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« on: Sep 27, 2009 12:29 AM »


salaam

Rabia al Adawiyya al Qaysiyya (known as Rabia of Basra)

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 even"


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 himself.

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 God.

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"

Another translation of her most famous line of poetry...

If I Adore You

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.
But if I adore you for Yourself alone,
Do not deny to me Your eternal beauty.    


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« Reply #1 on: Sep 27, 2009 12:30 AM »

Not a poem but an interesting quote:

"Rabi'a Al-Adawayah (a pious Muslim woman who lived around year 100 Hijri) was told, "Someone has written a thousand facts that prove the existence of Allah."
She smiled. "One proof is enough." She said.
"And what is that?"
"If you were passing through a desert, misstepped and fell into a well, and couldn't get out of it, what will you do?" She asked. They said they'd pray to Allah for help.
"And that is your proof." She said." -From the book, تعريف عام بدين الإسلام (A General Introduction to the Religion of Islam) by علي الطنطاوي (Ali At-Tantawi).
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« Reply #2 on: Sep 29, 2009 01:14 PM »

Rabi'a asked someone to buy a blanket for her, giving the person four coins. The person asked: 'Do you want a black blanket, or a white one?' Rabi'a took back the coins, threw them in the Tigris river, and exclaimed: 'Must we divide even blankets into distinct groups?'

- Attar, "Rabi'a"


The Almighty Allah says,

"When a servant thinks of Me, I am near.
When he invokes Me, I am with him.
If he reflects on Me in secret, I reply in secret,
And if he acknowledges Me in an assembly,
I acknowledge him in a far superior assembly."

- Prophet Muhammad (SAW), as reptd by Abu Huraira
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« Reply #3 on: Oct 22, 2009 05:39 AM »

One day in spring-time Rabiah al-Adawiyyah entered her home and bowed her head. 'Come out,' said the servant woman , 'and behold what God hath made.' Rabiah answered, 'Come in and behold the Maker.'

....


I carry a torch in one hand
And a bucket of water in the other:
With these things I am going to set fire to Heaven
And put out the flames of Hell
So that voyagers to God can rip the veils
And see the real goal.



...
The above reminds me of this quote:

Ikhlas [sincerity] has three levels: (a) the highest level is when Allah's servant does an act solely for His sake, to obey His command, and fulfill the duty of `ubudiyya [servitude]; (b) the next level is when he does the act seeking to attain its reward in the hereafter; and (c) the lowest level is when he does the act seeking to be honored (by Allah) in this world, and protection from the trials of this world. Anything else is riyaa' [ostentation]. (Zakariyya al-Ansari, Sharh al-Risala al-Qushayriyya)
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« Reply #4 on: Apr 11, 2010 09:22 PM »

Stay close by the door, if you desire all beauty
And leave aside sleep, if you wish to arrive
And make of the spirit your first place of account.
To the beloved, whose lights shine as from gold
All of them worship out of fear of the fire.
And consider deliverance abundant good fortune - Or, so they may dwell in the gardens, and reach.
To the meadows of paradise, and there drink from its rivers.
Of gardens or fire I have no opinion.
I seek no exchange for my dearest love.

[Rabi`a al-Adawiya]

"Do not treat people with contempt, nor walk insolently on the earth. Allah does not love the arrogant or the self-conceited boaster. Be modest in your bearing and subdue your voice, for the most unpleasant of voices is the braying of the ass." [The Holy Qur'an, Surah Luqman - 31:18-19]
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« Reply #5 on: Jan 11, 2012 07:21 AM »

My greatest Need is You


Your hope in my heart is the rarest treasure
Your Name on my tongue is the sweetest word
My choicest hours
Are the hours I spend with You --
O Allah, I can't live in this world
Without remembering You--
How can I endure the next world
Without seeing Your face?
I am a stranger in Your country
And lonely among Your worshipers:
This is the substance of my complaint.
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« Reply #6 on: Jan 11, 2012 07:22 AM »

