Rabia of Basra
Rābiʿa al-ʿAdawiyya al-Qaysiyya (Arabic: رابعة العدوية القيسية) (714/717/718 — 801 CE) was a Muslim saint and Sufi mystic.She is known in some parts of the world as Hazrat Bibi Rabia Basri, or simply Rabia Basri.
Birth: According to Fariduddin Attar, when Rābiʻa was born, her parents were so poor that there was no oil in house to light a lamp, nor even a cloth to wrap her with. Her mother asked her husband to borrow some oil from a neighbor, but he had resolved in his life never to ask for anything from anyone except God. He pretended to go to the neighbor’s door and returned home empty-handed. At night Muhammad s.a.w appeared to him in a dream and told him,Said to have been born between 714 and 718 CE (95 and 98 Hijri) in Basra,Iraq of the Qays tribe. much of Rābiʻas early life has been recounted by Farid ud-Din Attar, a later Sufi saint and poet. She herself left no written works about her life. She was the fourth daughter of her family and therefore named Rābiʻa, meaning “fourth”. Although not born into slavery, her family was poor yet respected in the community.
“Your newly born daughter is a favorite of the Lord, and shall lead many Muslims to the right path. 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'”.
Life: However, after the death of her father, famine overtook Basra. She parted from her sisters. Rabia went into the desert to pray and became an ascetic. She is often cited as being the queen of saintly women, and was known for her complete devotion in the form of “pure love of God.” As an exemplar among others devoted to God, she provided a model of mutual love between God and His creation; her example is one in which the loving devotee on earth becomes one with the Beloved.
O God! 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.
Death: Rābiʻa died in her 80s in Basra in 185 AH/801 CE, where her tomb was shown outside the city.
Philosophy: Often noted as having been the single most famous and influential Sufi woman of Islamic history, Rābiʻa was renowned for her extreme virtue and piety. A devoted ascetic, when asked why she performed a thousand ritual prostrations both during the day and at night, she answered:
“I desire no reward for it; I do it so that the Messenger of God, may God bless him and give him peace, will delight in it on the day of Resurrection and say to the prophets, ‘Take note of what a woman of my community has accomplished'”.