December 26, 2016 Religion

Chivalry is a code of romantic love practiced in the European Middle Ages. This was an odd combination of economic and emotional practice for the knights or vassals. The knight was supposed to serve the lady, who was the wife of their employer if her husband was away on military escapades or on Crusade.

According to Reilly, there are different hypotheses about how the Medieval institution of chivalry developed. One theory talks about the roots of romantic love in Greek philosophical idealism adapted by the Christian heretics in southern France at the beginning of the twelfth century. Muslim Sufi mystics, who were influenced by Gnosticism accepted the ideas of Platonic idealism as an act of illumination, gnosis. Islam was an extreme monotheism that emphasized the distance between God and human beings. Islamic thinkers found Plato’s idea about the world being an illusion useful in understanding and spreading the new Islamic religion. The proclamation of extreme love for God was a heresy since it led to a disregard for the shari’ah, or sacred law of the Muslim community. In order to avoid execution by the orthodox authorities, other Sufi poets disguised their deep feelings of love for God. They masked the source of their passion using common names to disguise their love affairs with God, and they spoke of the intoxication of wine when they meant union with God. .

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Another theory talks about the Arabic adab that describes the troubadour love as the ennobled, refined senses by courtesy and art. The culture of adab developed in the upper class, who had the time and means to practice these new standards of life and love in the courts. Ibn Hazm (994-1064), Spanish scholar and vizier, wrote “The Dove’s Necklace” which shows the fine art of falling in love. The authority of love and submission to it, irrational behavior, and love at first sight are part of the courtly love tradition. One characteristic idea of Arab cultivation of love was that it was not gender specific.


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