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Rabia al Basri, Saint of Islam

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    Rabia al Basri - Saint of Islam http://www.poetseers.org/spiritual_and_devotional_poets/sufi/rabia Rabia al Basri 717-801 Not much is known about Rabia al
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2, 2008
      Rabia al Basri - Saint of Islam

      Rabia al Basri 717-801

      Not much is known about Rabia al Basri, except that she lived in
      Basra in Iraq, in the second half of the 8th century AD. She was
      born into poverty. But many spiritual stories are associated with
      her and what we can glean about her is reality merged with legend.
      These traditions come from Farid ud din Attar a later sufi saint and
      poet, who used earlier sources. Rabia herself though has not left
      any written works.

      After her father's death, there was a famine in Basra, and during
      that she was parted from her family. It is not clear how she was
      traveling in a caravan that was set upon by robbers. She was taken
      by the robbers and sold into slavery.

      Her master worked her very hard, but at night after finishing her
      chores Rabia would turn to meditation and prayers and praising the
      Lord. Foregoing rest and sleep she spent her nights in prayers and
      she often fasted during the day.

      There is a story that once, while in the market, she was pursued by
      a vagabond and in running to save herself she fell and broke her
      arm. She prayed to the Lord .

      "I am a poor orphan and a slave, Now my hand too is broken. But I
      do not mind these things if Thou be pleased with me. "

      and felt a voice reply:

      "Never mind all these sufferings. On the Day of Judgement you
      shall be accorded a status that shall be the envy of the angels

      One day the master of the house spied her at her devotions. There
      was a divine light enveloping her as she prayed. Shocked that he
      kept such a pious soul as a slave, he set her free. Rabia went into
      the desert to pray and became an ascetic. Unlike many sufi saints
      she did not learn from a teacher or master but turned to God

      Throughout her life, her Love of God. Poverty and self-denial were
      unwavering and her constant companions. She did not possess much
      other than a broken jug, a rush mat and a brick, which she used as a
      pillow. She spent all night in prayer and contemplation chiding
      herself if she slept for it took her away from her active Love of

      As her fame grew she had many disciples. She also had discussions
      with many of the renowned religious people of her time. Though she
      had many offers of marriage, and tradition has it one even from the
      Amir of Basra, she refused them as she had no time in her life for
      anything other than God.

      More interesting than her absolute asceticism, however, is the
      actual concept of Divine Love that Rabia introduced. She was the
      first to introduce the idea that God should be loved for God's own
      sake, not out of fear--as earlier Sufis had done.

      She taught that repentance was a gift from God because no one could
      repent unless God had already accepted him and given him this gift
      of repentance. She taught that sinners must fear the punishment
      they deserved for their sins, but she also offered such sinners far
      more hope of Paradise than most other ascetics did. For herself,
      she held to a higher ideal, worshipping God neither from fear of
      Hell nor from hope of Paradise, for she saw such self-interest as
      unworthy of God's servants; emotions like fear and hope were like
      veils -- i.e. hindrances to the vision of God Himself.

      She prayed:

      "O Allah! If I worship You for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell,

      and if I worship You in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise.

      But if I worship You for Your Own sake,

      grudge me not Your everlasting Beauty."

      Rabia was in her early to mid eighties when she died, having
      followed the mystic Way to the end. By then, she was continually
      united with her Beloved. As she told her Sufi friends, "My Beloved
      is always with me"

      Taken from www.maryams.net



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