensed
description with all the major features of
the exposition of the shaykh is given on pp.
Love is according to three degrees. (Firstly)
there is natural love, which is the love of
ordinary people, whose aim is unification
in the animal spirit… It ends in the
act of physical union, in which the passion
of love spreads through the whole body like
water permeating wool, or rather, like the
permeation of colour in the coloured.
(Secondly) there is spiritual love of the
soul, whose aim is becoming like the Beloved,
accomplishing what is the Beloved’s
due and knowing His decree.
(Thirdly) there is Divine Love, which is the
love of God for the servant and the love of
the servant for God, as in His word: “He
loves them and they love Him”. Its greatest
degree occurs in two ways:
the first way) the servant sees that he is
a place of manifestation for God, while it
is God Who is the Manifest. This is like the
spirit is for the body, its interior, in which
it is always invisible and never seen. So
he only sees Him as a lover.
(On the other
hand) God may become a place of manifestation
for the servant, so that He is qualified by
whatever qualities the servant is qualified
by, in terms of limitation, scope and non-essential
characteristics, and the servant sees this.
Then he becomes the beloved of God.
are as we have said, there is no limit to
love, by which it could really be known. It
can be limited in speaking or writing, though