Arabs are in a league of our own when it comes to romance. I mean, just look at the ways we express love, we're always ready to sacrifice our skin and bones for the people we love.
Over-the-top demonstration of love goes beyond our everyday conversation, as it is rooted deep within our literature. There is no shortage of epic and fiery poems in Arab literature, brought to us by the likes of Abu Nawas and Nizar Qabbani.
In these poems, we see variations of words referring to love, like "'oshk" and "gharam"... but contrary to popular belief, these words are not synonymous. They each refer to a unique degree of love.
Actually, there are 14 degrees of love in Arabic language. Here they are in increasing order of intensity:
1. Al-Hawa (Attraction)
Love begins with attraction and lust, which is described in Arabic as "al-hawa". This is when emotions are running high, but they're still indefinite... kinda like when you're swooning over a crush.
2. Al-Sabwa (Amusement)
"Al-sabwa" is derived from the Arabic word الصبا (al-siba), which means boyhood.
This phase depicts the sweet spot before things get real, when two people are enjoying each other's company without putting a label on the relationship. The "flirtationship" hasn't evolved into a legit relationship yet, but it might.
3. Al-Shaghaf (Passion)
This is when feelings of actual love begin to surface and people are basically love-struck.
The Arabic word "al-shaghaf" refers to الشغافة (al-shaghafa), which is the outer layer of the heart.
4. Al-Wajd (Preoccupation)
"Al-wajd" is when you just can't stop thinking of your loved one. You are preoccupied with him/her and want to spend every waking hour with him/her.
5. Al-Kalaf (Infatuation)
"Al-kalaf" refers to a state of powerful longing accompanied by hardships and suffering. This is when people say "I love you so much it hurts" and actually mean it.
6. Al-'Oshok (Adulation)
"Al-oshok" is used to describe the excessive love and profound admiration lovers experience when they become intimately familiar with one-another.
7. Al-Najwa (Heartburn)
Yes... Arab romance is all about pain. "Al-najwa" is when love engulfs one's heart entirely and triggers feelings of sadness.
"Najwa" is derived from the Arabic word النجاة (salvation), as lovers need to be saved from this state of severe heartache.
8. Al-Shawq (Longing)
This is when you feel a deep longing for your lover and a strong attachment to him/her.
9. Al-Wasab (Excruciating pain)
"Al-wasab" translates to pain and illness. In this stage, love is just not healthy. There is so much pain and suffering, it's the stuff for epic love poems.
10. Al-Istikana (Submissiveness)
I repeat: NOT HEALTHY!
This is the state of humiliating and blind submission we often see in detrimental relationships.
11. Al-Wodd (Friendliness)
Couples who have reached this degree of love are #relationshipgoals. They are not only lovers, but also the best of friends.
"Al-wodd" translates to amiability and friendliness. It is the purest, most selfless and most delicate kind of love.
12. Al-Kholla (Unification)
"Al-kholla" is defined as love and friendship that are ingrained deep in the heart.
In this stage, you believe that your lover is "the one" and that you will never find a more perfect match (#soulmates).
13. Al-Gharam (Fervour)
"Al-gharam" is defined as attachment to something and not being able to let go of it. This is when lovers feel like it is impossible to live apart and always find their ways back to each other regardless of the circumstances.
14. Al-Hoyam (Madness)
"Al-hoyam" refers to madness and insanity caused by excessive love. So basically, this is when lovers lose all sense of reason and go absolutely nuts.