Stand at the throne (from The Standing Of the Presence Chamber and the Letter)

by Niffari (Muhammad ibn al-Hasan an-Niffari)

English version by Michael A. Sells
Original Language Arabic

He said to me:
     Stand at the throne.
     I saw the sanctuary.
     No gaze attained it.
     No cares entered it.
     In it I saw the doors of every reality.
     I saw the doors on fire.
     In the fire was a sanctuary.
     Nothing could enter it but the sincere act.
     When it entered, it came to the door.
     When it came to the door, it stood for the reckoning
     I saw the reckoning
          single out what was for the face of God
          from what was for the other-than-him.
     I saw the reward was other-than-him.
     I saw that the act, sincere in him and for him alone,
          raised from the door to the highest plane of vision.
     When it was raised, there was written upon the door:
     "It has passed the reckoning."

Eat from my hand,
Drink from my hand
     Or you will not be equal to my obedience.

If you do not obey me on my account,
     You will not be equal to my worship.

If you cast off your fault
     you will cast off your ignorance.

If you recall your fault
     you will forget your lord.

In the garden
     is everything thought can bear
     and behind it more.

-- from Early Islamic Mysticism: Sufi, Quran, Miraj, Poetic and Theological Writings (Classics of Western Spirituality), by Michael A. Sells

<<Previous Poem | More Poems by Niffari (Muhammad ibn al-Hasan an-Niffari) |


/ Photo by red twolips /


View All Poems by Niffari (Muhammad ibn al-Hasan an-Niffari)

Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

There is so much to explore in this "standing" that I leave it with you to contemplate. Just a few of my own thoughts...

Nothing could enter it but the sincere act.

I love that.

I saw the reckoning
single out what was for the face of God
from what was for the other-than-him.


The day of reckoning, Judgment Day, is when we are sifted to discover what in us is a pure reflection of the face of God from that which is "other-than-him." But Niffari sees that even the "reward" is "other-than-him." He seems to be reminding us that to truly pass the "reckoning," we must seek the Eternal not for the sake of a promised heavenly reward, but for the Eternal alone.

I saw that the act, sincere in him and for him alone,
raised from the door to the highest plane of vision.
When it was raised, there was written upon the door:
"It has passed the reckoning."


A sacred puzzle: The reward is not the reward; God is the reward.

Eat from my hand,
Drink from my hand
     Or you will not be equal to my obedience.


This is a statement of inner mystical initiation. Depth here to explore...

If you cast off your fault
     you will cast off your ignorance.

If you recall your fault
     you will forget your lord.


I love these lines too. A reminder to us that obsessing on faults, imperfections, or sins keeps us cut off from the Divine. The proper approach is not to linger on one's personal or spiritual failures; that simply strengthens the illusory walls between the individual awareness and the Eternal. No, one must see those "faults" clearly, and seeing them clearly no longer cling to them, allowing them to simply fall away without self-condemnation.

We define ourselves by our faults, and create spiritual separation through self-condemnation. When we let them simply fall, the walls we imagined separating ourselves from the Eternal show themselves to have never been. "Ignorance" finally disappears and we we have all along been standing in the presence of the Divine.

In the garden
     is everything thought can bear
     and behind it more.



Recommended Books: Niffari (Muhammad ibn al-Hasan an-Niffari)

Early Islamic Mysticism: Sufi, Quran, Miraj, Poetic and Theological Writings (Classics of Western Spirituality) The Mawaqif and Mukhatabat of Muhammad Ibn 'Abdi 'L-Jabbar Al-Niffari With Other Fragments





Stand at the throne