Sufi Lives: Rabia

Many a night she would spend in prayer, less ritual prayer (salat) and more free prayer (du’a), in particular the loving converse with God (munajat) in which the mystic speaks from the depth of his or her heart. Sometimes she would go the roof of her house and pray thus:

“Oh my Lord, the stars are shining and the eyes of men are closed, and the kings have shut their doors and every lover is alone with his beloved, and here am I alone with Thee.”

In another phase of her life, Rabia took to travelling. The peripatetic Rabia took many journeys, some to lands that were holy, some to lands she made holy. And the people flocked.  They sought her blessings, her intercession with God. They ascribed miracles to her. But she herself disclaimed any power to work miracles or to intercede with God. She remained only an example of faith and love.

Rabia possessed a radiant faith. She was not consumed by the dread of judgment after death. As much of an ascetic she was in her worldly life, she intended to be in the next life. She rejected any rewards in the after life. She had no fear of hell and no desire for heaven. Her life was about spiritual motivation for actions, rather than mere ritual correctness. She worshipped God out of love. She took joy in His service. This is the message she wished to convey, as in her famous verses:

I carry a torch in one hand
And a bucket of water in the other
The torch is to set fire to Heaven
The water to put out the flames of Hell
So that seekers of God can rip the veils
And see the real goal

To Allah she would pray:

If I adore You out of fear of Hell, burn me in Hell
If I adore you out of desire for Paradise, lock me out of Paradise
If I adore you for Yourself, do not deny to me Your eternal beauty

Continued on next page…

This entry was posted in Ali Hammad, Original Essays and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sufi Lives: Rabia

  1. Subhan Zein says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Blessings and love to you, xoxo

  2. sheenmeem says:

    Thanks for writing about Rabia. God’s Peace upon her and Allah’s Blessings on you.

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