Rabia of Basra (C. 717-801), a Sufi Saint, and perhaps the first to introduce the concept of Divine Love…that one should not love God for fear of Hell or the promise of Heaven but that God should be loved for God’s own sake. Rabia was born 500 years before Rumi, and was perhaps the greatest influence on his writing.

Many myths surround her life and poems, but one has recently been confirmed by one of the most respected contemporary teachers. When Rabia was quite young, she became separated from her parents (it is possible that they died), and was literally stolen and sold into slavery. Because of her remarkable beauty, a famous brothel bought her for a large sum of money, and it is believed that she lived and was forced to work — as one might — in a brothel for many years.

She wrote, “What a place for trials and transformations did my Lover put me, but never once did He look upon me as if I were impure. Dear sisters, all we do in this world, whatever happens, is bringing us closer to God.”

Rabia is a beautiful spiritual voice for all…especially any person who has had to suffer the emotional degradation of unwanted touch. Though she was abused at an early age, she went on to become one of the greatest saints — and poets — known to history.

When she was about fifty, she was granted her freedom and spent the remaining years of her life devoted to prayer and meditation. She would often see visitors seeking guidance about their lives and many miracles were attributed to her.

The words and teachings she left behind have been profoundly influential:

Show me where it hurts, God said, and every cell in my body

burst into tears before His tender eyes. He has repaid me 

though for all of my suffering in a way I never wanted: The sun 

is now in homage to my face because it knows I have seen God.

But that was not His payment. The soul cannot describe His gift. 

I just spoke about the sun like that because I like beautiful words,

and because it is true: Creation is in homage to us.

Excerpt from Love Poems from God by Daniel Ladinsky

Photo source: rose in the sky

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