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This article is about the word Ishq. For other uses, see Ishq (disambiguation).

The modern Persian word ešq or eshgh عشق(Arabic: عشق‎; in Somali: caashaq or (cishqi); in Urdu: ‎ ishq; in Dari: eshq; in Pashto: eshq; in Turkish: aşk and in Azerbaijani: eşq), meaning "love", classical Persian išq, is of utmost importance in the Persian literature and gnosis (erfān عرفان). The section of Etymology of the word puts forward the idea that ešq, used in Persian and Arabic ('išq), may have an Indo-European origin. Ishq does not appear in the Koran, which instead uses the aforementioned verb habba (حَبَّ) and its derivatives, for example the noun hubb (حُبّ). Moreover, in Modern Arabic the relevant terms dominantly used are: habba and its derived forms hubb, habib, mahbub, etc.[1] The word is derived from ‘ashiqah, a vine: the common belief is that when love takes its root in the heart of a lover, everything other than God is effaced.[2] In Islam's Sufi and mystic doctrine it is a concept which refers to "divine love" or "a creature's love for its creator"; i.e. man's love for God.


ešq (عشق) may be related to Avestan iš- "to wish, desire, search", aēša- "desire, search", išaiti "he wishes", išt "wished for, beloved", išti- "aspiration, aim", and suggests that it derives from *iška- or something like that.[3]

Avestan iš- is cognate with Sanskrit eṣ- "to wish, strive for, seek", icchā- "wish, desire", icchati "seeks for, wishes", iṣta- "beloved, sought", iṣti- "search, desire", Pali icchaka- "wishing, desirous". Note also that this word exists in Middle Persian in the form of išt "desire", as attested by Farahvaši.[4]

The Avestan and Sanskrit words come from the Proto-Indo-European base *ais- "to wish, desire", *aisskā- "desire, search", which have several offshoots in other Indo-European languages: Old Church Slavic isko, išto "to seek, desire"; iska "wish"; Russian iskat' "to seek"; Lithuanian ieškau "to seek"; Latvian iēskât "to search for lice"; Armenian aic' "inspection, probe"; Latin aeruscare"to beg; go begging; get money traveling and practicing juggling"; Old High German eiscon "to desire"; Old English ascian "to ask"; English ask.[5]

In contrast, the origin mentioned by traditional Persian lexicographers for ešq is the Arabic 'išq (عشق), from 'ašaq (عَشَق) "to stick, to cleave to". The latter is itself derived from 'ašaqa (عَشَقَه) the plant commonly called lablâb (لَبلاب) ("a kind of ivy"), because it twines upon trees, and cleaves to them (Zamaxšari, Tâj al-'arus).[6]

It is interesting to note that ešq lacks a Hebrew counterpart; the Hebrew term for love is ahav, which is akin to Arabic habba (حَبَّ). Another Hebrew term used in the Old Testament is xašaq "to desire; to attach; delight, pleasure" (for example, Deu 10:15, 21:11; 1 Ki 9:19; Exo 27:17, 38:17; Gen 34:8). According to Prof. Scott B. Noegel, the Hebrew xašaq and Arabic 'ašaq are etymologically unrelated. The Hebrew x (heth) can equate either with an Arabic h (ḥā') or x (xā') and the Hebrew 'ayn can equate either with an Arabic 'ayn or qayn, but they do not mix. Also, typically the Hebrew š (shin) is reflected by an Arabic s (sin), and vise versa. As for the meanings, the similarity is a coincidence. Also, they are not ultimately of the same meaning. Hebrew x-š-qprobably meant "to bind" or "press together", as does its Aramaic equivalent. Similarly, Prof. Werner Arnold underlines that Hebrew x in word initial positions is always an Arabic h (ḥā') and never 'ayn.[7]

As a word in different languages[edit]

