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Stages of love described in the Arabic language

Stages of love described in the Arabic language

When my colleague asked me to write an article about love in Arab culture, I had to laugh at the idea. I mean, after living in one of the Arabic speaking countries for quite some time, I have to admit that there were many times I thought I knew what love was. However, it seems that Arabs are, indeed, in a league of their own when it comes to love, and they can be very over-the-top and passionate about the whole idea of what love and romance is supposed to be. Just look at some expressions in Arabic like ‘ya rouhi’ (“You are my soul”) and the extreme ‘tu’burnee ‘ (“May you bury me.”, popular in Lebanon) meaning “I hope I die before you because I couldn’t live without you.”

Arabs believe that there are 11 degrees of So, without further ado, here is the list of the 11 degrees of love in the Arabic language


alhawa (Attraction)

Literally meaning  “the wind”, and more like a gentle breeze than a howling gust, this is when attraction and lust start to waft their way towards you from your potential lover and love is in the air.


alsabwa (Amusement)

This is when love is out of its infancy, but not yet quite man (or woman) enough to be a relationship. Like kids on the playground, you may enjoy each other’s company and say nice things to each other, it’s still not a romantic relationship, though the feelings you are still developing are too legit to quit.


alkalaf (Infatuation)

Uh oh! Things are about to get real as love is now having a physical effect on you. The word is related to the noun kalif for “difficulty, distress, affliction”, and if you ever been in love, you know exactly what that means.


al’ishiq (Adulation)

This stage can be described as the excessive love and profound admiration lovers experience when they become intimately familiar with each other.


alshaghaf (Passion)

If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned and now you will start to feel the fire of love consuming your heart, starting with its outer layer known as the شَغَاف (shaghaaf). However, this is just beginning as that fire starts to heat up to the next degree.


aljawaa (Sorrow)

As the jawaa is closely related to the meaning of consumption, now your entire heart has been taken over and you start to feel its grief and sorrow.


altaym (Enslavement)

The verb تَامَ  (taam) means to love to the point where your heart is now a slave to your lover. You are no longer yours and now belong completely to the whims and desires of your beloved.


altabal (Malady)

Love, once all the pleasure you sought in this world, has now made your heart its home and turned against it, overwhelming and confusing it as a friend who betrays you with تَبَلَ (tabal),  the Arabic verb meaning “to pursue with enmity, to retaliate in vengeance, to destroy”.


altadliyah (Disorder)

In this stage you are no longer yours, but you now belong to love which has totally consumed you and placed you into a place of total chaos and disarray. The Arabic مُدَلّه mudallah is a word used to describe a man can no longer focus on anything. He is always in a state of complete disruption and confusion, rambling to and fro without knowing the right path to take and always stumbling through the dark.  That’s something to remember on next Valentine’s Day.


alhuyaam (Insanity)

Finally, ladies and gentlemen, we have الْهُيُوم (alhuyoom) or “insanity”.   Yes, love has finally got you – body, heart, and mind.  You’re no longer in control of anything, but controlled by love.  So, the next time somebody says that they’re crazy about you, well, that may not be so far from the truth. Ain’t love grand?


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