FALLING IN LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT Often it happens that Love fastens itself to the heart as the result of a single glance. This variety of Love is divided into two classes. The first class is the contrary of what we have just been describing, in that a man will fall head over heels in love with a mere form, without knowing who that person may be, what her name- is, or where she lives. This has happened to more than one man.

Our friend Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Ishaq informed me, quoting a trustworthy authority whose name has escaped me-though I think it was Judge Ibn al-Hadhdha’ that the poet Yusuf Ibn Harun, better known as al-Ramadi, was one day passing the Gate of the Perfumers at Cordova, a place where ladies were wont to congregate, when he espied a young girl who, as he said, « entirely captured my heart, so that all my limbs were penetrated by the love of her ».

He therefore turned aside from going to the mosque and set himself instead to following her, while she for her part set off towards the bridge, which she then crossed and came to the place known as al-Rabad.

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When she reached the mausolea of the Banu Marwan (God have mercy on their souls! ) that are erected over their graves in the cemetery of al-Rabad, beyond’ the river, she observed him to have gone apart from the rest of the people and to be preoccupied solely with her. She accordingly went up to him and said, « Why are you walking behind me? He told her how sorely smitten he was with her, and she replied, « Have done with that! Do not seek to expose me to shame; you have no prospect of achieving your purpose, and there is no way to you’re gratifying your desire. -« He countered, » I am satisfied merely to look at you. « hat is permitted to you », she replied. Then he asked her, « My lady, are you a freewoman, or are you a slave?  » « I am a slave », she answered. « And what is your name?  » he enquired. « Khalwa », she told him. « And to whom do you belong?  » He asked next.

To this she retorted, By Allah, you are likelier to know what inhabits the Seventh Heaven, than the answer to that question. Seek not the impossible!  » « My lady », he begged, « Where may I see you again?  » « Where you saw me to-day », she replied, « at the same hour, every Friday.  » Then she added, « Will you go off now, or shall I?  » « Do you go off, in Allah’s protection!  » he replied. So she went off in the direction of the bridge; and he could not follow her, because she kept looking round to see if he was accompanying her or not.

When she had passed the gate of the bridge, he came after her but could find no trace of her whatsoever. « And by Allah », said Abu `Umar (that is to say, Yusuf Ibn Harun), recounting the story of his adventure,  » I have frequented the Perfumers’ Gate and al-Rabad the whole time from then till now, but I have never come upon any further news of her. I know not whether the heavens have devoured her, or whether the earth has swallowed her up; and the feeling I have in my heart on her account is hotter than burning coals. « This is the Khalwa whose name he celebrates in his love lyrics.

Thereafter he had news of her after he journeyed to Saragossa for her sake, but that is a long story. This sort of thing happens frequently enough; I have a poem on the subject, from which I here quote. Against my heart mine eye designed Great wrong, and anguish to my mind, Which sin my spirit to requite Hath loosed these tears against my sight. How shall mine eye behold in fact This justice that my tears exact, Seeing that in their flood profound My weeping eye is wholly drowned? Since I had never seen her yet I could not know her, when we met; The final thing of her I knew Was what I saw at that first view.

The second class of the variety of Love now under discussion is the contrary of what we shall be describing in the chapter next following, if Allah wills. This is for a map to form an attachment at first sight with a young lady whose name, place of abode and origin are known to him. The difference here is the speed or tardiness with which the affair passes off. When a man falls in love at first sight, and forms a sudden attachment as the result of a fleeting glance, that proves him to be little steadfast, and proclaims that he will as suddenly forget his romantic adventure; it testifies to his fickleness and inconstancy.

So, it is with all things; the quicker they grow, the quicker they decay; while on the other hand slow produced is slow consumed. A young fellow I know, the son of a clerk, was one day observed by a lady of noble birth, high position and strict seclusion; she saw him passing by, while peeping out from a place of vantage in her home, and conceived an attachment for him which he reciprocated.

They exchanged epistles for a time, by ways more delicate than the edge of a fine-ground sword; and were it not that I purpose not in this essay to uncover such ruses and make mention of such subterfuges, I could have set down here such things as I am certain would have confounded the shrewdest and astonished the most intelligent of men. I pray that God in His great bounty will draw over us and all good Moslems the curtain of His mercy. He is indeed sufficient for our needs. FALLING IN LOVE AFTER LONG ASSOCIATION

Some men there are whose love only becomes true after long converse, much contemplation, and extended familiarity. Such a one is likely to persist and to be steadfast in his affection, untouched by the passage of time what enters with difficulty goes not out easily. That is my own way in these matters, and it is confirmed by Holy Tradition. For God, as we are informed by our teachers, when He commanded the Spirit to enter Adam’s body, that was like an earthen vessel-and the Spirit was afraid, and sorely distressed -said to it, « Enter in unwillingly, and come forth again unwillingly!        I have myself seen a man of this description who, whenever he sensed within himself the beginnings of a passionate attachment, or conceived a penchant for some form whose beauty he admired, at once employed the device of shunning that person and giving up all association with him, lest his feelings become more intense and the affair get beyond his control, and he find himself completely stampeded. This proves how closely Love cleaves to such people’s hearts, and once it lays hold of them never looses its grip.

I have a poem on this subject, and will quote an extract. I am resolved to keep afar Wherever Love’s attractions are; The man of sense, as I detect, Is ever shrewd and circumspect I have observed that love begins When some poor fellow for his sins, Thinks, it is thrilling, ever so, To gaze on cheeks where roses glow. But while he sports so joyfully With not a care to mar his glee, The links are forging, one by one, And he’s enchained, before he’s done. So there he is, deluded fool; Stepping benignly in the pool He slips, and ere he can look round

He’s swept along the flood, and drowned. I indeed marvel profoundly at all those who pretend to fall in love at first sight; I cannot easily prevail upon myself to believe their claim, and prefer to consider such love as merely a kind of lust. As for thinking that that sort of attachment can really possess the inmost heart, and penetrate the veil of the soul’s recess, that I cannot under any circumstances credit. Love has never truly gripped my bowels, save after a long lapse of time, and constant companionship with the erson concerned, sharing with him all that while my every occupation, be it earnest or frivolous. So I am alike in consolation and in passion; I have never in my life forgotten any romance, and my nostalgia for every former attachment is such that I well nigh choke when I drink, and suffocate when I eat. The man who is not so constituted quickly finds complete relief and is at rest again; I have never wearied of anything once I have known it, and neither have I hastened to feel at home with it on first acquaintance.

Similarly I have never longed for a change for change’s sake, in any of the things that I have possessed; I am speaking here not only of friends and comrades, but’ also of all the other things a man uses-clothes, riding-beast, food, and so on. Life holds no joy for me, and I do nothing but hang my head and feel utterly cast down, ever since I first tasted the bitterness of being-separated from those I love.

It is an anguish that constantly revisits me, an agony of grief that ceases not for a moment to assail me. My remembrance of past happiness has abated for me every joy that I may look for in the future. I am a dead man, though counted among the living, slain by sorrow and buried by sadness, entombed while yet a dweller on the face of this mortal earth. Allah be praised, whatever be the circumstances that befall us; there is indeed no other God but He!