[ Mutmainaa ]
Rabia al-Adawiyyah is well known in Islamic history as Rabiah Basri was born in 714 A.C. in
the city of Basra. Iraq.
She was born in a very poor home and was stolen as a child and sold into slavery by her
abductors. Her piety and her sanctity secured her freedom and she retired to a life
devoted to prayer and meditation. She gathered around her many disciples and associates
who came to seek her advise, or to ask her to pray for them or to listen to her teaching.
Rabiah Basri was devoted completely to asceticism. She cared little for life on earth and
its comforts, and preferred seclusion.
She never married. Once a man expressed a desire to marry her. She replied thanking him
for his proposal and added that she had no room in her heart for any other love besides
Someone asked her why she continued to suffer poverty and did not seek help from her
friends, she replied: "I am ashamed to ask for this world's goods from Him to Whom it
belongs and how can I seek them from those to whom it does not belong!"
At another time she answered one of her friends: "Does Allah forget the poor because
of their poverty or remember the rich because of their richness? Since He knows my state,
what have I to remind Him of? What He wills, we should accept".
Many miracles are attributed to her. She became famous for her teachings of love and
fellowship of Allah, which she said should be the goal of His lovers. Her mystical words
and prayers are expressive of her lofty thoughts, for example:
"0 my Lord, if I worship Thee from fear of Hell, burn me therein, and if I worship
Thee in the hope of Paradise, exclude me from it, but if I worship Thee for Thine own
sake, then withhold not from me Thine Eternal Beauty.''
"O my Lord, the stars are shining and the eyes of men are closed, and kings have shut
their doors, and every lover is alone with his beloved and here I am alone with
Every true lover seeks intimacy with the beloved, she said. In one of her poems she says:
"I have made Thee the Companion of my heart, But my body is present for Those who
seek its company, And my body is friendly towards its guests, But the Beloved of my heart
is the guest of my soul. "
The mysticism of her teaching is shown in her declaration that she had come from that
world and to that world she was going and she ate the bread of this world in sorrow, while
doing the work of that world.
In one of her poems she says: "My hope is for union with Thee, for that is the goal
of my desire". In another of her verses she declares: "I have ceased to exist
and have passed out of self. I have become one with Allah and am altogether His".
Asked how she had attained to the ranks of the saints, Rabiah replied, "By abandoning
what did not concern me and by seeking fellowship with Him Who is eternal"
Rabiah Basri is highly esteemed and her teachings quoted by most of the Sufi writers and
biographers of the great saints in the history of Islam.
She died in Basra, Iraq in 801 A.C.
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