Love and Beauty in Sufism


Love and beauty have been defining elements of Islam from its inception. The introduction to each sūrah of the Qurʾān,Bismill āh al-raḥmān al-raḥī m, repeats two Divine Names that convey God’s omnibenevolence. These names are usually rendered using the terms “Mercy”and “Compassion,” but as some have argued, “In the Name of God, The Ever-Loving,the All-Loving” better captures the meaning of this phrase. In the Qurʾān God also states“My loving-mercy (raḥma)encompasses all things” (Q. 7:156; cf. Q. 40:7) and “He has ordained loving-mercy for Himself ” (Q. 6:12; cf. Q. 6:54). Q. 17:110 equates the Divine Name al-Raḥmān,“The Ever-Loving,” with the supreme Divine Name, All āh: “Say, “Call upon God  (Allāh), or call upon the Ever-Loving  (al-Raḥmān). Whichever you call upon, to Him belong the most beautiful names.”” Beyond these verses that embed love, mercy, and compassion in the Divine Nature,God sends the Prophet Muhammad out of loving-mercy: “ And We sent you not, save as a loving-mercy (raḥma)unto the worlds” (21:107). The Prophet, in turn, enjoins loving-mercy upon the believers: “Show loving-mercy to those on earth, and He Who is in heaven will