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Rabia al-Adawiyya: The Ascetic
Who is Rabia al-Adawiyya?
Rabia was an 8th century female saint who was known for her devotion to God and ascetic lifestyle. She is more commonly known as Rabia al-Basri.
The Glad Tiding
The father of Rabia wasn't a man of wealth but always remained content with God's decree. He disliked asking others for provisions, however, one day his wife asked him to go and borrow from their neighbours.
To avoid arguing, he left and knocked his neighbour's door but left before anyone could answer it. When his wife asked what happened, he responded that the door didn't open.
Later that night, he was upset for he felt he failed in his responsibility to provide for his family.
That very night, the Prophet ﷺ came into his dream and understood he was in a state of distress. The Prophet ﷺ said to him, "Do not grieve for the girl born to you is exceptionally fortunate and pious."
The Governor of Basra
Continuing from the dream, the Prophet ﷺ then instructed Rabia's father to present a letter to the Governor of Basra which read:
"Every night you recite 100 Salawaat upon me ﷺ and on every Friday you recite 400. Last Friday, you forgot to recite the 400 Salawaat."
The following day, he requested an audience with the Govenor and said, "I have a message for you from the Prophet ﷺ."
When the Governor read the letter, he was overjoyed for the Prophet ﷺ had acknowledged and received his recitation of salutations. WIthin the letter there was a condition for the Governor which was he had to give 400 Dinars (gold coins) to Rabia's father. Out of his happiness, the Governor distributed 10,000 Dirhams to the poor.
Devotion to God
After the passing of her parents, Rabia was enslaved. She was purchased as a manual labourer.
After gruelling daytime work, Rabia would spend her nights in worship and often fast during the day.
One night, her master heard her voice whilst she prayed. She said to God:
"O my Lord, Thous 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."
Upon hearing this, the master decided it was sacrligious to keep such a saint in his service and chose to serve her. He granted Rabia freedom as she chose to continue her worship in solitude.
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