The word ishq is originally Arabic and has made its way to many other languages which were influenced by Arabic in one way or another. Some of the most notable languages which have borrowed it are Persian, Urdu, Pashto, Turkish, Azerbaijani (Azeri), Sindhi, Saraiki and Punjabi, and it is also sometimes used in Hindi ʻIshq has a meaning of lustless love.[8] In Arabic, which is its language of origin, it is a noun. However, in Urdu it is used as both verb and noun. ‘Āshiq (male) and ‘Āshiqah (female) are its subjective forms. Mā'shūq (male) and Mā'shūqah (female) are its objective forms. In addition to Arabic, these forms are used in Persian and Urdu. In Urdu, Ishq (عشق) is used to refer to fervent love for any object, person or God. However, it is mostly used in its religious context. In Urdu, three very common religious terminologies have been derived from Ishq. These terminologies are Ishq-e-Haqīqi (love of Truth), Ishq-e majāzi (love of God's creation i.e. a human), and ishq-e rasūl / ishq-e Muhammadi (love of the Messenger / love of Muhammad). Other than these, in non-religious context, ‘ishq is a synonym for obsessive love. In Hindi, ishq (इश्क़) is mostly used to refer to romantic love in its extreme passionate form. This interpretation of Ishq is mostly popularised by Bollywood movies and Indian filmi music. In Turkish, Aşk is commonly used to express love, passion or adoration. The Turkish version replaces the 'q' with a 'k', as Turkish lacks voiceless uvular plosive, and the letter 'ş' with the cedilla denotes the "sh" sound, /ʃ/. In comparison to Arabic or Urdu, the word is less restricted and can be applied to many forms of love, or simply romance. It is common in lyrics of Turkish songs.

As an Islamic concept[edit]

In religious context, Ishq, divided into three kinds, is a very important but rather complex concept of Sufi tradition of Islam.

Ishq-e Haqīqi[edit]

Ishq-e Haqīqi (عشق حقیقی) literally means "the real love" but metaphorically it means "the love of God". It refers to the belief that only God is worth loving and He is the only one who can return His creature's love for Him.

Ishq-e Majāzi[edit]

Ishq-e Majāzi (عشق مجازی) literally means "metaphorical love". It refers to the love for God's creation i.e. love of a man for a woman or another man and vice versa. It is said to be generated by beloved person's external beauty. According to some schools of thought in Sufism, Ishq-e Majāzi can eventually lead to Ishq-e Haqiqi while others believe it can't. When the "real love" of God is attained, His Love is seen as the source of all "metaphorical love."

Ishq-e Rasūl or Ishq-e Muhammadi[edit]

Ishq-e Rasūl (عشق رسول; in Arabic: ʻIshq ar-Rasūl, Arabic: عشق الرسول‎) ' means "love of Muhammad," an important part of being a Muslim. According to hadith[which?] it is necessary for a Muslim to love Muhammad more than mere human beings; even more than their own life. The love of Muhammad is Iman according to Muslim belief.

Use in music culture[edit]

Ishq both as a word and a concept has been extensively used in Arab pop culture. Pakistani pop culture, with its roots in Islamic society, has used its religious context and used it in mystic Qawwalis, music, poetry and literature. Ashfaq Ahmed wrote many short stories and TV dramas about mysticism involving ishq. The world famous Lebanese singer, Najwa Karam used "Ishq" from its derived form of "ashiqah," (as stated above). Her song 'Aaskah' (Falling in love) was an enormous hit, hitting number one all over the Middle East, and was also popular abroad. Bollywood movies have mostly promoted romantic context of ishq by many romantic movies with titles containing the word ishq. Countless film songs have used this word in a purely romantic context with male/female duets. Related words that are used in Bollywood movies are Mohabbat (मुहब्बत), Prem (प्रेम) and Pyaar (प्यार). The term has also been applied in various popular-culture contexts, including the name of a record company[9] and the title of a music CD by Abida Parveen. Ishq is also the name of an ambient music band from the UK.[10] Additionally, Manish Vyas,a unique phenomenon in the world of music-who is a talented multi–instrumentalist and singer-recorded a song entitled "Ishq" on a CD entitled "Sattva-The Essence of Being," which was released on 13 May 2003.

See also[edit]