Love

by Rabia al Basri

I have loved Thee with two loves -
a selfish love and a love that is worthy of Thee.
As for the love which is selfish,
Therein I occupy myself with Thee,
to the exclusion of all others.
But in the love which is worthy of Thee,
Thou dost raise the veil that I may see Thee.
Yet is the praise not mine in this or that,
But the praise is to Thee in both that and this.

another translation:

I have two ways of loving You:
A selfish one
And another way that is worthy of You.
In my selfish love, I remember You and You alone.
In that other love, You lift the veil
And let me feast my eyes on Your Living Face.
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« Reply #7 on: Jan 11, 2012 07:23 AM »

My Beloved

My peace, O my brothers and sisters, is my solitude,
And my Beloved is with me always,
For His love I can find no substitute,
And His love is the test for me among mortal beings,
Whenever His Beauty I may contemplate,
He is my "mihrab", towards Him is my "qiblah"
If I die of love, before completing satisfaction,
Alas, for my anxiety in the world, alas for my distress,
O Healer (of souls) the heart feeds upon its desire,
The striving after union with Thee has healed my soul,
O my Joy and my Life abidingly,
You were the source of my life and from Thee also came my ecstasy.
I have separated myself from all created beings,
My hope is for union with Thee, for that is the goal of my desire


Reality

 In love, nothing exists between heart and heart.
Speech is born out of longing,
True description from the real taste.
The one who tastes, knows;
the one who explains, lies.
How can you describe the true form of Something
In whose presence you are blotted out?
And in whose being you still exist?
And who lives as a sign for your journey?

- Rabia 


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« Reply #8 on: Jan 11, 2012 07:28 AM »

With My Beloved

With my Beloved I alone have been,
When secrets tenderer than evening airs
Passed, and the Vision blest
Was granted to my prayers,
That crowned me, else obscure, with endless fame;
The while amazed between
His Beauty and His Majesty
I stood in silent ecstasy
Revealing that which o'er my spirit went and came.
Lo, in His face commingled
Is every charm and grace;
The whole of Beauty singled
Into a perfect face
Beholding Him would cry,
'There is no God but He, and He is the most High.'


My God and My Lord


Eyes are at rest, the stars are setting.
Hushed are the stirrings of birds in their nests,
Of monsters in the ocean.
 
You are the Just who knows no change,
The Balance that can never swerve,
The Eternal which never passes away.

The doors of Kings are bolted now and guarded by soldiers.
Your Door is open to all who call upon You.

My Lord,
Each love is now alone with his beloved.
And I am alone with You.

- Rabia al Basri

 
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« Reply #9 on: Jan 11, 2012 07:29 AM »

Quotes

How long will you keep pounding on an open door
Begging for someone to open it?         

Where a part of you goes
The rest of you will follow---given time.
You call yourself a teacher:
Therefore learn.       

I love God: I have no time left
In which to hate the devil.   
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« Reply #10 on: Jan 11, 2012 07:40 AM »

    Rabi'a al-'Adawiyya,
    an 8th Century Islamic Saint from Iraq


    By Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
    ______________________________________________________________________

            [Citations and data are from Margaret Smith, The Way of the Mystics: The Early Christian Mystics and the Rise of the Sufis, NY: Oxford University Press, 1978.  See the Islamic Bookstore for sample pages.  I strongly recommend her book].

    One of the most famous Islamic mystics was a woman: Rabi'a al-'Adawiyya (c.717-801). This 8th century saint was an early Sufi who had a profound influence on later Sufis, who in turn deeply influenced the European mystical love and troubadour traditions.  Rabi'a was a woman of Basra, a seaport in southern Iraq.  She was born around 717 and died in 801 (185-186).  Her biographer, the great medieval poet Attar, tells us that she was "on fire with love and longing" and that men accepted her "as a second spotless Mary" (186).  She was, he continues, “an unquestioned authority to her contemporaries" (218).

