Roses of Islam: Rabi’a Al-Adawiyah, Part II

June 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

From that moment she left everything that she had been doing before, and she refused either to sing or to dance, or to play any music for anyone except for her Beloved God. This made her master very angry because he could no longer use her to make money for himself. He began to ill-treat her, to beat her, and even to put burns on her body hoping that this would frighten her into returning to her former ways. But she refused everything that her master tried to do to her.

She had begun to pray all through the night, crying to her Beloved God to help her in her desperate state. After a time her master, seeing that he could not influence her in any way, and because she was no longer of any use to him, decided to sell her. So he put a cord around her neck and took her to the slave market of Baghdad. There a holy man took Rabi`a to his home, gave her food and simple clothes, and told her that he did not want anything from her, except that she could pray and be free in his house. Rabi`a thanked him with all her heart and said, “If you want anything from me for the Face of Allah, He will give you your reward, but if you want anything from me for yourself only, I have nothing to give you. I have everything that I need from my Beloved God and I do not need anything from any human being.

The holy man replied that he would like to marry her, and to free her from being a slave, but that he did not ask anything from her except what she wanted to give. Rabi`a thanked him for his kindness and consideration, and she said that she did not want to marry anyone, but was grateful for the way that he cared for her in her deep need. Then Allah, the All-Mighty, sent a very holy person to Rabi`a, some say that it was Hasan al-Basri. There seems to be some doubt about who this holy person was, because it is recorded that Hasan al-Basri was born in al-Madina in the year 21 A.H./642 C.E. to a servant of the Prophet’s wife, prayers and peace be upon him, Umm Salamah. As a young child he had lived with his mother in Umm Salamah’s household. In manhood he followed a follower (at-tabi’un) of `Ali ibn Abu Talib, the Prophet’s cousin and close Companion, and the fourth of the ‘Righteous Caliphs’ (Al-Khulafa Ar-Rashidun) from whom the Line of the Prophet’s Inheritors descended. It is recorded that Hasan al-Basri died in 110 A.H, at which time Rabi`a would have been about eleven years old and had perhaps just arrived in Baghdad as a slave-girl for her master.

How did you come to know Him?

You know of the How but I know of the How-less.

In spite of this discrepancy of dates, Hasan al-Basri is usually referred to as being one of the closest of the Beloveds of Allah around Rabi`a in her early life. It is he who is recorded as being the person who said to Rabi`a, “Do you desire for us to get married?” To which she replied, “The tie of marriage is for those who have being. But here being has disappeared for I have become as nothing to my self, and I exist only through Allah for I belong wholly to Him, and I live in the shadow of His control. You must ask for my hand from Him, and not from me.” Hasan then replied, “How did you find this secret, Rabi`a?” She answered him, “I lost all found things in Him.” Hasan then replied, “How did you come to know Him?” She said, “You know of the how but I know of the how-less.” For Rabia`s case was that she had heard the Voice of her Beloved Who was Allah and none other than He, and she had no need for any earthly husband because the only true marriage for her was with Allah Himself alone. Like many of the ascetic sufis, Rabi`a made no separation in her love between man and woman if they lived for the Face of her Beloved God.

Many people loved her and needed her and wanted to take from her something of the special Gift which she had been given from Allah. She had many followers who yearned to feed themselves from her Love which she gave to all those whom she loved. Allah himself was her real Beloved but she kept company with her fellow beings, as she said, “Everyone who obeys (and she meant by this the true lover) seeks intimacy.” Then she recited these lines: “I have made You the Companion of my heart. But my body is available to those who desire its company, And my body is friendly toward its guest, But the Beloved of my heart is the guest of my soul.

Continue… Part III

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