She was the one who first set forth the doctrine of mystical love and who is widely
considered to be the most important of the early Sufi poets. The defining work
on her life and writing was written over 50 years ago by Margaret Smith, a small
treatise written as a Master's Thesis.
of the poetry that is attributed to her is of unknown origin. After a life of
hardship she became spontaneously realized. When asked by Sheikh Hasan al-Basri
how she discovered the secret, she responded by stating: You know of the how,
but I know of the how-less. One
of the many myths that swirl around her life, is that she was freed from slavery
because her master saw her praying while surrounded by light, realized that she
was a saint and feared for his life if he continued to keep her as a slave.
she apparently received many marriage offers (including a proposal from Hasan
al-Basri himself), she remained celibate and died of old age, an ascetic, her
only care from the disciples who followed her. She was the first in a long line
of female Sufi mystics.
Tale of Torch and Water
One day, she was seen running through the streets
of Basra carrying a torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. When
asked what she was doing, she said:
want to put out the fires of Hell, and burn down the rewards of Paradise. They
block the way to God. I do not want to worship from fear of punishment or for
the promise of reward, but simply for the love of God. (From Wikipedia)
One of the greatest wonders of this world is how a life of hardship can be transformed
into a life of pure joy. All it takes is a sincere love of God, as the story of
Rabia illustrates. From
slavery to sainthood, Rabias long and inspiring life, filled with
struggles and adventures, taught her to see everything -- from difficulties to
miracles -- as offerings of Gods love.
the year 717, a daughter is born to a poor merchant in the desert town of Basara,
in the country now known as Iraq. The
narrator relates a dream of the childs father, wherein the Lord Himself
proclaimed that this child would live to be a great saint!
was born at a time of great famine, and in 730 both of her parents die from lack
of food. A
forgotten orphan wandering the streets for food, she becomes easy prey for the
slave dealers of Basara. Though she tries to escape, she is sold into slavery
for six silver pieces.
as a slave is extremely difficult, but even with her exhaustion and hunger, Rabia
never forgets about God. She wonders why her life is so challenging, and instead
of sleeping at night, she prays. One
night, the Lord speaks to her, reassuring her that everything in life, even pain
and misery, comes from His love. Rabia promises never to doubt His ways
again, and the light of God shines all around her.
the servants of the house complain to their master that because Rabia prays
all night and never sleeps, she wont be able to do her work. When
the master goes to confront Rabia, he finds her praying to God, surrounded
with Gods light. Amazed
by the power of her devotion, he frees her from the bonds of slavery. Rabia
moves into a tiny hut and the Lord continues to teach her -- even in her dreams!
she dreams about a beautiful tree, with three of its fruits fallen to the ground.
that the three fruits fell from her Tree of Devotion as three thoughts interrupted
devotion attracts many followers. Her greatest disciple is Miriam, and together
they would fast for many days, praying at night instead of sleeping. After
one such fast, a cat steals their food, the wind blows out their light, and Rabia
drops their jug of water. She calls out in frustration to the Lord, who reminds
her again that everything, everything comes from Him. Her
faith renewed, Rabia and Miriam begin a pilgrimage to the sacred city of
Makkah, home of the Kaaba -- the most holy temple in Islam. Along
the way, their donkey becomes exhausted and dies. But
with Rabias prayers to the Lord, the donkey comes back to life
of these miracles, Rabias fame grows and grows. Her friend Hasan tries
to arrange her marriage with a great preacher, but she refuses. Then the governor
of Basara himself comes to ask for her hand in marriage, offering her plenty of
money. But again she declines, for she has already given her body and soul to
day, two holy men come to see Rabia with the hopes of getting something
to eat. Along
with plenty of bread, they receive a lesson in the immense power of generosity
and faith. Rabias
friend Hasan tries to impress her with his ability to sit on water. Flying
high above him in the air, Rabia reminds him that even birds can fly and
fish can float. That doesnt make them close to God!
with her friend Hasan, Rabia wants to help others to know Gods love.
of love, many preachers come to Basara and speak of fear, and sin, and the need
to pray to God to rescue them from everlasting life in Hell!
interrupts one such sermon to give her greatest teaching. She tells the people
that she prays -- not to get to Heaven, not to escape Hell. She worships God for
the sake of love, and nothing but love.
to be almost 90 years old, Rabia becomes one of the greatest saints of Islam.
Her strength and compassion inspire thousands of other seekers to follow the path
of love, to touch that sacred place of love that exists within us all.
- When Hazrat Rabia Basri would not come to attend the sermons of Hazrat Hasan
Basri, he would deliver no discourse that day. People in the audience asked him
why he did that. He replied: "The syrup that is held by the vessels meant
for the elephants cannot be contained in the vessels meant for the ants."
- One day Hazrat Hasan Basri saw Hazrat Rabia near a lake.
He threw his prayer rug on top of the water and said: "Rabia come! Let us
pray two raka'ts here." She replied: "Hasan, when you are showing off
your spiritual goods in the worldly market, it should be things which your fellow
men cannot display." Then she threw her prayer rug into the air and flew
up onto it by saying: "Come up here, Hasan, where people can see us."
Then she said: "Hasan, what you did fishes can do, and what I did flies can
do. But the real business is outside these tricks. One must apply oneself to the
(From Other sources on Internet)