I love not those that set
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
But when it set, he said: “I love not those that set.” (6:76)
This verse on the universe’s decay, uttered by Prophet Abraham, upon him be peace, made me weep.
The eyes of my heart wept bitter tears for it. Each tear was so bitterly sad that it caused others to fall, as though the tears themselves were weeping. Those tears make up the lines that follow. They are like a commentary on the words of a wise Prophet contained in God’s Word—the Qur’an.
A beloved who disappears is not beautiful, for one doomed to decline cannot be truly beautiful. It is not, and should not be, loved in the heart, for the heart is created for eternal love and is a mirror of the Eternally Besought One.
A desired one doomed to set an disappear is unworthy of the heart’s attachment or the mind’s preoccupation. It cannot be the object of desire, and is unworthy of being missed with grief. So why should the heart adore and be attached to it?
One sought who is lost in decay and death—I do not desire such a one. For I am mortal and therefore do not seek or desire anything mortal.
One worshipped who is buried in death—I do not invoke or seek refuge with such a one. For I am infinitely needy and impotent. That which is powerless cannot cure my endless pain or solve my infinitely deep wounds. How can anything subject to decay be an object of worship?
A mind obsessed with appearances wails upon seeing that which it adores in the world decay and die, while the spirit, which seeks an eternal beloved, also wails, saying: “I love not those that set.”
I do not want or desire separation, for I cannot endure it.
Meetings followed immediately by bitter separation are not worthy of thought or longing. For just as the disappearance of pleasure is pain, imagining it is also pain. The works of lovers, that is, the works of poetry on metaphorical love (love for the opposite sex), are lamentations caused by the pain arising from imagining this disappearance. If you condensed their spirit, this lament would flow from each.
Thus, it is due to the pain coming from such meetings and painful metaphorical loves that my heart cries out, like Abraham: “I love not those that set.”
If you desire permanence in this transient world, permanence is born out of transience annihilation. Annihilate your evil-commanding soul so that you may gain permanence.
Free yourself of bad morals, the basis of worldly adoration, and realize self-annihilation. Sacrifice in the sphere of your possession and control for the True Beloved’ sake. See the end of beings, which marks extinction. For the way leading from this world to permanence passes through self-annihilation.
The human mind, absorbed in causality, laments the upheavals caused by the world’s decay. The conscience, desiring true existence, wails like Abraham: “I love not those that set.” It severs its connection with metaphorical beloveds and decaying beings, and attaches itself to the Truly Existent One, the Eternal Beloved.
O my base soul. This world and all beings are mortal. However, you can find two ways to the All-Permanent Being in each mortal thing, and discern two gleams or mysteries of the manifestations of the Undying Beloved’s Grace—if you sacrifice your mortal being.
The act of bestowing is discerned and the All-Merciful’s favor is perceived in each bounty. If you discern this act through what is bestowed, you will find the All-Bestowing One. Each work of the Eternally Besought One points out the All-Majestic Maker’s Names like a missive. If you understand the meaning through the inscription, the Names will lead you to the One called by those Names.13 Since it is possible to find the kernel, the essence, of these transient things, obtain it. Discard their meaningless shells into the flood of mortality.
Every item that exists is a word of embodied meaning and shows many of the All-Majestic Maker’s Names. Since beings are words of Divine Power, understand their meanings and place them in your heart. Fearlessly cast the letters left without meaning into the wind of transience and forget about them.
The worldly mind, preoccupied with appearances and whose capital consists only of knowledge of the material world, cries out in bewilderment and frustration, as its chains of thought end in nothingness and non-existence. It seeks a true way leading to truth. Since the spirit has withdrawn from what sets and is mortal and the heart has abandoned the deceiving beloveds, and since the conscience has turned away from transitory beings, you, my wretched soul, must seek help in: “I love not those that set,” and be saved.
See how well Mawlana Jami’14, who was intoxicated with the “wine” of love as if created from love, expressed it in order to turn faces from multiplicity to unity—the parenthetical additions belong to me:
Want only One (the rest are not worth wanting).
Call One (the others do not come to your assistance).
Seek One (the others are not worth seeking)
See and follow One (the others are not seen all the time;
they become invisible behind the veil of mortality)
Know One (knowledge other than that does not add to
your knowledge of Him is useless)
Mention One (words not concerning Him may be regarded as useless).
O Jami’, I admit that you spoke the truth. The True Beloved, True Sought One, True Desired One, and True Object of Worship is He alone. In the mighty circle of remembering and reciting God’s Names, this universe and its inhabitants declare, in various tongues and tones: “There is no deity but God,” and testify to Divine Oneness. It salves the wound caused by those that set, and points to the Undying Beloved.
13For example, through its coming into existence, beauty, shape, proportions, color, and the function it does, a flower displays the Divine Names the Maker, the All-Beautiful, the All-Shaping, the All-Just, the All-Coloring, and the All-Wise, respectively; and the Names point out the One Who has them. (Tr.)
14 Mawlana Nuru’d-Din ‘Abdu’r-Rahman ibn Ahmad al-Jami‘ (1414–1492 CE), commonly called Mulla Jami‘, is regarded as the last great classical poet of Persia, and a saint. His Salaman and Absal is an allegory of profane and sacred love. Some of his other works include Haft Awrang, Tuhfatu’l-Ahrar, Layla wu Majnun, Fatihat ash-Shabab, and Lawa’ih. (Tr.)