Friday, June 9, 2017

The lover of GOD: Rabia Basri

There is another path also, a second type of religion, which creates love in you, which creates devotion in you. 

Sufi's are lovers of GOD & they love the total so deeply that they find their beloved everywhere; on every leaf, on every stone, is the signature of the beloved. He is everywhere. They dance because there is nothing else to do but celebrate.This qiality is called IHSAN in ISLAM and sufi's practice it every day.

There is a hadith that Gabriel quizzed the Prophet. He asked Muhammad about three increasingly higher and deeper levels of religiosity, which the Prophet answered sequentially as 

Islam (wholehearted submission to God), 
Loveliness (ihsan). 

This third quality the Prophet identified as worshipping God as if we could see the Divine.The sequence is fascinating, as it reveals that what we think of as Islam (the attestation to Divine Unity, the performance of the prayers, the pilgrimage to Mecca, the paying of the alms tax, the fast of Ramadan) mark only the very first layer -- though the foundational layer -- of religiosity. 

Sufi's are lovers of GOD.One of the most renowned and influential practitioners of IHSAN & divine love is Rabia Basri.

Rabia Basri wrote about divine love, she was an ascetic, who spent her life in worshiping the divine and annihilating herself.  Her story was told to me during many nights by my Grandfather; tales of her unmatched beauty, her impoverished childhood, her time as a concubine, and later her discovery and following as one of the greatest sufi's of her time. One sufi poem of her time sings that Kaaba itself came to see Rabia because Rabia could not go for Hajj! 

She never attended any lectures, never had a murshid except she loved her creator. 

She loved God and sang in ecstasy;

O my Lord,
if I worship you
from fear of hell, 

burn me in hell.
If I worship you
from hope of Paradise, 

bar me from its gates.
But if I worship you
for yourself alone, 

grant me then the beauty of your Face.

Rabia comes to understand the difference between the God of one's fear and the Real God. The former is constructed perhaps by immersing oneself in meditation and contemplation of the divine to the point that one becomes completely oblivious to the rest of the world. 

Rabia sees this flaw in her own pursuit of God. The Real God is not self-serving. He is independent of one's wishful thinking and imagination.

She addresses Allah;
YOU are my breath
My hope
My companion
My craving
My abundant wealth.Without you   
my life, my love
I would have neveer wandered across 
these these endless countries
I look everywhere for YOUR love
Then I am suddenly filled with it
O Captain of my heart
Radiant Eye of Yearning in my heart
I will never be free of You
As long as I live
Be satisfied with me, Love
And I am satisfied.

Travelers from all over the world, seekers from everywhere, came searching for Rabiya′s hut. She was really a ferocious mystic; with a hammer in her hand she could have broken anybody′s skull. She actually broke many many skulls and brought out the hidden essence.

Rabia, the daughter of Ismail, a woman celebrated for her holy life, and a native of Basra, 

When Rabia grew up her father and mother died. At that time there was a famine in Basra. She came into the possession of an evil man, who sold her as a slave. The master who bought her treated her hardly, and exacted all kinds of menial services from her.

One day, when she was seeking to avoid the rude gaze of a stranger, she slipped on the path and fell, breaking her wrist. Lying there with her face to the ground, she said "Lord, I am far from my own, a captive and an orphan, and my wrist has just been broken, and yet none of these things grieve me. Only this one thought causes me disquiet; it is that I know not if Thou art satisfied with me."

 She then heard a voice, "Vex not thyself, O Rabia, for at the day of Resurrection We shall give thee such a rank that the angels nearest Us shall envy thee."

 Rabia went home with her heart at peace.

After a life of hardship, she spontaneously achieved a state of  FANA. 

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."

It is narrated in Fariduddin Attar's account that one night, Rabia's master being awake, heard the sound of her voice. He perceived Rabia with her head bent, saying, "My Lord, Thou knowest that the desire of my heart is to seek Thy approbation, and that its only wish is to obey Thy commands. If I had liberty of action, I would not remain a single instant without doing Thee service; but Thou hast delivered me into the hands of a creature, and therefore I am hindered in the same." 

Her master said to himself that it was not possible any longer to treat her as a slave, and as soon as daybreak appeared, he said to her, "O Rabia, I make thee free. If thou desirest, remain here, and we shall be at thy service. If thou dost not wish to to stay here, go whithersoever it pleaseth thee."

One night she saw the Prophet (on whom be peace) in a dream. He saluted her and said, "Rabia, lovest thou me?" "O Prophet of God," she replied, "is there anyone who does not love thee? Yet the love of the Most High fills my heart to such a degree that there is no room for love or hatred towards anyone else."

On one occasion she was asked, "Dost thou see Him Whom thou servest?" "If I did not see Him," she said, "I would not serve Him." S

O my Lord,
the stars glitter
and the eyes of men are closed.
Kings have locked their doors
and each lover is alone with his love.
Here, I am alone with you.

