I was at the bookstore in Masjid India; wanting to use the last of my book voucher. I peered upon piles and piles of books deciding which to buy. Then I recalled one of my many curiosities: sufism. You see, I don't know what sufism meant, its teachings and all, so I decided to purchase a book about this. Also, lurking somewhere deep down in my heart was a dreaded feeling that I would let only ALLAH and a loved one to know. This feeling that ALLAH had put in my heart urged me to acquire a book solely about Rabiatul Adawiyah. Thus I bought these two books:
1) Rabiatul Adawiyah by Nurfaridah Rubani
2) Muslim Saints and Mystics: Episodes from the Tadhkirah al Awliya' of Farid al-Din Attar translated by
However today, in this post, I won't be talking about sufism. I've only read the publisher's note, introduction and the chapter on Rabiatul Adawiyah from the second book so I don't think I can post about sufism just yet. Indeed, I don't think I will ever post it because I'm afraid that I might write it down wrongly; or people might interpret it differently. Instead, I would like to present to you a briefed autobiography of Rabiatul Adawiyah. Besides, I've also finished reading the first book.
Rabiah's parents were a poor lot. They do not possess even one drop of oil to anoint her navel, no lap nor a rag to swaddle her in. Rabiah's father, Ismail, then dreamed of Rasulullah saw.
"Be not sorrowful," the Prophet bade him. "The girl child who has just come to earth is a queen among women, who shall be be the intercessor for seventy thousand of my community Tomorrow," the Prophet continued, "go to Isa Zadan the governor of Basra. Write on a piece of paper to the following effect. 'Every night you send upon me a hundred blessings, and on Friday four hundred. Last night was Friday night and you forgot me. In expiation for that, give this man four hundred dinars lawfully acquired.'"
And so Ismail did what Rasulullah saw had told him in his dream. Ismail then acquired the dinars from the governor and bought all that was necessary.
Soon after, Ismail and his wife died and left Rabiah and her three sisters. A famine then came upon Basra and she and her sisters were scattered. Rabiah wandered and was seen by a wicked man who had captured and sold her as a slave for 6 dirhams.
One night, her master saw Rabiah bowing prostrate and praying.
"O God, Thou knowest that the desire of my heart is in conformity with Thy command, and that the light of my eye is in serving Thy court. If the affair lay with me, I would not rest one hour from serving Thee, but Thou Thyself hast set me under the hand of a creature."
Rabiah's master saw a lantern suspended without any chain above her head, the light whereof filled the whole house. Seeing this, he felt afraid and decides to set Rabiah free.
Rabiah then settled in Basrah where she attained great fame as a saint and a preacher and was highly esteemed by many of her pious contemporaries. She chose the life of celibacy so that she can focus all her time to worship and love only ALLAH swt.
There are many anecdotes about Rabiah. But I will mention only a few in this post.
"Do you desire for us to get married?" Hasan asked Rabiah.
"The tie of marriage applies to those who have being," Rabiah replied. "Here being has disappeared, for I have become naughted to self and exist only through Him. I belong wholly to Him. I live in the shadow of His control. You must ask my hand of Him, not of me."
Malik bin Dinar relates as follows:
I went to visit Rabiah and saw her with a broken pitcher out of which she drank and made her ritual ablutions, an old reed mat, and a brick which she occasionally used as a pillow. I was grieved.
"I have rich friends," I told her. "If you wish, I will get something from them for you."
"Malik, you have committed a grievous error," she answered. "Is not my Provider and theirs one and the same?"
"Yes," I replied.
"And has the Provider of the poor forgotten the poor on account of their poverty? And does HE remember the rich because of their riches?" she asked.
"No," I replied.
"Then," she went on, "since He knows my estate, how should I remind HIM? Such is HIS will, and I too wish as HE wills."
After her death, she was seen in a dream.
She was asked "How did you fare with Munkar and Nakir?" She replied, "Those youths came to me and said, 'Who is thy Lord?' I answered, 'Return and say to God, with so many thousand creatures Thou didst not forget one feeble old woman. I, who have only Thee in the whole world, I shall never, forget Thee, that Thou shouldst sent one to ask me, Who is thy, God?'"
To me, what inspires me about Rabiah is her sincerity in loving ALLAH. Nowadays, it's almost impossible to see anyone who loves ALLAH just like how Rabiah loves HIM. And Rabiah doesn't loves ALLAH because she wants to be in paradise or is afraid of the hell fire, in fact she loves ALLAH without expecting any return from him. The only thing that she wants is to meet ALLAH and be with him. This can be seen in her prayer:
O God, whatsoever Thou has apportioned to me of worldly, things, do Thou give that to Thy enemies; and whatsoever, Thou hast apportioned to me in the world to come, give that to Thy friends; for Thou sufficest me. O God, if I worship Thee for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell and if I worship Thee in hope of paradise, exclude me from Paradise; but if I worship Thee for Thy own sake, grudge me not Thy everlasting beauty. O God, my whole occupation and all my desire in this world of all worldly things, is to remember Thee, and in the world to come, of all things of the world to come, is to meet Thee. This is on my side, as I have stated; now do whatsoever Thou wilt.
As for me, I don't think my iman can reach Rabiah's level. I certainly can't live a celibacy life. I think, all that I can do, is put in my best effort to love HIM sincerely, and always put ALLAH first in my life. I may not be able to follow her lifestyle totally, but there are some that I can apply. InsyALLAH.