The Lover and the Beloved

By Omid Safi, Ph.D.

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What if love were the means of both transforming the heart and the world? The path of radical love begins with a realization that love is One, God is One, humanity is One, and that love flows from God through humanity and back to God. Therefore the poetry that sages like Rumi compose also reflects this journey.

In reading mystical poetry of this tradition, it is deliberately ambiguous to determine whether a particular poem is meant for a tender beloved, for the  writer’s husband or wife, for a spiritual teacher, for any of the Prophets, or for God. The truth of the matter is that it is typically written for all of them, and all at once. This ambiguity is a trait of this mingled and mingling radical love, one that unites and unifies the lover and beloved, earth and heaven, male and female, the human and the divine. It is this same love that manifests outwardly as justice that redeems the world.  

Dr. Omid Safi is a scholar of the Sufi path and a leading public intellectual. He is the Director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center, and specializes in the study of Islamic mysticism and contemporary Islam. He will return to Mercy by the Sea October 25-27, 2019 to facilitate the weekend program, “Radical Love: The Legacy of the Prophetic Traditions.” In addition to looking at the teaching of the path of radical love, one of the spiritual highlights of the Islamic tradition, the retreat will trace the 20th-century figures who best exemplify this tradition in the American context: Rev. Martin Luther King,Jr., Rabbi Heschel and Malcolm X.