One day the Rose reached out her petals to embrace her God and the World, and gave to both the Magnificence they deserved, for she had been given the greatest gift of all.

The Nightingale, joyful at her becoming, sang his praises to Allah, in the sweetest, most beautiful voice the World has ever heard.

The nightingale (bolbol) and the rose (gol) are stock motifs in the tradition of the diwan, originating from Sufi poetry in Persia (read up a primer on it here: This is an original story inspired by common divan themes as well as themes in this comic.

The basic idea is that the nightingale represents the poet – the artist voice – who longs for the rose, which represents the beloved. The most interesting thing about this is that in Sufi poetry (or much of medieval Middle/Near Eastern poetry), the rose represents two kinds of the beloved – Earthly Love (as in, your romantic partner), and Divine Love (as in, God). They are not separate, but two sides of the same coin. The love that that artist devotes to the romantic or platonic beloved is the same, or from the same source, as his love for the divine. To further emphasise this sameness of love this kind of poetry is set in a Garden of Paradise, which could be a literal garden on earth, or heaven. In Islamic conceptions of heaven, not only is Paradise/Jannah where you meet God, but where you reunite with the people you love i.e your family, which includes your spouse.

The message is this: to love someone is to love God. Or even more profoundly, to love God is to love someone.

My version of the Nightingale and Rose, I hope, conveys this theme. I only refrained from using Petrarchan language (‘Oh woe is me the friendzoned lover’) as is popular in love poetry of the time, because 1) I’m annoyed at it 2) I wanted this story to express the mutual respect and equality of Zeynel and Ayse’s relationship.

The nightingale who is voiceless learns to sing. His love for the rose gives him the voice to finally express that love, and in turn he uses it to express his gratitude towards God. Meanwhile the rose, who starts out as an ordinary Tulip (petals closed up), blooms in response to this nightingale’s devotion, understanding now that she is a being worth loving. This gives her the confidence to reach out to the world (and to God), and reveal her true power and beauty.

Both the Nightingale and Rose benefit from each other’s presence. Their destiny is bound together.

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