    As Cambridge professor Margaret Smith explains, Rabi'a began her ascetic life in a small desert cell near Basra, where she lost herself in prayer and went straight to God for teaching.  As far as is known, she never studied under any master or spiritual director.  She was one of the first of the Sufis to teach that Love alone was the guide on the mystic path (222).  A later Sufi taught that there were two classes of "true believers": one class sought a master as an intermediary between them and God -- unless they could see the footsteps of the Prophet on the path before them, they would not accept the path as valid.  The second class “...did not look before them for the footprint of any of God's creatures, for they had removed all thought of what He had created from their hearts, and concerned themselves solely with God. (218)

    Rabi'a was of this second kind.  She felt no reverence even for the House of God in Mecca:  "It is the Lord of the house Whom I need; what have I to do with the house?" (219) One lovely spring morning a friend asked her to come outside to see the works of God.  She replied, "Come you inside that you may behold their Maker.  Contemplation of the Maker has turned me aside from what He has made" (219).  During an illness, a friend asked this woman if she desired anything.

        "...[H]ow can you ask me such a question as 'What do I desire?'  I swear by the glory of God that for twelve years I have desired fresh dates, and you know that in Basra dates are plentiful, and I have not yet tasted them.  I am a servant (of God), and what has a servant to do with desire?" (162)

    When a male friend once suggested she should pray for relief from a debilitating illness, she said,

        "O Sufyan, do you not know Who it is that wills this suffering for me?  Is it not God Who wills it?  When you know this, why do you bid me ask for what is contrary to His will?  It is not  well to oppose one's Beloved." (221)

    She was an ascetic.  It was her custom to pray all night, sleep briefly just before dawn, and then rise again just as dawn "tinged the sky with gold" (187).  She lived in celibacy and poverty, having renounced the world.  A friend visited her in old age and found that all she owned were a reed mat, screen, a pottery jug, and a bed of felt which doubled as her prayer-rug (186), for where she prayed all night, she also slept briefly in the pre-dawn chill.  Once her friends offered to get her a servant; she replied,

        "I should be ashamed to ask for the things of this world from Him to Whom the world belongs, and how should I ask for them from those to whom it does not belong?"  (186-7)

    A wealthy merchant once wanted to give her a purse of gold.  She refused it, saying that God, who sustains even those who dishonor Him, would surely sustain her, "whose soul is overflowing with love" for Him.  And she added an ethical concern as well:

        "...How should I take the wealth of someone of whom I do not know whether he acquired it lawfully or not?" (187)

    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.  The story is told that once a number of Sufis saw her hurrying on her way with water in one hand and a burning torch in the other.  When they asked her to explain, she said:

        "I am going to light a fire in Paradise and to pour water on to Hell, so that both veils may vanish altogether from before the pilgrims and their purpose may be sure..." (187-188)

    She was once asked where she came from.  "From that other world," she said.  "And where are you going?" she was asked.  "To that other world," she replied (219).  She taught that the spirit originated with God in "that other world" and had to return to Him in the end.  Yet if the soul were sufficiently purified, even on earth, it could look upon God unveiled in all His glory and unite with him in love.  In this quest, logic and reason were powerless.  Instead, she speaks of the "eye" of her heart which alone could apprehend Him and His mysteries (220).

    Above all, she was a lover, a bhakti, like one of Krishna’s Goptis in the Hindu tradition.  Her hours of prayer were not so much devoted to intercession as to communion with her Beloved.  Through this communion, she could discover His will for her.  Many of her prayers have come down to us:

           "I have made Thee the Companion of my heart,
            But my body is available 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."  [224]

    Another:

        "O my Joy and my Desire, my Life and my Friend.  If Thou art satisfied with me, then, O Desire of my heart, my happiness is attained." (222)

    At night, as Smith, writes, "alone upon her roof under the eastern sky, she used to pray":

        "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 Thee." (222)

    She was asked once if she hated Satan.

        "My love to God has so possessed me that no place remains for loving or hating any save Him." (222)

    To such lovers, she taught, God unveiled himself in all his beauty and re-vealed the Beatific Vision (223).  For this vision, she willingly gave up all lesser joys.

        "O my Lord," she prayed, "if I worship Thee from fear of Hell, burn me in Hell, and if I worship Thee in hope of Paradise, exclude me thence, but if I worship Thee for Thine own sake, then withhold not from me Thine Eternal Beauty." (224)

    Rabi'a 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" (224).
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