So many different words for love

“‘Hub’ is love, ‘ishq’ is love that entwines two people together, ‘shaghaf’ is love that nests in the chambers of the heart, ‘hayam’ is love that wanders the earth, ‘teeh’ is love in which you loose yourself, ‘walah’ is love that carries sorrow with it, ‘sababah’ is love that exudes from your pores, ‘hawa’ is love that shares its name with ‘air’ and ‘falling’, ‘gharam’ is love that is willing to pay the price.”

An Excerpt from the book “The Map of love” by Ahdaf Soueif.

I just finished reading the book and was sad to see it come to an end. Although from the excerpt it might seem that it was a soppy love story but this is so far from the truth. It is an amazing saga of several generations with a historical backdrop of Egypt at the beginning and end of the century. The characters were so entertaining and their lives were like windows into that era. I had previously read “In the Eye of The Sun” by the same author which I also loved but did not grab me like this one.  Perhaps the reason why I enjoyed the book so much was because it transported me to a time in Egypt when things were so much better yet so much worse, a time when people had political aspirations and the will and drive to fight for their rights, like universities, women’s education and independence.  It might seem weird that I mention independence last but I truly believe that when a nation is educated its independence becomes and inevitability.

As for the above excerpt, it truly is amazing to look at Arabic from the point of view of a non-Arabic speaker.  I had always wondered why we only have one word in Arabic which we use interchangeably for love and like but I realized now that we have so many more versions of “love” than I had previously though.   Arabic is truly poetic and romantic yet at the same time it is timeless and strong.

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