One day when she was making the pilgrimage to the Kaaba she halted in the desert and exclaimed, "My God, my heart is a prey to perplexity in the midst of this solitude. I am a stone, and so is the Kaaba; what can it do for me? That which I need is to contemplate Thy face."

At these words a voice came from the Most High, "O Rabia, wilt thou bear alone that which the whole world cannot? When Moses desired to see Our Face we showed It to a mountain, which dissolved into a thousand fragments."

At the same time the great Sufi wali Hazrat Ibrahim bin Adham arrived at the Ka'ba, but he did not see it. He had spent fourteen years making his way to the Ka'ba, because in every place of prayer he performed.

Hazrat Ibrahim bin Adham said, "Alas! What has happened? It maybe that some injury has overtaken my eyes." 
An unseen voice said to him, "No harm has befallen your eyes, but the Ka'ba has gone to meet a woman, who is approaching this place.
" Ibrahim Adham responded, "O indeed, who is this?" He ran and saw Rabia arriving, and that the Ka'ba was back in its own place. 
When Ibrahim saw that, he said, "O Rabia, what is this disturbance and trouble and burden which you have brought into the world?
"She replied, "I have not brought disturbance into the world. It is you who have disturbed the world, because you delayed fourteen years in arriving at the Ka'ba."
 He said, "Yes I have spent fourteen years in crossing the desert (because I was engaged) in prayer.
" Rabia said, "You traversed it in ritual prayer but with personal supplication." Then, having performed the pilgrimage, she returned to Basra and occupied herself with works of devotion.

Once when Rabia had immured herself for a long while in her house without coming forth, her servant said to her, "Lady, come forth out of this house and contemplate the works of the Most High." "Nay," said Rabia, "enter rather into thyself and contemplate His work in thyself." 

Having kept a strict fast for seven days and nights in order to give herself to prayer, on the eighth night she seemed to hear her emaciated body say, "O Rabia, how long wilt thou torture me without mercy?"

Whilst she was holding this soliloquy with herself, suddenly someone knocked at the door, and a man brought in some food in a bowl.

Rabia took it and set it down; then while she went to light the lamp, a cat came and ate the food. No sooner had Rabia returned and seen what had happened than she said to herself, "I will break my fast on water." As she went to draw water her lamp went out.

She then uttered a deep sigh, and said, "Lord, why dost thou make me wretched?" Whereupon she heard a voice saying, "O Rabia, if thou desirest it, I will give thee the whole world for thine own; but I shall have to take away the love which thou hast for Me from thy heart, for the love of Me and of the world cannot exist together." "Hearing myself thus addressed," said Rabia, "I entirely expelled from my heart the love of earthly things, and resolutely turned my gaze away from them. For thirty years I have not prayed without saying to myself, 'This prayer, perhaps, is the last which I shall pray,' and I have never been tired of saying, 'My God, let me be so absorbed in Thy love that no other affection may find room in my heart.'"

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

One day some men of learning and piety came to her and said, "The Most High has crowned His chosen saints with the gift of performing miracles, but such privileges have never been granted to a woman. How didst thou attain to such a high degree?" "What you say is true," she answered, "but, on the other hand, women have never been so infatuated with themselves as men, nor have they ever claimed divinity."

Abda, the servant maid of Rabia, relates as follows, "Rabia used to pass the whole night in prayer, and at morning dawn she took a light sleep in her oratory till daylight, and I have heard her say when she sprang in dread from her couch, 'O my soul, how long wilt thou sleep? Soon thou shalt sleep to rise no more, till the call shall summon thee on the day of resurrection.'"
In one night of prayer she says

O God, Another Night is passing away,
Another Day is rising --
Tell me that I have spent the Night well so I can be at peace,
Or that I have wasted it, so I can mourn for what is lost.
I swear that ever since the first day You brought me back to life,
The day You became my Friend,
I have not slept --
And even if You drive me from your door,
I swear again that we will never be separated.
Because You are alive in my heart

Someone asked her one day, "Whence comest thou?" "From the other world," was her reply. "And whither goest thou?" "Into the other world." "And what doest thou in this world." "I jest with it by eating its bread and doing the works of the other world in it." "O Rabia," said another to her, "dost thou love the Lord?" "Truly," she replied, "I love Him." "And dost thou regard Satan as an enemy?" "I love the Lord so much," she answered, "that I do not trouble myself about the enmity of Satan."

Hasan Basri relates, "One day when I had been to Rabia who had fallen sick, to ask after her, I saw seated at her gate a merchant who wept. 'Why are you weeping?' I asked him. 'I have just brought for Rabia,' he answered, 'this purse of gold, and I am troubled in mind, not knowing whether she will accept it or not. Go in Hasan, and ask whether she will.' Then I went in, and no sooner had I reported to her the words of this merchant than she said to me, 'Thou knowest well, O Hasan, that the Most High gives daily bread even to those who do not worship Him; how then will He not give it to those whose hearts are aglow with love to Him? Besides, ever since I have known God, I have turned my eyes away from all except Him. How can I accept anyone's money when I know not whether it has been gained by lawful or unlawful means? Present then my excuses to this merchant, and let him go.'"

