Ishq (Arabic: عشق‎, ‘išq) is an Arabic word meaning "love" or "passion",[1] also widely used in other languages of the Muslim world and the Indian subcontinent.

The word ishq does not appear in the Quran, which instead uses derivatives of the verbal root habba (حَبَّ), such as the noun hubb (حُبّ). The word is traditionally derived from the verbal root ʿašaq "to stick, to cleave to" and connected to the noun ʿašaqah, which denotes a kind of ivy.[2] In its most common classical interpretation, ishq refers to the irresistible desire to obtain possession of the beloved (ma‘shuq), expressing a deficiency that the lover (‘āshiq) must remedy in order to reach perfection (kamāl).[1] Like the perfections of the soul and the body, love thus admits of hierarchical degrees, but its underlying reality is the aspiration to the beauty (al-husn) which God manifested in the world when he created Adam in his own image.[1] Islamic conception of love acquired further dimensions from the Greek-influenced view that the notions of Beauty, Good, and Truth (al-haqq) "go back to one indissoluble Unity (wahda)".[1]

Among classical Muslim authors, the notion of love was developed along three conceptual lines, conceived in an accending hierarchical order: natural love, intellectual love and divine love.[1] The growth of affection (mawadda) into passionate love (ishq) received its most probing and realistic analysis in The Ring of the Dove by the Andalusian scholar Ibn Hazm.[1] The term ishq is used extensively in Sufi poetry and literature to describe their selfless and 'burning love for Allah'. It is the core concept in the doctrine of Islamic mysticism as it is the key to the connection between man and God. Ishq itself is held to have been the basis of 'creation'.[3]


Traditional Persian lexicographers considered the Persian ešq and Arabic ʿišq (عشق) to derive from the Arabic verbal root ʿašaq (عَشَق) "to stick, to cleave to". They connected the origin of the root to ʿašaqa (عَشَقَه), a kind of ivy, because it twines around and cleaves to trees (Zamaxšari, Tâj al-'arus).[2]

Heydari-Malayeri suggests that (ʿišq) may have an Indo-European origin and may be related to Avestan words such as iš- "to wish, desire, search", and ultimately derive from *iška. The Avestan iš- also exists in Middle Persian in the form of išt "desire".[2]