1 – الْهَوَى (hawa) = Attraction
This is the beginning of love. The root verb هَوَى is used to describe wind, meaning to blow, suggesting that this love can arise suddenly, but is transient, not yet firm in the heart. The verb also means both to rise and to fall, indicating the unstable nature of attraction, and the possibilities for how this love might develop.
2 – الْعَلاقَةُ (‘alaqah) = Attachment
Love now becomes attached to the heart, and loses the transitory property of hawa. This is from the verb عَلِقَ to be attached to, to cling to, as in عَلِقَ الشّوْكُ بالثَّوْبِ the thorn clung to, got caught in, the garment, and similarly عَلِقَ حُبهَا بِقَلْبِه love for her became attached to his heart.
3 – الْكَلَفُ (kalaf) = Infatuation
At this stage, the love begins to intensify. الْكَلَف is from the verb كَلِفَ , which means, amongst other things, to become red (in the face), suggesting that the love is now having a physical affect on the lover, and is related also to the noun كُلْفَة difficulty, distress, affliction.
4 – الْعِشْقُ (‘ishq) = Desire
Love now engulfs the heart of the lover entirely, and takes it as its residence, such that love and the heart in which it resides become intimately familiar with one-another. This love blinds the lover to any faults in the beloved. Words in Arabic beginning with the root letters عش convey various ideas associated with ‘ishq: عَشّ to remain in the nest (a bird), عَشِبَ to be covered by foliage, عَاشَرَ to become familiar with, عَشَى to become blind. The two root letters, ع and ش , signify respectively the origin of something (the word عَيْن means spring, source), and diffusing throughout something (the manner of articulation of ش in Arabic phonetics is called التّفَشّي diffusion). Thus, ‘ishq is love which has discovered the source organ of love, the heart, and has diffused throughout it.
5 – الشّعَفُ / اللَّوْعَةُ / اللعَاج (sha’af, law’ah, li’aj) = Passion
The intensity of the love now starts to burn, but at this stage, the love is still pleasurable in the heart. Sha’af describes a state akin to that described by the English word passion, which comes from the Latin root passio (suffering), and is sometimes used with the Latin root in mind, such as in the Passion of Christ, but more often has more pleasurable connotations. Sha’af is from the root verb شَعَفَ to spread tar on a camel, which is a remedy for camel mange; the Arabs believed that the camel experiences a pleasurable slight burning sensation as it is covered by the tar. This root suggests also that this stage of love is a healing, beneficial stage for the lover, but the lover who transgresses this stage will start to feel the pangs of love.
6 – الشّغَفُ (shaghaf) = Affliction
The first stage of destructive, all-consuming love. The heart now begins to be devoured by the love, which begins with the شَغَاف outer covering of the heart. شَغَاف can also refer to a type of heart disease, which, if it spreads, and reaches the spleen, can kill the patient. This is the love that Zulaykha felt for Yusuf, described in the Quran as قدْ شَغَفَهَ حُبّا he (Yusuf) has afflicted her heart with love.
7 – اَلْجَوَى (jawaa)= Grief
The affliction which started with the outer covering of the heart, now takes over the entire heart, and results in an inner grief and sorrow. جَوًى has the meanings of consumption and chronic illness which puts the patient off food. These meanings derive from the phonetic properties of the first two root letters: the manner of articulation associated with the ج is called الشّدّة , literally severity, and the point of articulation of the و is الْجَوْفُ literally the void, as this sound emanates from deep in the throat. The root letters جو are therefore used to indicate the empty inner depth of something, and often relate to destruction; from them we get words such as جَابَ to hollow out, جَاحَ to destroy (property, livestock, wealth), جَاسَ to kill someone in his own house, جَاعَ to be hungry, have an empty stomach, جَوْفٌ inside, interior, void, جَالَ to be routed in battle, جَامٌ vessel. Unlike shaghaf which preceded it, jawaa consumes the inner-most core of the lover.
8 – التّيْمُ (taym) = Enslavement
تَيْم in Arabic is synonymous with عَبْد slave, hence we find in pre-Islamic Arabia the names Abdullah and Taymullah, both meaning Slave of God. The verb تَامَ to love therefore has the nuance of loving to the point where the heart is enslaved to the beloved. We have from this the related word تِيْمَة , which refers to a ewe which the owner keeps for himself, not allowing her to roam freely, and milks for himself alone, and slaughters when he so desires.
9 – التَّبْل (tabl) = Malady
Love, which was once living pleasurably in the heart, having made it its home, now turns against the heart, and so overwhelms, confounds and bewilders it, that it is as though it were its enemy. The verb تَبَلَ means to pursue with enmity, to retaliate in vengeance, to destroy.
10 – التَّدْلِيْه (tadleeh) = Disorder
When the heart is thus being destroyed from within, and begins to lose all sense of balance and reason, it goes into a state of chaos and disorder. مُدَلّه is used to describe a man unable to pay attention to anything, in a state of complete distraction and perplexity, wandering to and fro without knowing the right course. The related verb اِدْلَهَمّ means to be intensely dark, black (e.g. night).
11 – الْهُيُوْمُ (huyum) = Insanity
The beginning of love was with hawa, from the dyadic root هو , and the final stage is huyum, from the root هي , suggesting, just as surely as the final letter of the Arabic alphabet ي follows directly on from the letter و , so الْهُيُوم insanity, the complete loss of reason, is the where the journey which began with الْهَوَى attraction comes to its conclusion. Indeed the final letter of الْهُيُوم , the م , suggests closure, its point of articulation being the lips, with the complete closing of the mouth. The indication of where the initial attraction was leading were there from the beginning: the verb هَوَى to be attracted to, can also mean to perish.