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

Another merchant visiting Rabia found her house in ill repair. He presented her with a new house. Rabia had no sooner entered it than, seeing paintings on the wall, she became absorbed in contemplating them. Recovering herself, she quitted the house, and refused to re-enter it, saying, "I fear lest my heart may become attached to this house to such a degree that I neglect preparation for the other world."

One day Abdul Wahid and Sofiân Tsavri went to see Rabia in her illness. They were so touched by the sight of her weakness that for some moments they could not speak a word. At last Sofiân said, "O Rabia, pray that the Lord may lighten thy sufferings." "O Sofiân," she answered, "who has sent me these sufferings?" "The Most High," he said. "Very well," she replied, "if it is his will that this trial come upon me, how can I, ignoring His will, ask Him to remove it?" "Rabia," said Sofiân, "I am not capable of talking to thee about thy own affairs; talk to me about mine." "Well," answered Rabia, "if thou hadst not an inclination to this low world, thou wouldst be a man without fault." "Then," relates Sofiân, "I cried with tears, 'My God, canst Thou be satisfied with me?'" "O Sofiân," said Rabia, "dost thou not blush at saying to the Lord, 'Canst Thou be satisfied with me?' without having done a single thing to please him?"

You have thrust me
     though and through!
A true friend, I know,
     is ever true.

When I speak, my every word
     speaks of You.
And when silent,
     silently I ache for You.

Malik Dinar recounts the following: "I went to see Rabia, and found her drinking water out of a broken pitcher. She was lying stretched on an old mat, with a brick for her pillow. 

I was pierced to the heart at the sight, and said, "O Rabia, I have rich friends; if you will let me, I will go and ask them for something for you." "You have spoken ill, Malik," she replied; 'it is the Lord who, to them as to me, gives daily bread. He Who provides for the needs of the rich, shall He not provide for the necessities of the poor? If He wills that it should be thus with us, we shall gladly submit to His will.'"

On one occasion when Malik Dinar, Hasan Basri and Shaqiq were with her, the conversation turned on sincerity of heart towards God. Hasan Basri said, "He has not sincere love to God who does not bear with constancy the afflictions which the Lord sends him." "That remark savours of self-conceit," said Rabia. Shaqiq observed, "He is not sincere who does not render thanks for afflictions." "There is a higher degree of sincerity than that," said Rabia. 

Malik Dinar suggested, "He is not sincere who does not find delight in the afflictions which the Lord sends." "That is not the purest sincerity," she remarked. Then they asked her to define sincerity. She said, "He is not sincere who does not forget the pain of affliction through his absorption in God."

One of the learned theologians of Basra, once visiting Rabia, began to enlarge upon the defects of the world. "You must be very fond of the world," said Rabia, "for if you were not, you would not talk so much about it. He who really intends to buy something keeps on discussing it. If you were really disentangled from it, what would you care about its merits or its faults?"

Other sayings of Rabia were these, 

My God, if on the day of judgment Thou sendest me to hell, I shall reveal a secret which will make hell fly far from me." 

"O Lord, give all Thou destinest for me of the goods of this world to Thy enemies, and all that Thou reservest for me in Paradise to Thy friends, for it is Thou only Whom I seek."

 "My God, if it is from fear of hell that I serve Thee, condemn me to burn in hell; and if it is for the hope of Paradise, forbid me entrance there; but if it is for Thy sake only, deny me not the sight of Thy face."

Read her poetry and say a prayer to ask her grace. She died alone in a wilderness but she perfumed the world with her poetry and love of God.

Rabia died a.d. 752, and was buried near Jerusalem. Her tomb was a centre of pilgrimage during the Middle Ages.

P.S...Most of the stories recounted about her and her poetry are written in books of Fariduddin Attar and Hassan Basri, she left no written records or books of her own but was widely renowned in Basra and sufi circles as sifi's of all hues used to travel to her and ask for baraka. 


  1. I salute to your knowledge.

    Rabia M. Khan

  2. I grow up listing about Rabia's love, from Ascetic surroundings, but that were few random examples about her, but now, finally, i saw your blog & i got something more about HER.

    I need to read more about her, her writings, her poems, if you have any Genuine reference or any web link, it will be Great.

    Thank You Very Much. May You Got That of Love too.


  3. From a word she was, to a word is her return, and then to the day of judgement that she will know... she had no secret.

  4. I pray Allah grant her her divine love.and let her be an example to the god lovers.but I don't think she danced and saw god in everything Allah creted.but I think this is why Allah created her to be an example to the countless true god lovers.