(image by me)
The soul on its way to manifestation passes through four states, ‘Ilm, ‘Ishq, Wujud, Shuhud. ‘Ilm is the original state of the consciousness, the pure intelligence; ‘Ishq is love, the next step of the intelligence towards manifestation; therefore intelligence and love are the same in their essence. Objects, such as rocks and trees, have no intelligence, therefore they have no love, except a little perception of love that exists in plant life; but among beasts and birds intelligence develops, that is why in them love begins to show itself. Wujud is the objective world, whose purpose it is to be loved, for love could not manifest unless there were an object to love. Shuhud is the realization of love’s experience, in whatever aspect it may be.
The word love is derived from the Sanskrit word Lobh, which means desire, wish; the same word is used in the Russian language, Liubov. Love may be called in other words the desire to be conscious of the object of love. Therefore Shuhud, the realization of love, is the only object of every soul. It is love in different aspects which is known by all such names as will, wish, desire, kindness, favor, and so forth.
In love abides all knowledge. It is mankind’s love and interest in things that in time reveals their secret, and then man knows how to develop, control, and utilize them. No one can know anybody, however much he may profess to know, except the lover, because in the absence of love the inner eyes are blind; only the outer eyes are open, which are merely the spectacles of the inner eyes. If the sight is not keen, of what use are the spectacles? It is for this reason that we admire all those whom we love, and are blind to the good qualities of those whom we do not love. It is not always that these deserve our neglect, but our eyes, without love, cannot see their goodness. Those whom we love may have bad points too, but as love sees beauty, so we see that alone in them. Intelligence itself in its next step towards manifestation is love. When the light of love has been lit the heart becomes transparent, so that the intelligence of the soul can see through it, but until the heart is kindled by the flame of love the intelligence, which is constantly yearning to experience life on the surface, is groping in the dark.
The whole of creation is made for love. Man is the most capable of it. If we have a stone in our house and we like the stone very much, the stone will not be aware of our love to that degree to which a plant would be conscious of it. If we have a plant, and care for it and tend it, it will respond to our care and will flourish. The animals feel affection. If we keep an animal in the house, how much affection and love it can feel! The tame animals in time grow to be as affectionate as one of the family. It was Joseph’s dog that fed him while in the well until he was found by travellers passing that way. It is said that the horse of an Arab who had fallen on the battlefield kept watch over him for three days, guarding his corpse from the vultures until his comrades came. But man, having the largest share of intelligence, has the most love in his nature.
All this shows that creation has evolved from mineral to plant life, from plant to animal life, and from the animal to the human being, showing a gradual development of love through every stage.
An abstract from The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan