Remona Aly
Tuesday 01 August 2017 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

My Two Loves

My Two Loves
Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2, Chris Evans Breakfast Show


The first marriage proposal I ever received was via email. It was lengthy and unromantic, more like an academic thesis than a love letter, and it registered my qualities as if I were a shopping list – the final entry of which was me being ‘attractive’ – which to be frank felt like an add on sympathy vote.

My cyber suitor was sincere, I’m sure. But along with the Black Eyed Peas, I was left asking – where is the love? It’s a question that’s had more mileage in my life than I’d have preferred. But maybe I’ve been searching for answers in the wrong place.

I found a direction though, both miles and centuries away – in 8th century Basra to be precise. There, lived a remarkable woman who received countless proposals, but she refused all of them. And it was because of love that she didn’t wish to marry. Her name was Rabia al Adawiyya, the first female Sufi saint of Islam.

Rabia was a scholar, a mystic and a love poet. She wrote verse upon verse of her endless love for God. In one poem, she says: “I only knew love when I knew love of Thee. My love is twin loves, yet the twain are for Thee. I see Thou as present in all that I see. I only knew love when I knew love of Thee.”

Heart-melt! I read Rabia’s words and reflect that I also have twin loves: the vertical love and the horizontal love. By vertical love, I mean my love for the Big G. And by horizontal love, I mean my love for the people around me. These two loves of my life go hand in hand. They’re connected, shaped and nurtured by each other, as I reckon it’s through the strings of human love that we pull divine love ever closer.

So yeah, despite me not finding ‘the one’ out of 7 billion on planet earth as yet, I’ll seek and celebrate the love that is within grasp – whether it’s the love of my colourful friends, my crazy family, my centuries old role model, or my favourite radio host, because all these love connections help me connect with the Source of Love. And still, who knows, one day, I might be the best shopping list some dude could ever have.