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Rabia Al-Adawiyya-The Mystic

Today I’ve chosen to tell you about the Story Of Rabia al-Adawiyya – The Mystic

While writing this one, I was taken aback, at the amount of devotion Rabia’s heart contained. Her only goal was to give her full submission to the service of  her Lord Allah (S.W.T.)

A writer, Al-Munawi, says of Rabia:

Rabi'a al-Adawiyya al Qaysiyya of Basra, was at the head of the women disciples and the chief of the women ascetics, of those who observed the sacred law, who were God-fearing and zealous… and she was one of those who were pre-eminent and experience in grace and goodness.

The Birth of a Women Saint

One evening in a poor home in Basra, Iraq a woman gave birth to her fourth daughter, whom she named Rabia (meaning 4th). At the time of her birth, the family did not have much in their home let alone oil which was needed to light the lamp or towels to swaddle their newborn baby girl in.

Being in distress, Rabia’s mother pleaded with her husband to ask their neighbors for the oil needed but he had made a vow that he would never ask any creature for anything and only depend on God. He pretended to go to their neighbors and returned without it and due to the grief he fell asleep in which he dreamt that Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W) appeared to him and said “Do not be sorrowful, for this daughter who is born is a great saint, whose intercession will be desired by seventy thousand of my community. You should approach the Amir of Basra and present him with a letter in which should be written this message: “You offer Durood to the Holy Prophet one hundred times every night and four hundred times every Thursday night. However, since you failed to observe the rule last Thursday, as a penalty you must pay the bearer four hundred Dinars '

When he awoke, he was very happy and went to the Amir with tears of joy, who was just so delighted upon hearing this dream. In fact, he was so delighted that he distributed money to the poor and wholeheartedly gave Rabia’s father the 400 Dirhams.

Rabia the Slave

 Legend has it that Rabia’s parents soon passed away and famine fell upon Basra. Rabia and her sisters were in a caravan, which was attacked by robbers, thus separating her from her sisters.  They chased Rabia and grabbed hold of her, and whilst running to save herself she fell and broke her arm.  She prayed to Allah (S.W.T.):

"I am a poor orphan and a slave, now my hand is broken. But I do not mind these things if Thou is 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". She was then sold for 6 Dirhams to an owner who made her work extremely hard.

The Miracle

As a slave, Rabia would carry out the tasks given to her and continuously fast and pray to Allah. One night while praying, Rabia’s owner awoke and when he looked through the window he saw her bowed in worship, whereby she was saying'O my Lord, Thou knowest that the desire of my heart is to obey Thee and that the light of my eye is in the service of Thy court. If the matter rested with me, I should not cease for one hour from Thy service, but Thou hast made me subject to a creature'.

Its quite amazing how above prayer, shows us her inner state of devotion which was’ not taught to her but was developed due to her sincerity.

So while she was praying he owner saw a lamp suspended from the air with no chains holding it, illuminating the entire house above Rabia from its bright rays. When he saw this Halo type of miracle he became so afraid and astounded at the same time that he immediately went back to his room, and stayed there till the morning when he decided that she was far too important in the sight of God than to be a slave, so he spoke to her very kindly and offered her, freedom. She then went on a journey into the desert so that she could be in seclusion away from worldly things so that nothing could interrupt her worshipping Allah (S.W.T.)

Her possessions

Rabia did not have many worldly possessions. The only things she owned were a broken jug, a rush mat, and a brick, which she often used as a pillow. Whenever she felt sleepy she would try and keep her eyes open, scared that sleep would keep her away from worshipping Allah. (S.W.T.)

Her Personality

As a sincere and pure woman, she became very famous, and many of the important religious scholars of her time would come and have discussions with her. Even though Rabia had many marriage proposals from all over, she refused them as she had no time for anything else but prayer,

Her teachings showed that sinners should fear punishment for their wrongdoings but at the same time, she gave them hope that if they repent sincerely, their sins would be forgiven, thus practicing an ideal for true belief.

When Rabia would not attend lectures held by Hazrat Hasan Basri, he would not teach during that day.

An Example of Her work

O my Lord,

if I worship you
from fear of hell, burn me in hell.

If I worship you
from the hope of Paradise, bar me from its gates.

But if I worship you
for yourself alone, grant me then the beauty of your Face.


Her Passing On

According to scholars, when Rabia passed on, she was in her mid-twenties and died in Jerusalem in 185 AH.

Rabia was a perfect example of goodness and sincerity and how in Allah’s eyes there is no difference when it comes to being male or female when reaching such greatness and piety.

She experienced so much hardship being a slave and not having any family around her from such a young age, having so much patience and nothing in the world shook her steadfast prayer.

May Allah (S.W.T.) guide us all Inshallah, and grant us to have such a strong Iman and love for Islam,