Spiritual Stayings and Addresses

by Muhammad Ibn’Abdi’l-Jabbar Al-Niffari

Very little is known of Niffari, a mystic, a solitary from the ninth century who did not intend anything of himself to be left for posterity. To quote from the introduction: ‘Indeed, the Shaykh never composed any book; but he used to write down these revelations on scraps of paper, which were handed down after him. He was a wanderer in deserts, and dwelt in no land, neither made himself known to any man. It is mentioned that he died in one of the villages of Egypt...’

For now, this paragraph, a few more sentences in the same vein, and five references to him in Ibn ‘Arabi's Futuhat al-Makkiya, appear to be all that we know of him. It is fitting testament to his stature that these writings - disclosures from beyond the veil of relativity - detail the secret tempering of the heart of the mystic within the mirror of infinite compassion, while their author remains as he was in life ‘...who made himself known to no man.’ Authorship lies concealed behind the wisdom revealed, as transparent as is the Real in His creation.

The best-known translation is the The Mawqif and Mukhatabat or Spiritual Stayings and Addresses, first published in 1935 by Gibb Memorial Trust, translated by A. J. Arberry

From Address 3
I am better with regard to what occurs to thee than thy thought, and I am stronger against that which troubles thee than thy repelling.
From Me to things: otherwise, they will take thee. From Me to Me, not from things to Me: otherwise, they will accompany thee.
If things accompany thee, they will waylay thee.
I anticipated thee by making Myself known to thee as a bounty, things not being between Me and thee: then I manifested things to thee as a trial. Stand therefore in the station of my bounty towards thee, and I will stand with thee in the station of my trying thee.
Be with Me, not with thing. If anything reminds thee of Me, or concentrates thee upon Me, it only reminds thee of Me in order that thou mayest forget it, not Me, and that thou mayest be with Me, not with it; and it only concentrates thee upon Me in order that thou mayest be separated from it, not from me.

From Address 5
If thou dost not prefer Me above every known and unknown thing, how canst thou relate thyself to my servanthood?
How canst thou say, “God is enough for me,” when thou restest not in the ignorance of the unknown, even as thou restest in the knowledge of the known? Thy seeking of Me, that I should teach thee what thou knowest not, is like thy seeking that I should make thee ignorant of what thou knowest: wherefore, do not seek of Me, and I shall assuredly satisfy thee.

From Address 26
Appoint a day for Me and a day for thyself. Begin with my day, and my day shall transport thy day.

From Address 7
One thing is, and one thing will be, and one thing will not be. The first is my loving thee, the second thy seeing Me, and the third thy ever knowing Me with complete gnosis.