One of the most powerful emotions experienced by an individual is love. We are willing to go to the ends of the earth and beyond for the love of another individual. Muslims across centuries have relied on the language of love to express love for the Divine as well as to imagine the intensity of Divine love.

In Jawhar al-Dhat, the Persian poet Farid al-Din Attar illuminates the depths of Divine love when he writes: 

From each a mystic silence Love demands.
What do we all seek so earnestly? ‘Tis Love.
What do they whisper to each other? Love.
Love is the subject of their inmost thoughts.
In Love, no longer “thou” and “I” exist, for Self has passed away in the Beloved.1

Love, in this framing, emerges as an organic connection that humans share with each other, and with the Divine.

In the Shia tradition, the Ahl al-Bayt, the family of the Prophet, and the Imams, become the center of the believers’ love and devotion. Ibn Hani al-Andalusi, a court poet of the Fatimid Imam-caliph al-Muizz, emphasizes his devotion and love for the descendants of Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Bibi Fatima (a.s.), as he writes:

O Children of Fatima! Is there in our resurrection a means of protection for us, a sure refuge other than you? You are the friends of God and the friends of His people, God’s pious khalifas and proofs, ever-present on earth. You are from the people of prophecy, messengership and guidance, the pure chiefs manifest, clearly for everyone to see.2

Ibn Hani affirms the status of the descendants of Imam Ali and Bibi Fatima as the khalifas, stewards or deputies, of God on earth. His expression of love for them thus becomes an intentional act of faith.

In contemporary times too, Shia Ismaili Muslims express their love for Mawlana Hazar Imam in similar poetic forms. Isma’il Adra, a Shia Ismaili poet, beautifully articulates his love for the Imam of the Time:

O Karim! O my sovereign! You are my destination and to you I come running with a breathless heart. Come close to me in your love and presence, with that which is between your purity and mercy. Since I have made you the sovereign of my heart, increase its yearning for you who are so near to me.3

Adra yearns for the proximity of the Imam and draws upon the established Arabic poetic tradition to simultaneously express and strengthen his spiritual bond.

While Ismaili murids of the past and present have expressed love for the Imam in myriad ways, we have been blessed to experience a glimpse of the unconditional love of the Imam for us, his Jamat. In a message to the global jamat, on March 29, 2020, Hazar Imam said:

“Please convey my best paternal and my best maternal loving blessings to my worldwide Jamat, and tell them that I think of them every minute of the day, each day, and I pray for Mushkil Asan and for their peace and happiness.”4

Let us find joy and strength in this shared bond of love. May it lead us to further strengthen our spiritual bond with each other and with our Imam. Ameen.

1 Smith, Margaret. The Persian Mystics, Attar. New York: E. P. Dutton & Company, Inc. 1932. p. 93.
2 Hunzai, Faquir M. (Ed). Shimmering Light: An Anthology of Ismaili Poetry. London: IB Tauris Publishers, The Institute of Ismaili Studies. 1996. p. 25.
3 Ibid., p.136.
4 Mawlana Hazar Imam conveys blessings for the worldwide Jamat. 29 March 2020.